Summer on the Estate, 1990

Documentary about the New Kingshold Estate, E9.

Struggles with the Council, the poll tax, squatters, asbestos, the daily grind.

There is also a 1995 follow up to the documentary, which concludes with the demolition of the estate’s tower blocks.

Also a set on flickr documenting the partial demolition of the estate.

Hackney Heckler issue 11, November 1992


Hackney Council prides itself on “Working for Local People”. It’s their buzzword, their slogan! They put it everywhere. And its a complete joke which just shows how out of touch the idiots are with our reality. That’s a reality of cockroach-infested flats, closed nurseries, crumbling schools, potholed roads, run-down libraries, higher and higher council rents. It’s a reality of collapsing local services, of more and more people struggling to stay above water.


And what do our beloved council leaders do? They boast about winning the City Challenge. Great! More expensive shops, more empty offices – while our homes rot around us. And more jobs for the boys / girls, more backhanders, more palms greased. Corruption? What corruption! And when those toe-rags aren’t boasting, they’re blaming council workers… or squatters… or Poll Tax non-payers. “It’s all their fault there’s such a crisis!” cry McCafferty, Shepherd, Craig and the rest of the Mare Street mafia. Talk about blaming other people for your problems, your mistakes, your stupidities.

The Mare Street mob just take the biscuit. The real problem – apart from being corrupt and cracked – is that they are a bunch of gutless, spineless tossers. Time again, the Government has starved Hackney of money – money desperately needed to maintain our services and standard of living. What do our glorious council leaders do? Whimper, whine, complain slightly… and do sweet F.A! They don’t care because they’ve got their power, their nice big salaries, their high-flying careers ahead of them – and they think we’re too stupid, too apathetic to do anything about the savage injustices they’re constantly imposing on us.


Well, we’ve got news for them. We showed our power through the Poll Tax when we stuffed both central government and the council. Poll Tax is now dead and buried thanks to our struggles, our fights, our solidarity. And we show our power whenever we work together as a community, helping each other – all the small deeds that help to make life a bit more bearable. We’ve shown what we can be capable of. The council leadership have shown that they’re only capable of being a bunch of shambling fools. We’ve got no time for the Tories or the Liberal Democrats: that’s just the same medicine but in a different bottle. If we really want something, the only people that can get it are us. Stuff the council, stuff the government – it’s time for a bit of people power.


After almost a year the Hackney Heckler is back. Now produced by members of the Colin Roach Centre, it will continue as a hard-hitting, funny and practical broadsheet. We aim to encourage people to organise and to take direct action about situations that affect their lives, as its obvious that we can’t rely on the government, the council, etc, to take the necessary action for us: we can only rely on ourselves!

On the recent huge miners’ demonstration Hackney Labour Group marched with their banner. Yet these same hypocrites support the council when it cuts jobs and services.

Hackney has a new centre set up with the aim of assisting people struggling together for a better future. It’s been named the Colin Roach Centre in memory of the young black man who was murdered in Stoke Newington Police Station in 1983. A number of groups and individuals are already involved with the centre, including the workers and some of the management committee of the Hackney Trade Union Support Unit (phone 071-249 8086), Hackney Community Defence Association (071-249 0193), and the Turkish and Kurdish community group Halkder, and the centre is developing a membership, supportive of those groups, but independent of them. For more information phone either of the numbers above.

The official opening of the Colin Roach Centre is to take place on January 12th 1993, the tenth anniversary of Colin’s death. A plaque will be unveiled at the centre, followed by the H.C.D.A. ‘We Remember’ Commemoration March to Stoke Newington Police Station, where wreaths will be laid in memory of all those who have died at the hands of Hackney police. Assemble 6:30pm in Bradbury Street on Tuesday 12th January. Bring your friends.


Did you hear the one about the police officer who was earning as much as £2000 per week from drug dealing? His name is Roy Lewandowski, a.k.a. Officer X, a one-time detective constable with Stoke Newington Drug Squad. Although not charged with drugs offences as yet, he’s just been in court on a theft charge, and is also facing charges of VAT fraud.

In Policespeak, this man is not a criminal, he’s “a rotten apple.” And he’s been taken out of the barrel – temporarily at least – because he’s been suspended from duty. Poor old Scotland Yard, hard pressed to deal with the booming drugs trade, had a problem choosing how to investigate Lewandowski and his mates. So they decided it should be an inside man – not just another officer from the Met., but an officer who knew both the area and the people involved.

Who better than Superintendant Ian Russell who used to work in Hackney. So long as the police investigate themselves, so long as Stoke Newington Drug Squad is investigated by Scotland Yard, so long as they appoint officers “familiar with the territory”, they treat our community with contempt. So long as they insist that it’s just a matter of a few rotten apples, and refuse to look at the opportunities for police crime and take away some of the police’s powers, our community will be the victims of crime – whether by ordinary decent criminals or police officers.


The council always tries to make its workers out to be the enemy, blaming them for lack of repairs, poor services, delayed benefit claims, whatever. As usual, they’re lying. Most council workers aim to do their best while being attacked by their management. The workers in Housing Benefits have shown a way forward; faced with a mounting workload, a management proposed staff reduction and a cut in wages they decided that enough was enough and walked out on strike. Four weeks strike got management to see the error of their ways. The workers didn’t get everything they wanted – but they certainly got a lot more than if they had just passively sat by while the council shat on them from a great height. It just shows: if you want something, you’ve got to fight for it..and there’s no use in complaining if you’re not willing to fight.


Most people will remember the storm over council corruption several months ago. A number of council workers were sacked because of allegations of corrupt practices. However, at the time, it was argued that many of those sacked were in fact innocent and the council were only trying to intimidate and frighten its workers while at the same time appearing to do something about corruption. One of those sacked, Julie Okoli, has now had her case heard by an Industrial Tribunal – the tribunal declared that there was no evidence whatsoever against her and awarded her substantial damages (though it’s never enough). Yet again this council is revealed to be a bunch of liars. Next time you hear MacCafferty, Craig or anyone else going on about this or that: remember that they always lie! Incidentally, why was MacCafferty never investigated for corruption – surely the evidence is strong enough or maybe because it’s only us poor bastards down at the bottom who get investigated?


