Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Reading Labour 100: The Centenary of the Labour Party in Reading, 1918-2018. Reading Trades Union Council & Reading and District Labour Party: Change Through Solidarity (RTUC, 2020)

During a twelve month programme of events throughout 2018, the Reading labour movement marked the centenary of the creation of the Reading Labour Party (christened the 'Reading Trades Union Council & Labour Party' at its formation) one hundred years earlier. Now known as Reading & District Labour Party (RDLP) and working alongside the Reading Trades Union Council (RTUC) to defend and advance the rights of Reading residents, workers and visitors, the role of the party has grown in leaps and bounds over the century since its birth. Today it is the ruling party on Reading Borough Council and it holds one (Reading East) of the town's two parliamentary seats.

The centenary year did not simply celebrate the history of RDLP; it also demonstrated the party's contemporary power and organisation across the town: in the council chamber, through its Member of Parliament (Matt Rodda MP), in partnership with its affiliated trade unions and through grassroots organisation. Also apparent was the importance of the historical link between RDLP and the RTUC as political and industrial wings of the local labour movement.

Determined to capture the energy of the celebrations, campaigns and achievements created by a century of Reading Labour, the RTUC decided to distill the history into a commemorative book. The result is Reading Labour 100!

At 119 pages, Reading Labour 100 presents the historical ingredients which went into the formation of RDLP, from the co-operative movement to agricultural trade unionism, from socialist societies to industrial trade unionism - and not forgetting the anti-fascist fighters for freedom who went to Spain in 1937, some never to return. The volume also identifies key moments in RDLP's centenary year, such as supporting striking university lecturers, campaigning to retain universal free bus travel for disabled residents and protesting inflation-busting rail fare increases. Labour celebrations and political education are not ignored either - with May Day and Women's Day marches, guest speakers and social events presented within the book's pages. The volume is rounded off with an anecdotal Afterword by a stalwart of the RTUC and RDLP, Keith Jerrome.

Despite the preponderance of Conservative Governments over the century of its existence - and Reading's red oasis among England's southeast sea of Tory blue - RDLP stands strong and proud and ready for a further century of struggle and commitment to defending and extending the rights of its residents, workers and visitors!

The book costs £10 (UK) and £15 (international orders) and can be ordered via PayPal to John Partington at J_S_Partington@hotmail.co.uk. For alternative payment methods, email John to make arrangements. There will be a negotiated discount for bulk orders. All profits from the sale of the book will be divided between the RTUC and RDLP.

  • Introduction
  • The Reading Labour Movement Protests Rail Fare Increases
  • The Hanging of William Winterbourne
  • ‘Labour 100’ Supports the GMB’s Eleanor Marx Day Event
  • 100 Years of Labour in Reading
  • RTUC and RDLP March to Save the NHS
  • RTUC at Reading’s International Women’s Day March and Rally
  • RTUC Backs Lecturers’ Pensions Dispute
  • Chris Williamson MP comes to the University of Reading
  • Labour Party Rally in Park Ward
  • International Workers’ Day in Reading
  • Reading’s May Day Rally and March
  • A New Deal for Working People
  • RTUC joins DPAC to Oppose Attacks on Mobility
  • RTUC at the NHS 70th Birthday March
  • RTUC at Tolpuddle
  • RTUC Welcomes Reading Campaign Against Privatisation
  • RTUC backs DPAC against Attacks on Disabled Persons’ Rights
  • Celebrating 70 Years of the NHS
  • Reading Buses Open Meeting
  • Protesting Rail Fare Increases
  • RTUC at Reading Pride!
  • Protesting Rail Fare Increases in East and West Reading
  • Protesting Proposed Attacks on Disabled Travel Rights
  • Vote 90! It’s not 100 years for us
  • DPAC, RTUC and principled Labour Party activists fight for Disabled Bus Rights
  • Afterword by Keith Jerrome