… and why it matters today
By Janine Booth, published in RMT News.
The two biggest employers in the east London borough of Poplar one hundred years were the railways and the docks. Our forerunner unions had plenty of members there. Their jobs involved long hours and low pay, but they were unionised, so they were fighting for, and winning, improvements.
A golden shovel based on the final stanza of The Mask of Anarchy by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
They hold us down but still we rise,
deference dies, we bite them down to size. Like
Jayaben roars, we are the lions,
Mr Manager, you'll do no more damage after
we've dealt with you. Stretching from slumber,
Flexing our muscle, exercising our minds, in
readiness for when they find that they are not unvanquishable
as they thought. They bought power but we have number.
This year's Disability History Month has two themes: sex and relationships, and hidden impairments.
Janine will be one of a panel of speakers.
Today (1 September 2021) is the centenary of the first arrests of Poplar's rebel councillors.
More about this auspicious occasion and its relevance today in my article on Labour Hub.
A century ago, in August 1921, Labour Councillor Jack Wooster told crowds demonstrating in support of Poplar's rebel councillors that "Sympathy without relief [the name back then for welfare benefits] is like mustard without beef".
Sympathy without relief
is like mustard without beef
or lettuce without leaf
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.
Why did Poplar win? Here are ten key points, which contain lessons for today.