The fight against fascism in Hackney has been going on for years. Hackney, for example, was at the forefront of the struggle against Oswald Moseley’s blackshirts in the 1930’s. In 1935, Moseley had tried to hold a ‘Nuremberg’ rally at the newly opened Olympia but anti-fascists protested and the resultant fascist violence in the hall disgusted many of his ‘respectable’ backers. In desperation the blacicshirts decid-ed to concentrate their efforts to promote fascism in east London. The centre of their propaganda was in Victoria Park Square.

Opposition was resolute. When the fascists planned a march from Victoria Park, anti-fascists mobilised to block the procession, in the ensuing punch-up there were many arrests. During the year there were many struggles in the park. On July 10th 1935, Israel Becow was arrested and charged with “using insulting words and behaviour” at a fascist meeting. Five days later Barney Becow faced similar charges. In addition he was accused of “assaulting a constable and…James Taylor, a fascist, by striking him on the face with his fist.”

Despite the opposition racist attacks continued at a high level. In 1937, two Asian men were pushing a barrow of tailor’s cuttings up Green Street. Some Nazis attacked them and were detained by the crowd. They were prosecuted in court but; “were dealt with leniently because the Indians… could not make themselves understood in the police court.” Racists mocked them from the gallery.

In 1938 another major confrontation took place outside the Salmon and Bull pub in Cambridge Road. Approximately 1000 fascists and their sympathisers were estimated by the police to have assembled. According to the police reports: “a large number of Communists and Jews” turned up to shout abuse. The fascists were again chased off. The most successful tactic employed by anti-fascists was to oppose all meetings on the street. In Ridley Road fascists spoke from a van. The Jewish People’s Council regularly disrupted them. The fight against fascism in Hackney took place on the streets. It did not die away with the defeat of Hitler. It is only by regular confrontation, in defiance of the authorities, that it will ever be banished from the borough, and the country.


Well, that’s a non-starter. We don’t need dope (or weed, draw, bush, hash, cannabis, call it what you will) as much as we don’t need tobacco, alcohol, tranquilisers, whatever. But a bit of dope can be as nice as a pint…if not nicer (especially if it’s good gear!)

Millions of people in this country smoke dope. It’s definetely less harmful than alcohol, tobacco or tranquilisers – but it’s still illegal. From the way the cops or the Government go on sometimes, you would have thought that smoking a bit of dope is like killing your granny. And when they’ve gone on about it, off they go down the pub (or into the drinks cabinet) and get sloshed. Did someone say hypocritical bastards?

Dope has been around for centuries – and for centuries it has been legally taken as a way of having a good time. After all, that’s partly what life is about – having a good time. So all our ancient relatives used to get very high without the fear of being busted. But this century the state decided to criminalise dope mainly because that’s what big business wanted. The reason for this was that hemp (from where dope comes) is an amazing plant that can produce rope, paper, clothes and many other things.

In the attempt to keep it illegal hemp has been researched more than any other plant, but the resarch has revealed many useful and ecologically sound applications. Hemp oil could be used as the substitute for the finest grade lubricating oils; at present they slaughter whales to refine such oils. Hemp has many medical qualities, it’s of known value against asthma, arthritis and rheumatism, is a tranquiliser and antibiotic. It’s less likely to cause cancer than many pharmaceutical drugs, and might even contain the cure to cancer. But the big paper and chemical companies didn’t like all of this because it was a threat to them – and, as they ran (and still run) the government, it was banned.

It’s still illegal now, partly because it gives the cops a good excuse to harass and criminalise us. And also if it was legalised, then the profits of the tobacco companies would drop (until one day there were Marlboro Leb Lights, etc!). A stoned Marlboro man – now, that’s a good thought.

Whatever: it’s time they got off our backs and let us smoke a bit of puff if we want to. The story of this is a classic example of the bosses and the state ruining our lives when all we want to do is to have a good time. Well, we’re having it whatever they’re doing – though it would be a nice change if they saw some sense (but we’re not taking any bets on that). All we can say is stay cool, stay free and get down.


PDF version available here.

Hackney Needs Socialism, 1978

A pamphlet from Hackney Communist Party is reproduced below. Or you can view and download a PDF here.

I’ve not been able to gauge the success of the publication as the Hackney Council election results for 1978 don’t appear to be online.

However this Wikipedia page reveals that the Labour Party controlled the Council between 1971-1990. By-election results from around that time show Hackney Communist Party picking up around 1 or 2% of the vote, lagging slightly behind the National Front candidates.


Housing, Planning, Social Services, Cleansing, Parks….

Building workers, home helps, dustmen, social workers…

Millions of pounds of our money…
This May, on Thursday May 4, we have the chance to elect ap new Council, for Hackney. This new Council will be in power for the next four years. It will decide how the borough’s essential services work, what new facilities should be started, how big Hackney’s housing programme will be and how our money is spent. It will represent the interests of Hackney people to the government, the Inner London Education Authority, the Greater London Council and other bodies.

This is a big job. We need to elect the best possible Council to serve our interests. This pamphlet argues the case-for electing a Council of a new type – A LEFT LABOUR AND COMMUNIST COUNCIL – pledged to the new, exciting policies of the PEOPLE’S CHARTER FOR HACKNEY. This new type of Council will represent Hackney people in a new way. It will be a Council which will involve us all. A Council which will introduce policies to benefit the people. A Council which will fight alongside working people for a socialist society where the people will hold power. A LEFT LABOUR AND COMMUNIST COUNCIL ELECTED BY THE PEOPLE FOR THE PEOPLE.

click to enlarge


Communists will fight for the principles of the People’s Charter to become the policy and practice of Hackney Council.

Bring the Council under the control of the people. Regular open meetings between councillors and local people to discuss Council affairs. Public question time at Council meetings. Publication of borough plans and policies. Consistent consultation between the Council and all democratic, representative organisations in Hackney such as the Trades Council, tenants’ movement and the Community Relations Council.

Priority to opening new factories and offices in Hackney. Full use of government job creation schemes. An emergency training scheme for unemployed young people. Close co-operation with unions and schools for better training, against unemployment and for trade union organisation in every workplace.

