What would Genghis Khan do?

A blog post by Andy Hoyle, Learning Officer

While recently carrying out research for an upcoming event on the topic of fake news, I stumbled across a very interesting piece in the 19 June 1987 edition of Labour Weekly. ‘FLEET STREET TRUE TO FORM’ was the headline. The article touched on various media portrayals of that year’s general election and bestowed fictional prizes for categories such as best newspaper coverage (The Independent), most biased coverage (The Guardian), the most misleading leader award (The Guardian again) and the environmental press award for services to recycling (The Sun, which apparently ran an ‘exclusive’ that had been published “in some cases, word for word” two years previously).

It is the award for creative journalism that is perhaps the most memorable. The winner again goes to The Sun which ran an article entitled, “Why I’m backing Kinnock by Stalin.”

Why I'm Backing Kinnock By Lenin

According to this ‘genuine exclusive’ the newspaper contacted a spiritualist medium who interviewed famous leaders from beyond the grave. These included Josef Stalin (who went for Kinnock) as well as Winston Churchill (he backed Thatcher), James Keir Hardie, Boudicea and Genghis Khan.  As only a small portion of the actual article is pictured in the Labour Weekly we can but guess the political affiliation of the twelfth-century Mongol emperor.

Having read this bizarre piece, I have tried to compile a list of potential beyond-the-grave voters for our upcoming 2017 general election.  Examining the various party websites, I have plumped for famous individuals who I feel would choose to make their mark in the polling booths for each party. This is, of course, a satirical blog post. The contents do not represent the wider views of the museum as an institution. So…here it goes.

The Conservative Party – Theresa May recently stated that the country needs a ‘strong and stable leadership in the national interest’ and that ‘we will forge a bold new positive role for ourselves in the world.’ With this in mind, a strong nationalist seems a sensible call. Although I don’t have the powers of a spiritualist medium, I feel that my instincts on this one are quite strong.  Queen Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603) is my pick for the Conservative party.

Queen Elizabeth I

Good Queen Bess oversaw periods of tension – both economic and military – but generally helped to stabilise the nation both internally and in Europe. These are themes that are often talked about in Conservative party broadcasts. She was notably engaged in a serious confrontation with the Spanish navy (don’t mention Gibraltar!) She also had problems regarding Scotland – similarly to the current Conservative government. I feel that if the virgin queen were to enter her polling station in June 2017, the Conservative party would get her vote. Try as I might, she couldn’t be reached for a quote.

The Green Party – The Green Party of England and Wales currently have one MP in the House of Commons and are jointly led by Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley. Their website says that the party supports an economy that gives everyone their fare share. Although dwarfed by other larger parties, their confidence and self-portrayal as a real alternative has the potential to fare well against the odds. That’s why Joan of Arc (1412 – 1431) would vote Green.

Joan of Arc

From humble seeds, mighty oaks do grow! Joan was born into a life of peasantry in north eastern France before going on to support the uncrowned Dauphine of France. She subsequently lifted the siege of Orleans and aided in the victory over the English – notably at the battle of Patay – which led to the coronation of Charles VII. Her swift victories and unbridled momentous support led to the overthrow of the existing order. The ‘maid of Orleans’ would see herself in the Green Party of England and Wales. That’s why they would get her vote. Saint Joan for the win!

Close Second – Saint Francis of Assisi

The Labour Party – The Labour Party’s website calls to ‘rebuild and transform Britain, for the many not the few.’ Jeremy Corbyn has fought off many internal wars to remain the party leader and goes into the general election campaign as an underdog. Thus, my pick of historical figures that would chose to vote Labour goes to Alfred the Great (849 – 899).

Alfred the GreatHailed as the King of Anglo Saxons, I feel Alfred would agree with Labour’s pledges. The ninth century warlord overhauled the tax system, levying huge amounts of money from the most productive landholdings throughout his kingdom. A ‘progressive tax system’ is central to the Labour Party’s appeal. Alfred, as well as being an advocate for education, oversaw turbulence within his kingdom, notably leading nine battles in one year. Ever the underdog, ‘the wise elf’ would, in my opinion, root for the Labour Party. He also has some lovely facial hair!

