A proletarian version of Passport to Pimlico complete with passports but a sound political message:Small area declarations of UDI might be a tactic worth reconsidering.
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.
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.”
The “Island Council” was set up consisting of 30 members. Ted Johns was elected president. Two dockers and lightermen were chosen as Prime Ministers. The only name I have been able to trace for one of these is John Westfallen. They announced that they would withhold rates meant for the Greater London Council and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, and spend them locally.
The newly born ‘Republic’ had it’s headquarters in Ted Johns council flat in Skeggs House, Manchester Road.
At a subsequent press conference held at the presidential palace, a cramped fourth floor council flat at Skeggs House, E14, President Johns proudly announced his first State visit to the Home Office, while his First Lady, Mrs Sylvia Johns, assured the world’s press that her husband would “always be just plain Ted Johns for me”. Meanwhile the presidential children, Jill, Terry, Hazel and Jo-Ann, apparently oblivious of their new celebrity, munched potato crisps provided by a television crew.
The Telegraph, reporting after the death of Ted Johns in 1970, recalled:
- Soon after UDI, the new republic dealt with its first administrative problem when a Mr Edward Ingrams applied to start a street market on the island; permission was granted. President Johns reported that he had received messages of support from all over the world. A letter from Mexico had requested a signed photograph and a first issue of stamps.
- Ted Johns was interviewed by no less than Walter Conkrite as president of the Republic of the Isle of Dogs.