Saturday, July 04, 2009

Hot Off The Press: My Book!

Buy it here.

And here is the official blurb ...

by Janine Booth

In the aftermath of the First World War, thirty Labour councillors went to prison rather than accepting inequitable taxes. With unemployment rising in 1921 in Bow, Limehouse, Millwall and Old Ford, Poplar Borough Council could not help provide relief drawing only on the limited wealth of one poor London borough. Poplar councillors, including future Labour leader George Lansbury, demanded that rates from richer areas should help. Rich Kensington had a hugely greater rateable value and far fewer jobless people: it could afford to pay more. So Poplar refused to pay over rates to the London County Council, and thus began the Poplar Revolt.

Drawing on archive research and on newspaper reports, this book tells the story of the support mobilised by Poplar Council. The story begins when newly-enfranchised working-class voters elected Labour to run the Council in 1919. For the next two years, it improved life for Poplar residents, coming into ever-increasing conflict with the central authorities and the local government funding system. The crisis came in 1921, when Poplar Council refused to levy a portion of its rates. Poplar's fight took its Councillors to prison in September 1921. After six weeks, the courts released them from prison and the government changed the law to redistribute funding from richer to poorer boroughs: they had won! Over the following years, they continued to battle, but lost momentum. The book ends with a survey of outcomes and considers how this story has meaning today.

"In the 1920s, Poplar's Councillors and Guardians chose to fight. Had they chosen differently, we would not even remember them."

Contemporary black and white photos 234x156 mm; 213pp, Pbk ISBN
978 0 85036 694 5 GB Pounds 12.95

Oh, and there's a great foreword by John McDonnell.