Expand day nurseries to give the parents of every child under five the choice of full day care. Provide more children’s entertainment and play space. Full education facilties for children under five.

Build new health centres. Employ Hackney’s full quota of health visitors. Modernise Hackney’s hospitals. Reverse the health cuts. Expand the health service.

Plan for the future. Blind new sports and community centres. Provide a community/children’s cinema, a theatre and an arts centre for Hackney. Preserve and modernise Hackney’s historic buildings. Make realities of Shoreditch and Shepherdess Parks. Put the unused open space sites into use now.

New youth clubs. Opportunities for a wide range of sports. Training and social facilities for unemployed youngsters. Homes for young couples and single young people. Provide free transport to the recreations facilities of the Lea Valley. An end to the neglect of youth.

Make Hackney’s streets safe. Full community involvement against vandalism. End police harrassment of black youth. London’s police must be answerable to the elected GLC. Unionise the police and bring them closer to the labour movement.

Fight against discrimination in jobs, housing, everywhere. Expand women’s health facilities. Provide good, free NHS abortion clinics in Hackney. Fight for first class maternity and child care facilities and benefits.

Return residential caretakers to the estates. Use the 5,000 empty homes in Hackney. Take over the homes owned by private landlords for the tenants. Enforce the Public Health and Housing laws. Keep rents down. No sale of Council homes. Expand the Council’s direct labour force and the housing and modernisation programmes. Increase housing action areas, improvement grants and the availability of low-cost Council mortgages for Hackney people. Fight for government housing grants and low-cost loans free from the high interests rates and control of the City of London.

Campaign for the introduction of a cheap, flat fare system and move towards free public transport. Build the Hackney tube. More buses on the routes and give buses priority. Re-open the line through Hackney station. Provide routes for cyclists.

Consistently attack the ideas and roots of racialism. No discrimination by public authorities and employers. Enforce the Race Relations Act and scrap all racialist laws. No ghetto estates. Work for a peaceful, harmonious Hackney on the principle One Race – The Human Race.

Improve staffing in Hackney schools. Expand courses at Hackney College. Provide more opportunities for backward readers, adult education and 6th form education.

click to enlarge


A People’s Charter For Hackney – the policy of the Hackney Communist Party – contains many forward steps for Hackney workers. Hackney Communists, alongside many other local people, often say that to solve Hackney’s problems we need socialism. Just what does this mean?

British Communists see socialism as a society where working people – by our own efforts – will rule our country. Where the economy will be owned and controlled by the people and the production of goods and services will be to meet people’s needs. Where democracy will flower. Where the rights we have won by generations of struggle to freedom of speech, free trade unions, one person one vote and other civil and political liberties will be made absolutely secure and introduced into other areas of life. Socialism will be a society where poverty, unemployment, bad housing, official discrimination, bureaucratic misrule will be just nightmares of the past.

A full strategy for achieving a socialist Britain and an outline of what socialism in Britain would mean is presented in the new edition of the Communist Party’s programme – The British Road to Socialism. Looking at the present mess which Hackney is in – from which local people suffer – there is no doubt – HACKNEY NEEDS SOCIALISM.


Hackney needs socialism. But the present Labour Council is doing very little to win it. For the last four years every councillor elected to Hackney Council has been Labour. During these four years the all-Labour Council has done some good things for the people of Hackney. For example, the Council’s Library service has helped many people learn to read through the adult literacy scheme. The Social Services department has provided many holidays and aids for disabled people. Some new housing estates have been built. Despite these positive points, the overall record of the Labour Council has been one of dismal failure – notably on housing, children’s facilities, planning and jobs.



Over 5,000 Hackney homes are empty while thousands queue on the housing waiting list. Tens of thousands of Hackney people still live in over-crowded homes lacking basic facilities in Beck, Jenner, Dunsmure Roads and hundreds like them. The housing programme has been cut back by the Labour government – without serious protest from the Council. Private landlords continue their exploitation of tenants and the Council does little to see that the Public Health and Housing Laws are enforced. Residential caretakers have been withdrawn from estates so vandalism and dilapidation are on the increase.

One statistic tells the sad story. Over 6,000 children in Hackney need day nureery care. There are just 470 places.

click to enlarge

Hackney is run down – but the Council hasn’t even got a plan on paper to revitalise the borough and make Hackney a better place to live. Despite the promises nothing constructive has been to halt the decline – especially in Shoreditch, Stoke Newington, Hoxton and Homerton.

In the last four years unemployment in Hackney has reached post war records. Youth unemployment is the worst ever. The lives of thousands of families and young people are being blighted. Not only have the Council failed to put any significant pressure on the government for action – it hasn’t even made full use of the Job Creation scheme and is directly to blame for some of the unemployment.

In many other areas such as caring for the elderly, working for a good public transport system and a first class health service, ensuring that people, know their legal rights to government benefits and even in just keeping the borough clean Hackney Council has done far worse than many other Labour Councils.

Now Hackney Council seems to be making a mess of the partnerhip scheme which might bring benefits to Hackney.

Why has the Labour Council done so badly?
After all, most Labour councillors do genuinely want to help make Hackney a better place to live. The great majority of Labour voters support Labour because they believe Labour stands for the working people and a better future.

There are two main reasons for the failure of the Labour Council in Hackney to work for the benefit of working people. The first reason is that politically the great majority of the councillors in Hackney are right wing Labour. The right wing Labour councillors are opposed to fighting for working class rights, they do not believe in creating a socialist Britain, they do not appreciate the need for unity and struggle if the causes of working people are to triumph. Communists – and workers in struggle – know that in working class districts like ours we have to fight for every gain, for every penny from the government, GLC, ILEA, and other bodies. Most of all, we have to fight – with real unity, strength and determination against the big firms who use workers, and areas like Hackney, for their profiteering – investing one minute, asset-stripping the next, underpaying us in their factories one day, closing down the next if their profits aren’t big enough.