 

The Liberal Democrats – Led by Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrats are tipped to do better than their poor 2015 outing. Their strong pro-EU stance will appeal to many potential voters, including the late Prussian statesman Otto von Bismarck (1815 – 1898).

Otto von Bismarck

During his time in political office, Bismarck saw the creation of a united German nation and, once achieved, kept the peace in Europe for decades. He developed strong relationships across the European continent and was a shrewd tactician when it came to diplomacy, often allying with different parties when necessary. The Liberal Democrats have shown that they also can work in coalitions and their position may be similar come June. The party claim on their website that they are ‘forward-looking’ and that they ‘will always put the interests of the whole country first.’ This is why ‘the iron chancellor’ would throw his lot in with the Liberal Democrats.

Plaid Cymru – Leanne Wood and Plaid Cymru currently hold 3 seats in the UK Parliament. Although the party has existed for close to a hundred years, their recent statistics perhaps hint at a gathering of momentum. They have claimed over 10% of the votes cast in Wales in every general election since 2001 and with support for the traditional parties looking tentative, maybe their anti-establishment message will grow stronger. The father of Welsh nationalism Owain Glyndŵr would vote Plaid.

Owain GlyndŵrThe fourteenth century strongman spent decades battling his English rivals. Upset by a dominant England, he was crowned Prince of Wales in 1404 and oversaw the creation of a Welsh Parliament. Glyndŵr held great respect amongst his supporters who rebelled against the punitive Penal Laws against Wales. Seen as a Welsh nationalist hero with anti-establishment credentials to boot, the well-educated polyglot wouldn’t hesitate to put a cross next to his local Plaid Cymru candidate.

Special Mentions – Richard Burton

The Scottish National Party – Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP have made huge gains north of the border but may come under threat on the 8th June. Their vision of an independent country free from Westminster interference has gained traction, yet not quite enough to return a positive result in their 2014 referendum. Robert the Bruce (1274 – 1329) is my choice on this one.

The Bruce fought battles both internally and against Rober the BruceEnglish armies, notably defeating a far larger force under Edward II at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314. A talented diplomat, Robert the Bruce made alliances across Europe. He successfully secured Scotland’s position as a sovereign nation and would be an obvious SNP voter had he still be alive today – at the ripe old age of 742.

Runners Up – Robert Burns, William Wallace

 

UKIP – The UK Independence Party have perhaps done more than any other to set themselves as the anti-establishment party. Their desire to leave the European Union defines their outlook as strong nationalists on the right of the political compass. Often considered one of the top 10 greatest Britons of all time, Horatio Nelson (1758 – 1805) would choose team purple.

A very popular figure – particularly amongst the men who served under him – Nelson was able to utilise his personable popularity alongside his Horatio Nelsonunorthodox skill to secure great victories for himself and the Royal Navy. His unconventional tactics in his role as Vice-Admiral at the battle of Trafalgar were the main factor explaining the British victory against superior numbers. UKIP’s leader Paul Nuttall states on the party website that he ‘welcomes the opportunity to take UKIP’s positive message to the country’. Ever-confident, Viscount Nelson would put a cross next to the UKIP candidate, provided he could hold a pencil with his left hand.

Also Ran – Davy Crockett

 

Whilst all attempts to reach the deceased individuals were tried, ultimately my endeavours proved fruitless. As such, none of those listed above were available for comment.

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Firing to the Extreme!

A guest blog by Charlie Manthorp, a third year Three Dimensional Design student studying at Manchester Metropolitan University and the Cultural Digital Designer in Residence at St Ambrose Barlow Roman Catholic High School.

In February 2017, St Ambrose Barlow Roman Catholic High School got to work on their ‘Firing to the Extreme’ project with help from art students attending Manchester Metropolitan University and of course,  The People’s History Museum.

