Labour’s Voice in Europe, by James Darby, Project Archivist

I have just finished cataloguing four archive collections relating to the Labour Party in Europe. These include the papers of the European Parliamentary Labour Party (EPLP) and the personal papers of David Candler, Ron Leighton and Colin Beever; three politicians linked with the pro and anti Common Market wings of the party during the 1970s and 80s.

Labour Movement for Europe report

Funding for the cataloguing of these collections has been gratefully received from the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives, a grant scheme made available by several funding trusts and administered by The National Archives. The project began in April 2016 and involved the box listing of 109 boxes from the EPLP collection, 18 from the Candler collection, 16 from Colin Beevor and 9 from Ron Leighton.

EPLP boxes

EPLP boxes in strongroom

Once box listed the collection had to be placed into suitable series and following this the rather long and arduous task of reboxing all the material in the correct order.

These collections include correspondence and reports of the British Labour Group in Europe and material relating to pro and anti-EEC organisations such as the Labour Movement for Europe and Common Market Safeguards Campaign. Researchers can view the catalogues on the museum’s website and use the collections by booking an appointment in the archive reading room.

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Should prisoners have the right to vote?

Yesterday, the Supreme Court was given the opportunity to decide on whether two prisoners in the UK had the right to vote under European Union rules. If they had sided with the prisoners getting a vote, even though it is still illegal under British law, it could have resulted in UK parliament lifting their blanket ban on prisoners voting- a subject which the European Court of Human Rights had previously told them to do.

As it turned out, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeals, stating that EU law did not provide an individual to vote if the national parliament did not agree to it. Convicted prisoners in the UK are currently banned from voting on the basis that they have forfeited that right by breaking the law and going to jail.

Inevitably, there has been some debate around this subject so we thought we’d ask our visitors what they thought!  We posed the question ‘Should prisoners have the right to vote?’ on a blackboard outside Gallery One on the day of the vote, and checked back in the evening to see what consensus had been.

IMG_3267We had a total of five comments, all expressing rather different, but equally interesting views. Consensus was split equally, with two visitors stating that they did believe that prisoners had the right to vote- one arguing that they are ‘all citizens like you and me’, while the other left us in no doubt of their political affiliation and stated that prisoners should be able to vote- so long as they voted Labour!

One visitor stood in the middle of the debate, and stated that voting should extend to some prisoners, but not all. This is an interesting comment and raises a number of questions such as who would and wouldn’t be included, and where do you draw the line? For example, should it be allowed for prisoners serving short sentences, (an idea which has already been proposed in the UK), or would it rest on the severity of the crime?

Two visitors believed that prisoners should not be allowed to vote; one writing ‘NO’ in very large letters! The other elaborated on this belief and argued that prisoners lost their right to vote when they ‘turned their back’ on society.

Do you agree with the Supreme Court’s ruling? Have your say on our poll at the bottom of the page!