The second main reason is that the Labour Council is actually frightened of the people. They don’t want to operate in a democratic, open way – sharing facts and information with the people. This has led to attempted Council cover-ups on some of the most urgent issues facing people – such as the housing and empty homes scandal and the lack of day nursery care – which have only come to light thanks to exposes by the Communist Party and the Hackney Gazette. The same is probably true on other issues – but people don’t know because the Council won’t even give us the facts – let alone the solutions.


click to enlarge


Hackney Communists argue that the way forward for working class people in Hackney in the May elections is to elect a Left Labour and Communist Council. This means electing – for the first time for some years – Communist councillors in Hackney. For most people this proposal raises some big questions:-

*Who are the Communists in Hackney?
*What chance is there of electing Communists to the Council?
*What record do Hackney Communists have?
*Will the Communists keep their pledges? Are the Communists democratic?
*Why will a left Labour and Communist Council be any different?

Who are the Communists in Hackney?

There are over 320 members of the Communist Party in Hackney and many more sympathisers and supporters. Local Communists work in every major industry and trade in the borough.

People just like you!

click to enlarge

What chance is there of electing Communists?

It all depends on you. In the last local elections in 1974 about 1 in 10 of the people who voted in areas where there were Communist candidates voted Communist. This election the Communist Party is much stronger. In the last election many people who agreed with Communist policies voted Labour or didn’t vote at all. If everyone who agrees with Communist policies votes Communist then there is no doubt – Communists will be elected to the Council.

What record do Hackney Communists have?

Many people appreciate the consistent service of Hackney Communists to the community. Communists hold elected, responsible jobs in almost all the major unions, community groups, tenants’ associations and other organisations of the borough’s people. The photos here give a glimpse of Hackney Communists in action.

click to enlarge

Will Communists keep their pledges? Are they democratic?
Communists, unlike other political parties, don’t promise the moon before every election in order to get votes. Our pledge is to fight with every ounce of our strength for working class rights in every area and on every issue. The policies we put forward are certainly policies which would benefit working people in Hackney. They will only be achieved by our uniting together and struggling to get them put into practice. We say “together we can change society, we can win advances, we can achieve socialism.” There is no political party in Britain which has done as much for democracy as the Communist Party.

We have fought consistently for people to have control over all the major aspects of life – at work, at home, in the community. Communists have been in the forefront of the many struggles to advance the freedom of workers to organise, for freedom from discrimination on the grounds of sex, race or religion, for freedom of speech and access to the diass media and a whole host of other democratic struggles. The freedom to which Communists are opposed is the freedom of capitalists to exploit workers.

Why will a Left Labour and Communist Council be any different?

Electing Communists to Hackney Council would have a dramatic effect. Left wingers in the Labour Party – the minority who are prepared to come into action for working class rights – would start to fight with new spirit, determination and understanding for real progress. The Labour right wingers who care more for power than for people would soon be isolated and defeated. Communist councillors will set new standards and will be approachable, democratic, fully committed to the causes of working people and the most resolute fighters for working class advance. A new Council, a Left Labour and Communist Council working with the people on all major questions will emerge. This Council will be different in the forward looking policies it will introduce, in the way it will work with Hackney people and in the way it will work for unity to win immediate improvements and socialist changes.


In today’s political situation a Left Labour and Communist Council is the only positive alternative to the present bureaucracy-ridden, right wing all-Labour Council. But, Labour and Communists will not be the only candidates standing in the May elections. Liberals and Tories will also be standing. Votes for these candidates are votes to drag the people backwards.

Not many people in Hackney support the Liberals – after all what do they really stand for? At present, the Liberals in Parliament support the right-wing Labour government but they are basically in favour of capitalism – the system where a small minority of rich owners exploit the labour and the needs of the great majority. Sometimes the Liberals stand on the right side – for instance many Liberals are deeply opposed to racialism. But generally, Liberal policies are against the interests of working people and in the interests of our enemies – the bosses.

The Liberals are in favour of capitalism – the Tories are the high priests of profit. Tories go for policies such as stopping free milk for school children, attacking the home-less, increasing unemployment to keep down wages, destroying the national health service so that only the rich can afford good medical care, cutting back of education facilities in working class districts while giving tax relief to the private ‘public schools’ of the rich. A Tory Council would mean fewer homes, higher Council charges, worse services, higher rents. It would be a disaster.

Hackney’s working class want to advance, not retreat. We do not need the Tories or Liberals.

click to enlarge


An especial danger in these elections are the candidates of the National Front. We urge you not to support these fascists who are in a league of violence, hatred and contempt for people all of their own. The National Front are the thugs of modern politics.

Everywhere the National Front goes there is violence. They are against democracy and want to impose a dictatorship on Britain. They are against free speech. They hate Britain and wish that Britain had lost the second world war so that the fascists of Nazi Germany could have established their dictatorship here. In recent elections some people – too many – have been tricked into voting for the National Front, thinking that they give an answer to Britain’s problems.


The National Front have only one answer to every problem – Hate – no answer at all.


Electing a Left Labour and Communist Council in Hackney would be a big step forward for all the working people of Hackney. It is very important for all our futures that such a Council is elected in the May Council elections. Hackney Communists hope that you will use your votes for the Communist candidate or candidates in your ward and for the most socialist of the Labour candidates. We also hope you will join us in campaigning for a Left Labour and Communist Council and persuade your friends, neighbours and workmates to do the same.

Not all the problems in the borough have been caused by Hackney Council’s timid conservative policies. The background, the main cause of all the social problems, crises, difficulties, poverty, lack of opportunity which affects so many of us in Hackney is that Britain is still ruled by a small group of wealthy people who own and control the country’s wealth and resources. This out of date system – capitalism – is dedicated to the pursuit of individual profits at the expense of the needs and wishes of working people who create the country’s wealth.

It must be changed and replaced by a socialist society before our problems can be finally and completely overcome. A fighting Left Labour and Communist Council can do much today to win necessary improvements, eliminate bad administration, and involve people in deciding the local policies which affect our lives. Just as important, such a Council will lead the people in the borough in our struggle for socialist change and help us to make our maximum contribution to the movement in Britain to win real democracy and socialism.

click to enlarge


Building a better future for us all in Hackney starts at the ballot box – it doesn’t end there. The most important, and most difficult task, is to bring together the talents and energies of our people to work in unity for real improvements and for a future where working people – not millionaires – will hold power.

