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Sheffield History

Sheffield In The 1980's - People's Republic Of South Yorkshire

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People's Republic of South Yorkshire

The People's Republic of South Yorkshire or The Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire, is a satirical reference to Sheffield.

It refers to the left-wing Labour administration of Sheffield City Council during the 1980s, under the leadership of David Blunkett.

The expression is said to have been coined by Irvine Patnick, a Conservative MP who represented Sheffield Hallam, an unusually wealthy area of South Yorkshire.[1] However it was sometimes used by supporters of the council's left-wing policies.

Somewhat ironically, Sheffield Hallam experienced something of a shift to the left, albeit in a different form, and has been a Liberal Democrat stronghold since 1997, turning on Patnick; the seat is now held by Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.

Examples of policies introduced by the council during this period are:

  • Sheffield council twinning itself with Donetsk, Ukraine, which was then in the Soviet Union.
  • The introduction of Peace studies into schools.
  • Sheffield declaring itself a nuclear-free zone.
  • Heavily subsidising public transport.
  • Flying the red flag on Sheffield Town Hall on May Day

The town hall's gardens were named the Peace Gardens in 1985. The site contains several memorials for Sheffielders who served in wars, including in the Spanish Civil War and another plaque commemorating Sheffielders who gave their lives in all conflicts, including the Korean War.

It also contains a memorial to Hiroshima, unveiled on Hiroshima Day, 8 August 1985, in the presence of three survivors of the atomic devastation.

The Miners' Strike also took place during this period.

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I don't think this is factually correct; or even close. Maybe I'm mistaken, but I'll await other opinions.

The name became formal in 1985. Sheffield City Council - I remember it as the Peace Gardens in the 60's. Thought obviously not formally named as such.

The town hall's gardens were named the Peace Gardens in 1985.

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I don't think this is factually correct; or even close. Maybe I'm mistaken, but I'll await other opinions.

The name became formal in 1985. Sheffield City Council - I remember it as the Peace Gardens in the 60's. Thought obviously not formally named as such.

I will go along with you Richard,

and also with what SH member 'Wadsleyite' states here ..

No mentions of Charlie being involved then lol

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It went much deeper into the Council than the name it was given. For a start the council blocked all departments working with the Employment Service and Manpower Services Commission job creation schemes. Instead it set up the Center Against Unemployment on West Street. This wasn't about creating employment, just about attacking the Torry policy. As a volounteer I worked with many Council workers employed to deal with the problems of inner city life. Most of them were socialists, some of them members of Milliant, thiis being good in some cases bad in others. To be honest some had really daft ideas. For instance you may recall that the Sun Newspaper from time to time would event silly tales of what some "left-wing looney" (as they called Councils at that time) had done. The most famous being the ban of the Nursery Rhyme Baa Baa Black Sheep, by a London Council as being racist. In fact the council had done no such thing and even got a letter from a New Zealand sheep farmer saying they were being racist to his sheep. he he

However this woman council worker, who was very left wing, also believed it to be racist and made certain it was banned in a local nursery. She didn't know where to put her face when I told her the story. I believe the rhyme also comes from workers struggles with the land owning elite too!

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I think this cutting was from the International Express.

Note the reference to 'Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire'

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The period 1974 – 1986 was certainly one of controversy - a tumultuous 12 year period in local and national government! Local government in South Yorkshire was the subject of conflicts between central governments – both Conservative and Labour – other local authorities, trade unions, and local political parties. The history of South Yorkshire County Council gives a unique insight into the realities of the changing face of local government in the 1970s and 1980s, and of the fractious relationship between a Labour-controlled local authority and the Thatcher government.

The records of the 'People's Republic of South Yorkshire' (or South Yorkshire County Council to give it's official name) arrived with us in 1986 upon the council's abolition.

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Gender: Not Telling

Hi Robin, you can come out now. We heard you on Radio Sheffield and we know you are male.

Unless there are more of you filed away in the archives?

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The records of the 'People's Republic of South Yorkshire' (or South Yorkshire County Council to give it's official name) arrived with us in 1986 upon the council's abolition.

Which if I remember rightly include members' correspondence files, which are embargoed until when?

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I saw this in the hand of nearly every councillor or white collar worker in the 80's.

Sort of a badge of office for some I bet. he he

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I saw this in the hand of nearly every councillor or white collar worker in the 80's.

