Photos from Local Government in Revolt with John McDonnell, Ted Knight and Hazel Smith – 30th anniversary of the rate capping struggle

On 5 July 2016 Lambeth Libraries organised a sold out event in Clapham to discuss the local history of the rate capping dispute in the mid 1980s. Continue reading “Photos from Local Government in Revolt with John McDonnell, Ted Knight and Hazel Smith – 30th anniversary of the rate capping struggle”

Labour’s 1986 Lambeth Council election manifesto

Just after the 31 Labour councillors were surcharged and disbarred from office, the local Labour Party stood on a manifesto pledging “more homes and jobs”.

The manifesto was discussed and agreed by a series of working groups, open to all local Labour Party members who produced drafts before they were sent to the Local Government Committee for agreement. This was in stark contrast to the 1990 election manifesto which was imposed on Lambeth by Labour HQ in Walworth road.

Still defiant after the previous Labour council was crushed in the courts, Labour declared; “Labour realises that our policies may be deemed illegal by some. So be it! Since 1979 the Tory Government has had many of its actions declared illegal. by the courts, Locally they tried to shut down tbe Health Authority. When that was declared illegal, they changed the law. Their social security rules for bed and
breakfast were declared illegal, €e they changed the law. They expect us to break laws which demand decent housing and social services in order to fit their spending cuts laws. If we are faced with a choice between Tory demands to cut our services for local people and sack workers, or stand with local people demanding better provision, we will stand with the the people.”

It pledged that local people would be voting for: “keeping the necessary staff to ensure no cuts in services
no redundancies, the continuation of recruitment and no privatisation of council services”, “Resisting hotels and luxury housing on riverside sites at the detriment of the existing community. Defending the rights of local people against property speculators and ensure democratic control of planning” and “democratic control of the police”.

You can download the manifesto below:

Lambeth Labour Council elections manifesto 1986

Photo Gallery: Rate capping dispute 1984-86

Many of these photos are taken from the pamphlet “He was only the District Auditor, but…”  which was published in 1986 to raise money to pay for the fines imposed on 31 Lambeth councillors who defied rate capping the year before.

The photos from the pamphlet were taken by NALGO member Dave Stewart.

Black Sections in the Labour Party

Linda Bellos (l) speaking at a Black Section meeting
Linda Bellos (l) speaking at a Black Section meeting

“The Labour Party has always quietly congratulated itself as being, almost by definition, the anti-racist party. It may be true that very few Black comrades take up positions as Party activists, that fewer still are elected in the name of the Labour Party to public office and that a Black delegate to Annual Conference is still a rarity, but the reasons for this, whatever they may be, cannot be the racism of the Labour Party structures themselves. Just how true is this myth ?”

Continue reading “Black Sections in the Labour Party”

Video: Councils for the Defence – 1986

This 20 minute long documentary was made by Yvette Vanson, director of the Battle of Orgreave, in 1986. It explains why Lambeth Council resisted the moves by the Thatcher government to cap their local rates which would have meant millions of pounds worth of cuts in service provision.

Features interviews with local people, councillors and trade union activists.

Can you contribute to Radical Lambeth?

cropped-red-flag-over-lambeth-1985-cover1Radical Lambeth is a project to record the experiences of people in the borough from 1978-1992.

Radical Lambeth was rejecting Rate-capping and setting illegal local budgets to meet people’s needs.

Radical Lambeth are the people who fought against Margaret Thatcher’s cuts and then Neil Kinnock as he sought to challenge the control of the left in the local Labour Party.

Radical Lambeth was the site of two riots in Brixton, where local people fought back against police violence and discrimination.

Radical Lambeth is the place which had a massive squatting community and an LGBTQ scene.

Radical Lambeth was the ‘Loony Left’, regularly scoffed at in the tabloid press.

But what do the people of Lambeth think about their own history?

The purpose of Radical Lambeth is to chronicle the experiences and history of local people through interviews and collecting archive research.

Radical Lambeth is local history project that will tell the tale of a local community, the politicians and the trade unions and how titanic struggle that wracked Britain in the 1980s played themselves out in an inner London borough.

If you were living in, working in or politically active in Lambeth between 1978-1992 then I would love to hear from you.

Please email to get in touch.