Socialist Worker

Celebrating 100 years of the state pension in Southwark

by Mary Phillips
Issue No. 2120

Marchers in costume

Marchers in costume

Hundreds of pensioners and local people paraded around East Street Market in south London last Sunday to celebrate 100 years of the state pension in Britain.

There was street theatre, Victorian children’s games and music hall songs.

There was a re-enactment of the Reverend Herbert Stead marching down East Street in 1898 with a brass band and calling a meeting to demand a pension for those who would otherwise be forced into the workhouse, where they would waste away and die.

Some 400 people turned up to the meeting.

After ten years of campaigning, a means-tested pension of 5 shillings was introduced for men and women over 70 in 1908.

Speakers pointed out that it was 25 percent of earnings then and is now only 14 percent. Since Margaret Thatcher abolished the link with earnings its value has deteriorated to only £90 a week.

The Southwark Pensioners Action Group gave out leaflets publicising the demonstration and lobby of parliament to be held on 22 October organised by the Trade Union Congress and the National Pensioners Convention.

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Tue 23 Sep 2008, 18:04 BST
Issue No. 2120
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