Salter Centenary – A new website has been launched

Organisers of the Salter Centenary Project have launched a new website to highlight a year-long series of events throughout 2022 celebrating Quaker Socialists and ILPers Ada and Alfred Salter.

The project marks the 100th anniversary of the Salters’ dramatic electoral breakthroughs. Ada became Mayor of Bermondsey – the first woman mayor in London – and Alfred MP, both in November 1922. This inaugurated the series of radical municipal reforms known as the ‘Bermondsey Revolution’.

As Quaker Socialists (though they called themselves Socialist Quakers in those days) and as members of the Independent Labour Party (ILP), they dedicated their lives to the poor of Bermondsey. They transformed the grim environment of the appalling slums, demolished them where they could, planted trees and flowers everywhere, filled open spaces with playgrounds, and built innovative council houses still beautiful today. Alfred Salter as a doctor brought free medicine to Bermondsey some decades before the National Health Service, and Ada, on the London County Council, helped introduce housing and environmental improvements (including the Green Belt) across London as a whole.

This project has attracted the support of Dame Judi Dench, a Quaker environmentalist herself, and she has agreed to be its patron. The project’s mission, according to the website, is “to revive the Salter inspiration”. Alfred was a doctor ahead of his time. Ada Salter was a ‘green before the Greens’, says the website: “She knew that contact with nature is vital for mental health. She brought trees, flowers and green space to the inner-city.”

The website aims to be a hub of information about all the Salter centenary events taking place in 2022 including a series of planting initiatives called ‘Beautifying Bermondsey’; a number of specially themed guided walks; a set of online primary school lessons about the Salters; and a new booklet reflecting on the lives and work of Ada and Alfred, to be published by the ILP.

Other events, some in co-operation with Raunds in Northamptonshire (Ada’s home town), include a tree walk, a bike ride, a birthday concert and cricket match, as well as plays, films and a drama festival.

Details of all the events can be found here.

QSS Newsletter, Spring 2022

Contents

Creating Welcome to counter the hostile environment for people in detention by Anna Pincus and Pious Keku Page 1.

So what’s Corrymeela like then…? by David Grundy Page 7

QSS Book Group Page 10

Recognising all of who we are by Davy Marcella Page 11

Ada Salter Community Fund Page 15

Credits Page 16

Countering the Hostile Environment

On the evening of 22nd November 2021 fifty-one people, from all over the UK and various other parts of the world, took part in the second Salter Seminar which was held on Zoom.

The speakers were Anna Pincus, who is Director of the Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group (GDWG) and Pious Keku who is a trustee of the charity and a former detainee. The aim of the GDWG is
to improve the welfare of people being held in indefinite immigration detention in
the detention facilities near Gatwick Airport (which are run by the outsourcing company SERCO). The group offers friendship, support and also advocates for the fair treatment of detainees.

The correct name for detention centres is Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs). The Gatwick IRC can hold up to 700 people at any one time. There are ten IRCs in various parts of the UK and we were told that approximately 26,000 people are being detained nationwide. The buildings are stark and are built on the category B prison model, with razor wire surrounding them. Anna said that detainees are often traumatised by the buildings and the regime, as they are reminded of past experiences in their countries of origin. Pious Keku said that from the outside they look like warehouses and inside people are kept in small cubicles with sealed windows, so there is no fresh air. It is part of the “hostile environment” policy and Pious described being inside as “terrifying”…. 

For free copies of this Newsletter, which is sent to members regularly as part of their subscription, please contact us via the contact page on this website: http://www.quakersocialists.org.uk.

Offers of contributions to the Autumn newsletter are very welcome.

War in Ukraine – Quakers in Britain

Quakers in Britain condemn attack and call for end to fighting

Quakers in Britain strongly condemn the attack on Ukraine. It is a grave development for humanity, and a violation of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations.

Photo of Kyiv by Kseniia Rastvorova on Unsplash

“Our belief in the preciousness of all human life leads us to oppose all war”, said Paul Parker, Recording Clerk of Quakers in Britain. 

Quakers have always held peacebuilding as a core principle for life: 

‘All bloody principles and practices we do utterly deny, with all outward wars, and strife, and  fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretence whatsoever, and this is our testimony to the whole world.’ Quaker declaration 1660 

This sentiment applies as much today, in a world of nuclear weapons, as it did then. 

