Thursday, 5 May 2016

The 1926 General Strike at 90 - what is its relevance now?

The 1926 General Strike at 90: What is its relevance now?
London Socialist Historians Group conference
Saturday 21 May 2016 from midday
Room NB02, Lower Ground Floor
Institute of Historical Research
Senate House, Malet Street London WC1E 7HU

Special constables in Hornsey being issued with truncheons (Getty)

The aim of the conference is to look at new research and potential areas of interest in
the events of 1926 and to ask what relevance the events of 90 years ago have not only to
Britain but elsewhere in the world today.

There is a job of work to be done in making sure younger generations in particular have
heard of the General Strike and understand what the struggle was about, but the aim of
the conference is to focus specifically on new research areas and angles.

There has been one new book in the area, on the General Strike in fiction, which was
reviewed by Ian Birchall in the Spring 2016 issue of the London Socialist Historians
Newsletter. Other areas which may be worth more exploration include the miners’
lockout from 12 May to November 1926, the role of the coal owners and who they were,
and the same for the ‘volunteers’ who broke the strike.

Speakers confirmed so far include Daryl Leeworthy, who has been researching the strike
in South Wales, and Ian Birchall on how 1926 was seen in France.

There will be a roundtable including Sue Bruley, who has previously published on women
and the General Strike, and Keith Flett.

For more information contact London Socialist Historians Group:

Friday, 15 April 2016

LSHG forum: 100 Years since the 1916 Easter Rising

100 years since the 1916 Easter Rising


Saturday 30th April, Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, University of London, Malet St, London WC1 - lower ground floor conference area

Admission free, donations towards costs welcome, no advance registration necessary

1916 Agenda

Midday: registration

12.30pm Start & introduction, Keith Flett


Chris Bambery: Was the Easter Rising doomed from the start?

Catherine Bergin: ‘The Irish fight for liberty is the greatest Epic of Modern History’ : The Irish revolution and African American radicals.'

James Heartfield: '1916: The Rising and the British Empire'

John Newsinger: 'Sylvia Pankhurst, the Easter Rising and the Women’s Dreadnought'


Close: 4pm

Organised by the London Socialist Historians Group

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

The Non-Stop Connolly Show

LSHG members may be interested in a staged reading of Margaretta D'Arcy and John Arden's "The Non-Stop Connolly Show" about the life of James Connolly. It is part of an effort to commemorate the centenary of Dublin's Easter Rising of 1916. The production is directed by acclaimed Irish director Shane Dempsey and will be performed at the Finborough Theatre in London in April. It is the first time that the entire piece has been performed in the UK in over 40 years. We hope to draw Irish and British communities together in the commemoration of the Easter Rising. A key feature of the play is the often-forgotten part that socialism played in the Easter Rising, and how one of the tragedies of Irish history is that the socialist values later faded in the war for Irish independence.
For more information please see here:

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Radical Histories conference / Marxism 2016

London certainly seems to be the place for socialist historians to be in late June / early July this year - with two conferences of interest taking place:

1. Radical Histories / Histories of Radicalism - London - 30 June - 3 July 2016. 

Nurses and Navvies, Bernard Canavan

 To commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the death of the socialist historian Raphael Samuel, along with the fortieth anniversary of the journal he helped to found, History Workshop Journal. A weekend of discussion, celebration and debate bringing together activists, community historians, students, teachers, writers, artists, practitioners of history, from inside and outside universities.

Talks, films, screenings, theatre, song, dance, walks and talks
Stands, exhibitions, caucuses, debates

THEMES INCLUDE What is radical history? ● History and radical struggle ● Utopianism, radical visions and visionaries ●Radical education ● Radical religion ● Gender and sexuality ● Race, ethnicity, and activism ● Radical London ● The politics of housing ● Radicalism and the university ● Radical arts and aesthetics ● Radical archives, radical publishing ● History online ● Oral history ● Protest movements ● Class, communities, labour history ● Local and global connections ● Peace activism

The conference takes place over three days, at Queen Mary University of London, with a pre-conference day event at Birkbeck.

 2. Marxism 2016 - Ideas for Revolution - 30 June - 4 July, central London

Image result for marxism 2016

 Marxism 2016 is a five day political festival in central London. Last year’s event hosted over 165 meetings and brought together thousands of activists, trade unionists, students, writers and academics from across the globe. At Marxism 2016 there will be plenty to discuss. The election of Jeremy Corbyn poses new questions for the left. Marxism 2016 will explore the prospects of challenging austerity and taking on the Tories as well as the international experience of left alternatives and parties such as Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain. The refugee crisis looks set to continue, with horrendous consequences as winter deepens. Parliament’s decision to join the bombing of Syria has raised many questions that we will seek to debate at Marxism: from the Middle East, imperialism and war to resisting a racist backlash and Islamophobia here, from the role of nation states to the nature of the European Union. We will explore all of these issues as well as many others at Marxism 2016 including climate change, oppression, science, Palestine, economics and much more.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

SHS meeting - Ada Salter and Ethical Socialism

Socialist History Society Public Meeting

Ada Salter and Ethical Socialism

Speaker: Graham Taylor

7pm, 26th April 2016
Venue: Marx Memorial Library, Clerkenwell Green (near Farringdon Underground)

Ada Salter was a pioneer of an ethical brand of socialism well known nationally and in her local Bermondsey in the early twentieth century. For a long time Salter has been unfairly been neglected. In this talk, which will be based on his new book on Ada Salter, Graham tells the story of this remarkable woman for the first time, documenting her significance for the history of both socialism and feminism. Salter was responsible for most of the ideas behind the Bermondsey Revolution, drawing on her experiences in the women’s movement and as President of the Women’s Labour League. Her ground-breaking ideas on urban development were to spread all over London through her work as an LCC councillor, and all over Britain through her role as Chair of the National Gardens Guild. Salter’s experiences as a ‘Sister of the People’ in the London slums eventually led her to the Independent Labour Party, and to the belief that achieving social justice required a grassroots alliance between the labour and women’s movements. Ada succeeded in winning huge majorities for her ideas.


