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Jeremy Corbyn first Labour leader to speak at London May Day since 1960s

In Uncategorized on May 1, 2016 by kmflett

On May 1st Jeremy Corbyn spoke at the start of the London May Day march at Clerkenwell Green, a venue for radical and labour movement demonstrations since the first decades of the nineteenth century.

corbynmay

Clerkenwell Green May 1st 2016

The point was made that Corbyn was the first Labour leader to speak at a London May Day rally for 50 years. The historical record is obscure but if by that is meant the 1960s that is probably correct.

Harold Wilson spoke at in 1964, before he became Prime Minister later in the year. The rally that year was in Hyde Park.

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Getty

He also spoke in 1969 (May 4th) and included words that Jeremy Corbyn may still find relevant: ‘May I say, for the benefit of those who have been carried away by the gossip of the last few days, that I know what’s going on. [pause] I’m going on, and the Labour government’s going on.’

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4 Responses to “Jeremy Corbyn first Labour leader to speak at London May Day since 1960s”

  1. One reason Labour leaders may have kept clear of May Day was the treatment deputy leader George Brown got from CND supporters in 1965 – see http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/detail/video/mass-may-day-anti-nuclear-demonstration-demonstrators-news-footage/99050012
    (I was there).

  2. Thanks Ian. I did wonder how Wilson was received in 1969

  3. My recollection is that there were two May Day marches in 1969 – an “official” march, which is presumably the one Wilson spoke at (though my recollection is that it was controlled by the CP) – and a libertarian (anarchist) march to Victoria Park. There was some friction between the two, though my memory is that I was on the “official” demo then went to Victoria Park later. I’ve been looking for any on-line coverage of this – for example in Black Dwarf – to supplement my fading memory, but I can’t find anything. Maybe other readers of your blog were there and can remember more clearly.

  4. I’ve just noticed that the Wilson speech you refer to was on 4 May – presumably the Sunday following May Day. The two demos I mentioned were on the preceding Thursday. Presumably Wilson would have got an easy ride because all the militant activists would have been at the demos on May Day proper.

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