New Labour and the new dawn

A talk by Professor Stephen Fielding on New Labour and whether 1997 heralded a new dawn.
Based on an exhibition he curated to mark the 20th anniversary of the new Labour win in 1997.
And echoing a couple of recent articles on New Labour that bewail that the current Labour can’t draw more on its successes.
The talk was good cos it avoided the hind-sighted wisdom so common amongst journalists.
A reminder too that many of us had been anti-EEC as late as 1987.   
Pertinent quotes such as Tony Blair – “Socialism for me was never about nationalisation or the power of the state, not just about economics or even politics. It is a moral purpose to life, a set of values, a belief in society, in co-operation, in achieving together what we cannot achieve alone.”  
Other pleasant memories – the defeat of Portillo.  
Good event.

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A selection of elections

An exhibition on elections and electioneering in Nottingham and Notts which tells the not known enough story of the torching of Nottingham Castle as working people expressed their frustration of delays to a Reform Act which was an Act that was finally passed in 1832.
Documents on management of registers, and stuff on student union elections.
The stories of interesting election candidates.
Helena Brownsword Dowson, Secretary of the Women’s Suffrage Society in Nottingham, and the first woman Nottingham City Councillor, elected in The Meadows in 1920.
More surprising, James Morrison, elected as a Conservative MP for Nottingham East in 1910, owner of Basildon Park (so, very rich), but lauded for his work with a social security scheme in St.Ann’s and Sneinton.  Strange.
Then a Communist who stood for Mansfield a number of times.  A far more interesting story is John Peck, who was actually elected as a City Councillor in Bulwell East in the late eighties, (1987- 1997, moved to Green Party in 1990; contested 49 elections; having served in RAF bomber command in WWII).
But no mention of Feargus O’Connor, only Chartist MP ever to have been elected; or any of the Luddites and Hampden Clubs that led the revolutions and riots.
And no mention of any Labour Party candidates.
That’s when you wonder if the exhibitors have spoken to anyone local (dare I say, outside the ivory towers).

Or is it just that there were no interesting Labour Party candidates, or elections involving them?
Maybe Labour’s emphasis on collective working meant less emphasis on the individual?

Off the top, an alternative list might offer –
* 1945: the vindication of universal suffrage; and the tragedy of 1951 – losing despite winning over half the vote.
* Labour Cabinet Ministers from Notts – Don Cancannon and Geoff Hoon – though not from the city; city MPs have held Ministerial posts – Bill Whitlock, and also Graham Allen and John Heppell.
Perhaps this isn’t dramatic enough, so –
* Vernon Coaker – Labour’s best electioneer – winning Gedling when it was not expected in 1997, but holding it ever since, even in 2015 when Labour lost nationally by 7 points.
* The Ashfield by-election defeat in 1977 (which I think triggered the Lib-Lab pact) – a spectacular defeat in a safe seat when Labour held Grimsby the same day.
* Frank Higgins – local Labour council leader who pioneered radical local transport policies including “zone and collar”;
* Betty Higgins – first woman city council leader who in the early eighties doubled the city council’s rates (then a district council) to provide free bus passes for the elderly and the less mobile, that was to sustain the city bus services network that other cities lack;
* Dennis Pettitt, leader of Notts County which expanded public spending to defend those in need and the capacity of the council to deliver change; and was a D-Day veteran, co-created the first multi-racial party in Africa, was elected to Birmingham City Council where he pioneered recognition for the interests of gypsies, and campaigned for the disabled.  As Leader of Notts, he held off the councillor who’d lost the Ashfield by-election and held Labour Councillors together during the split between the UDM and NUM..

But my knowledge is limited, so I have listed elsewhere the Nottingham City Labour MPs and MEPs, sourced from wikipedia.

Damian le Bas on gypsy culture

20181114 204500 mb1090h five leaves bookshop damian le bas gypsy britainA quality meeting and worthwhile discussion at Five Leaves bookshop.
Damian le Bas, former editor of Travellers Times and author of “The Stopping Places”, talked about gypsy and traveller culture and history, drawing on readings from a couple of passages in his book.
The people are most often seen as a way life, but many are and ethnic minority, and not all of them travel.  Subject to institutional prejudice (exclusion from education in some places in Britain as late as the sixties), all sorts of matters were rehearsed in discussion.
I raised a number of issues from the visit to Victoria Embankment in the summer, to experiences in South Derbyshire in 2009 & 2010.
Leeds City appear to be the authority to look to regarding best practice by a local authority.

Peterloo

For a country that loves period costume drama, a first movie of the Peterloo massacre the 200th anniversary of which falls in August next year.
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The production art and costumes are convincing.  The massacre itself, sickening – and how could it be anything else.
The interests of manufacturers, magistrates, government and royalty are shown and not to advantage.  The workers and campaigners are often shown making speeches – often extracts from speeches of the time – and the language can be challenging.  An introduction to Henry Hunt.  Overall, an education.
A more positive review from the Guardian, in essence the newspaper that was created because the massacre happened.
(r:6.7; e:2, s:3, t:4).

Per Rail portrays Nottingham in 1913

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A book from Edwardian times comprising of a series of articles on cities and towns along the Great Central Line, with 4 pages on Nottingham’s history and the offices, platforms and yards of the freight operations along Queens Walk.
Scans of the pages are available.  Interesting insights into the industries of “Nottingham – the Capital of the Lace World”.