Posts Tagged ‘Elections’

WILPF, the anti – apartheid movement and Nelson Mandela

December 10th, 2013 by Carys Lewis, Assistant Archivist

Following the news of Nelson Mandela’s death I’ve decided to write about the stance the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) took against apartheid in South Africa. From my previous blog posts you might be surprised that WILPF were involved in the anti – apartheid movement as until now I’ve focussed on their peace and disarmament achievements. However WILPF also campaigns for the freedom of those whose Human Rights are being abused or who are living in undemocratic countries – both of which applied to apartheid South Africa.

Nelson Mandela giving a speech at LSE (IMAGELIBRARY/575)

Nelson Mandela giving a speech at LSE (IMAGELIBRARY/575)

British members of WILPF were informed on the situation in South Africa through regular updates in the publication ‘Peace and Freedom’. The October – December 1963 edition reports that London WILPF members had been given an account of life in South Africa by Leon Levy, the exiled white President of the South African Congress of Trade Unions. The article contains the following passage revealing the tensions in South Africa and what Levy thought could be done to stop it:

“There was serious danger of a race war… since all methods of peaceful change were denied to Africans, and intervention by African states could not be ruled out… He believed that a rigorous boycott of South Africa and the imposition of sanctions could destroy the present regime”.


British Political and Tariff Reform Posters

May 21st, 2012 by Andy Jack, LSE Digital Library

Tory Lords controlling the Commons. COLL MISC/0519/43

Tory Lords "controlling" the Commons. (1907/8) COLL MISC/0519/43

House of Lords reform, a shrinking Armed Forces, pension unrest and increasing food prices…

You could be forgiven for thinking we were talking about news topics from the weekend papers, but honestly we aren’t. These were just some of the issues being battled over by politicians in the most recent collection to go into the LSE Digital Library. Covering a period around 1892-1910 – when Britain was governed by Conservative and Liberal governments (but not at the same time) – are 88 British Political and Tariff Reform Posters.

McKennas Navy Cut. COLL MISC/0519/59

McKenna's Navy Cut. (1908) COLL MISC/0519/59

The posters were produced on behalf of the Conservative and Unionist Party, the Labour Party, the Liberal Party, the Liberal Unionist Council and the Tariff Reform League. They contain caricatures of key political figures of the time such as: Arthur Balfour (Prime Minister, 1902-1905), Henry Campbell-Bannerman (Prime Minister, 1905-1908), Herbert Asquith (Prime Minister, 1908-1915),  David Lloyd George (future Prime Minister)John Redmond (Irish Parliamentary Leader,1900-1918), Joseph Chamberlain (Leader of the Liberal Unionists) and James Keir Hardie (1st elected Independent Labour Party Member of Parliament). Some of the themes of the collection of posters are the Second Boer War (1899-1902), Tariff Reform (and the conflict between Protectionism and Free Trade), the question of Irish Home Rule and issues around Immigration and the Empire.

John Bull: Ill give him Home Rule!

John Bull: "I'll give him Home Rule!" (1910) COLL MISC/0519/58

If you are interested in finding out more about the historical context and figures then I’d recommend some very accessible articles on Wikipedia such as the one for Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Joseph Chamberlain and the Tariff Reform League. If you want something a little bit more subjective and opinionated then I’d heartily recommend finding out what Beatrice Webb thought of the people and the issues. This is very easy to do now that her diaries are also available and searchable on the Digital Library. Meeting Joseph Chamberlain, a man that Beatrice was deeply in love with, is referred to as “the catastrophe of my life”. One wonders if the LSE would even exist if it hadn’t been…

Let us know what you think of the collection and if you have any favourite posters @LSELibrary

Edith Summerskill papers now available

August 11th, 2011 by Nick White, Assistant Archivist

The papers of Edith Summerskill were deposited at LSE Archives last month and a rough list of them is now available online via the archives catalogue.

Edith Clara Summerskill (1901-80) began her career as a doctor, establishing with her husband a medical practice in London in 1928. Her political career began in 1934, when she was elected councillor of the Green Lanes division of Tottenham (Middlesex County Council). She unsuccessfully contested Putney for the Labour Party at a by-election in 1934 and Bury in the 1935 general election. However, she did win West Fulham at a by-election in 1938, and retained the seat in the 1945, 1950 and 1951 general elections. Following boundary changes, the constituency was abolished and she became MP for Warrington in 1955 – a seat she held until 1961. Summerskill was on the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee, 1944-58, and was the party’s chairman, 1954-5. She was Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Food, 1945-50 and was Minister of National Insurance, 1950-1. She was made a life peer in 1961, as Baroness Summerskill of Kenwood.

Edith Summerskill campaigning in Bury during the 1935 general election (from SUMMERSKILL/3/2)

Edith Summerskill campaigning in Bury during the 1935 general election (from SUMMERSKILL/3/2)

Much of the archive consists of research files created by Edith’s son, Michael, for a biography of his mother (SUMMERSKILL/1). These papers include correspondence with many people who have reminiscences of his mother or who can provide general information, draft chapters, press cuttings and other background material. In among these files are the remnants of Edith’s archives (the others appear to have been destroyed before Michael got hold of them). These include correspondence, speech notes, photographs, election ephemera and press cuttings.

Subjects covered in these files are various, reflecting Edith’s wide-ranging interests including: anti-boxing; birth control; divorce law; welfare of illegitimate children; Middle East/Arab relations; the Ministry of Food, 1945-50; women’s role in the Second World War; the Spanish Civil War, including notebook of visit to Spain in 1938; and women’s rights, including papers regarding the Married Women’s Property Act, 1964.