Sort of a badge of office for some I bet. he he

There used to be a load of activists who stood opposite Coles Corner selling the "Socialist Worker" every time you walked from High Street to Fargate.

They were always shouting "Socialist Worker" just like Big Issue sellers shout "Big Issue" these days.

At the time I would have loved to have produced a spoof alternative paper called "Capitalist Layabout" (get it, - the opposite of Socialist Worker) and stand opposite them selling it and shouting out "Capitalist Layabout"

I wanted to do this because if you looked at the sort of people who sold Socialist Worker they clearly were not the sort of people that were short of money themselves, - they were well dressed and well fed. Further, they clearly did not have a job as they could spend all day selling this newspaper in large groups, without a job they were hardly "workers"

In fact these "Socialist Workers" presented the image of being exactly the opposite, - they were "Capitalist Layabouts"

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If you want an insight into the left wing you could do worse than read Alexei Sayle's autobiography, 'Stalin ate my homework'. Quite an eye opener in places.

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Someone I knew a builder has it happens, who always said to me don't mess with the VAT man he will take everything you've got, always took the micky out of the socialists that were workers in the Manor area. One day he said I'm off to the Socialist and Social workers store now for the shopping. I looked at him puzzled and said where's that? "Sainsburys" he replied. Not excatly a 'socialist' store I said to him. He replied it is on Saturday when we go, everytime it's filled up with staff from FACS. Meaning Family And Community Services, many who we both knew were on the 'left' who worked in the Manor area anyway. I suspect it's hard to be a Torry when you are taking kids off people. Mind you a chap I worked with had switched to the community side from the social work side telling me he was sick of taking kids off people, so even a socialist had problems with that.

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See also:

Alan Clarke, The Rise and Fall of the Socialist Republic: A History of the South Yorkshire County Council, 1987.

An excellent summary. There are copies at the Central Library.

Cheryl, Sheffield Archives

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Gender: Not Telling

Hi Robin, you can come out now. We heard you on Radio Sheffield and we know you are male.

Unless there are more of you filed away in the archives?

PS. It's true - Robin is male, his radio appearances have given the game away! However, there are more of us filed away in the archives...

Cheryl, Sheffield Archives (not male!)

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If you want an insight into the left wing you could do worse than read Alexei Sayle's autobiography, 'Stalin ate my homework'. Quite an eye opener in places.

In his 1980's TV show I particularly liked his social comments in a sketch he did about a "new town" being built somewhere in Britain.

It went something like this

First person that wants to come to the British new town was German

During the war he was in the Luftwaffe and had blitzed and bombed many British town to destruction.

Today he is manager of a well known German car manufacturing company and wants to build a factory in Britain.

So, if he wants to come to the British new town he is more than welcome.

Second person that wants to come to the British new town was Japanese

During the war he was in charge of a POW camp and systematically and sadistically tortured British POW's to death

Today he is manager of a well known Japanese electronics company and he wants to build a factory in Britain

So, if he wants to come to the British new town he is more than welcome.

Third person that wants to come to the British new town was Indian

During the war he was a British Empire and Commonwealth member and fought with the British army in the jungle to liberate Burma, Siam and Malaya.

Today, unfortunately he is unemployed.

So, if he wants to come to the British new town he can get lost because we don't want people like that around here.

A sad but probably realistic view of how people tend to treat each other.

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It went much deeper into the Council than the name it was given. For a start the council blocked all departments working with the Employment Service and Manpower Services Commission job creation schemes. Instead it set up the Center Against Unemployment on West Street. This wasn't about creating employment, just about attacking the Torry policy. As a volounteer I worked with many Council workers employed to deal with the problems of inner city life. Most of them were socialists, some of them members of Milliant, thiis being good in some cases bad in others. To be honest some had really daft ideas. For instance you may recall that the Sun Newspaper from time to time would event silly tales of what some "left-wing looney" (as they called Councils at that time) had done. The most famous being the ban of the Nursery Rhyme Baa Baa Black Sheep, by a London Council as being racist. In fact the council had done no such thing and even got a letter from a New Zealand sheep farmer saying they were being racist to his sheep. he he

However this woman council worker, who was very left wing, also believed it to be racist and made certain it was banned in a local nursery. She didn't know where to put her face when I told her the story. I believe the rhyme also comes from workers struggles with the land owning elite too!

