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article imageOp-Ed: New Cross — The massacre that never was

By Alexander Baron     Dec 11, 2011 in Politics
London - The Socialist Workers Party has recently been harping on about a massacre of 14 people that happened in London 30 years ago. Alas, the truth about the New Cross Fire is very different.
In January 1981, a fire claimed the lives of 13 people at a house in South East London. Later, a 14th died, there were twice as many injuries. The SWP's version from the on-line edition of its newspaper Issue: 2282 dated Tue 6 Dec 2011 can be found here. Actually, version is a bit of a strong word, ad hominem is nearer the mark.
A tragedy is one thing, but to compound a tragedy in order to exploit a political or racial agenda is unforgivable. This is what happened virtually from the beginning, and is still happening now. You see, all the victims of the New Cross Fire, what became known erroneously as the New Cross Massacre (or Deptford Fire/Massacre), were black. Not just black, they were all young, and what do the young like to do? They like to party, especially when they have not one but two birthdays to celebrate.
It is standard practice wherever there is a serious fire, certainly one resulting in loss of life, for there to be an investigation by both the police and specialists. In the event of a death or deaths, there will also be an inquest. There was indeed an extensive investigation into the New Cross Fire, and although no definite conclusion was reached, arson was ruled out. Certainly there was absolutely no evidence of arson by anyone from outside the party, be they white or any race.
This did not prevent a march in London, and much posturing by race agitators, most of whom were more red than black . The SWP's article goes off on a rant about “Mass uprisings took place in Brixton, Moss Side, Toxteth, Handsworth and elsewhere in the summer of 1981.” For mass uprisings, read riots and mindless violence, such as that experienced thirty years later by people like Charlene Munro.
The article contains a lot of bluster about police oppression, deaths in custody, blah, blah. Of course, the victims of such oppression are always black. Not.
What it does not mention though is the fact that in June 1983, Commander Graham Stockwell of the Metropolitan Police Fraud Squad was set to receive substantial damages relating to an article published in the New Statesman which alleged that he had been responsible for harassing and threatening young witnesses by officers under his command.
It was later revealed that a man who had attended the party, who was then in the United States, was believed to be responsible for the fire, although no one was ever brought to book for any criminal offence in connection with it.
The SWP has managed to outdo Gerry Gable, who has lied and continues to lie about one murder that never happened. Fourteen certainly trumps that.
There is though a very prosaic and unglamorous reason for so many people dying needlessly. It was recently reported that as many as 89 people have been killed in a hospital fire in India. Hospitals and other public buildings have to comply with health and safety regulations, fire regulations, and often other regulations too. Such regulations are far more sophisticated in Britain, which is probably why there have not been any fires of that magnitude of late, at least not in public buildings.
The house where the New Cross fire took place was an ordinary private dwelling. Crowd forty or fifty people into an ordinary house with no fire doors, no proper fire precautions, no consideration except smoking, drinking and having a good time, and the last thing that should surprise anyone is an accident, even a catastrophe.
Parties of this nature are often noisy affairs, and it would not have been surprising if a neighbour had reported it to the local police, who would have attended and warned the revellers against making so much noise, and about so many people crowding into such a small dwelling. Or would they?
Even as far back as 1981, the British police were hamstrung by political correctness, so they probably would not have. After all, that would have been racist, wouldn't it?
The reality is that since the 1970s at least, any incident big or small, trivial, or in this case, tragic, can be, has been, and will continue to be palmed off on the public as racist, and exploited by cynical and at times evil men and women with political and racial agendas. The SWP and their friends can whine and wail all they like, as they have done for the past thirty years, but at the end of the day, the people who should ultimately be held responsible for all the deaths and injuries at 439 New Cross Road are those who allowed the party to happen.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about new cross fire, Socialist Worker, Propaganda, Commander Graham Stockwell, Racism
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