Other than files there are press cuttings (SUMMERSKILL/4) relating to her political career from 1938-51, including reports of her speeches and events attended by her. There are also three volumes of cuttings relating to Women’s Home Defence during the Second World World War.

There are also literally hundreds of photographs, mainly featuring Edith and her family (SUMMERSKILL/2-3). Highlights include: a tour of Spain in 1938; election campaigns, 1938-50; official photographs from her time in the Ministry of Food, 1945-50; a Labour Party delegation to China, including Clement Attlee and Aneurin Bevan; tours of the Middle East, including a visit in 1957 to Port Said, Egypt following the Suez Crisis; and family photographs, including holiday snaps, 1914-1990s.

We also hold a version of Michael’s unfinished biography (SUMMERSKILL/7), and some audiotapes and transcripts of the interviews which Michael undertook (currently referenced SUMMERSKILL/1/46 and SUMMERSKILL/6). Interviewees include several prominent Labour politicians, including Tony Benn, Barbara Castle, Michael Foot, Denis Healey, Roy Jenkins and Ian Mikardo.

As an aside, we also hold the papers of Donald Johnson, the Liberal candidate in the apparently controversial Bury election campaign of 1935.  So we should be able to see two sides of that three-way fight.

Making a rough list available online before the material has been completely catalogued is a new departure for us. Clearly the list needs more detail and the material needs sorting to make it easier for readers to use. However, it does give a detailed overview of the collection, which we hope will be a useful interim finding aid.

First Time Round

April 21st, 2011 by Anna Towlson, Assistant Archivist

With the date of the referendum on the alternative vote (AV) system fast approaching, it seems like an appropriate time to look back at the first UK-wide referendum, on our continued membership of the European Economic Community, held in June 1975.

We have a small collection of campaign materials from the 1975 referendum (Coll Misc 0876), and additional leaflets and other related papers material can be found in some of our other political collections, in particular the the Wigg, Shore, Longden and European Movement papers.

First up, here’s a selection of ‘Yes’ leaflets produced by (from top to bottom) the Labour Campaign for Britain in Europe, Conservative Central Office and the Liberal Europe Campaign. The majority of the Conservative Party, headed by Leader of the Opposition Margaret Thatcher, supported the ‘Yes’ campaign, as did the Liberal Party.
Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson backed the ‘Yes’ campaign, as did most of his cabinet, but the European issue divided his party, and many Labour MPs (most famously Tony Benn) opposed Britain’s membership of the EEC and campaigned for a No vote.

Yes leaflet produced by the Labour Campaign for Britain in Europe
Yes leaflet produced by Conservative Central Office
Yes leaflet produced by the Liberal Europe Campaign

And next, a selection of ‘No’ leaflets produced by (from top to bottom) the National Referendum Campaign, the Communist Party and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Communist Party (Reference Coll Misc 0876/2). The ‘No’ campaign was led by the National Referendum Campaign, an umbrella body which included various eurosceptic Labour and Conservative MPs and trade unions, Plaid Cymru and the Scottish Nationalist and Ulster Unionist Parties, as well as existing anti-Europe pressure groups such as Get Britain Out.

No leaflet produced by the National Referendum Campaign
No leaflet produced by the Communist Party
No leaflet produced by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Yes or No weren’t the only responses though: the Socialist Party of Great Britain rejected the terms of the debate completely, and instead in its leaflets advised socialists to demonstrate their support for socialism by writing ‘Socialism – Common Ownership’ across the voting paper.

And the outcome…over two-thirds of voters supported continued EEC membership, with 67.2 percent voting Yes and 32.8 percent voting No.

1974 vs 2010

April 29th, 2010 by Anna Towlson, Assistant Archivist

What was the election campaign like in 1974, the last year in which there was a hung parliament? To find out, read Chris Gilson’s recent entry on the LSE Election Experts blog, in which he compares election addresses from 1974, selected from our election ephemera collection, with examples of literature from the current campaign, chosen from The Straight Choice website.

On the campaign trail

April 12th, 2010 by Anna Towlson, Assistant Archivist

Or, please help us build our general election ephemera collection!

In every election year since 1945 the Library has collected election addresses and other publicity material produced by prospective MPs. We now have over 15k items in the collection here in LSE Archives, covering the whole of the UK, and including material from minority parties and independent candidates, as well as the three main parties. The collection provides a unique insight into the development of political campaigning in modern Britain and the evolution of the post-war political landscape – the rise and fall of policies, issues, parties and careers. On a more prosaic level, it can also come in handy if you want to check whether your MP has done what they promised they would do if they were voted in!

Medley of election leaflets
We are now collecting material relating to May’s general election. We are currently contacting candidates directly to ask for examples of their campaign literature, but we also rely on staff, students and users donating material they receive, so rather than putting in the recycling bin, think of us!

You can bring material to the Archives reading room on the lower ground floor of the Library (Room R01), send it to us through LSE’s internal mail or via standard mail using our Freepost address:

Archives and Rare Books
LSE Library
10 Portugal Street
London WC2A 2HD

Our collection concentrates on paper leaflets, although it does include some objects (traditional rosettes and lapel badges, but also stickers, balloons and even sweets). But politicians are increasingly using the internet and web 2.0 to communicate with their public, so it’s important to preserve a record of these online campaigns too. There are complex technical and rights issues involved in this, so it’s beyond the scope of our current project, but fear not, the UK Web Archive, experts in the field of web-archiving, are on the case. Their collection currently features over 350 websites maintained by MPs, election candidates and political parties, and they are adding to it all the time.