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From The Socialist newspaper, 12 October 2011

Marching in the footsteps of history

Dan Fahey

When the Jarrow March for Jobs leaves Leicester, not only will it be following in the footsteps of the 1936 Jarrow Crusade, but also Leicester's 1905 Unemployed March.

There were three leaders of the march. Amos Sheriff, who would become the city's Lord Mayor in 1922; the Reverend FL Donaldson, of St Marks' Church, who gained the nickname 'vicar of the unemployed'; and George 'Sticky' White, secretary of the Unemployed Committee, who as his nickname suggests, used a walking stick yet still marched to London and back.

On 4 June 1905, 470 unemployed shoemakers set off from Leicester Market Place to London. The news of the protest captured the hearts and minds of the public. As recalled by Sticky's son, George, who was 12 at the time, the crowd was "the biggest that had ever been seen in the market".

From the top of the steps of the Corn Exchange the leaders rallied the men to march to London to protest the conditions of the unemployed and to lobby the government in to passing the Unemployed Workmen Act. A plaque now lies in front of the steps to commemorate the event.

On the march, George joined his father, who like many of the unemployed men had been sacked for his involvement in the Boot and Shoe Workers' Union. He remembers singing songs and the marchers playing harmonicas on the route. The marchers spent their first night on straw in Market Harborough's cattle market. George was (un)fortunately caught truanting and sent back by train.

Arriving in Trafalgar Square, another great crowd greeted the marchers but the authorities, including the King and the Archbishop of Canterbury, refused to see them.

Yet when they came home on 18 June, they were greeted by 140,000 people and the news that the Unemployed Workmen Act had been passed.


Raffle! Win a framed photo of the original Jarrow march

Large framed photo of original Jarrow march as it came through Northamptonshire. This picture has its own history! In the 1960s it hung in the Whitehall office of a Labour government minister, then it was presented to a Labour activist of 50 years party membership who subsequently left Labour and joined the Socialist Party. 1 a ticket. Raffle drawn at Socialism 2011 on 6 November.

Contact Becci Heagney to reserve tickets:

07751044309 becciheagney1@yahoo.co.uk

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In The Socialist 12 October 2011:


Socialist Party youth and students

Interview with a Jarrow marcher

Marching in the footsteps of history

Low pay, no way!

Protest, demonstrate, occupy


International socialist news and analysis

US: Occupy Wall Street - Demanding jobs not cuts


Socialist Party workplace news

Strike on 30 November - no secret talks

'We have not gone away' say Southampton council workers

Construction electricians

60 printers sacked as bosses make a million

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party news and analysis

Sovereign debt crisis, recession... No way out under capitalism

Cameron's big 'them and us' society

Fox takes cronyism to new level

Wales Assembly budget: Labour piles on the misery

Kinnock's bigotry

Con-Dems' policies increase poverty

Fast news


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

NHS protesters occupy Westminster Bridge

Health campaigners take Ascot by storm

Coventry by-election helps build socialist alternative to cuts

London elections - more support for TU/anti-cuts stand


Socialist Party fundraising

Socialism 2011 finance appeal


Socialist history

Battle of Cable Street 1936 - When workers stopped the fascists


The Socialist - readers' comments

Portrait of a pension pilferer


 

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