Following on from the rather dubious Mayoral election yesterday in Tower Hamlets, some people living on the Isle of Dogs (well, probably just me) might be wondering if we can be cut free from the rest of the Borough and form our own administration.

It’s not as far fetched as it sounds, as in 1970 – the residents of the Isle of Dogs went even further and declared independence from the UK.

Labour councilor Ted Johns declared UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence) for the Isle of Dogs because of unsatisfactory amenities for the 10,000 residents. The two swing bridges that gave the only access to the island were blocked.

The 37 year old Johns said, “We have declared UDI and intend to set up our own council,” and, “We can govern ourselves much better than they seem to be doing,” he declared. “They have let the island go to the dogs.”

An Island Council comprising of 30 locals was set up and they threatened to withhold rates from Tower Hamlets and the London Council. The new “Republic” had it’s headquarters in Ted Johns council flat in Skeggs House, Manchester Road.

The new regime lasted less than two weeks, but it made its point and was part of the reason that more efforts were devoted to the regeneration of the Isle of Dogs. Ironically, Ted Johns objected passionately to much of the development, as being fit just for Yuppies and Estate Agents.

I wonder what he would think if he knew his name is being usurped by a local estate agent on their website to boost their search engine placement?

In a possible echo of the current shambles with the Mayoral election, Ted Johns also threatened to leave the Labour party and set himself up as an independent candidate if his demands for more council housing were not approved. They were, and he remained a life-long Labour loyalist.

Ted Johns died in 2004 – his obituary was published in The Guardian.

And you thought Passport to Pimlico was a comedy movie – just think if you needed a Passport to Canary Wharf ?

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2 Comments

  1. Mile End Resident

    Ted was one of the few in Tower Hamlets whose name will live on as a serious community activist and man of the people – unlike ever such a lot of so-called politiians which have come after.

    It’s nice to see both the UDI and he have got a place in the Museum in Docklands.

    I knew him in the 80s and found him to be a really nice bloke too. It was always a real pleasure to do business with him.

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