Socialism and Whitechapel

What is socialism?
Socialism was one of the new political ideas of the 19th century.
What do socialists believe?
Socialism is the belief that life and countries should be more equal. They often campaign for workers' and women's rights.
When were socialists active in Whitechapel?
Socialists were active in Whitechapel between 1870 and 1900.
What was the influence of the socialists in Whitechapel?
There were 4 main ways in which socialists had influence in Whitechapel:
  • Some of the socialist groups in Whitechapel were radical, believing in revolution and the overthrow of the government.
  • The Social Democratic Federation was based in Whitechapel and was involved in the 1887 Bloody Sunday demonstrations.
  • The SDF was anti-police and, during campaigning for the London County Council elections, made a particular point of criticising police shortcomings.
  • The socialist newspaper, the Arbeter Fraint (the Workers' Friends) was printed in Whitechapel by eastern Europeans.
How were socialists involved in Bloody Sunday in Trafalgar Square?
Bloody Sunday involved 7 main events:
  • It was a protest involving many socialists that ended in a brutal police response.
  • At the time, there were numerous protests and demonstrations in Trafalgar Square which tied up police resources.
  • London Met Commissioner Charles Warren pressured the Home Secretary, Henry Matthews, to ban protests in Trafalgar Square.
  • The response to this was a massive demonstration on 13th November, 1887. The police response was seen as brutal.
  • By the end of the day there were 2 people dead, 100 seriously injured, 45 arrests and 75 accusations of police brutality.
  • The demonstration led to a row that resulted in the sacking of Warren at the height of the Ripper investigation.
  • The SDF was heavily involved and criticised the police loudly following the event.
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