Firing to the Extreme 1

This artistic project involved creating pots out of clay and including quotes on them to highlight right extremism. The project was helped along by the students’ visit to the People’s History Museum, where they learned all about the struggles for democracy and movements for freedom and justice. The students were able to put their new-found knowledge and inspiration into their innovative project.

Firing to the Extreme 4

The day was immensely enjoyed by these students by the sound of their feedback:

‘I loved my experience at the PHM. I feel it demonstrated the importance of British Values and Extremism. I feel this trip will contribute a lot to my project. I would love to attend again’

‘Visited the PHM today! Was sick. #neverlearnedsomuch’

 ‘Today was awesome @PHM I loved the live drama and all of the activities. The other exhibits also showed a lot about what is going on in our world these days’

‘I had an amazing day and would love to come again and learn more’

Firing to the Extreme 2

Needless to say, the students enjoyed getting started on working with the clay almost as much as they enjoyed their visit to PHM! 

Firing to the Extreme 3

Visit our Learning webpage to learn about planning a school visits.

A tribute to Radical Hero Betty Tebbs

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Betty Tebbs (10 April 1918 – 23 January 2017)

A blog by Helen Antrobus, Business Development Officer

 

In June 2016, something very exciting happened in the People’s History Museum. In front of an audience of 200 people, Betty Tebbs, aged 98, told the story of her life. From all the evaluation forms and feedback the staff at the museum received, she inspired so many more people to go and join peace movements, social campaigns, and political parties. Her standing ovation was incredible. This was the moment Betty was made a Radical Hero of the People’s History Museum, in recognition of the astounding life of activism she had led.

Elizabeth Tebbs was born in 1918, the same year women were finally granted the vote img028-no-2and World War I ended. She first became politically active at 14, when she was paid two shillings less than the boy next to her at the paper mill where they worked, just for being a girl. After joining her trade union at East Lancashire Paper Mill, Betty remained there for seventeen years – becoming Mother of the Chapel and leading the women out on strikes.

This fiery spirit and fight for equality was present through her entire life. Once a Labour councillor, a member of the Communist Party and the President of the National Assembly of Women, Betty travelled the world fighting for women’s rights, peace, and change. From Greenham Common to being arrested outside Trident aged 89, Betty was involved in the major campaigns and protests of the last sixty years, even being part of a delegation at the Geneva peace talks between the USA and the Soviet Union.

Betty’s energy, optimism, and hope never left her. Sharp and witty, she carried on speaking out for peace and socialism. Betty passed away peacefully at her home on 23rd January 2017. Everybody at the museum, and many people who visited, were touched by Betty’s story, and inspired by her. Her legacy will continue, and she will never be forgotten.

Black Radical History

The museum is delighted to continue to work with the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) to host a series of courses in autumn 2016. You can find out more about the Black Radical History course in our guest blog from WEA tutor Mark Krantz, who is leading the course.

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For Black History Month, a course to explore how Black radicals have made history. From opposition to slavery and the battle for the vote, to the fight against racism and Islamophobia, and the question of supporting refugees today. The course includes a presentation from Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre and a visit to the PHM’s archives and galleries.

The uprising of slaves on the sugar island of Saint-Domingue began in 1791 and lasted for 13 years. A slave army led by Toussaint-Louverture defeated the professional armies sent to crush the revolt. Spain, France and Britain were defeated and the slaves won their freedom in the country known today as Haiti.

William Cuffay was a Chartist leader at the forefront of the struggle to win the vote in Britain. Cuffay was the son of a former slave, he led strikes, spoke at meetings, and led protests of mainly white workers across the country.

When Abraham Lincoln declared the abolition of slavery during the American Civil War, 30 former slaves who had escaped to Britain spoke at meetings in the Manchester area. They played a crucial role in winning workers to support the union struggle that defeated the army of the slave holding states of the Southern Confederacy.

Too often the role of black people in the struggles for their own liberation is omitted from history. This course places black radicals at the centre of historical change, exploring the history and politics of race, and strategies for fighting racism.