Quakers call for a cessation of fighting and for all parties to observe international law, including international humanitarian law. This prominently includes the Geneva Conventions, which regulate the conduct of war, and to which both Russia and Ukraine are states parties. All sides should take the earliest opportunity to halt hostilities and to resume negotiations. 

Protection of human life should be of primary importance. “We know war leads to unimaginable suffering. In particular, exposing children to violence can have lifelong damaging effects”, said Paul Parker. 

“All sides should commit to establishing and respecting humanitarian corridors allowing civilians to flee the fighting. We also appeal for conduct that avoids embedding grievances and injustices that will become the seeds of future violent conflict. Crucially, this means doing everything possible to avoid and resist the creation of enmity between peoples. It also means persevering with efforts to engage in dialogue and preparing the ground for the return of people to their homes.”

Although war makes dialogue and peacemaking far more difficult, it does nothing to diminish the need for courageous peacemaking efforts. We know there are people in both Russia and Ukraine working tirelessly for peace. We continue to uphold and stand in solidarity with them at this violent and perilous time.

The War in Ukraine

The Quaker Socialist Society has condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine but, as with other Quaker and Socialist organisations, there has been much discussion about this topic. The following article by Emma Hulbert gives a flavour of what some of the issues are.

Quaker Pacifism in the Context of War

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BY EMMA HULBERT | MARCH 8, 2022

RIGA, LATVIA. 25th February 2022. Demonstration and openair concert to support Ukraine in Riga city

Peace and pacifism are central tenets of Quaker faith and practice. Each time a new conflict erupts, questions arise for many of us: Are our values moral? Can any war be considered just?

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, many Friends have struggled to make sense of their pacifism and the morality of their non-violent stance. Watching the horrors of the war unfold has led many Quakers to reflect on what it means to be a pacifist and, for some, to question whether Quakers should be pacifist at all.

Pacifist but Not Passive in the Face of Injustice

Since the 1660s, when English Quakers decided to abstain from wars, Quakers have used non-violence as a powerful tool for seeking peaceful solutions to conflict. This doesn’t mean that Quakers are passive in situations of injustice. Instead, Quakers resist with nonviolent tools rather than outward weapons. From George Fox onward, they have directly challenged authority, laws, and customs they disagreed with through non-violent tactics.

While Quakers can all agree that war is not the answer and that nonviolent solutions to conflict are ideal, some moments test our values. Today we are facing one such moment.

In the case of Ukraine, opposing war in such a time does not mean staying neutral, allowing injustice to go unchallenged, or doing nothing. Instead, Friends seek ways to engage and fight injustice without killing another human being.

Peace is not only a moral stance; it can also be a practical solution. A recent article by Daniel Hunter in Waging Nonviolence: People Powered News & Analysishighlights the importance of unarmed resistance. According to Hunter, part of the power of unarmed resisters is found in their invisibility. Their work is often overlooked in the media and—significantly in this case—by Russian invaders who have been quick to discount such efforts.

“Militaries assume that because they have guns, they can get their way with unarmed civilians.” Hunter wrote. “Each act of noncooperation proves them wrong. Each resistance makes every tiny goal of the invaders a hard battle.”

Non-violent resistors in Ukraine, Russia, and around the world are not passive. Those in Ukraine are confronting the Russian invasion in every nonviolent, creative way imaginable. These resistors remind us that violence is not the only possible response to violence.

Reflection and Discernment is Important—We haven’t Always Gotten it Right

It’s worth remembering that there have been moments in Quaker history in which the peace testimony has been used to uphold the white supremacist status quo or excuse Quaker inaction.

This is a common topic of reflection for Quakers today. Some Friends have even called for decolonizing the peace testimony.

A Moment That Tests Our Values

True pacifism is not inaction; it is non-violent resistance to injustice. However, Quakers are not united on this issue, and there are no easy answers to be found. Each Friend must discern for themselves their relationship to the ethics of pacifism.

As Carl Abbott wrote in Quakers, A Quick Guide: “Choices about whether and how to participate in the military are individual decisions. Wars in which one side is more evil than the other, such as the American Civil War and World War II, create special dilemmas.”

