Saturday, 18 February 2017

Oral History On The North East Labour History Website

The North East Labour History Society is pleased to announce that it has just published transcripts of the personal memories of sixty people from the North East. You can find these on our website at:

These oral histories are from people who have spent their lives in the co-operative movement, the mines, other industries, the unions and political activity. We think these transcripts are a valuable permanent record of peoples' recollections of their lifetime experiences.

The material we have here draws on a range of activities undertaken by North East Labour History Society members and others. 

Do take a look and tell us what you think. If you have transcripts or notes from interviews with people who have been involved in the labour  movement in the North East we would be delighted to provide space for them on our site ( As well as the name of the interviewee and a photograph, it would be helpful to have their dates, where they lived and worked, the name of the interviewer and, if applicable, the project or organisation through which the interview was done. It is important to get permission from the person who has been interviewed to put their information on this site.

David Connolly


Friday, 10 February 2017

Glad to be Gay: The struggle for legal equality

The LSE Library has a spring exhibition which runs from 9 January to 7 April: 'Glad to be Gay: the struggle for legal equality'. It draws on the unique Hall-Carpenter Archives and the Women’s Library collection to mark the 50th anniversary of a pivotal piece of legislation: the 1967 Sexual Offences Act. Before that, homosexuality was a criminal offence. With the passing of the Sexual Offences Act, homosexuality in private was decriminalised, but genuine parity still was not achieved. The struggle for legal equality continues and has only made progress by the sustained efforts of committed activists.  See photos from the exhibition here

Saturday, 28 January 2017

CfP - Manchester Social Movements conference


Dates: Conference 10th-12 April Abstracts by Monday 2oth March Papers by Friday 31stMarch

From 1995 to 2016, Manchester Metropolitan University hosted a series of very successful annual international conferences on 'ALTERNATIVE FUTURES and POPULAR PROTEST'.

We're very happy to announce that the Twenty Second AF&PP Conference will be held between Monday 10th and Wednesday 12th April 2017.

The Conference rubric will remain as in previous years. The aim is to explore the dynamics of popular movements, along with the ideas which animate their activists and supporters and which contribute to shaping their fate.

Reflecting the inherent cross-disciplinary nature of the issues, previous participants (from over 60 countries) have come from such specialisms as sociology, politics, cultural studies, social psychology, economics,  history and geography.  The Manchester conferences have been notable for discovering a fruitful and friendly meeting ground between activism and academia.


We invite offers of papers relevant to the conference themes.  Papers should address such matters as: 

* contemporary and historical social movements and popular protests

* social movement theory

* utopias and experiments

* ideologies of collective action

* etc.

To offer a paper, please contact either of the conference convenors with a brief abstract:  

EITHER Colin Barker,  
OR Mike Tyldesley, Politics Section, HPP,  
Manchester Metropolitan University  
Geoffrey Manton Building, Rosamond Street West  
Manchester M15 6LL, England  
Tel: M. Tyldesley  0161 247 3460   
Fax: 0161 247 6769 (+44 161 247 6769)  

Friday, 27 January 2017

Marx, Lenin and Anarchism: Revolution in Fitzrovia

 Footprints of London - Revolutionary London

London was the destination for communists and anarchists to meet and argue over the form that the coming revolution would take. German anarchists had lived in London since 1848 and came to police attention after assassination attempts on the Tsar of Russia. Lenin knew London well, and the final split between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks took place here in November 1903, with tragic consequences for the Russian Revolution in 1917. The communists had fled police spies in Brussels to meet in Charlotte St in the guise of an anglers club.

Successive waves of exiles from France, Germany and Russia made a home in Fitzrovia, close to the British Museum where Marx and Lenin studied, yet in an area where foreigners ran the bookstores and shops. On this walk we will find the streets where the leading Communard Louise Michel lived and established a pioneering Fitrovia school, and revisit the site of the Autonomie anarchist club, linked by police to the Greenwich bomb of 1894 which inspired Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent.

Sun 26 February 2017
14:00 – 16:00 GMT

Goodge Street Station
72 Tottenham Court Road

To book tickets (£9-£12) - go to here

Monday, 16 January 2017

Book launch - October 1917 - workers in power

October 1917

​ - ​

workers in power
Book launch with Paul Le Blanc

​Hosted by Resistance Books​

Friday 24 February, 7pm
Housmans Bookshop, 5 Caledonian Rd, N1 9DY
Drinks and snacks provided

Paul Le Blanc is Professor of History at La Roche College (USA) and author of works on the labour and socialist movements, including Lenin and the Revolutionary Party, From Marx to Gramsci, and Leon Trotsky.  An editor of the eight-volume International Encyclopaedia of Revolution and Protest, he is currently helping to oversee the Verso Books edition of The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg.