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This course will cover

  • Opposition to slavery, and the American Civil War
  • William Cuffay and the fight for the vote
  • Racism and anti racism from the 1970s until today
  • Rebel women from Farhat Khan, and Lydia Besong, to Manjeet Kaur and Aderonke Apata
  • The challenge of Islamophobia, stereotyping, and the Prevent agenda

Suitable for people aged 19 years and over

Course runs Friday 7 October to Friday 4 November 2016

1.00pm – 3.30pm

Cost £40.30 or free to those in receipt of means tested benefits

Booking Requirements: Booking required by contacting WEA on 0151 243 5340 or booking online via WEA’s website. Please quote course ref C3839448

*Please note this is a five week course, attendees are required to book onto all five weeks of the course*

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Zombie Capitalism and its discontents: The economics and politics of austerity

The museum is delighted to continue to work with the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) to host a series of courses in autumn 2016. You can find out more about the Zombie Capitalism and its discontents course in our guest blog from WEA tutor Mark Krantz, who is leading the course.

26-september-3-october-zombie-capitalism-and-its-discontents-the-economics-and-politics-of-austerity-wea-course-peoples-history-museum-photograph-mark-krantzSince the economic crash of 2008 austerity has been imposed on the people by politicians and bankers.  Today the need for austerity is being challenged.  This course will examine various explanations of economic crises, as well as the impact of austerity on people and politics today.

Faced with the financial crisis that began in 2007, some commentators talked of the dangers of ‘zombie banks’.  Too many financial institutions had lent money they did not have, to people who could never pay them back.  This led to the ‘banking crisis’.  As the banks got bailed out, their debts were taken over by nation states, which in order to balance their books, brought in harsh cuts and an economic policy of austerity.  With no signs of an end to the economic crisis, increasingly people are challenging the assumption that austerity is necessary.  Some economists are predicting even more economic uncertainty, others a long recession or even another crash.

This course will study:

  • Previous economic crises, and the crisis today
  • The impact of austerity on the people and on politics
  • We will consider competing economic theories; from Neoliberalism to Keynesianism, Marxism to Corbynomics, as well as current theories of economic inequality
  • Look at current protest movements, the political and electoral consequences of austerity, as well as alternative economic futures.

Suitable for people aged 19 years and over

Course runs Mon 26 September to Mon 5 December (half term break on Mon 24 October), 1.00pm – 3.00pm

Cost £65.10 or free to those in receipt of means tested benefits

Booking Requirements: Booking required by contacting WEA on 0151 243 5340 or booking online via WEA’s website. Please quote course ref C3839453

*Please note this is a ten week course, attendees are required to book onto all ten weeks of the course*

 

LGBT Heritage Trail

On Thursday 16 June, the Never Going Underground Community Curators were taken on Paul Fairweather’s Manchester LGBT Heritage Trail. Keep an eye out for rainbow tiles on the streets of Manchester that mark significant places in the city’s LGBT history.  You can find out more about the trail on the OUT! Manchester website. In this blog, Community Curator John Browne shares his notes and photos from the trail.  It’s important to note, that we ran out of time to complete the whole trail, as the group were so engaged – sharing their stories and picking Paul’s (incredibly knowledgeable!) brain!

1 Manchester Magistrates Court

Manchester Magistrate’s Court

Paul Fairweather started the walk outside the Magistrate’s Court  where many thousands of gay men had been prosecuted for consensual sex between males in public. A guilty verdict often resulted in loss of jobs, problems with family and friends, and rejection by many faith based organisations. Paul noted that many people committed suicide or had to leave their neighbourhoods  because of press coverage. Paul spoke about many campaigns mounted by the LGBT+ community to reform the criminal justice system by highlighting  unfair and unjust laws. He cited an example by the Campaign for Homosexual Equality to try and get the conviction of Bill Walker overturned in 1976.

