Local authorities

The Labour Party supported the March Month of Boycott Action as part of its 1960 Africa Year initiative. The Boycott Movement was initially wary about the boycott being taken over by the Labour Party, but its involvement made a big difference to the scale of the campaign. Twenty-one Labour local councils banned South African goods from their schools and town halls. The Party organised 27 local conferences all over Britain. The boycott was the main theme of a party political broadcast by Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell on 9 March.

Letter from Glyncorrwg Urban District Council stating that it had agreed to impose a boycott of South African goods until the South African Government established a government based on a universal adult franchise. Glyncorrwg was one of 40 Welsh local authorities which imposed a boycott in the mid-1960s, many of them in response to a letter from South Wales Anti-Apartheid Movement Chair, David Shipper, who wrote to every Welsh local council in 1964. Glyncorrwg was a coal-mining centre in the west of the South Wales valleys.

Correspondence from Glamorgan County Council responding to a letter from South Wales Anti-Apartheid Movement Chair David Shipper, asking it to boycott South African goods. The Council referred the letter to its Supplies Committee to consider problems in enforcing a boycott, and seven months later responded saying that it would stop buying South African groceries, provisions, fruit and vegetables. Glamorgan was one of 40 Welsh local authorities which imposed a boycott of South African goods in the mid-1960s.

List of British local authorities and co-operative societies which boycotted South African goods in 1966. The list included 13 English and 40 Welsh local councils, as well as Aberdeen City Council in Scotland. The authorities represented nearly six million people.

Anti-apartheid supporters outside the South African Embassy in London holding wreaths in memory of the 69 people shot at Sharpeville, on the fifth anniversary of the massacre in 1965. An ‘in memoriam’ book was signed by 3,500 people in St Martin’s in the Fields and a public meeting was held there to commemorate the anniversary. Students at University College London held a South Africa week and Cambridge City Council voted to ban South African produce from its civic restaurant.

Nelson Mandela was given the Freedom of the City of Glasgow on 4 August 1981. Glasgow was the first of many British cities to honour Mandela in this way. The photograph shows ANC representative Ruth Mompati speaking at a meeting in Glasgow City Chambers held after the award ceremony. Also in the picture are Nigerian Vice-President Alex Ekwueme,  the Lord Provost of Glasgow Michael Kelly and the Chair of the Scottish AA Committee, Brian Filling.

Sheffield was the first local authority to pass an anti-apartheid declaration, in October 1981. It pledged to boycott South African goods and ban South African entertainers and sports people from its venues. It also stated it would encourage positive teaching about African liberation struggles in local schools.

In 1981 Sheffield District Council became the first British local authority to announce it would end all links with South Africa. This pamphlet reprinted the keynote speeches at a conference on the role of transnational corporations in South Africa held in Sheffield in 1982.