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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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4 thoughts on “Hackney Needs Socialism, 1978

  1. Pingback: Hackney Communist Party banner, 1952 | The Radical History of Hackney

  2. Pingback: Communist Plan for Life in Hackney (1930s) | The Radical History of Hackney

  3. Pingback: Women in the Hackney “rag trade” (1980s) | The Radical History of Hackney

  4. Pingback: Hackney’s racist police in the 1940s | The Radical History of Hackney

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