2 Alan Turning

Alan Turing statue, Sackville Park

Here Paul explained the work of Alan Turing who is credited with the invention of the first digital computer, as well as playing a major role in World War II, by breaking the Enigma Code that German submarines used when attacking food and armament shipments heading to the UK.  The life of Turing has been portrayed in a play and more recently in The Imitation Game 2014. Turing was subject to ‘hormonal treatment’ to try and ‘cure’ his gayness. After being arrested for admitting he was gay he committed suicide.

3 Beacon of hope

Beacon of Hope, Sackville Park

Manchester was one of the first UK cities to have a community help line providing information about AIDS. Set up in 1984 the service went on to become George House Trust. Paul spoke about early days,  including the fight the local community won over the interment  of Rodger Youd. Rodger wanted to leave hospital to go home to die. There was no treatment in 1984.  Detained against his will a judge ruled he could go home. He died in hospital three weeks after his call to AIDS line, too weak to move any more. As a result the whole relationship between medical professionals and the LGBT+ community changed.  People demanded that they should have a major say in the method and direction of treatment. Over the years Manchester individuals and groups pioneered many novel and innovative ways to make the world a better place for people with HIV and developed mass public education on prevention and risk reduction. The beacon of hope salutes past struggles and lights the way to a brighter future.

4 Transgender Memorial

Transgender Memorial, Sackville Park

We visited the Transgender Memorial which contains the names of trans* persons who have died due to oppression and harassment. Each year Manchester hosts Sparkle

Community fight back

Whilst taking a break from the walk Paul gave numerous examples of the  way the community had fought back against police harassment  in Manchester 

6 Albert Kennedey

Albert Kennedy

This tile marked the spot where Albert Kennedy fell to his death. Driven to suicide whilst in the care of Salford City Council . This entirely preventable tragedy  prompted the establishment of the Albert Kennedy Trust. Over the years AKT has provided support and fostering  to LGBT+ youth so they could go on to lead full and fulfilling lives.

7 Manchester Gay Centre

Bloom Street Gay Centre

Paul worked at 61A Bloom Street the home of Manchester Gay Centre. A UK first funded by an urban aid grant, the centre become the heart of LGBT+ support and activism in the 1980s. The  LBGT+ world is not immune to fall outs rows and splits. Bloom Street was the stage where huge battles about issue such as PIE, separatism, the inclusion of  bisexuals, gender and identity politics took place. Members of the centre were key to offering a vision of the type of society we wanted to build. Inevitably ongoing  tensions resulted in a split between Gay Men and Lesbians in the city.

8 CHE

CHE

Paul moved to Manchester to become a worker for the Campaign for Homosexual Equality. The tile is located near the now defunct Manchester office. In conversation the group learnt  about the role of activists  in Burnley who had taken a huge stride  to establish a LGBT+ movement and use LGBT+ visibility to show we really are everywhere. Throughout  the walk Paul shared examples of  his extensive archive of historical leaflets, magazines and notes from the 1970s & ‘80s many of which we hope to copy and get into the PHM archive. For more  wonderful detail about the part Burnley played in our liberation and the courageous  Mary Winters tale, sacked from the omnibus company  for wearing a Lesbian Lib badge visit http://www.lGBThiddenhistory.co.uk

9 Manchester Town Hall

Manchester Town Hall

The final stop was Manchester Town Hall. Paul reeled off list of Manchester firsts that emanated from this building:

  • Lesbians & Gay men’s committees
  • Full time officers working on LGBT+ issues
  • The first Lesbian Lord Mayor in the UK
  • Support to LGBT+ community groups by way of grants
  • Political support to get legal reform and changes in employment and education that supported LGBT+ lifestyles
  • The Mardi  Gras /Pride parades
  • A purpose built LGBT+ centre
  • The fightback against  section 28

After answering many questions Paul concluded the walk and reflected on how amazing Manchester and its people have been, taking what were radical ideas and concepts  and making them everyday for LGBT+ people in the city. We know that activism has to adopt and change to deal with new challenges ‘somewhere’ in the future a new chapter for the LGBT+ heritage trail is being laid down right now.

10 Tile