While Quakers can all agree that war is not the answer and that nonviolent solutions to conflict are ideal, some moments test our values. Today we are facing one such moment.

Emma Hulbert

Emma Hulbert

Program Assistant, Quaker Outreach (2021-2022)

Emma Hulbert is the program assistant for Quaker Outreach.

Joyce Trotman comments on the visit by William and Catherine to the West Indies

Joyce Trotman, now 94 years of age, a descendant of slaves held in Guyana, writes as the descendant of great-grandfather, Ben Conright (survivor), and great grandmother, Seebucka Trotman (daughter of survivors), and on behalf of all descendants of the British holocaust known as Chattel Slavery.

Which Government department decided that a visit by William and Catherine to the territories of the Caribbean was a good idea for the Queen`s Platinum Jubilee? Were visas required for them to enter those territories? Any Commonwealth member of the Caribbean would need a visa to enter the United Kingdom, once known as the Mother Country.

Were they reminded that the people they were going to visit are descendants of the survivors of three centuries of the British holocaust known as Chattel Slavery? That the word ‘chattel’ accurately describes the particular system of British slavery in which these people’s ancestors were branded as beasts of burden: the letters DY on human beings enslaved by the then Duke of York (David Olusoga, Black and British: A Forgotten History), the letter S on those enslaved by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, the missionary arm of the Church of England, absentee enslaver in Barbados (Adam Hochschild, Bury the Chains, pp 62- 68).

Punishments of enslaved Africans included whipping, burning, shackling, mutilation, hanging, beating, rape, imprisonment, murder. Were the royal visitors reminded that the chief and earliest perpetrators of this crime against humanity were the royal ancestors of William, members of the royal houses of Tudor and Stuart, important members of the Church of England? And that, in exchange for granting freedom to the enslaved Africans the British enslavers were given substantial compensation for the loss of their human property?

Were they reminded of the 1831 uprising of the enslaved Africans of Jamaica (Hochschild, pp. 340) and the 1832 uprising of enslaved Africans in Demerara (Thomas Harding, White Debt), both of which were brutally put down by the British authorities? Some hanged, some shot down, some sent to England for transportation to Australia (Kenneth Joyce Robertson, The Four Pillars: A Genealogical Journey).

Were they told that the various shades of brown skin colour among Caribbean people, the fact that they have English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish surnames, that their religion is, for the most part, Christian, the Creolese and Patois languages they speak, now provide material for academic studies in university Departments of Linguistics? All this would have been essential preparation for such a visit.

I admire the zeal, sincerity and commitment that William brings to the conservation of endangered animals in Africa. He could now show that same commitment on behalf of the mixed-race (European-African) human beings of the Caribbean who under the Commonwealth Immigration Act of 1962 are deprived of the right of entry and abode in a country that was built on the labour of their black African ancestors. In addition, he could urge the perpetrators of the Windrush scandal to pay full compensation, not just apologise, to those who were subjected to this gross injustice.

Recently I wrote on this same issue to William’s father, in his capacity as Patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, quoting the words of Maria Ressa, 2021 Nobel Laureate: ‘Nothing is possible without the facts.’ I now say to William, as I said to his father: ‘Action is possible, now that the facts are known’. No more condescending diplomatic mouthings about ‘that appalling atrocity’, no more ‘profound sorrow’, etc, etc, etc! Words, words, words. 

The time to act is overdue. The patronage that his father is endowing on the descendants of the German Holocaust survivors, William could now likewise endow on the descendants of the British holocaust survivors. This would be an appropriate Thank You for the hospitality that he and Catherine enjoyed during their visit.

April 2022

Celebrating the Salters – A new website has been launched

Organisers of the Salter Centenary Project have launched a new website to highlight a year-long series of events throughout 2022 celebrating Quaker Socialists and ILPers Ada and Alfred Salter.

The project marks the 100th anniversary of the Salters’ dramatic electoral breakthroughs. Ada became Mayor of Bermondsey – the first woman mayor in London – and Alfred MP, both in November 1922. This inaugurated the series of radical municipal reforms known as the ‘Bermondsey Revolution’.

