The 1921 Poplar Rates Rebellion: lessons for today
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One hundred years ago, a big movement grew in the east London borough of Poplar, headed by thirty councillors who went to prison rather than levy extortionate rates or cut services to the working-class population that elected them. ‘Poplarism’ won.

Is this just a dusty-but-interesting episode from history? Or does it contain inspiration and lessons for today?

Janine Booth, author of ‘Guilty and Proud of it: Poplar’s rebel councillors and guardians 1919-1925’ tells the story of Poplar, highlighting issues that resonate today, including how Poplar council:

  • was rooted in the communities and struggles of the area
  • made itself a centre of resistance against poverty and austerity
  • took its message out to local people and beyond, building a mass movement rather than being a small number of martyrs
  • took its orders from the local labour movement.

Josh Lovell speaks about the issues that have faced him in his four years as a Labour member of Hertfordshire Council, what Labour councillors can do to help build working-class power, and why he is not standing again.