40th anniversary of the Lucas Plan

BOOK NOW for a conference celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Lucas Plan!

Veteran trade unionists and younger activists see Nobel prize-nominated plan as inspiration for the future

Leading figures from the left, trade union, environmental and peace movements are coming together at a conference on November 26th with a fresh perspective on tackling current crises, using the ideas of socially useful production pioneered in the Lucas Plan. The Plan, produced by workers at the Lucas Aerospace arms company, showed how jobs could be saved by converting to make products that answer a social need, rather than weapons. To book for the conference, visit http://www.lucasplan.org.uk/tickets.  See http://www.lucasplan.org.uk, or the notes below for more information on the Lucas Plan.

The conference will focus on 5 key themes:

The Lucas Plan and socially useful production.

Arms conversion and peace.

Climate change and a socially just transition to sustainability.

The threat to skills and livelihoods from automation.

Local/community economic and industrial planning.

Linking all these issues is the need to rethink how we can produce what people and society actually need and overcome corporate domination through their control of technology.

Highlights of the conference will include:

Talks by Phil Asquith, Brian Salisbury and Mick Cooney (Lucas Aerospace Shop Stewards Combine).

Screening of a new film on the Lucas Plan by Steve Sprung.

Contributions from: Chris Baugh (PCS), Suzanne Jeffery (Million Climate Jobs Campaign), Hilary Wainwright (Red Pepper), John McDonnell (tbc), Natalie Bennett and Molly Scott-Cato (Green Party), Romayne Phoenix (People’s Assembly Against Austerity), Mary Pearson (Birmingham Trades Council), Jim Wyke (Young Scots for Independence), Philippa Hands (Unison), Stuart Parkinson (Scientists for Global Responsibility), Dave Elliott (Open University), Dave King (Breaking the Frame), Tom Woolley (Rachel Bevan Architects), Simon Fairlie (The Land magazine), Karen Leach (Localise West Midlands), plus more speakers to be announced.

The conference on the Lucas Plan 40th anniversary will be held at Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (138 Digbeth, Birmingham, B5 6DR) on November 26, 2016. See http://www.lucasplan.org.uk. The conference is being organised and sponsored by: former members of the Lucas Aerospace Shop Stewards Combine, Breaking the Frame, PCS, UCU, Million Climate Jobs Campaign, Green Party, Scientists for Global Responsibility, Campaign Against Arms Trade, and Red Pepper.

Tickets are £10/£5 concessions: To book for the conference, visit http://www.lucasplan.org.uk/tickets. For more information, email info@breakingtheframe.org.uk

BACKGROUND INFO: The Lucas Aerospace Shop Stewards Combine’s Alternative Corporate Plan (‘The Lucas Plan’) was launched in 1976 and became famous worldwide, sparking an international movement for socially useful production and workers’ plans. Facing the threat of redundancies, the Combine collected 150 ideas from shop floor workers about alternative socially useful products that could be produced by the company, instead of relying on military orders. Many of the innovations in the plan, such as hybrid car engines, heat pumps and wind turbines were commercially viable and are now in widespread use. Although the Alternative Plan was rejected by Lucas Aerospace managers, it was instrumental in protecting jobs at Lucas in the 1970s. The Combine was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and Mike Cooley received the Right Livelihood Award in 1982. More information about the Plan, including the 53-page summary of the five 200 page volumes, can be found on the conference website, http://www.lucasplan.org.uk.




The Fifteenth Essex Conference on Labour History, jointly sponsored and organised by Labour Heritage and the Essex Labour Campaign Forum will take place at The Labour Hall, Collingwood Road, Witham, CM8 2EE, (adjacent to Witham railway station), from 10.30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, 29th October, 2016.

The topics on the agenda include the historical role of Aneurin Bevan, relations with Ireland, the Poplar rates dispute and the life of a Labour activist in Essex.

The Conference is completely open and friends, relatives and acquaintances are welcome, whatever their political allegiances.  Questions and other contributions will be invited from the floor, lunch will be provided by the Essex Labour Campaign Forum and the cost is included in the registration fee.

The registration fee is £8 per person (cheques payable to the Essex County Labour Party).  Those not previously registered can pay at the door, provided there are places, but pre-booking is advisable – particularly for catering purposes.