As Quaker Socialists (though they called themselves Socialist Quakers in those days) and as members of the Independent Labour Party (ILP), they dedicated their lives to the poor of Bermondsey. They transformed the grim environment of the appalling slums, demolished them where they could, planted trees and flowers everywhere, filled open spaces with playgrounds, and built innovative council houses still beautiful today. Alfred Salter as a doctor brought free medicine to Bermondsey some decades before the National Health Service, and Ada, on the London County Council, helped introduce housing and environmental improvements (including the Green Belt) across London as a whole.

This project has attracted the support of Dame Judi Dench, a Quaker environmentalist herself, and she has agreed to be its patron. The project’s mission, according to the website, is “to revive the Salter inspiration”. Alfred was a doctor ahead of his time. Ada Salter was a ‘green before the Greens’, says the website: “She knew that contact with nature is vital for mental health. She brought trees, flowers and green space to the inner-city.”

The website aims to be a hub of information about all the Salter centenary events taking place in 2022 including a series of planting initiatives called ‘Beautifying Bermondsey’; a number of specially themed guided walks; a set of online primary school lessons about the Salters; and a new booklet reflecting on the lives and work of Ada and Alfred, to be published by the ILP.

Other events, some in co-operation with Raunds in Northamptonshire (Ada’s home town), include a tree walk, a bike ride, a birthday concert and cricket match, as well as plays, films and a drama festival.

Details of all the events can be found here.

2022: A Centenary Year for the Quaker Socialists, Ada and Alfred Salter

This article is taken from the website of the ILP (Independent Labour Publications), which celebrates the history of the pre-1945 Independent Labour Party (also ILP), political home not only of Keir Hardie but also of many Quaker Socialists, including Ada and Alfred Salter.

Teas, Talks and Trees: Southwark Gets Set to Celebrate the Salters’ Centenary

The lives and achievements of ILPers and ethical socialist pioneers Ada and Alfred Salter are to be celebrated with a year-long series of events in south-east London where the Salters led their ‘Bermondsey Revolution’ in the early decades of the 20th century.

The Salter Centenary Project will mark the 100th anniversary of Alfred Salter’s election as a Labour MP in November 1922 when Ada also made history by becoming mayor of Bermondsey, making her the first woman mayor in London and the first Labour woman mayor in Britain.

The brainchild of Sheila and Graham Taylor, whose acclaimed biography of Ada Salter was published in 2016, the project has won cross-party backing from Southwark Council and is supported by the Quaker Socialist Society and the ILP, plus many other local and national organisations.

Graham’s book, Ada Salter: Pioneer of Ethical Socialism, helped to resurrect the memory of Ada and her impact on the community around her, including her ‘beautification’ of London slums with trees, flowers and music; her children’s playgrounds and model housing; and her defence of dockers and factory workers from dreadful pay and conditions. She also fought against conscription and spent a lifetime struggling for women’s equality and world peace.

Graham’s book described in detail how she worked selflessly over decades for the people of Bermondsey and London alongside her equally dedicated husband, a noted MP and innovative doctor, whose work for the poor prefigured the National Health Service.

The project’s ambitious programme kicks off on 10 January, when Graham leads a Quaker Socialist Society online discussion of his book. That will be followed by an imaginative series of events designed to remember the Salters’ remarkable legacy in putting ethical socialist ideas into practice in a local setting, while highlighting their continuing relevance today.

“Our aim is not just to celebrate what the Salters did a hundred years ago,” explains Sheila, who is coordinating the project, “but to connect their concerns with the issues of today, ones that remain highly relevant and vital, not only locally, but nationally and globally too.”

Three themes

Based around three themes of environmentalism, housing and public health – areas where the Salters’ groundbreaking ideas made a major difference to working people’s lives a century ago – the plans encompass everything from talks to walks, bike rides to theatre events, including cricket matches, picnics, pamphlets, tea parties and tree-planting initiatives.

Alfred’s birthday on Sunday 19 June will be marked by a cycle ride from Southwark to Fairby Grange, the 17th century farmhouse (now care home) run by the Salters as a plant nursery and convalescent centre for the Bermondsey poor, while Ada’s birthday on 16 July will be celebrated by an evening of women’s stand-up comedy.

