Friday, 29 November 2013

Ian Birchall on Poujade and the French Left

I got the idea for this paper in the Spring, at the time of the UKIP gains in the local elections. The furore caused among the mainstream parties called back to mind a half forgotten memory from my youth, the shock and alarm produced internationally by the unexpected success of the Poujadist candidates in the French elections of 1956. Obviously UKIP is a very different phenomenon in a very different world, and my title was something of a provocation; I am not suggesting that there are any simple analogies that can be read off from the historical experience. But the thought of looking at the Poujadist experience cut across another more long-term concern of mine – the history of the French left, with particular reference to republicanism, nationalism and internationalism. So I thought it might be of some interest to see how the various currents of the French left reacted to the Poujadist breakthrough...
Read Ian's full paper presented at the LSHG seminar earlier this month here

Friday, 15 November 2013

An appeal for Still the Enemy Within film

From Mike Simons:
I just want to let you know that the film to mark the 30th anniversary of the miners’ strike that we have been working on for the past year achieved a real milestone yesterday with our first semi-public showing of some of the footage.
Dartmouth Films, The Fire Brigades Union and The Communication Workers Union jointly hosted the launch of our new crowdfunding campaign and it went really well.
Jane Loftus, president of the Postal Workers’ Union spoke, as Did Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union – whose members were out on strike the next day. I was particularly pleased that Dave Hopper, the Durham miners’ leader, who now runs the Durham Miners’ Gala, came down and lent us his support. He pledged £1,000 to the film, which is a real honour because the Gala always needs money itself.
In the audience were many old friends and comrades alongside the young film makers who are working all hours, without pay to make this project a reality. It was great to see Mike Jackson, one of the founders of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, Nell Myers, the NUM press officer during the strike and for long afterwards, Gareth Pierce who acted for the Orgreave defendants, a number of leading trade unionists. Lindsey German from Stop the War was there and sitting quietly at the back, Ken Loach, who today made a contribution towards the film.
It was quite a nerve wracking event for us because we hadn’t really shown anything of the film to an audience. The reaction was brilliant, however. For those who were active in the miners’ support networks in 84 – 85, or who were miners on the picket line, the clips brought back all the anger and bitterness of the strike. For those who weren’t born when the strike took place it was a real eye opener.
Anyway, we need another £30,000 to pay for archive and do some more filming. Some of you will have given money already through the initial Kickstarter campaign earlier this year or in memory of Rosey. This appeal isn’t meant to be a further ‘tax’ on people who have already given, though anything you can spare would be most welcome.
What I would really like is for you to try and tap your networks for donations. If everyone got a donation from five or ten people we would be well on our way. If you were around in the miners’ strike it would be worth trying to dig out your old friends from the support groups. If you weren’t around in the strike, many people are interested in it and in seeing the story put across from a working class viewpoint.
If you are in a union branch or on a trades council, please try to get a donation and also think about how you can use the film next year. With official backing by the FBU, CWU, NUT and the Durham miners, with the support of Labour MPs Dianne Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn and the backing of Ken Livingstone, to say nothing of Ken Loach’s backing you should be able to win support.
Please send round the link to all your friends and also follow up with a direct approach, asking people to donate. We need money quickly – both to get our crowd funding campaign off to a good start, but also to feed the film crew who are turning down paying jobs to work on this project for free.
Here you go
Many thanks

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Upcoming LSHG events

A reminder about our next two events in the autumn term series of LSHG seminars. All welcome - for further info contact Keith Flett on the email above. 
On Monday 18th November Ian Birchall - whose personal website is now available here will be speaking on Poujade: 
Monday, 18 November, 5.30 pm.
Ian Birchall
UKIP's Forbears? Poujade and the French Left
Venue: Bloomsbury Room G35, Ground floor, Senate House
On Saturday November 30th from 12.30pm there is a Round table discussion on 50 years since the publication of the Making of the English Working Class with speakers including Logie Barrow, Peter Dwyer, Marika Sherwood and Steve Woodhams: 

Saturday 30 November
12.30pm, Room 246, 2nd Floor
Institute of Historical Research
London WC1E 7HU

LOGIE BARROW: The Making of the English Working Class and Eastern Europe
PETE DWYER: The Making of the English Working Class and Third World Struggles Today
MARIKA SHERWOOD: Black Activists and The Making of the English Working Class
STEVE WOODHAMS: What Made the Making?
KEITH FLETT: The Moral Economy Today

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Support the Still The Enemy Within film

Thirty years ago Thatcher went to war. Still the Enemy Within is a documentary about the miners who fought back. 

To see the latest trailer and fundraising video, with messages of support from John Pilger, Ken Livingstone, Michael Rosen and Diane Abbott visit:


We have a whole new load of rewards this year. If you donated last year and you donate again, you will automatically go into a special loyalty raffle to win 'The Miners: Box Set' our favourite selection of films about mining and striking from both here and abroad, chosen by the team.

You can also still by tickets to our Solidarity with the Miners Xmas Meal here

We must raise another 35K by Xmas to complete this project to the standard required. With your help, we know we can do it.    Next year,  the legacy of the strike will be bitterly contested, we need to this film to give the miners a voice.

For more information visit

Friday, 8 November 2013

Seminar on RH Tawney and the history of English capitalism

Wednesday November 13, 5.30pm

Lawrence Goldman (St Peter's College, Oxford)
R. H. Tawney and the history of English Capitalism: the historian and the public

R. H. Tawney was one of the pioneers of economic and social history and spent his whole career writing about the origins of capitalism in England in the early-modern period. He taught elements of this great subject to workers students in the very first Workers' Educational Association tutorial classes in the Edwardian period, and later to students at the LSE. Never strictly academic in his approach, his interest in this subject had religious and spiritual roots and powerfully influenced the views of the inter-war generation. The wrong-headed accusation that he was a historical materialist led to one of the most famous controversies in British historiography between Tawney and Hugh Trevor-Roper over the 'decline of the gentry'. This paper will look at Tawney's work as a historian and its social and political impact.

Venue: Bloomsbury Room, G35, Senate House, ground floor

Sunday, 3 November 2013

E P Thompson on the importance of socialist history groups

I found a fascination in getting to the bottom of everything, in the sources themselves.  I got this fascination with the archives.  I suppose this plus the critical, comradely help of one or two people in particular, especially Dona Torr, and participation in the Communist Party Historians' Group, in which we had theoretical discussions all the time - this made me into a historian.

The formal and informal exchange with fellow socialists helped me more than anything I found in Cambridge University.  This is not to say that one can't, fortunately, sometimes find something in a university, but it is to emphasize that socialist intellectuals ought to help each other.  We should never be wholly dependent upon institutions, however benevolent, but should maintain groups in which theory is discussed, and history is discussed and in which people criticise each other.  This principle of being able to give and to receive sharp criticism is very important...

What we want to do is to get back to a collective converse again.  We need our radical history journals and everything ... what socialists must never do is allow themselves to become wholly dependent upon established institutions - publishing houses, commercial media, universities, foundations.  I don't mean that these institutions are repressive - certainly, much that is affirmative can be done within them.  But socialist intellectuals much occupy some territory that is, without qualification, their own: their own journals, their own theoretical and practical centers - places where no one works for grades or for tenure but for the transformation of society; places where criticism and self-criticism are fierce, but also mutual help and the exchange of theoretical and practical knowledge; places that prefigure in some ways the society of the future.

EP Thompson, interviewed in 1976, from MAHRO (ed) Visions of History (Manchester, 1983), pp13-14,  22-23