Hackney Communists, as shown in this pamphlet – and as shown in real life – work consistently for such a future. For working people to have success, to achieve our dreams of a free, just, socialist society where poverty, unemployment, bad housing and oppression are just history we need a much bigger Communist Party.

The Communist Party is the one Party which devotes all its energies to uniting the people in struggle for socialist change. The contribution of every member of the Communist Party – however big or small – is greatly valued and speeds the day when socialism will become a reality. We extend a warm invitation to you to join us.



Do you want to know more about Hackney Communist Party?

Call in/write to Hackney Communist Party, 12 Leaside Road, E.5.

Photographs by Ernie Greenwood 1978

click to enlarge

Hackney Heckler issue 9, August 1991


Renewed eviction of squatters is necessary, according to Housing Chair Linda Hibbard, because there are 3,000 families in temporary accommodation.

Yet Linda can hardly accuse anyone of queue jumping. Her stepson jumped straight into an empty flat on the Pembury estate and, surprisingly, the flat never appeared on the vacant properties list!

The Tories also know who to prioritise for local housing need. Themselves! Hackney Tory Chair Joan Hillier has wangled a brand new 2 bedroom flat in Evering Road from government funded Everbrook Housing Co-op. Not exactly homeless, Joan owns her own 3 storey house just around the corner in Nonott Road.

Queue jumping or plain corruption? This is even more sickening since this Tory government has stopped councils from building more homes. They are also pushing the sell-off of estates to private landlords using housing mismanagement by councils like Hackney to boost their argument. This can only mean higher rents and slum conditions. Hackney’s ‘keys for cash’ scandal gives council top dogs the excuse for more victimisation of both residents and employees. Council snoopers hunt ‘non-legal’ residents in all council properties.

When housing workers stage a walk-out after intimidation during the supposed ‘clamp-down’ one worker who tries to organise a union meeting on the issue is threatened with arrest. By threatening to evict people who have been sold keys in the same way as squatters and ‘putting the boot in’ to understaffed, overworked employees, the Council is once again trying to shift the blame from itself!

What we cannot do is to let ordinary workers and residents become the victims of council and government blame shifting. We should refuse to co-operate with housing snoopers, fight intimidation of workers and resist all evictions!

• HOUSING IN CRISIS A PUBLIC MEETING ON Thurs. 5th. September. AT Chats Palace Brookesby Walk Homerton,E8


After the councils last firm of bailifs got sick of wearing armour when they came to Hackney. And almost went bust, trying to collect the poll tax. Their replacements, Gauts, are trying every trick they know,to avoid the same fate. Including threats that they can break in, and steal our worldly goods. THEY CAN’T. Remember, they can only come in if we let them. If they try it we should give them the same reception as the last lot, by sticking together, with friends and neighbours to stop them. If you want more info, on baillifs and your rights, send us an S.A.E.

Janet Jones, former Director of corruption riddled Hackney Housing Department, is now reported to be living in Brazil. We all know how Ronnie Biggs made his fortune but how did Janet come by her loot…

PIOs (Protecting Intended Occupier) are a legal device for removing squatters from flats already allocated to tenants. But dodgy housing officers (and we know who you are D03….) use fake PIOs to throw people out on the street and earn a fortune by letting out the flats at rip-off rents. One high rank-ing housing officer who knows what’s going on is Robert Brewer (D02). Why isn’t he telling the truth?

Cockroach infested flats are not nice. Obvious? Not to the council it’s not. After being taken to court by fed-up Kingshold estate tenants claiming compensation for years of creepy crawly and asbestos misery, the council was ordered to pay compensation. Instead of paying up the council decided to waste thousands more pounds of our money and appealed… It lost again! The tenants were awarded even more compensation. We should all follow this example and make the council pay. If you have suffered enough and want to sue, Hackney Citizens’ Rights Croup at 136/8 Kingsland High Street may be able to help.


Council homes have been privately existent claimants have claimed, and rented, keys have been sold, non-much, much more.

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t fiddle from work? For many people it’s just another way of making life that little bit more survivable.

But some council workers have been well out of order, they’ve been not only screwing the bosses but us as well. They have been exploiting their own class like slum landlords lining their own pockets while thousands of us rot on the waiting list!

The council are doing something! They have suspended some workers and are to start a snooping campaign to find out who lives where and evict those who shouldn’t be there.

But just because people have been suspended doesn’t mean they’re guilty, and people who don’t have a tenancy still need somewhere to live. We’ve got no time for dodgy housing officers. But we’ve got even less time for the council who are using these people as scapegoats to frighten and discipline the workers and to take attention away from the cock-up called housing they’ve created.

Bosses like McCafferty and Finance Director Mike Craig are the real criminals. Not only have they happily passed on massive cuts from central government, shut libraries and stopped repairs, they have also had their fingers in the pie.

Remember that poll tax computer contract Mikey boy, remember your brother-in-law Johnny. Now that’s real crime — crime that McCafferty and Craig are joined in by the government and the bosses.


Hackney E8

Dear Hackney Heckler,

I am writing to say I think the Hackney Heckler is wonderful. When it came through the letterbox over 6 months ago, I thought oh no not another circular, but I read it and I cracked up when you suggested that some council official “very much appreciated calls to his house, his address is…” or words to that effect, and ever since I have always read it. I am tired of the cockroaches, I am tired of the rubbish, and I am tired of middle-class academics (though most of them aren’t because they aren’t that intelligent) dressing up these problems in unobtain-able English which makes them sound as if they are not that bad after all, I like it that Hackney Heckler calls a spade a spade. Keep up the good work.


PS hove your sense of humour, it is hard to laugh when you live in Hackney but you make me do it.


When the bailiffs have failed to enter my home and remove my ‘chattels’, Hackney council will probably take me back to court and I’ll get chucked in jail for being a revolting peasant.

Keeping me in jail will cost the state £300 a week and cost me my job. This will mean that my husband will have to sign on because my earnings support both of us. When I come out of prison I will have to sign on the dole and apply for housing benefit. I will have a criminal record that will make it difficult to get another job. I will have trouble adjusting to being unemployed and will become a bitter individual who will have lost faith in the judicial system. Whilst I am unemployed I will be able to devote more time and energy to activities which attack the system which put me in this predicament in the first place. I am one individual who will probably end up being a state ‘liability’ (ha ha). I will cost the state thousands of pounds. There are millions of us. Sending me to jail will not TEACH me anything, it will confirm what I already know, the system sucks!


