Archive for February, 2010


What’s on…

From History and Social Action News.

20 February, 2pm. ‘Unfree’ labour in 18th & 19th century India.
BASA & Equiano Society Lecture by Dr Andrea Major (Leeds University),
Wilkins Old Refectory, University College London, Gower St, London, WC1
(nearest Tube: Euston Square or Warren Street). The lecture will be followed by
questions & discussion, and then an opportunity for social networking over tea. There
will be charge of £3 (includes tea/coffee/biscuits) payable at the door. For further
information contact me as BASA Secretary: s .
24 February. 7pm. Outside Left. ILP in NE in 1930s. Talk by Dr Gidon Cohen. Newcastle Lit &
24 February. Mexican past. Gallery talk by Joanne Harwood (University of Essex). Free. Part of
the British Museum’s ‘Revolution Paper. Mexican Prints 1910-1960’ special exhibition which closes
on 5 April. It features work by Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, Jose
Guadalupe Posada and the Taller del Grafica Popular. Exhibition Free
25 February. 6.30pm. Mexican traditions and popular culture in Posada’s time. Lecture by
Luis Rebaza-Soraluz (King’s College London). See 24 February. Lecture £5/£3. To book: 020 7323
26 February. 6.30pm. Viva Zapata! 1952 film starring Marlon Brando, and directed by Elia
Kazan. See 24 & 25 February. Film £3/£2.
27 February. 10am-2pm. My East End Home. Workshop. Geffyre Museum, 136 Kingsland Rd,
Dalston, E2. Tutor: Leonie Hannan. (Note 1)
27 February. 10.30am-4pm. The Way We Were and Are. Conference to celebrate the 40th
anniversary of the first national Women’s Liberation Conference. Free Word Centr,e 60
Farringdon Road, London EC1. On February 27 1970 more than 500 women met at Ruskin
College in Oxford for the first National Women’s Liberation Movement conference. It will
explore History, Ordinary Lives, Power, and Sex, looking at how things have changed since 1970.
£25 (inc lunch). Concessions and free creche available. To book 020 7324 2570 or
in . w .
28 February. 5pm. Vauxhall, Battersea & Nine Elms Opportunity Area Consultation. Closure
of consultation. See story below.
3 March 9am-1.15pm. Keeping the spotlight on fuel poverty: actions needed to tackle fuel
poverty and child poverty in England. Centre for Life, Newcastle. Free seminar, followed by
lunch, organised by NEA (Neighbourhood Energy Action). Aimed at managers, officers and
elected members from local authorities, directors of children’s trusts, CAF and Sure Start coordinators,
LSP representatives, and representatives from regional and local agencies. To find
out more visit and to reserve a place
6 March. 11.30am. Conference and Workers’ Bookfair and 7.30pm Social. The Bridge Hotel,
Castle Garth, Newcastle. For full details see:

Click to access Long-march-back-publicity.pdf

6 March. Heart o the Race: Black feminism in Britain. 10am-5pm. Women’s Library/Black
Cultural Archives event. London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Rd, London, EC1. Free.
For further details and to book 020 7320 2222;
18 March, 1.15pm. The Life and Death of Frida Kahlo. 1966 documentary about wife of Diego
Rivera. Free but booking advised. See 24 & 25 February.
24 March. Can prisons work. A view from the Inspectorate. 7.30pm.
Lecture by Anne Owers, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons. The Hall, Sacred
Heart Church, Edge Hill, Wimbledon, London, SW19. Prisoner’s Education
Trust 21st Birthday event. £15 (students £7.50) inc. glass of wine. Owers was educated in
Washington in County Durham, went to Girton College, Cambridge. She taught and researched
African history in Zambia. She worked for Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants from 1981
and from 1992 was Director of Justice. She became Chief Inspector in 2001. To book tickets
contact Prisoners’ Education Trust:
27 March. 2.30pm–4.30pm. My East End War: London Metropolitan Archive, 40 Northampton
Road, Clerkenwell, EC1. Tutor: Eleni Liarou. (Note 1)
1 April–12 September. Exhibition. Christopher Lloyd: A Life at Great Dixter. Garden
Museum. (Note 2)
1 April. 6.30–8.30pm. Fergus Garrett & Anna Pavord – Reflections on Christopher
Lloyd. Garden Museum. (Note 3)
8 April. 6.30–8.30pm. Reputations – How are Gardeners Remembered? Garden Museum.
(Note 4)
10 April. 10.30am–5pm. Dianthus Day. Garden Museum. (Note 2)
13 April. 6.30–8.30pm. Christopher Lloyd: Friend & Host. Garden Museum. (Note 3)
21 April. 10.30am–5pm. Auricula Day. Garden Museum. (Note 2)
22 April. 6.30-8.30pm. Christopher Lloyd: His Life at Great Dixter. Launch of biography by
Stephen Anderton. (Note 3)
24 April. 10am–2pm. My East End Childhood. Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road,
Bethnal Green, E2. Leonie Hannan (Note 1)
13 May. 7 for 7.30pm. ‘Turner and the Masters’. Talk by Philippa Simpson, one of the curators of the recent Turner exhibition. Battersea Society. St. Mary’s Church, Battersea Church Rd,
London, SW11. The Society’s contribution to the Wandsworth Festival of Arts. (Note 5)
20 May, 3-6pm. My East End Memories. Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, EC2M 4. Tutor: Anna Davin. (Note 1)
5 June, 10am–2pm. My East End People: Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, EC2. Tutor: Mike Berlin. (Note 1)
10 June. 7pm. Candles from coconuts. Talk by Jon Newman on Price’s Candles. I will be there to sell the H&SAP pamphlet Battersea’s Global Reach. The Story of Price’s Candles. This is the
Society’s contribution to the Wandsworth Heritage Festival. (Note 6)
Note 1: Free local history study day to allow East Enders to share their experiences, everyday
objects and memories with other local people and see how they have been part of the history of
this part of London. They will be led by tutors from Birkbeck College. Part of photography and
archive project led by Bishopsgate Institute, Four Corners, Geffrye Museum and Birkbeck College. To reserve a place on a study day contact Brett O’Shaughnessy on or Becky Taylor on 020 7631 6672 or
Note 2: Part of Museum Admission: £6 Adults / £5 Concs / FREE Students, Under 16s & Carers of Disabled Visitors. (Note 5)
Note 3: Tickets £20 / £15 Museum Friends. (Note 5)
Note 4: Tickets £15 / £10 Museum Friends & Garden History Society Members. (Note 5)
Note 5: Garden Museum, Lambeth Palace Road, London, SE1. Open
Sunday to Friday 10.30am -5pm, Saturday 10.30am-4pm. Closed 1st Monday of each month. Book
in advance on 020 7410 8865 ext. 822.
Note 6: Full details of all Battersea Society events at


