Charles Foster has very kindly donated a large quantity of Hackney radical newspapers from the 1970s and early 1980s. I shall do my best to document them, or at least give a general flavour.
The first set seem to be three issues of Peoples Paper, from 1971. According to the official Hackney Archives this publication began the previous year as Stoke Newington Peoples Paper.
As you will see, the wording and design of the masthead was a bit, er, fluid. Each issue is tabloid (A3) and is an elegant four pages (i.e. front cover, two inside pages, back cover).
Click on the images below for larger versions. Update Feb 2020: you can now view each of these issues as PDFs here.
Issue 4 has an open letter on the front page to the Hackney Labour Party (who had just regained control of the Council) demanding that they pursue a socialist agenda. Specifically by:
- Opposing the Industrial Relations Bill, and Immigration Bill.
- Freezing rents on Council housing (and building more)
- Abolishing fares on public transport for old people
- Supporting claimants
“We intend to remain the only independent Socialist paper in Hackney, and we’ll support you when you remain loyal to the people, and we’ll expose you when you behave like tories!!”
Also this issue:
- The immigration bill: a slaves charter,
- Why do prices rise? [economics, including a note saying The Peoples Association intend to hold a series of classes on economics and for interested people to get in touch]
- Housing and Welfare Rights [claiming for free school meals / exposing local mortgage and furniture hire purchase adverts]
- Poetry from local children
- Snippets [Centerprise publications, lack of new health centres]
And a list of local groups and contacts:
Issue 5 leads with a story about the declining quality of medical care for mothers in the borough, including four case studies.
The front cover also includes “Insite: from the diary of a mad building worker” on how builders should unionise and organise against the Industrial Relations Bill.
Inside this issue there is a full page on “What Are Claimants Unions”, and a smaller piece on The National Organisation For the Defence of Prisoners And Dependants.
There’s some gloriously snippy sectariansim too. The Hackney Gazette is taken to task for not mentioning Hackney Peoples Press, and the Labour affiliated Hackney Young Socialists are mocked for appearing in its “Spotlight on Youth” feature, as opposed to being seen “in the places where it counts – on the streets among the people!”
Oh yes and the open letter to the Labour Party from the previous issue doesn’t seem to have gone down too well either. The only response seems to have been from Alderman Martin Ottolangui who dismissed it as “a sneering attack”.
Also racism at Finsbury Park bowling club, with one member quoted as saying “There isn’t actually a colour bar, we just discourage them from joining”.
And some snippets on deaths in custody, a strike at Walpamur Distributors (Boleyn Road), local contacts, and the economics classes are up and running every Tuesday evening at Centerprise: “It’s best to be well informed when arguing with the silly buggers – including trade union ‘leaders’ who claim that there’s not enough cake to go round.”
Issue 6 is the last I have. It leads with a story about a popular playgroup leader being sacked.
“A word from our sponsor” is about the group who produce the paper and reveals that they have a print run of 1,000 copies. Donations are requested and some criticisms are addressed (mainly that they are a small group and so can’t know everything about what is going on, which is fair enough!)
“Finally and most importantly, let there be no misunderstanding about where we stand. We want a total transformation of society – to socialism. We do not believe that the transformation of this society to one where we are not born merely to work for others for the rest of our lives, will be a peaceful one. It is the experience of the whole socialist movement that no ruling class in history has ever given up power to the working class. How we fight to make them give up is the history of our movement; the time has come to make our own history rather than read about it”.
Another report states that the story in the previous issue about maternity care was taken up in the national press and “created quite a stir” (but was ignored by the Gazette and Hackney Labour, it seems).
- Support for workers in dispute (The Upper Clyde Shipbuilders specifically, who held a “work in” to demonstrate the viability of their jobs which were threatened)
- Homelessness in Hackney
- Some poems
- A quote from The Communist Manifesto
- Ulster (how the 1924 Special Powers Act screws civil liberties)
- An attack on councillors in the Defoe ward for being useless.
- Illustrations from anarchist Arthur Moyse.
Not bad for 3p! (Which was also the cost of a 1st class stamp or half a pint in 1971.)