Monday 4 August 8-10am
The Woolwich Ferry
London SE18 6DX
To commemorate the resignation of John Burns, who resigned from the government on the eve of the 1st World War in protest.
On 4 August 1914 Britain declared war on Germany. The First World War had begun. On 4 August there will be official events throughout the day marking the centenary. The government says that the mass slaughter which followed represents ‘a vital victory for us’.
Ahead of the declaration of war, John Burns, newly promoted to be President of the Board of Trade in the government, resigned from it saying he would have “nothing to do with such a criminal folly, the effects of which will be appalling to the welter of nations who will be involved. It must be averted by all the means in our power ... It is my especial duty to dissociate myself, and the principles I hold and the trusteeship for the working classes I carry, from such a universal crime as the contemplated war will be”.
One of London’s Woolwich ferries is named after John Burns. The backdrop is the River Thames, the Barrier, City Airport, the Dome and Canary Wharf. We will be at the ferries’ southern terminal from 8 to 10am on 4 August with banners and placards marking John Burns’ resignation. We will be leafleting ferry users and passers-by saying that, so far from the war being ‘a vital victory’, Burns was right: it should never have been fought. Join us.