Today we have a guest post from Marc Collinson, a PhD researcher currently using the Labour History Archive and Study Centre at PHM
Originally from the Calder Valley, I am a self-funded PhD student from Bangor University, undertaking research with support from the Society for the Study of Labour History. My research is looking into the impact of immigration and racial tension on the Labour Party both organisationally, on policy formulation and on its electoral performance. This project is focused on the political dynamics of the Labour Party, and the degree to which policy development at the Party’s London Headquarters reflected the opinions of the party and voters in provincial constituencies. From the late 1950s, mass immigration had a major impact on British, predominantly urban, society. This caused problems for the Labour Party, not least because it claimed to represent a white working-class that often felt threatened and angered by immigration. Areas like the Manchester, Merseyside and declining northern mill towns like Blackburn, Batley and Oldham saw racist agitation from an early date. These regions were also a stronghold of the populist ‘right-wing’ of the Labour Party and insufficient attention has been given to the responses of these Labour members to immigration. The membership of the National Front was often suggested to have been formed from these traditional Labour ranks.
This study will utilize archives based at Labour History Archive in Manchester. These include the papers of leading politicians, minutes and memoranda of party committees, policy documents and newspapers. I have previously utilised the archives during Master and Undergraduate research and am always impressed by the easy availability of material, and the knowledgeable help given by Julie, Darren and the Archive Team