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.