Our health is up for grabs with hospitals all over the country being forced to ‘opt out’ leading to huge cuts in funding, job losses and obviously a deterioration in our health.

When we say our health, we don’t mean the middle class who are turning their backs on the NHS with the increase in private health schemes. Wealth = health, as the saying goes! Some say this is the end of a health service which serves the nation as a whole. Rubbish! The rich have always bought their health, from Harley Street quacks to consultants visiting them at home. Our health service has never been adequate, despite the myths about the ‘good old days’. Poor pay and lack of funding has always been a feature ef the NHS under both Tory and Labour governments.

By getting hospitals to become self-financing trusts, the government can blame individual hospitals for inefficiency whilst all the time slashing the level of funding. Advertising and sponsorship are to provide the cash in the future. A top marketing consultant backed by the government suggests “someone like Mothercare could sponsor the children’s ward, and patients would be provided with Mothercare products when they leave the ward.” No doubt they’ll be wanting British Nuclear Fuels to adopt the cancer clinics! The drug companies are already making billions out of our bad health, now others want to get a look in.

The whole thing will end up with the kind of fiasco we have with local councils like Hackney. The govern-ment blames the council, the council blame the government. The government forces cuts, the council carries them out and our services disappear down the plughole. But all is not lost.

Nurses have already organised demonstrations and pickets outside hospitals. We shouldn’t wait for the day we get too ill to complain about the long waiting lists or abysmal service. We need to stand up and fight for a decent health service now, joining demonstrations and talking to friends, neighbours and workmates about the state of the NHS. In the coming months things will be coming to a crunch over the government’s opt out schemes. We should all let it be known to health workers that we will fight with them, even if it comes to strike action, which in the short term may hit us, but in the long term will secure a better health service for us all.


In the aftermath of the well publicised raid, people on the Pembury estate did’nt fall for the “facts” they were presented with.

They saw the siege of their estate and the heavy policing afterwards, as affecting them and not just the so called drugs dealers, and got together to “sort things out”. Diane Abbot attended, and was obviously shocked by what they had to say. Because the next day, she warned the council to guard against fed-up residents,who were thinking of taking over the estate and running it for themselves.

She’s right, they should be scared! When new management practices were introduced, supposedly because of fraud. Council workers saw them for what they were, attacks on themselves, and staged several walkouts. And when the council sacked an employee because he was a squatter, the whole department went on indefinite strike until he was re-instated. Other workers, facing the same fate, have now had the threat lifted.

Yes, they’re scared of us! They know that we smashed the poll-tax and got rid of Thatcher. And we can stop their “plans” for us.

That’s why they keep trying to make us blame each other, it stops us uniting and making “plans” for them. Putting them where they belong – in the dustbin of history!


An international conference for those who want to REALLY change the world. To be held in Hackney September 23rd-27th. For more info write to London Class War, PO Box 467, London E8 3QX

  • Hackney Heckler is a bi-monthly, free news sheet produced by HACKNEY SOLIDARITY GROUP
  • We all live or work in Hackney and are sick of what we see around us and want to do some-thing about it. The Heckler aims to encourage struggle for a decent life for all.
  • We welcome contributions and reports. What’s happening on your estate? Which councillors are corrupt? Who’s the worse boss in Hackney?
  • We also welcome donations and help with distribution (we currently get rid of 10,000).
  • If you want to guarantee getting the next issue of the Heckler, send us an SAE.
  • Write to us at Hackney Heckler, PO Box 824, London N1 9DL


It’s tighten our belts time again. ‘The country” we are told, “is in deep recession. Wage demands must be sensible.”

Homes are repossessed. Holidays cancelled. Cars sold. Real wages are cut. That’s the reality of a recession for us. Hard times!

What about the fat cats? Are they suffering alongside us? How sensible are the wage increases they award themselves?

Michael Hoffman, chief executive at Thames Water. His pay has just gone up from £41,000 to £157,435. A fast flowing 383%!

Iain Vallence, boss of British Telecom, who has just sacked 20,000 workers and offered those remaining a 6.1% rise. A 43% long distance hike to £536,303. Definitely not working for us!

Robin Leigh-Pemberton, aristocratic governor of the Bank of England. An interest-raising 16.9% (almost sensible by comparison, but still way above anything we are offered) taking his whack to a modest £155,019!

One thing’s for clear, it’s one law for them and another law for us. But we’re happy to introduce some real wealth redistribution. It’s happened before and it will happen again.

In the meantime our first demand must be that our pay increases are the same! We’re sure that everyone reading the Heckler could do with an increase of 383%. We might even moderate our demands to accept 43% all round!

Some people have suggested that one solution is eating the rich. While we can understand peoples’ desires for dishes such as boiled banker, barbecured boss or politician pie, we feel that a much more permanent solution is needed.

This solution puts an end to legalised robbery carried out on us at work, at home and in the shops. It puts an end to these smug fools ordering us about. It’s about giving what we can and taking what we need — it’s about a world based on human need, not the ruthless greed of the ruling class.


If you like the Heckler you might also like our monthly video and discussion nights at the RIO cinema.

Wednesday 26th August. “Partizans” introduce videos on native peoples’ struggles against land exploitation.

Sunday 29th September. Special screening of RIFF RAF to coincide with “Our time will come” conference.

PDF version available here.

The Anti-University, Shoreditch 1968


The above map is taken from the excellent Antihistory website:

This is a research blog collecting material related to the Antiuniversity of London and related initiatives.

The Antiuniversity of London was a shortlived and intense experiment into selforganised education and communal living that took off at 49 Rivington Street in Shoreditch in February 1968

This blog will be ongoingly developed as more material comes to light. As part of this process contact has been made with various people connected to the Antiuniversity. It is to be hoped that visitors to this site will feel free to comment upon the documents collected here as well as, if they were participant in any way, share their remininscences, and knowledge of people involved in the Antiuniversity. Interviews, films and more material will be added as the project develops. The antihistory blog has been set up to share these histories and activate them once more.