October 1917 – workers in power
Published by Merlin Press, Resistance Books

and the IIRE


Available from
RRP £15.95; Publication: November 2016
Paperback; 234x156mm; 258pp;


What they say about the book

‘This collection, containing both texts by participants and retrospective historical analyses, defends the achievements of the Revolution while honestly recognizing its limitations, and will stimulate informed discussion.’
Ian Birchall, socialist historian.

‘This is an important collection celebrating the legacy of the Russian Revolution in its centenary year.  Paul Le Blanc’s Introduction provides rich historical context for past events.  But the book is really about the future.‘
Tithi Bhattacharya, Professor of History, Purdue University; editorial board member, International Socialist Review.

‘A fascinating and unexpected collection of material that shines a needed light on the workers revolution of 1917. All in all, a spirited defence of the October revolution at a time when many people would like to forget all about it.’
Lars Lih, author of Lenin Rediscovered: What is to be Done? in Context, Haymarket 2008.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

LSHG Newsletter #60 (Spring 2017) online

The latest Newsletter #60 (Spring 2017) of the LSHG is now online - with comment pieces by Merilyn Moos on Refugees: Then and Now, and Keith Flett on historians and the world of post-truth, Raphael Samuel and Daniel Rachel's new book Walls Come Tumbling Down - our upcoming Spring term seminars are below:

Spring 2017

All seminars take place in Room 304 (third floor) at 5.30pm in the Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU and entry is free although donations are welcome.

                                                 Monday 16 January
John Lindsay
Alan Turing’s Apple. Towards a history of ‘data science’ 

Monday 30 January
Geoffrey Bell
Hesitant Comrades: The Irish Revolution & the British Labour Movement

Monday 13 February
Daniel Rachel
Walls Come Tumbling Down: From Rock Against Racism to Red Wedge

Monday 27 February
Mike Haynes
The Peculiar Career of Colonel John Ward MP
From the SDF and General Unionism to the Russian Counter-Revolution

 Monday 13 March
Ian Birchall
Lenin’s Moscow by Alfred Rosmer

The Newsletter

Letters, articles, criticisms and contributions to debate are most welcome.
Deadline for the next issue is 1 April 2017.

London Socialist Historians Group

We receive no official funding and rely entirely on supporters for money for our activities. To become a member of the LSHG, send £10. (Cheque payable to ‘Keith Flett’)

Email: (and for address for posting cheque)

Book Review: All My Yesterdays

Image result for walls come tumbling down

Walls Come Tumbling Down:
The Music and Politics of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone and Red Wedge

Daniel Rachel
Picador, 2016
ISBN 978-1447272687

John Harris in the Guardian has written a decent review of Daniel Rachel’s book, which is a sort of cultural history of the left from the mid-1970s to the 1990s – see

I want to make a few history-related points on the book here. I was indeed there. I was at the battles of Wood Green and Lewisham, at the Carnivals and on the streets. I still have a pair of steel toe capped Doc Martens and they weren’t (mostly) used for industrial purposes. They were, and the book captures this well, different times.

Image result for northern carnival rock against racism

In the late 1970s I did not walk down any street without scrutinising those also walking to see if they might be fascists who were about to attack me. I don’t do that now because the current strength of organised fascism is low. Indeed I moved to my current  address in central Tottenham precisely because it is so difficult to find. Not that difficult though because the front window still has a bullet hole in it, which I’ve left as a memoir of different times. I wasn’t in when the bullet was fired, but the windows are double glazed as a precaution anyway. The times are not so different though. Racism still needs to be fought, big time in the age of Farage and Trump. Whether music will be as central remains to be seen perhaps.

Anyway, the book is essentially an oral history covering Rock Against Racism and the Anti-Nazi League, Two Tone and Red Wedge. The author has assembled quotes from a extensive range of people under subject headings in more or less chronological order.

I’d confess as a professional historian to not being that enthusiastic about oral history because memory is unreliable and quite difficult to check. I wouldn’t bet on every last statement in the book being accurate but that isn’t really the point. Instead it gives a real flavour of how culture, music and the left came together to fight fascism, racism and the right and some idea both of the breadth of the support needed to do this and the importance of having some coherent political organisation at its core, whether this was the SWP or the Labour Party or both.

Of course Red Wedge was not Rock Against Racism and the distinct parts of the book perhaps don’t have such an automatic follow on. Nor is there an attempt, understandably it being an oral history, to grapple with what precise longer term impact something like RAR had.

Since I was there and know a lot of the people interviewed well the book does read to me like all my yesterdays. But allowing old socialists to recall the past is hopefully not what it is meant to be about. It should be read by those who were NOT there both to get some sense of how movements were built and what is possible, and hopefully to inspire activity and organisation now.

You can always criticise and hopefully there is a positive purpose to that but beyond that this is a book you should read whether you were there and particularly if you were not.

Keith Flett

From London Socialist Historians Group Newsletter 60 (Spring 2017)