Manchester Labour Movements Research Group Seminars

Manchester Labour Movements Research Group
seminar series spring 2010

Politics and Letters – writing and the left in Britain

Wednesday 3 March
‘The district one calls home’. D.H. Lawrence’s writing on coalfield society
David Howell

David is Professor of Politics at York University and has published on numerous aspects of British labour history.

Wednesday 17 March
Tally-Ho and Away! Or Huntin’ the Reds: British Communist Writers in the Cold War
Andy Croft

Andy is a poet and historian based on Teesside. His books include a biography of Randall Swingler and ‘Red Letter Days’, a study of left-wing writers in the 1930s

Wednesday 21 April‘Talking by turns of politics and poetry’: Chartism and the role of poetry in the working-class movement
Mike Sanders

Mike lectures in English and American Studies at Manchester. His book ‘The Poetry of Chartism’, was published by Cambridge last year

All seminars take place at 5.30 p.m., Roscoe Building room
1.001, University of Manchester. All welcome

The MLMRG brings together students, academics and activists interested in any aspect of the historical and contemporary development of labour movements and the left. For further information, contact;;; or


Conference on The Vote: What Went Wrong?

The Vote: What Went Wrong?

Saturday 27th February
Wolfson Room,
First Floor,
Institute of Historical Research,
Senate House,
Malet St
London WC1

The recent scandal over MPs’ expenses has raised major questions about parliamentary democracy and its relationship to the labour movement and the left.

Historically the left has fought for democracy and the vote, from the Chartists to the Suffragettes to those who campaigned against the disenfranchisement of black voters in the US and Catholics in the North of Ireland in the 1960s.

There has been, for at least a half-century in the UK, a link between social democracy and corruption, but the same has applied elsewhere, for example in Italy. Has the attempt to democratise parliamentary institutions led simply to a replication of the Old Corrupt practices of the past?

Finally, the conference will examine alternative strategies for democracy on the left, not least the soviets and workers’ councils that have appeared at moments in the last 140 years or so, from the Paris Commune onwards.

The conference will take place in the Wolfson Room on the first floor. Presentations will last for 30 minutes followed by discussion and response. The timetable is as follows:

Conference Programme

9.30am Opening remarks and LSHG matters

Logie Barrow, ‘Enfranchisement and Stupefaction: vaccination and the vote’
Keith Flett, ‘The origins of the electoral impulse in the British working class’

11.30-11.45 Break

Owen Ashton, ‘W E Adams, Chartism and Republicanism’
Ian Bullock, ‘Gulfs, fissures and cracks. Democracy and the British Left in the early 20th Century’

13.45-14.15 Lunch

Neil Davidson, ‘Social Neoliberalism, “Regimes of Consolidation” and the Assault on Representative Democracy, 1989-2008’
Mike Haynes, ‘Capitalism, crime and corruption – from the ‘old’ to the ‘new’ corruption?’