Hackney Communist Party, 1950s

Below are some extracts from the pamphlet “Poor Lenin” by Bob Darke. This was published by Irate Press and can be read in full over at Libcom.

The pamphlet is itself extracted from the 1952 Darke’s book “The Communist Technique in Britain”:

I guess the book being published by Penguin has to be seen in the context of the anti-communist sentiment of the time.

Steve Silver, formerly of Searchlight, suggests that it was “ghost written” (and also includes some interesting information about Darke’s daughter continuing his commitment to anti-fascism).

(As a further aside, Gerry Gable – the first editor of Searchlight, was previously a member of Hackney Communist Party, standing as one of its candidates in the 1962 council elections in Stamford Hill).

It’s tempting to say that Darke must have been doing something right if he could unite anarchists and New Labour Councillors in their admiration for him.

Whatever the ins and outs of it all, this century has seen the Hackney CPGB greatly reduced in its influence, not that this stops the faithful celebrating minor “victories”.

I’ll post up some more positive HCP material soon.

Why Communism

“I joined the Party because I could no longer tolerate a system which I believed to be bad. Party propaganda had told me that the system was doomed anyway and my efforts would hasten its end. I wanted to work for the improvement of society, for freedom, justice, progress, and the full expression of Man’s talent and ability. I still want to work for these things, but I know that I cannot do so inside the Party, that Communism will not bring them.”

The Party, Hackney Secretariat and democracy

‘The British Communist Party is controlled, rigidly and unquestioningly, from its glass-wailed headquarters near Covent Garden. It may not admit this, not openly, for that would suggest that all the rank-and-filer had to so was to keep in step. But it is a fact, just the same, although there is a perverse form of democracy on paper.”

“Consider the Hackney Borough Secretariat, for example. This is led at the moment by the Secretary, Comrade John Betteridge, an able, agile, and resolute man who models himself diligently on Comrade Melenkov of the Soviet Politburo. Comrade Betteridge’s parish may be a little smaller than the Russian comrade’s, but he has the same authority within its limits. The members of his Secretariat are carefully chosen so that all activity in the borough, industrial, social, professional, and racial, is represented on it”

“At any given moment someone on the Secretariat could give a detailed picture of the day-to-day problems in any one of those spheres – with the Communist solution to them, of course. The democratic nature of the branch is written in the scriptures. Theoretically all members of the Secretariat are elected by the body of the branch once a year at an aggregate meeting. They are subject, once more theoretically, to a majority vote, to the approval of the rank and file, and must be re-elected or rejected annually. You can not quarrel with that, can you?”

“Then how does it work in practice? Each year the existing Secretariat draws up its own panel of names for the new Secretariat It does this after it has consulted with the London District Committee (which is the co-ordinating authority of all branches in the London area). The Secretariat is often so satisfied with its work during the past year that it suggests that it should be elected en bloc. Of course, the London District may not agree, in which case changes will he made in the list.The panel is then placed before the aggregate meeting and comrades are invited to vote on it They have absolute freedom of choice. They may vote Yes or No. Of course No would be a wasted vote, for there is no alternative to the panel.”

Funding the Hackney Branch

“A Communist branch is expected to support itself financially. The money goes upward in the Communist Party not downward. If gold does come from Moscow, I never heard of any that reached Hackney. Payment for branch officials must be found by members, nobody is more enthusiastic in seeing that it is collected than the officials themselves.”

“The weekly membership subscription is fourpence, and since a large proportion of this is passed up the line to the District Committee it is obvious that a branch cannot support itself by subscriptions alone. The money must come from somewhere else. Thus it is that the Communist has a red flag in one hand and a collecting box in the other. […]If you want a workmate at the bench to donate sixpence to this or that fighting fund you’ve got to keep talking to him. And if he only parts with with the sixpence to stop you talking then half of the battle has been won at any rate.”

“Regularly every Friday, at the gates of factories, in canteens, workshops, at dockyard gates, in council flats and transport depots in Hackney, the good comrade may be seen rattling a box or waving raffle tickets and calling:

‘Help the Party, comrades! The Communist Party! The only party that fights for the workers!’

“There’s always some Party cause to be in need of money. The Daily Worker Fighting Fund. The Peace Campaign. The latest martyr’s defence fund. The Rent Committee’s Defence Fund. The Anglo-Iron-Curtain Society’s Fund. The International Brigade… the Strike Committee… the Spanish Prisoners. Always a fund. Always a fund because the branch is always in desperate need of money.”

Communist Living Rooms

“The Hackney Borough Secretariat meets once a week, not at Branch Headquarters, for there is none. The Party owns no property in the borough and has no fixed meeting place. It meets at this or that comrade’s house. Thus does it save money and thus does it tie each comrade’s private life more closely to the Party wheel. No Communist can indulge his fancy for bourgeois tastes when they are likely to come under the scrutiny of his Party associates. I have known Party members to sit in their own living-rooms without protest while other members of the Secretariat ridiculed and censured their choice of furniture, curtains, honks, newspapers, even toys for their children.”

“Secretariat meetings are conducted briskly and efficiently. The wife of the comrade in whose home the meeting takes place may take part if she is a Party member if not her place is in the kitchen making tea. The Secretary calls the meeting to order and the members sitting comfortably on the floor (for who in Hackney has fourteen chairs in his living-room?), quickly get down to business.”

Selling The Paper

“The Hackney Communist party, in common with other branches, has one supreme obligation. It is to sell the Daily Worker wherever and whenever possible. Each comrade is geared to this massive circulation drive and the harder he works the harder he has to work. […] The selling of the Daily Worker is organised like a military campaign, with a tactical appreciation of the strategical situation. On Saturday afternoons and evenings the branch membership turns out en masse to sell the special edition of the Worker – in Ridley Road, in the Jewish quarter, in markets, outside cinemas and dance-halls.”

“Hackney Communists sell about 20,000 extra copies of the Daily Worker every Saturday. Some Communists work themselves into nervous breakdowns over this business of selling the Worker. The Dalston bus garage has a Worker-seller outside the doors every Friday morning when union subscriptions are paid. where Party members have reported that a block of flats is sympathetic to the Party then it is invaded almost daily by comrades who knock at every door and flourish a copy of the paper under every nose.”

