Lambeth remembers its radical past

John McDonnell, then treasurer of the Greater London Council, with Ted Knight
John McDonnell, then treasurer of the Greater London Council, with Ted Knight (right)

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell will join former Lambeth council leader Ted Knight in Clapham library tonight (5 July) at a sold-out meeting to discuss the time, 30 years ago, when the council was at the centre of a political rebellion against government enforced cuts in local authority spending.

Also speaking at “Revolting Local Government” will be Professor Hazel Smith, who was the council chair of housing from 1983 to 1986 and policy advisor to Greater London Council’s women’s unit.

Yvette Vanson‘s video Councils for the Defence will be shown. It was produced in 1986 as a fundraiser video for Lambeth trade unions and has rare contemporary interviews with local people, workers and Lambeth councillors.


  1. Where any questions asked about the abuse of children in Lambeth Care Homes when Ted Knight was in charge?

  2. It’s nice to characterise Knight and the Trotskyists of the 70s and 80s as heroic anti-austerity campaigners. But this is so much revisionism. They were nothing of the sort, and fighting the government was not their main concern, which was actually the take-over of the Labour party and its conversion into a hard-left, anti-parliamentary cult. Jeremy Corbyn and the above McDonnell have gone some way towards achieving precisely these aims, which proved beyond the capabilities of the entryists of the Militant era. (The Bennite challenge to Healey and the destruction of Liverpool were the best they could manage.) And Knight’s legacy? He and his kind damaged Labour so severely as to render it unelectable for 18 years. McDonnell and Corbyn are in the process of doing much, much worse—I wonder whether anyone attending this event will tell him.

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