Hunger March speeches

Extracts from transcript of shorthand notes taken by Police Sergeant A. Davies at the National Hunger Marcher’s demonstration in Hyde Park, 27th October 1932 (HO 144/18186)



Oscar de Lacy, Leader of the Brighton hunger marchers said:

“As a leader and deputy organiser of the Southern Contingent, it was my duty to see that the hunger marchers in 1932 marched against the national government of starvation, war and degradation, and paved the way for the smashing of the means test. When our marchers heard that the “Daily Mail” had referred to them as dupes of the Communist party, they were very indignant, and some of them said that if they could get hold of the “Daily Mail” reporter they would stuff him full of his own dirty rotten reports. Comrades, we did not come here for fun. We came for business and we are not going back until the dirty means test as every unemployed man knows it, is taken away from the statute book. I must say this, comrades, that coming through from Brighton to London, right to Hyde Park, the rank and file of the police force have acted as toffs. I must be honest. We have no fight with the man in blue. Comrades I want to say this, that the national government and Lord Trenchard must take warning and understand that before they can depend on the marchers being batoned down, they will have to reckon with the seething discontent inside their own ranks. I suppose that is sedition, but it is common knowledge that through the cuts in their pay the police are seething with discontent, and they have a right to be discontented. We have no quarrel with them.

Comrade Lily Webb said:

“Comrades and fellow marchers, as one of the leaders of the women hunger marchers who have marched from Burnley to London, I want first of all to convey the greetings of women marchers to London workers. I also want to thank you on behalf of the women marchers for the magnificent reception that you have accorded to us women marchers, not only on entering London yesterday but at this great demonstration this afternoon. I have never had the honour of speaking in London before to-day, and I can say, comrades, I never seen a sight like this in the working class movement, outside Russia. I am proud to be able to speak at this meeting. We are fighting to abolish the rotten means test. The workers all over the country are fighting against it as they never fought against anything before, and we will continue to fight until it is smashed. The way we have been received in London has made us more determined than ever. The reception by the Islington workers exceeded all our expectations. Whilst our immediate task is to fight the means test, we shall follow the example of the workers of Soviet Russia, to be able to abolish unemployment. Before we can overthrow unemployment we shall have to overthrow capitalism.”

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