Hackney Factories

“In addition to the torrent of literature that flooded down to us from the District we had our own output in Hackney which a comrade printer turned off the machine for us. We selected factories for special types of propaganda. If there was a local strike on we make a point of rushing out a special pamphlet on it. We studied the habits of workers in different factories, where they ate, whether they sat outside the gates at dinnertime, what their routes homeward were. We waylaid them with literature, with loudspeaker vans, we harried them, we pursued them, we captured them. We worked, still they work tirelessly.”

“There is no special Party police, nobody detailed to watch you and see that you exert the last ounce of energy. Not one comrade really trusts another, however And weaknesses will be exposed by denunciation. We worked in every section of Hackney life that mattered to the wide political baffle, and that means every section there was – even creches. We worked, and I repeat the Party still works, in unions, schools, hospitals, factories, garages, flats, clubs, dance-halls, canteens. We had the run of the kerbstones and the playgrounds. We had our finger on the carotid artery of the borough…”

Hackney Cycle Speedway Club

“…The best example I can quote, since I was personally concerned, is the case of the Hackney Cycle Speedway Club. This was formed after the war and had a membership of some sixty boys and girls in their teens. At the time the Party became interested in it, it was a happy, non-political group without a Communist in it, except perhaps a couple of Young Communist Leaguers who, I suspect, joined it at as a relaxation. One of these Young Communist Leaguers innocently asked me, as a Borough Councillor, to help the club get a cycle track, a bomb-site which they wished to convert into a cinder-way. The club had three teams and wanted to know whether the LCC would grant them the use of a bomb-site. I put the situation to the Borough Secretariat and got their approval. To support me I had the local unions swing into line, pass resolutions, make representations. We built up quite a pressure on the subject and eventually the boys and girls got their cycle track.”

“At the big meeting held to celebrate the success of the campaign and the opening of the track the Party sent the YCL into action. Many of them had been told to join anyway, while the agitation was going on. Party literature was on sale during the meeting; copies of Challenge, the YCL paper. contained a special article by me. It was called ‘Fighting for youth facilities while money is being spent on war’. More and more young Communists joined the club and the sellers of Challenge made a straight target of it. Having secured the club’s goodwill by leading the fight for its cinder-track the Party decided that the YCL should recruit every member of the club into the Party and get every one of them to sign the Peace Petition.”


“To work for these things the Communist will even break union rules. In my own time on the Hackney Trades Council I have eased through Communist-inspired resolutions on peace,on Korea, on Russia, long after the fixed time for union business to end. I have eased through those resolutions knowing that the men who might have opposed them and defeated them have looked at the clock and gone home.”

“And while I have stood there in the meeting hall proposing the motions I have known that a runner was waiting outside, ready to take the result of the vote to the Daily Worker; where a hole in the paper was waiting to be filled with: ‘Twenty thousand Hackney workers oppose Marshall Aid!’…”

Dissent, and shopping

“Of course, if any party member is fool enough to voice a mild protest about this forcible sale of literature, honks and theatre tickets, there is a ready answer for him. ‘what are you complaining about? You know what Lenin said? Propaganda is the greatest weapon. Lenin always said something. I can afford to smile now at the East End busman who once looked me straight in the eye without a flicker of a smile and said, ‘Blimey, Bob did Lenin have an answer for everything?’…'”

“Most women, even Communists’ wives, like to do their shopping where they wish. But a Communist’s wife gets little opportunity if her husband is well disciplined. And there is always someone to see where your wife does her shopping. This is how the conversation went with me once: ‘I saw your wife going into X’s shop the other day, Bob. why?’ ‘To buy something probably.’ ‘This isn’t a funny matter, Comrade Darke. Doesn’t she know that man is a Tory? Why doesn’t she shop at the Co-op?’ ‘She probably doesn’t want to.’ ‘It’s not a question of what she wants. She’s your wife; get her to join the Co-op. We should build up Party strength in the Co-op guilds, you know that. Let’s not see it happening again.’ My self discipline was good. I accepted the whip. I told Ann. But I wouldn’t like to repeat what she said. She didn’t have my self-discipline…”

Communist style and fashion: a bourgeois tie

“The party will take a maternal interest even in the dress of those comrades it sees as prestige winners. when I first stood for the local council elections I had my photograph taken for the propaganda sheets and posters.I took a sheet along to the Borough Secretary for approval. I have the average East Ender’s liking for colour,and the tie i had been wearing for this photograph was no exception to that taste. The Secretary looked at it ad looked at me and then roundly abused me for being photographed in a ‘bourgeois tie’.”

“There seemed no point in telling him what he should know, that any working class lad from Hackney puts on a coloured tie when he takes his Sunday morning walk down the Lane. I couldn’t see that I was betraying my class by conforming to it. ‘Communists standing for election,’ I was bluntly told, ‘must have no bourgeois contamination. Fancy a comrade like you standing as a representative of our Party wearing spotted tie. Get some more pictures taken this afternoon, this time in a dark tie.’
‘I can’t go today. I’m working.’
‘Take the day off then. You’ve got to make sacrifices for the Party.’


“Both the Borough Secretariat of Hackney and the London District Committee could never understand why Ann was not a Party member They knew that many ordinary comrades found it difficult to recruit their wives, but few Party leaders were married to non-Communist women. It was a paradox to them. It was more, it was a challenge.”

“One day, during an intense new membership drive, Ann came to me and silently showed me an envelope she had received. Inside was a Party card, made out in her name and stamped with two months subscriptions. Together with it was a registration slip on which new members were supposed to list particulars of their age, place of work, union, position in the union and so on. All this had been filled in for Ann, by somebody at Parry Headquarters.”

“Ann said nothing to me, she just left the card in my hand. Later in the day my father sent a similar envelope round to me. There was another Party card in it made out in his name. I took them both round to the Secretariat, but they got a blow in first. ‘Bob, both your wife and your dad are a couple of months behind in their subs. We’ve stuck the stamps on, but just let us have the money, will you?’
They didn’t get the money, and maybe they didn’t like the way I was looking for they didn’t press the point. Anyway the cards went in the kitchen fire.”