Southwark Council will host a ‘civic day’ in honour of the Salters on Saturday 10 September when representatives of Ada’s hometown of Raunds will be guests of honour along with the Raunds Temperance Band and members of the town’s local history society.

Events that day  include the opening of a children’s orchard, a bandstand concert in Southwark Park, a tea party in Ada’s Wilson Grove Estate (where she built model public housing), speeches at the Salter statues on the banks of the Thames, and a performance of the play ‘Red Flag Over Bermondsey’ at Sands Film Studios.

Plans are also in train for a week-long celebration of Ada’s life at Southwark Playhouse in October, including three performances of a new drama in the 300-seat venue.

Organiser John Whelan, director of the People’s Company community theatre group, says the festival aims to “animate Ada’s life and commitment to the people of Bermondsey through a newly devised play, workshops, talks and art-based responses to this important part of our local history”.

Other activities to mark the year include 100 new street trees planted around the borough, primary school history lessons on the Salters, and a touring exhibition devised by the Southwark Local Studies Library. A new website dedicated to the Salter Centenary Project is due to be unveiled early in 2022.

[See the Independent Labour Publications website. Recommended.]

Salter Seminar 2021: Gatwick Detainees

“I didn’t know such things could happen in this country”, was one appalled reaction to watching the attached video about the ‘indefinite’ detention of Gatwick detainees. The video shows this year’s Salter Seminar, presented to the Quaker Socialist Society on Zoom at the end of November by Anna Pincus. The title of the seminar was: “Creating welcome to counter the hostile environment for people in detention“.  Anna is Director of the Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group, a group which aims to improve the welfare and well being of people held in indefinite immigration detention at the facilities near Gatwick Airport run by SERCO. Anna’s group offers friendship and support to the detainees, some of whom are detained for years, and also tries to secure fair treatment.

This is the link:https://1drv.ms/v/s!BOzmqALjpLL-gZMCBz43zbciXcGQCA?e=qX1QO2JAxkic7rmoUO6jIA&at=9

Universities and Colleges on Strike 2021

The Committee of the Quaker Socialist Society has issued this statement, prepared by Laurence Hall: “Quaker Socialists have always sought to live our faith by witnessing to and struggling against exploitation and inequality.

Insecure contracts, heavy workloads, low and decreasing pay, poor pensions and sizeable inequalities of race, gender & class that so define much of our economy are just such injustices we as Quakers are called to resist.

Our spiritual testimonies of equality, peace, simplicity and integrity demand that we stand in solidarity with one of the few British trade unions taking national sector-wide strike action against the horrors of precarious work that so badly affect their workplaces. Therefore, we the committee of the Quaker Socialist Society stand in solidarity with the members of the University & College Union in their national strike on 1st, 2nd and 3rd December 2021.

https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/11894/Following-the-action Follow all this week’s strike action and post your solidarity messages and picketline pics with #OneOfUsAllOfUs or #UCUStrikeUCU.ORG.UKFollowing the action!Live highlights on the action in higher education over pay & conditions and USS pens

Black History Month 2021

We Must Keep the Memory of British Chattel Slavery Alive

by Joyce Trotman

Image

Inspired by the sympathetic foreword written by H.R.H Prince of Wales to the book Lily’s Promise, I write in this October’s Black History Month in memory of (and on behalf of) all those survivors of British chattel slavery generally in the Caribbean, but also specifically in British Guiana (now Guyana), of my great grandmother, Seebucka Trotman, daughter of freed slaves, and my great-great-grandfather, freed slave, Ben Conwright. Ten years after slavery was abolished, Ben Conwright joined with about 40 other freed slaves, pooled their savings and bought the old Dutch plantation of Williamsburg on 5th May, 1848. They renamed it Golden Grove, the home of my Trotman forebears.

