'A Sealed Tomb': A History of the Labour Left's 'Wilderness Years', 1985-2015.
Supervisor: Ben Jackson
My research explores the history of the Labour Left during its period of political and structural isolation from the late 1980s to Jeremy Corbyn's eventual election as Labour leader in 2015. This sheds light on a previously ignored area of British political history by tracking the careers and organisation of marginalised and isolated politicians, intellectuals and activists. This research examines how the Labour Left was able to survive as a small political network through investigations of the role of 'space' and social networks of soldiarity and also demonstrates overlooked moments of successful resistance as well as ideological and intellectual innovation. My research demonstrates how the so-called 'Wilderness Years' of the Labour Left was far from a period of political hibernation, but instead one of ideological and political innovation which laid the foundational networks, ideas and organisational tactics that were drawn upon in Corbyn's leadership campaign.
General Articles (non-peer reviewed)
- 'The Modernisation of the Labour Party, 1979-97 by Christopher Massey', English Historical Review 136:583 (2021), pp.1695-1697.
- 'English Radicalism in the Twentieth Century: A Distinctive Politics? by Richard Taylor', Twentieth Century British History 33:2 (2022), pp.308-310.
- 'Rethinking Labour’s Past edited by Nathan Yeowell', Twentieth Century British History 33:3 (2022), pp.471-473.
- 'Histories of Everyday Life: The Making of Popular Social History in Britain, 1918-1979 by Laura Carter', History 108:379-380 (2023), pp.167-170.
- 'Neil Kinnock: Saving the Labour Party? edited by Kevin Hickson', Journal of British Studies (forthcoming).
- 'Wars of Position? Marxism Today, Cultural Politics and the Remaking of the Left Press, 1979-90 by H. F. Pimlott', Marx and Philosophy Review of Books (forthcoming).
Papers and Presentations
- ‘“An Alliance of the Oppressed”: The Labour Left and the Politics of Race, Gender and Sexuality after the Miners’ Strike’, Cultural History Graduate Workshop, University of Cambridge (5 May 2021).
- ‘“Keep the party Labour”: The Grassroots Alliance and the changing strategies of opposition to Tony Blair and New Labour’, Modern British History Seminar, University of Oxford (20 May 2021).
- ‘“Keep the party Labour”: The Grassroots Alliance and the changing strategies of opposition to Tony Blair and New Labour’, HistoryLab Seminar Series, Institute of Historical Research (18 November 2021).
- ‘“A Huge Battle Upon Which We Are Engaged”: The Labour Left and the New Protest Movements of the 1990s’, Social History Society 46th Annual Conference, University of Lancaster (8 July 2022).
- ‘Finding Somewhere Else to Go?: The Crisis of Labour Party Activism in Britain, 1989-2011’, Histories in Crises: Experiencing and historicising moments of conflict, HistoryLab Conference, Institute for Historical Research (19 July 2022).
- ‘The Anti-Racist Activism of Michael and Ann Dummett’, Righteous Anger: A Symposium Celebrating the Anti-Racist Activism of Michael and Ann Dummett, New College, University of Oxford (21 November 2022).
- 'The Chesterfield conference and the development of socialist ideas and strategy in the 1980s and 90s', Modern British History Seminar, University of Oxford (27 April 2023).
- Keith Gildart, ‘Soul Mining: Memory, Class and Culture in the British Coal Industry, 1947-1994’, Oxford Oral History Seminar (3 November 2021).
- 'Grassroots Politics', Does British Political History Have a Future? Mile End Institute Conference, Queen Mary University of London (12 July 2022).