Tuesday, 22 April 2008

1968 and all that

As the official historian of the British squatting movement, and the only person who has ever had pro-squatting op-ed features published in the Daily Telegraph and London Evening Standard, I'm intrigued by erstwhile squatting activist Piers Corbyn's planned talk at the 1968 and all that conference and bookfair on 10 May.

Piers now makes a living as a long-term weather forecaster and occasional climate-change denier, but for much of the 1970s and early 1980s he was one of the best-known squatting activists in London. His talk on 10 May is entitled 'The Squatting Movement in 1968' and the publicity is illustrated by a photo of squatters from Huntley Street, in central London.

It promises to be a short talk. The London Squatters Campaign may have been set up by a meeting of 15 people at the house of Ron Bailey on 18 November 1968, but the only organised 'squats' during that year involved three token occupations of empty buildings in the run-up to Christmas. Squatting didn't take off in the sense of people occupying empty properties to live in until the following year and it wasn't until February 1977 that the five blocks of flats in Huntley Street were occupied (they were evicted by 650 police in riot gear in July 1978).

Still, Piers is an old mate and I hope to catch up with him at the conference, if only to see whether he still carries around his trademark plastic carrier bag stuffed full of badly designed leaflets. I was a bit too young to be a '68er myself; my formative political years came later. But anything that has Piers, Hilary Wainwright and class warrior Ian Bone on the same bill has to be worth a look in.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And Astrid Proll, don't forget Astrid Proll. Baader Meinhoff group member and Camden squatter after she turned against terrorism.