Ironic how people change <_< Just found out today that the same left winger woman mentioned above has now joined the elite as she now lives in a £500,000 house in Sheffield 10 :o Back then she would have been happier living in a Greenham tent then living in a 2 bed flat. :rolleyes: Wish I had sold Socialist Workers on the Manor back then if you end up in a 6 bed house :P lol

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Ironic how people change <_< Just found out today that the same left winger woman mentioned above has now joined the elite as she now lives in a £500,000 house in Sheffield 10 :o Back then she would have been happier living in a Greenham tent then living in a 2 bed flat. :rolleyes: Wish I had sold Socialist Workers on the Manor back then if you end up in a 6 bed house :Plol

She won't have changed at all , these type have double standards.

She may have come across as though she would be happy living in a Greenham tent , don't you believe it.

Don't fall for that one , I've seen all this before, she was probably living in a £300, 000 house in Sheffield 10 back then.

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I do remember getting into trouble when I was in the Air Cadets in the 1980's for having a map on the wall of the classroom that showed a bombing mission planned for Donesk when the local Labour MP came to visit!

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She won't have changed at all , these type have double standards.

She may have come across as though she would be happy living in a Greenham tent , don't you believe it.

Don't fall for that one , I've seen all this before, she was probably living in a £300, 000 house in Sheffield 10 back then.

Your forgetting that Labour did come to power eventually under the guise of new Labour ;-) They had more double standards then I've had hot dinners. Socialists either changed or adapted to the new conditions. When they came to power at the time I was involved in a few voluntary projects, which had refused to deal with Tory schemes for the unemployed. Indeed under the Socialist Republic the Council would not employ or use M.S.C. type schemes in the Council. On West Street right next to the Unemployment Benefit Office they set up the Sheffield Co-ordinating Centre Against Unemployment, funded by the trade unions, that was very critical of Government Schemes for unemployment. But things changed under New Labour. All of a sudden Councillors who wouldn't dream of being envolved in any scheme that envolved the refusal of benefits to the unemployed, were pushing for these same schemes now under the name "New Deal" to the same management bodies of the volountary projects I was on. And the same body that was critical of even South Yorkshire Open College acredited courses, changed it's name from the SCCAU to Sheffield Centre for Full Employment and started a 160 place New Deal scheme <_<

It seems a lot of these Socialist types adapted to the new regime of New Labour, without going into too much personal details of the person, I was able to track her online profile of the work envolved (after I new her) and she seems to have been and still is a big player in the education field, and was envoled in New Labour's vision on education. But when I knew her she was living in the Pitsmoor area, so there was no big money house then. Mind you she did have middle-class parents, so I guess she reverted back to her roots so to speak lol However still surporting those left-wing causes ;-)

I always found it ironic that the Government had the MSC Head Office building put on the bottom of the Moor, when Sheffield Council was so opposed to everything the MSC did!

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Your forgetting that Labour did come to power eventually under the guise of new Labour ;-) They had more double standards then I've had hot dinners. Socialists either changed or adapted to the new conditions. When they came to power at the time I was involved in a few voluntary projects, which had refused to deal with Tory schemes for the unemployed. Indeed under the Socialist Republic the Council would not employ or use M.S.C. type schemes in the Council. On West Street right next to the Unemployment Benefit Office they set up the Sheffield Co-ordinating Centre Against Unemployment, funded by the trade unions, that was very critical of Government Schemes for unemployment. But things changed under New Labour. All of a sudden Councillors who wouldn't dream of being envolved in any scheme that envolved the refusal of benefits to the unemployed, were pushing for these same schemes now under the name "New Deal" to the same management bodies of the volountary projects I was on. And the same body that was critical of even South Yorkshire Open College acredited courses, changed it's name from the SCCAU to Sheffield Centre for Full Employment and started a 160 place New Deal scheme <_<

It seems a lot of these Socialist types adapted to the new regime of New Labour, without going into too much personal details of the person, I was able to track her online profile of the work envolved (after I new her) and she seems to have been and still is a big player in the education field, and was envoled in New Labour's vision on education. But when I knew her she was living in the Pitsmoor area, so there was no big money house then. Mind you she did have middle-class parents, so I guess she reverted back to her roots so to speak lol However still surporting those left-wing causes ;-)

I always found it ironic that the Government had the MSC Head Office building put on the bottom of the Moor, when Sheffield Council was so opposed to everything the MSC did!

Were you involved in any of the Dolebusters concerts that were orgainised by SCCAU?

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