In 1921, the recently elected Poplar Borough Council found itself on the wrong end of a ruling by the High Court and 30 Councillors were sent to jail for Contempt of Court.
Their crime was a refusal to collect the cross-London precept for the London County Council, the Metropolitan Police, the Metropolitan Asylums Board and the Metropolitan Water Board from their poverty stricken residents.
The Poplar 100 project was established by the George Lansbury Trust to mark the centenary of the rebellion.
Jon Cruddas MP said: "It is vital that we celebrate this landmark centenary. 100 years ago Labour in local government stood strong in successfully resisting central government on behalf of the poor and underprivileged of the East End – what we now term ‘Poplarism'. Thousands marched in support of their thirty imprisoned Borough Council representatives led by George Lansbury in one of the landmark struggles in working class history."
September 1921 was the crucial phase of the Poplar Rates Rebellion, the moment the Poplar councillors were gaoled for their defiance. To commemorate these momentous events Poplar 100 have a number of upcoming online events, details of which can be found below:
1) A special walking tour led by David Rosenberg on 5 September (to register please go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/walking-tour-of-radical-poplar-and-the-rates-rebellion-of-1921-tickets-165794187879).
2) A reflection on the councillors' experience of imprisonment (and how it compares to prison conditions today), held on 8 September on the 100th anniversary of the final arrest (to register please go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/imprisonment-poplar-council-in-prison-1921-tickets-162786862889).
3) On 14 September stories from the archives of the National Archives, the LSE, and the People's History Museum will explore what the documents tell us about the Rebellion and the government response (to register please go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/poplar-councillors-revolt-centenary-stories-from-the-archives-tickets-164815791469).
4) The Poplar councillors were the first group of ordinary, working-class councillors elected in Poplar. Generally poor themselves, they made extraordinary sacrifices for their local people in fighting against an unfair system. A special event on 17 September will feature relatives and descendants of those men and women reflecting on their struggle in 1921 (to register please go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-poplar-rates-rebellion-1921-2021-who-were-the-councillors-tickets-162560772647).