 About the Speaker

 Graham Taylor was born and raised amid the back-to-backs of Birmingham, and has a first-hand interest in slum clearance. At 17 he won a scholarship to study Modern History at Worcester College, Oxford. After working in industry for seven years Graham chose to take a large pay cut in order to teach car mechanics, engineers and building workers in a further education college. He has written widely on industrial relations and economic history for various journals. Graham is a member of the SHS.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

LSHG Summer programme

London Socialist Historians Group Forum
Saturday 30 April - midday - 4pm

One Hundred Years On: The Irish Easter Rising


Institute of Historical Research, Malet St, London, WC1E 7HU - Lower ground floor conference area

Keynote speakers will include Chris Bambery, Cathy Bergin, James Heartfield and John Newsinger discussing their recent research on the 1916 Rising - see agenda below

 On 24 April 1916, Easter Monday, a force of some 900 Irish Volunteers and Citizen Army members seized control of the centre of Dublin and proclaimed the Irish Republic. They held out against the British army until the deployment of artillery forced their unconditional surrender on the 29th. By this time 64 rebel fighters had been killed, together with 132 soldiers and police and some 250 civilians, many shot out of hand by the troops.

In the context of the horrors of the First World War, this was a minor episode, the death of some 450 people at a time when hundreds of thousands were being slaughtered on the Western Front. Indeed, there were at the time considerably more Irishmen fighting for the British in France than took part in the Rising. Nevertheless, the Rising had an impact out of all proportion to the numbers involved, the damage suffered and the casualties inflicted. It prepared the way for the triumph of Sinn Fein in 1918 and for the War of Independence and the Civil War that followed.

A hundred years later, the rebels are generally celebrated as heroes but important questions remain. Did the they believe they had a realistic chance of success in the face of apparently overwhelming odds or was their rebellion a self-conscious blood sacrifice intended to keep the spirit of republicanism alive? How much popular support did the Rising have at the time? How significant was their alliance with Imperial Germany? What was the attitude of the British left, both revolutionary and reformist, to the Rising? Did Labour MPs really cheer the news of the execution of the rebel leadership in the Commons? What part did women play in the Rising?

And what of James Connolly? Was his participation, indeed his leadership role, in the Rising, the fulfilment of his socialist politics or an abandonment of them? What was the significance of his membership of the Irish Republican Brotherhood? Did Connolly really argue that the British would not use artillery because of the damage it would cause to capitalist property? Did he tell the Citizen Army men and women to hold onto their rifles because they were out for social freedom and not just political freedom or is this just a myth invented years later? What became of Connolly’s socialism after his death? Why was the socialist presence in the War of Independence so easily contained, indeed marginalised?

For Sean O’Casey, Connolly had forsaken his socialist commitment in favour of republicanism and the only genuine socialist martyr of Easter Week was Francis Sheehy-Skeffington. What was the impact of Sheehy-Skeffington’s murder at the hands of British troops on opinion in Britain? How important was Catholicism to the rebel fighters? Even Connolly was reconciled with the Church before his execution and privately urged his Protestant wife to convert as a dying wish. And the only Protestant in the rebel leadership, Constance Markiewicz herself subsequently converted.

There are a host of questions still to be explored and debated while at the same time honouring the memory of those who died fighting the British Empire.

free admission, donations welcome, no advance registration necessary

Midday: registration
12.30pm Start & introduction, Keith Flett
Chris Bambery: Was the Easter Rising doomed from the start?
Catherine Bergin: ‘The Irish fight for liberty is the greatest Epic of Modern History’ : The Irish revolution and African American radicals.
James Heartfield: 1916: The Rising and the British Empire
John Newsinger: Sylvia Pankhurst, the Easter Rising and the Women’s Dreadnought
Close: 4pm
For more information contact London Socialist Historians:

 Saturday 21 May - midday
 The British General Strike of 1926 - 90 Years On 
London Socialist Historians Group forum
 Speakers tba - lower ground floor conference area, Institute of Historical Research, Malet St, London, WC1E 7HU

 Plus seminars coming up on Mondays - details tbc

 For more info on above please contact Keith Flett on the address above.

Friday, 4 March 2016

LSHG Seminar on Clara Zetkin to mark International Women's Day

The last socialist history seminar of the Spring term is on Monday 7th March, 5.30pm, Room 304 Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet St, WC1.  

Ben Lewis will speak on a new edition of the writings of the German socialist Clara Zetkin, on the evening before International Women's Day - all welcome. 

A reminder also that contributions for the summer issue of the London Socialist Historians newsletter are welcome with a deadline of April 1st - please contact Keith Flett at the address above.