New! British Labour Party and Independent Labour Party Papers

I’m happy to let you know that the Library now has access to 3 British Online Archive digital collections of primary source documents relating to British political history in the 20th century:

  • British Labour Party Papers, 1906-1968
  • British Labour Party Papers, 1968-1994
  • Independent Labour Party Records, 1893-1960.

You can access all 3 databases via the Digital Primary Source and Archive Collections guide, the Databases A-Z list and the Politics and International Relations subject guide.

Independent Labour Party Records, 1893-1960

The Independent Labour Party (ILP) was a British left-wing political party founded in 1893. The ILP was affiliated with the Labour Party from 1906 to 1932. This collection contains minute books, annual reports, committee reports, conference resolutions, and weekly notes for speakers from the party’s archive. These documents cover a wide range of subjects, from questions of war and peace to housing and trade unionism. They provide an excellent insight into the early years of the Labour movement in Britain.

British Labour Party Papers, 1906-1968

The Parliamentary Labour Party is the organisation of Labour members of Parliament (MPs) founded in 1906. These papers cover that foundation; then follow the Party through Ramsay MacDonald’s Governments, two world wars, the first Harold Wilson Government and the early part of his second Government. The events in these records are a reflection of current events as much as of the Party itself. From the suffrage campaign for the electoral enfranchisement of women, to nuclear tests over the Pacific Ocean, through the Beveridge Report, the Trade Union Bill and the development of the United Nations. Early policies like the minimum wage would not pass for decades and Party discipline would be a challenge for every Party Leader. Those challenges existed alongside the removal of the right for employers to sue trade unions and the creation of social services. These papers have been arranged by year and divided into thematic groups for ease of analysis. Further details of contents accompany these items at group and at document level.

British Labour Party Papers, 1968-1994

Included in this collection are all the minutes of the Party Meetings, the Liaison Committee and the Parliamentary Committee (Shadow Cabinet) for the period 1968-1994. This period represents a turbulent one in British politics, during the early part of which Labour were twice in power. It begins with the latter half of a Labour government under Harold Wilson, followed by the Conservative government of Edward Heath, which brought Britain the three-day week and into the EEC. Less than a year after Labour returned to power in 1974 following a hung parliament, the Conservative Party elected a new leader. The Margaret Thatcher years appear in their entirety, including the Falklands War and the miners’ strike. In the Labour Party, leadership moved from Jim Callaghan to Michael Foot to Neil Kinnock. Initially policy shifted to the left. However, after the Party’s heavy defeat in the election of 1983, the concept of New Realism” started to emerge. In its wake came Tony Blair, whose progress to the top is charted by these papers, which culminate in Margaret Beckett’s caretaker leadership after the death of John Smith.

You can access all 3 databases via the Digital Primary Source and Archive Collections guide, the Databases A-Z list and the Politics and International Relations subject guide.

Access is only available to current students and staff at the University of Edinburgh.

Caroline Stirling – Academic Support Librarian for School of Social and Political Science

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