The following is Prince Charles’ observation on the German holocaust: “It was the greatest crime of man against man, during which humanity showed itself capable of incomparable inhumanity on an incomprehensible scale…” This could also be said about the British slave trade and the system of chattel slavery. In the case of the enslaved Africans, complete cancellation of identity: branded with hot irons as is done with cattle, with either the name or initials of the plantation proprietor, to confirm ownership (DY for those ‘owned’ by James Stuart, Duke of York, S for the Church of England absentee landlords of sugar-cane plantations in Barbados); African first names and surnames replaced by European ones; African religion replaced by the Christian religion under the scheme of Amelioration; deprived of native language with the necessity of creating a patois or a creolese; African women raped by white plantation owners (hence the mixed race Caribbean people with skin colours of various shades of brown, devoid of family life); labour on the sugar-cane plantations in inhuman conditions; brutal beatings, cruel forms of punishments; right of the plantation owner to commit murder with impunity. “… a permanent reminder of the depths to which humankind can sink and the evil it can impart on a fellow human being,

Observance of Commonwealth Day takes place on the second Monday in March each year. In attendance is the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth supported by the full panoply of the Church of England clergy. The High Commissioners of the countries that are members of the Commonwealth are welcomed into the Abbey holding high their colourful flags of independence. Historically, this represents the end of the process that began with free Africans captured in Africa, converted into human cargo, transported in inhuman conditions across the Atlantic to the Caribbean Islands and British Guiana, through the slave trade, chattel slavery, apprenticeship (the semi-state of slavery); then graduation to the condition of a colonist, still under the power of the British government; and ending with independence.

On this day it is never mentioned that it all began with the trade in humans starting under the reign of Elizabeth Tudor, and continuing under the Stuarts, the Hanoverians, and Victoria, but fortunately the Observance of Commonwealth Day and of October’s Black and White History Month both constitute the “recognition that the responsibility of memory is slowly but surely passing from survivors to our generation and to future generations yet unborn“.

Like Prince Charles “I have seen the impact of survivors’ words and their sheer presence have had on others, in schools, communities, and organisations across our country and around the world” – in the NHS, the Services, carnival, cuisine, music, colour, academia, art, sport, television, theatre, education; Sir Sridath Rampal, Beryl Answick-Gilroy, Sir Herman Ouseley, Baroness Amos, Frank Bowling RA, Alift Harewood MBE, Thelma Lewis MBE, Gafton Shepherd MBE, Norman Beaton, Sir Trevor MacDonald, Moira Stuart, Baroness Scotland, Rudolph Walker (all except for Sir Sridath with European surnames – and now you know why) are some of the names that come to mind. These and all the multitude of mixed-race British Caribbean people under the umbrella title of the Windrush Generation, physical reminders of British chattel slavery, have “rebuilt their lives in the United Kingdom after the Second World War and contributed enormously to the fabric of our nation.

During this Black and White/British and African History month, while the usual good wishes are sincerely exchanged, there are two elephants in the room: (1) the 1962 Commonwealth Immigration Act instituted under a Conservative government which by Act of Parliament with royal assent converted loyal Commonwealth citizens into foreigners deprived of the right to visit or to reside in this country built on the labours of their African ancestors under chattel slavery, described as cruel and racist by Hugh Gaitskell, the then leader of the Labour opposition. The pledge of Denis Healey, then Labour’s spokesperson on colonial issues, to repeal the Act if elected, was ignored. Harold Wilson upheld it: “We do not contest the need for control of immigration into this country”, he said.

(2) The betrayal of the Windrush Generation languishing in a hostile environment. There is a warm welcome for the people from Hong Kong and Afghanistan, refugees and migrants, to this country founded on the blood, sweat and tears of our African ancestors as they laboured on the various British owned sugar plantations in the Caribbean so that those in Great Britain could have a teaspoon of sugar to sweeten their tea.

“Nothing is possible without the facts”, Maria Ressa, the 2021 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize reminds us. In our case the facts are clear, the evidence is obvious, no time for selective amnesia. The facts tell us that our joint history is connected with the production of sugar, now patented as Demerara sugar. If we are talking colour, black history and white history meet in a packet of brown Demerara sugar. As members of a common heritage, I think the time has come for us to meet and find a way to live together in harmony as we “recommit ourselves to the beliefs of tolerance and respect, and the central idea… that we are all, irrespective of race, colour, class or creed, created in the image of God“.

October, 2021.

Joyce Trotman is the author of Thomas Clarkson: My Saint (2014), and a member of Croydon Quaker Meeting.