The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
This is a well-researched and referenced book which focuses on the roots of today's British National Party and its rise and decline, the latter paralleled by the birth and growth of the English Defence League.
While Nick Griffin attempted to give the BNP a "respectable" image - suits, collars and ties, door-knocking, an electoral programme -the EDL, in attempting to provoke its own race war, is more akin to the boot-boy street-fighting image of the 1970s National Front.
Like Oswald Moseley's 1930s fascists, the EDL has also declared publicly that it sees meetings of its foes - anti-racists and trades unions - as fair game for attack.
The targets of racism and fascism change of course according to what can be made fashionable to hate.
That's the case with Jewish people in the 1930s, black people in the 1950s and 1960s, Asian people in the 1970s and 1980s and now Islam, the target of both the BNP and the EDL.
While much of Daniel Trilling's information is known to veteran anti-fascist campaigners such as those involved in the excellent magazine Searchlight, Trilling pulls together many different strands to provide a comprehensive and informative piece of work which contributes usefully to the fight against the fascists.
The book rightly identifies the role of the establishment media in aiding and abetting the BNP and its fellow travellers - the tabloids' targeting of Islam, asylum-seekers and travelling people are notorious examples.
It also identifies the willingness of the three main political parties to steal the BNP's racist rhetoric in their electoral campaigns in an attempt to defeat them, usually unsuccessfully.
There was the Liberal Democrat promise of housing for "sons and daughters" in Tower Hamlets in the 1990s. Derek Beacon was subsequently elected as the BNP's first councillor in Millwall.
Labour's David Blunkett proclaimed that asylum-seekers were "swamping" British schools in 2002 and current Foreign Secretary William Hague made immigration an election issue in 2000.
The BNP is in electoral decline thanks in the main to the activities of anti-fascist campaigners outside the main political party structures but the conditions on which it thrived are still there - poverty, poor housing, unemployment and racism in the Establishment media.
For those reasons alone this is a very timely book.