People's Republic of South Yorkshire
The People's Republic of South Yorkshire or the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire is the nickname often given to South Yorkshire under the left-wing local governments of the 1980s, especially the municipal socialist administration of Sheffield City Council led by David Blunkett, used by both detractors and supporters of the councils. The councils pursued a social policy radically different from that of Margaret Thatcher's national government, following more closely along the lines of Militant tendency-dominated Liverpool City Council and the Greater London Council led by Ken Livingstone.
The expression was coined by Max Williams, a leader writer at the Yorkshire Evening Post, although it was soon adopted by supporters of the council's left-wing policies. Sheffield Hallam was the only seat in South Yorkshire where the Conservative Party was a significant political force, the remaining seats being Labour safe seats or Liberal–Labour marginals. Sheffield City Council and the South Yorkshire Metropolitan Authority were solidly left wing, remaining socialist even as Thatcherism became the dominant political ideology in the country as a whole.
Sheffield City Council constructed large council estates with large numbers of communal blocks of flats based on the streets in the sky philosophy, most famously the Park Hill complex, and the borough councils of South Yorkshire set up an extensive network of subsidised transport under the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive. The councils also took more confrontational steps against the Conservative Westminster government. Sheffield refused to set a budget in the rate-capping rebellion, while South Yorkshire declared itself a nuclear-free zone and a demilitarized zone. The red flag flew on Sheffield Town Hall on May Day and the city signed a peace treaty with the city of Donetsk in the Ukrainian SSR, at that point on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Both groups of policies - the practical and the symbolic - were sometimes cited as reasons for the nickname. The National Union of Mineworkers moved to headquarters in Sheffield in 1983 in the run-up to the decisive 1984–85 miners' strike, and the area subsequently became one of the main centres of the strike.
Although it lost some of its relevance following the Labour Party's shift towards New Labour and the expulsion of the far-left elements of the party, along with the replacement of Thatcherism with the more moderate Majorism and Blairism, the name remains in use for the area, which is still dominated by the political left. Up until and including the 2015 general election, the only seat in South Yorkshire not held by Labour was Sheffield Hallam; which was held at the time of the election by the-then Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg. However, despite not winning, the seat did experience an increase in the Labour vote and the Labour Party candidate Oliver Coppard significantly reduced then-Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg's majority from 15,284 votes to just 2,353 votes.. Labour, supported by the left-wing group Momentum, gained Sheffield Hallam at the 2017 snap general election for the first time in their history, while also retaining all of their existing South Yorkshire seats, meaning that Labour controlled every seat in South Yorkshire for the first time. The Labour candidate Jared O'Mara won a majority of 2,125 votes over Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg, and Clegg's loss was one of the major high-profile losses on the night of 8 June 2017. O'Mara was suspended from the Labour Party on 25 October 2017 after it emerged that he had made derogatory comments online about women and homosexuals, years prior to his election. [a]
As of 2017, all four metropolitan borough councils – Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield – are under Labour control, and the Conservatives do not hold a single seat in Rotherham or Sheffield.[b]
- Jared O'Mara, who won Sheffield Hallam as the Labour candidate in 2017, has since been suspended from the party.
- Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council is currently suspended following the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal and the executive is in the hands of Government-appointed commissioners. However, elections were still held in 2016, at which Labour remained the largest party.
- Linda McDowell (2011). Redundant Masculinities? Employment Change and White Working Class Youth. ISBN 1444355597.
[...] local politics in Sheffield were dominated by a particular form of radical municipal socialism, gaining the city a brief but prestigious reputation as the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire.
- Payling, Daisy (2014-12-01). "'Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire': Grassroots Activism and Left-Wing Solidarity in 1980s Sheffield". Twentieth Century British History. 25 (4): 602–627. doi:10.1093/tcbh/hwu001. ISSN 0955-2359.
- Peter Lazenby (2012-08-31). "Generations Unite". Morning Star.
The steel city - much of its steel industry wrecked under Thatcher - was at the heart of what used to be proudly called the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire.
- Robert Waller (1985). The Atlas of British Politics. p. 135. ISBN 0709936095.
The Conservatives can win only one seat in the so-called "Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire".
- Massimiliano Mollona (2009). Made in Sheffield: An Ethnography of Industrial Work and Politics. p. 65. ISBN 1845455517.
- Martin Loney & Robert Bocock (1991). The State or the market: politics and welfare in contemporary Britain. p. 281. ISBN 0803986424.
In contrast Labour did have effective control of public transport in the metropolitan counties following the 1981 elections, and their aim, indeed the achievement of the 'Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire', was to run a cheap, efficient and extensive public transport service.
- Justice of the Peace Ltd (1983). Local Government Review. 147: 99.
Councillor Irvine Patnick, the leader of the minority Tory group on the South Yorkshire Metropolitan County Council, apparently makes regular reports to the national chairman of his party and other Conservative high-ups on the situation in that beleaguered county which he refers to either as the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire or (since the authority declared South Yorks to be a demilitarised and nuclear-free zone) Peace County.Missing or empty
- "Radio 4 - Factual — Children of the Red Flag". BBC. 2006-10-16. Archived from the original on 2012-11-06. Retrieved 2009-10-11.
- Seumas Milne (2004). The Enemy Within (1994 book). p. 170. ISBN 1844675084.
Sheffield, at the centre of the country's largest coalfield and renowned at the time as the capital of the 'socialist republic of South Yorkshire', offered by far the best deal and it was there that the NUM set up shop in the spring of 1983.
- Bryon Criddle (2002). Almanac of British Politics. 7. p. 302. ISBN 0415268338.
The 'Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire' has not always been as solidly Labour as it is now, with just one Liberal Democrat seat in the shape of Sheffield Hallam breaking the monopoly.
- James Reed (8 May 2015). "South Yorkshire results: Labour hold Barnsley and Rotherham heartlands". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 2015-06-11.
- Cooke, Rachel (18 June 2017). "Jared O'Mara, the pub-owning first-time MP who won Nick Clegg's seat". The Observer. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
- Lindsay Pantry & John Roberts (8 May 2015). "Yorkshire's council election results in full: Success for Labour and Tories". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 2015-06-11.