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SALFORD BATTLE OF BEXLEY SQUARE ANNIVERSARY
 

Star date: 16th October 2011

80TH ANNIVERSARY OF BEXLEY SQUARE

On the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Bexley Square, people are determined to keep alive the memory of one of Salford's darkest days. Firstly, the Salford anti-Tory march a few weeks ago stopped at the Square to lay flowers, then a commemorative plaque was unveiled…now we have the political pamphlet drawing out the similarities between the cuts, the battles and the reactions at the time of Bexley Square and in modern day Salford.

More details here…


Battle of Bexley Square Battle of Bexley Square
click image to enlarge

The Battle of Bexley Square took place on 1st October 1931 when 10,000 Salford people marched on the old Town Hall in Bexley Square demanding no cuts to unemployment benefit, no cuts to teachers' salaries, free coal for the unemployed in the winter, free milk for children under five and, interestingly, the abolition of `educational classes and training centres'.

As the march reached Chapel Street it was cordoned off, and when organisers asked for a deputation to be allowed through to put their demands to Salford Council, the protesters were attacked by mounted police previously hidden behind the Town Hall. Meanwhile, plain clothes and uniformed police attacked the demonstrators with batons. The Battle of Bexley Square was well titled.

While the definitive account of the Battle was written in 1994 by Ruth and Eddie Frow, based on Eddie's eye witness writings (he was not only there but got a broken nose and imprisonment for his troubles), a new pamphlet is aiming to draw comparisons between 1931 and 2011, with lessons for the left.

Written by Paul Gerrard of the Salford branch of the Socialist Party, the thirty page booklet – The Battle of Bexley Square: Fighting the Cuts and Unemployment in the 1930s – sets the Battle in its political and social context…that protests and demonstrations were kicking off all over the country at the time as unemployment approached 30% of the working population.

Gerrard also notes that in 1931 there was a `Coalition' government, that Salford Council was trying to impose cuts on the city's poorest people worth £19million in today's money, and that people had lost trust in the Labour Party leadership.

"In 2011, as in 1931" he writes "the burden of the crisis in the bosses' system is being offloaded onto working people by a Coalition government pretending to act in the `national interest'"

While some people might not agree with either Gerrard's analysis or `Lessons of Bexley Square for today's anti cuts movement' – calling on the Council not to impose cuts, arguing that `Labour no longer commands the support and loyalty of workers on a large scale', and that everyone should join the Socialist Party – at least this pamphlet is trying to give what is happening today some historical roots.

The details of the Battle are also really interesting, like how people built the demonstration by whitewashing and `bluemolding' the details on walls (now we have Facebook walls) and having a street theatre group, Ewan MacColl's Red Megaphones, touring working class areas in the run up to the protest. Everyone knew about it and 10,000 people turned out.

"Those of us active in the trade union and anti-cuts movement have a duty to remember the battle of Bexley Square" writes Steven North, Secretary of Salford Against the Cuts in his foreword to the pamphlet "It offers us a lesson in what it means to stand up to the state in defiance of a Government determined to drive us down and a Council unwilling to stop them…"

Paul Gerrard: The Battle of Bexley Square 1st October 1931 80th Anniversary: Fighting The Cuts and Unemployment in the 1930s
£2/£3 (`solidarity price') published by Salford Socialist Party
For £3 Paul will post or deliver a copy to you e-mail
pgerrard2001@yahoo.co.uk


Edmund and Ruth Frow: The Battle of Bexley Square, published 1994, is available at Salford's Working Class Movement Library on The Crescent.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Peter McHale wrote
at 15:54:22 on 06 March 2017
In May 1929, a minority Labour government headed by Ramsay MacDonald came to office with Liberal support. This was only the second time a Labour government had been in office (they had briefly been in office in 1924), and few of the government's members had any deep knowledge of economics or experience of running the economy. MacDonald's Labour Party was not radical in economic thinking, and was wedded to the orthodoxy of classical economics with its emphasis on maintaining a balanced budget at any cost. Under pressure from its Liberal allies as well as the Conservative opposition, the Labour government appointed a committee to review the state of public finances. The May Report of July 1931 urged public sector wage cuts and large cuts in public spending (notably in benefit payments ("dole") to the unemployed) to avoid incurring a budget deficit. The sense was that the deficit was dangerous and had to be reduced; the proposal was to meet £24 million by increased taxes on the rich, and £96 million by economies, of which £64 million would come from unemployment relief.[11] This proposal proved deeply unpopular within the Labour Party and among its main supporters, the trade unions, which along with several government ministers refused to support any such measures. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Snowden, insisted that the Report's recommendations be adopted to avoid incurring a budget deficit - https://tinyurl.com/hjvb6fc
 
caroline wrote
at 21:18:40 on 20 October 2011
Thank you Saford Star..for making people aware of this..People have power if they pull together..and do not give up..
 
Tony Flynn wrote
at 12:19:43 on 17 October 2011
The flowers were laid on that day, but we are still waiting for the plaque to be delivered by Salford Council before it can be unveiled. They have promised Steven North and myself that it would be soon, so fingers crossed.
 
RED DAVE wrote
at 09:17:20 on 17 October 2011
Excellent article . A perfect example of how the corrupt system treats ordinary people . From the corrupt governments , corrupt local councils , corrupt MEPs ,MPs , lords , corrupt police , corrupt laws , NOTHING HAS CHANGED . The value of ordinary people - 'the exploited masses ' is solely what can be screwed out of us , via exploitation of labour , taxes, council tax . It suits this exploitive society to have mass unemployment and mass immigration to drive down wages to maximise profits . WAKE UP , PEOPLE , AND FIGHT BACK .
 
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