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Labour (dis)united. Disputed legitimacies within the British labour movement

On April 4, 2016


          Society for the Study of Labour History logo     

The conference, organised by the Centre for Research on the English-speaking World (CREW, Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3 University), is sponsored by the Society for the Study of Labour History (SSLH) and the Labour Movements Group of the Political Studies Association (PSA).

Monday 4 April 2016
The Coal Store, People’s History Museum
Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3ER
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programme [PDF - 1 Mo]

This conference brings together historical and contemporary perspectives on the study of the British labour movement, from the point of view of the tensions that have, time and again, challenged it, if not fractured it, from the inside.

The study of labour organisations as such has sometimes been criticised as too institutional. Yet the organisers of the conference believe that the turn towards a ‘new labour history’ in the 1960s-1970s and a ‘global labour history’ since the 2000s, far from making the study of organisations outdated, has continuously generated, and will continue to generate, innovative research on ‘old’ topics such as: the Labour Party, the CPGB, trade unions, the Co-operative movement, friendly societies, etc.

The focus on internal dissensions seems a particularly enticing avenue of investigation, precluding any celebration of a linear and consensual “forward march of Labour”.

Conflicts of legitimacy within the labour movement have repeatedly raised the issue of who can claim to speak on behalf of labour organisations and working-class people. This conference will allow us to identify more clearly and from new perspectives long-term convergences and divergences in terms of both organisational structures and decision-making processes.


9 - 9.30 Emmanuelle AVRIL & Yann BELIARD (Sorbonne Nouvelle University)

Registration, welcome address and introduction

9.30 - 11 PANEL 1: Labour before Labour

Chair: Yann BELIARD (Sorbonne Nouvelle University)

Ophélie SIMEON (Sorbonne Nouvelle University)

The Grand National Consolidated Trades Union (1833-34) – Owenism and the early British labour movement

Steven PARFITT (University of Nottingham)

Between “Old” and “New” Unionism: The British Knights of Labor and conflict within the British labour movement

Lewis MATES (Durham University)

The struggle for control of the Durham Miners’ Association

11 – 11.20 Coffee break

11.20 – 12. 50 PANEL 2: Concordance and discordance

Chair: Fiona SIMPKINS (Lyon 2 University)

Anastasia CHARTOMATSIDI (University of Athens)

The British Left’s attitude towards the conflict in Greece from the December Revolt (1944) to the Varkiza Agreement (February 1945)

Jeremy TRANMER (University of Lorraine)

The decline of revolutionary pragmatism and the splintering of British Communism in the 1980s

Nick RANDALL (Newcastle University)

Factional organisations and the dynamics of opposition and counter-opposition in the post-war Labour Party

12.50 - 14 Buffet lunch

14 – 15.50 PANEL 3: Alliances and rivalries

Chair: Jeremy TRANMER (University of Lorraine)

David STEWART (University of Central Lancashire)

The politics of consumerism: the Labour Party, the Co-op and Resale Price Maintenance, 1917-1964

Anne BEAUVALLET (University of Toulouse Le Mirail)

English Teachers' Unions in the early 21st Century

Marc COLLINSON (Bangor University)

'Carefully packed with liberal opinion’? Political tension, agenda politics and developing an immigration policy in 1960s Britain

Fiona SIMPKINS (Lyon 2 University)

Labour Scotland: the struggle for a renewed legitimacy

15.50 – 16.10 Coffee break

16.10 - 18 PANEL 4: Beyond New Labour

Chair: Emmanuelle AVRIL (Sorbonne Nouvelle University)

Ivor GABER (University of Sussex)

The British press and the ‘othering’ of Labour leaders

Jake WATTS (University of Sussex)

Labour’s imagined community: unity, democracy and entryism

Matt BEECH (University of Hull) and Kevin HICKSON (University of Liverpool)

Jeremy Corbyn and the politics of dominance: how do the two projects compare?

Eric SHAW (Stirling University)

Labour’s legitimation crisis

18 – 19 Cocktail

Scientific Committee:

Avril Emmanuelle (Sorbonne Nouvelle University)

Béliard, Yann (Sorbonne Nouvelle University)

Gurney, Peter (University of Essex)

Kenefick, Billy (University of Dundee)

Lenormand, Marc (Université de Montpellier)

Parfitt, Steven (University of Nottingham)

Shaw, Eric (University of Stirling)

Tranmer, Jeremy (Université de Lorraine)

Admission: £20 (includes refreshments, buffet & cocktail). Advance registration is required (contact the organisers).

Emmanuelle Avril (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle),
Yann Béliard (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle),

Type :
Place(s) :
Monday 4 April 2016, People's History Museum, Manchester

Date of update February 10, 2016