15.50-16.20 Closing Plenary

Send cash or cheque [made payable to Keith Flett] for £10 [£5 concessions] to
LSHG, 38 Mitchley Rd, London N17 9HG Email:


SHS Meeting: The Last Days of Gordon Brown?

Thursday 8 April:
Professor Christopher Harvie MSP speaks on his new book Broonland: The Last Days of Gordon Brown (Verso 2010), a topical and scathing assessment of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, architect of New Labour.
Venue: Conway Hall (Bertrand Russell Room), Red Lion Square, London WC1. (Nearest tube: Holborn).
Time: 7.00 p.m. Free entry. All welcome. Retiring collection. SHS public talk supported by Verso publishers


The Wapping Strike

30 March 2010, 7.30pm
Bishopsgate Institute
£7, concs £5; advance booking required

In 1980 Fleet Street was more than an address, it was the proverbial centre of Britain’s newspaper industry. Every national paper and major news agency had its head office either on the street or close by. Within ten years, there was not a newspaper office left on Fleet Street. The decade had seen the biggest upheaval in the newspaper industry since Victorian times. In this talk, Andy McSmith looks at the biggest and most dramatic event – the Wapping dispute between Rupert Murdoch’s company and the print union.

Andy McSmith has worked in national newspapers since 1988, and is currently a senior writer at The Independent. His book ‘No Such Thing as Society’: A History of Britain in the 1980s will be published in August 2010.

Visit or telephone our ticket line on 020 7392 9220.


Conspirator: Lenin in Exile

18 February 2010, 7.30pm
Bishopsgate Institute
£5, concs £3; advance booking required

Conspirator is the compelling story of Lenin’s 17 year exile during which he and his political collaborators plotted a revolution that would change 20th century history. In this talk, Helen Rappaport discusses her recent book which tells the story of Lenin in the years leading up to the Russian Revolution. Constantly on the move around Europe, with conflicts both personal and political, Conspirator situates Lenin’s struggle for change in Russia within the context of the revolutionary movement in exile as a whole. Helen also considers the wider network of Russian revolutionaries both at home and abroad who supported Lenin and the risks they took in support of his vision.

Helen Rappaport is a historian with a specialism in the Victorians and revolutionary Russia. Her books include Ekaterinburg: The Last Days of Romanov and No Place for Ladies: The Untold Story of Women in the Crimean War.

Visit or telephone Bishopsgate Institute’s ticket line on 020 7392 9220.


Labour on Labour : a one day event exploring the historical influences on today’s labour movement

Labour on Labour
at Bishopsgate Institute

Saturday 20 March 2010 • 10.00am – 4.00pm
Tickets: £15, concs £10; advance booking required

Who were the most influential individuals and organisations in the labour
movement? Who inspires the politicians and activists of today? This
unique one-day event will ask figures in today’s labour movement to describe
the people or groups who inspired them in their beliefs and decision to lead a
career in politics.

• Diane Abbott (Labour MP) on Rosa Luxemburg and women in revolutionary
• George Galloway (Respect MP) on George Lansbury
• Stan Newens (ex-Labour MP and MEP) on Robert Owen
• Harpal Brar (CPGB-ML) on Lenin

Additional events:
• Exhibitions of archives and historical material from Bishopsgate Library
relating to the labour movement
• Bishopsgate Library Tour

Please note that lunch will not be provided.
Please download the booking form available at


Eric Hobsbawm on the tasks of Marxist historians today

[The new issue of New Left Review (No.61, Jan-Feb 2010) is really excellent for a whole number of reasons, but one thing of particular interest to readers of Socialist History News might be the interview with Eric Hobsbawm, World Distempers, on contemporary history post 1991. The interview concludes with the following question and answer]:

If you were to pick still unexplored topics or fields presenting major challenges for future historians, what would they be?

The big problem is a very general one. By palaeontological standards the human species has transformed its existence at astonishing speed, but the rate of change has varied enormously. Sometimes it has moved very slowly, sometimes very fast, sometimes controlled, sometimes not. Clearly this implies a growing control over nature, but we should not claim to know whither this is leading us. Marxists have rightly focused on changes in the mode of production and their social relations as the generators of historical change. However, if we think in terms of how ‘men make their own history’, the great question is this: historically, communities and social systems have aimed at stabilization and reproduction, creating mechanisms to keep at bay disturbing leaps into the unknown. Resistance to the imposition of change from outside is still a major factor in world politics today. How is it, then, that humans and societies structured to resist dynamic development come to terms with a mode of production whose essence is endless and unpredictable dynamic development? Marxist historians might profitably investigate the operations of this basic contradiction between the mechanisms bringing about change and those geared to resist it.


A Slice of Working Class History

Good to see that a book has come out paying tribute to veteran Bristol postal workers’ trade unionist and SHS stalwart George Massey, who will be 94 this month. Read more about it over on the Socialist Unity blog.

February 2010