CHARLES COCHRANE, Chair – Essex Labour Campaign Forum

STAN NEWENS, Chair – Labour Heritage. For details contact Stan on this e-mail address

Registration fee: £8.00 per person


10.30 – 11.00 a.m.    Conference assembles (tea and coffee will be provided)
11.00 – 11.10 a.m.    Chair’s opening remarks – Charles Cochrane, Chair, Essex Labour Campaign Forum
11.10 – 12.05 p.m.    The Left in the mid-20th Century and the Role of Aneurin Bevan
Francis Beckett (Labour historian and author)
12.05 – 1.00 p.m.    Ireland – the 1916 Rising and Social Progress
Ivan Gibbons (former Director of Irish Studies at St. Mary’s University Twickenham, and Director of the Irish Cultural Centre, Hammersmith)
1.00 – 2.00 p.m.    Lunch, arranged by the Essex Labour Campaign Forum.
2.00 – 2.45 p.m.    George Lansbury and the 1921 Poplar Rates Dispute
Chris Sumner (George Lansbury Memorial Trust)
2.45 – 3.30 p.m.    A Life in the Labour Movement
Stan Newens (former MP, MEP and Labour historian)
3.30 – 3.55 p.m.    Discussion and suggestions
3.55 – 4.00 p.m.    Conclusion of the Conference


Seminar: “Loyalties: An Interdisciplinary Seminar on British Communism”

Loyalties: An Interdisciplinary Seminar on British Communism.


The question of dual or contested loyalties has been a constant theme in the history of British communism. Much of existing research has centred on the political allegiances of communists who have occupied positions of influence in the military, or have been involved in espionage. Research in this field has been enriched by the availability of MI5 files, Soviet archives and personal memoir.  However, the question of the loyalties of British communists has a much wider scope and significance, encompassing the dilemmas of intellectuals, changing personal and political identities and the balance between trade union activism and political priorities. In the background have often been tensions between the freedom of the artist and writer and their political commitments, the internationalist and anti-fascist allegiances in the context of war and pacifism, and the effects of the Cold War on work and family life.

Given the breadth of the loyalties question, this one day seminar, funded by The Open University’s Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance, was conceived with the idea of pushing out the boundaries of research to bring together historians, political scientists, intelligence experts and those working on biographical studies and life-writing. The seminar is intended to be a starting-point for further research and will focus initially on three main areas:

War, intelligence and espionage

British communists and Spain in the 1930s

Writers, intellectuals, artists.

The emphasis will be on short 10-15 minute contributions to maximise the time available. In addition to these three themes the two plenaries at the beginning and end of the day are intended to discuss further research opportunities.

Date: Friday 18 November. 9.30-16.00

Venue, Kellogg College, 62 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6PN

For further details and to register please contact Dr Geoff Andrews:  geoff.andrews@open.ac.uk



Call for Papers – Wars of Position: Marxism and Civil Society

Call for Papers

Wars of Position: Marxism and Civil Society

International Conference, Manchester, UK, 8-10 June 2017

Key-note speakers

Jodi Dean, Professor of Political Science, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, New York.  Author of books including Crowds and Party (2016), The Communist Horizon (2011), Democracy and other Neoliberal Fantasies (2009)

Stathis Kouvelakis, Reader in Political Theory, King’s College, London and former member of Syriza’s Central Committee.  Author of Philosophy and Revolution: From Kant to Marx (2003)

Kevin Morgan, Professor of Politics and Contemporary History, University of Manchester.  Author of books including Bolshevism, Syndicalism and the General Strike: The Lost Internationalist World of A.A. Purcell (2013), Labour Legends and Russian Gold (2006), The Webbs and Soviet Communism (2006).


‘In Russia’, wrote Antonio Gramsci, ‘the State was everything’ and ‘civil society primordial’; in the highly-developed West, civil society formed ‘permanent fortifications’ which the revolutionary party would have to occupy and transform in order to take and hold power.

No Marxist parties in the West made a revolution.  Historical analysis of their failure has been abundant, but insufficiently attentive to parties’ approaches to civil society in Gramsci’s sense (i.e. social practices and institutions outside the government, judiciary and repressive state apparatus).  This international and interdisciplinary conference is at once historically grounded and attuned to contemporary debates on the Left.  It brings together: analysis of the theory and practice of twentieth-century Marxist parties in relation to civil society; analysis of contemporary Left formations’ approaches to civil society; analysis of the ‘idea’ of communism today and the relevance or obsolescence of ‘the party’ as an organizational form in the twenty-first century.

Proposals are invited for twenty-minute papers and panels of three papers.  Abstracts (250 words) should be emailed to warsofposition2017@manchester.ac.uk by 1/12/16.  Conference interpreters may be available for delegates who wish to present in languages other than English (please e-mail the organisers).  The conference will take place in Manchester’s People’s History Museum, an institution committed to archiving and chronicling the history of radical politics; some panels will discuss the challenges faced by such institutions today.  Papers for the conference might address, but are not restricted to:

  • History, civil society and the ‘idea of Communism’ debate (Badiou, Žižek, Dean et al)
  • Civil society and political strategy in recent / contemporary Left formations (e.g. Podemos, Syriza, Five Star Movement, Die Linke, Parti de gauche)
  • Theoretical debates in the Marxist tradition on ‘civil society’ (Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg, Gramsci, Lukács, Althusser, Marcuse, Poulantzas et al)
  • The struggle for ‘proletarian culture’ in the 1920s and after
  • Communism, the nation and the Popular Fronts in the 1930s and 1940s
  • New Lefts and communism
  • ‘Anti-revisionism’ and cultural revolution
  • Eurocommunism and civil society
  • ‘Post-Marxism’
  • Marxism, gender and the family
  • Marxist parties and intellectuals/ education / science / religion / writing history/ the media / the family
  • Marxism and the arts / the avant-garde / popular culture
  • Marxist parties and their cultural institutions, publishing houses, publications and counter-hegemonic events


The conference is part of the AHRC-funded project, Wars of Position: Communism and Civil Society led by Dr Ben Harker at the University of Manchester:


It is run in collaboration with the People’s History Museum and the journal Twentieth Century Communism.  The organisers intend to publish an edited collection based around the conference proceedings.


Teaching Russian Revolutionary History in the Centenary and Beyond: Sources, Approaches, Events

Teaching Russian Revolutionary History in the Centenary and Beyond: Sources, Approaches, Events


Location: University of Leicester

Date and Time: September 6, 2016. 10:00-13:00.

We are delighted to announce the following workshop, to be held at the University of Leicester on the morning of September 6, 2016 (10:00-13:00). The initiative is funded by the East Midlands Centre for Teaching History and Learning (EMC – http://historycentre.org/) and is organised by Dr. Sarah Badcock (University of Nottingham) and Dr. Zoe Knox (University of Leicester). Looking forward to the centenary of 1917, it will explore ways of bringing the Russian Revolution to life in the classroom. The workshop will be accessible and open both to specialists working and teaching directly on the Revolution and to scholars teaching broader modules touching on the Revolution.

The workshop aims to disseminate and develop best practice in teaching aspects of the Russian Revolution across the East Midlands. It will:

  • bring together scholars researching and teaching revolutionary history to discuss latest research agendas and assess the state of the field;
  • produce a critical teaching guide and bibliographic survey for teaching the Russian Revolution;
  • share information on innovative teaching initiatives and public facing events relating to 1917.

The workshop will consist of short several presentations on research and teaching innovation in the field, followed by a structured discussion on teaching materials and methods. Confirmed speakers include:

  • Sarah Badcock (Nottingham)
  • Nick Baron (Nottingham)
  • Alexandre Christoyannopoulos(Loughborough)
  • Alistair Dickins (Manchester)
  • Zoe Knox (Leicester)
  • Paul Maddrell (Loughborough)


Limited funding is available to support the travel costs for attendees and lunch will be provided. Due to limited space, all potential workshop attendees are asked to register their interest to teaching1917@gmail.com by no later than midday on August 26, 2016.



Liberty’s Apostle: the Life and Times of Richard Price 1723 – 91 
Dubbed by an eminent historian as ‘Britain’s first left-wing intellectual’ the Reverend Richard Price was a major figure in the Enlightenment. A supporter of the American and French Revolutions it was a Price sermon that provoked Edmund Burke into writing Reflections on the Revolution in France in answer to what he viewed as Price’s ‘wicked principles’. This talk will look broadly at Price’s life, the nature of his wide-ranging contribution to political ideas and explain his continuing relevance.
Speaker Dr Paul Frame, a Welsh historian of the Enlightenment period and author of the book, Liberty’s Apostle: the Life and Times of Richard Price, University of Wales Press, 2015.
2pm, 1 October
Marx Memorial Library

Walter Rodney Socialist Historian & Political Activist

Walter Rodney
Socialist Historian & Political Activist

Socialist History Society Public Meeting – 7:00 pm, Thursday 23rd June 2016
37a Clerkenwell Green EC1R 0DU nearest tube Farringdon
Free to attend, but you need to register

Speakers: Cecil Gutzmore & Leland De Cambra
download a leaflet…

Walter Rodney, the prominent Guyanese historian, political activist and scholar, was assassinated in Guyana on 13th June 1980. At long last, the report of the Commission of Inquiry into his murder has been handed to the Parliament of Guyana. It is therefore a good time to revisit the legacy of the author of A History of the Guyanese Working People and How Europe Underdeveloped Africa.

Rodney was also founder of the Working People’s Alliance, a political movement in Guyana dedicated to social transformation and unity of the Indian and African workers. He made a great contribution to revolutionary thought by establishing new thinking on questions of fighting racism and racial domination, the humanisation of the planet and the self emancipation of working peoples. He was murdered for uniting this political theory with practical, militant activity.

50 years after Guyana’s independence, it is time to assess his relevance to Continental Africa and Guyana today


October 2016
« Sep