The words to the Red Flag were written in 1889 by Jim
and were inspired by the London Dock Strike.
The people's flag is
Then raise the scarlet standard high
waved above our infant might
well recalls the triumphs past
suits today the meek and base
With heads uncovered swear we all
Years ago, I used to see, almost every day in Fleet Street, Jim Connell, who wrote the words in 1889, little dreaming they would become so famous a defiance of privilege and an eternal inspiration to those who challenged it.
Connell, who used to say “I was educated under a hedge for a few weeks” and who had been everything from a navvy and a journalist to a poacher, wrote the ‘Red Flag' amid the thrill of the dock strike.
With Irish humour, he fitted the words to the old Jacobite air 'The White Cockade' someone else chose the tune 'Maryland'.
Hannen Swaffer in the Daily Herald, 2 August 1945
'THE RED FLAG' AT WESTMINSTER
George Lansbury may have passed on, but it was
Poplar that was responsible yesterday for the singing of the 'Red Flag' in the
Commons. W.H.Guy, the M.P. who succeeds to George's seat, could not resist it.
When the Tories, seeing Winston enter the House, greeted him with 'For he's a
Jolly Good Fellow' Guy said to George Griffiths; the miner who throughout the
war supported Churchill with an unflinching loyalty, 'We can't let them get away
with that! If you start the "Red Flag", I'll conduct it.'
So he waved his arms while Griffiths started ‘The people's flag is deepest red' and his Labour colleagues stood up and joined in. It was T.G.Thomas, the young schoolmaster who won Cardiff Central, who spoke to me of the emotion he felt while he sang the Socialist Anthem which had heartened so many in the dark days, and which he had learned from the pioneers in his childhood. 'How they sang it in the Rhondda after the election!' he said. 'How the crowds cheered and how the old people wept with joy! I little dreamed I should live to be an M.P. on a day like this.'
The Daily Herald, 2 August 1945