A Greater London: the GLC Story 1981-6’ aims to engage current Londoners with the story of the Greater London Council before its abolition in 1986. By retelling the history of the institution, and its relationship to communities and social movements of the time, we hope to inspire people to think more creatively about the possibilities of city level democracy.
The project was founded in September 2015 by Deborah Grayson and Natasha Nkonde. Debs had come across the Greater London Council through being involved with Soundings Journal, whose founders Stuart Hall, Doreen Massey and Mike Rustin were all involved in socialist politics in the 1980s. Natasha was organising with Take Back the City – a campaign to build a people’s manifesto for the 2015 mayoral election – and was struck at how little knowledge there was about this radical socialist history of London and the need for more intergenerational dialogue in political spaces. The project initially received funding from the Amiel and Melburn Trust and the Lipman-Miliband Trust, and registered as a Community Interest Company in November 2015.
In the past two years, the project has run public events, including a public launch in December 2015 and drinks to mark the second anniversary of abolition in March 2016. We have also organised a number of talks and workshops, including at the Just Space community conference, at the ‘We the City’ hustings organised by Compass, and at the Sisters Uncut occupation in south London. In August 2016 we received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to collect oral histories, and this project has recently been completed. A report with reflections about the project is online here.
We have a management committee of six people – Loraine Leeson, K Biswas, Lynda Dyson and Ego Ahaiwe, alongside Deborah Grayson and Natasha Nkonde.
Tasha and Debs being photo-bombed by Ken Livingstone, March 2016