British Communism and Commitment Day-school

Registration is now open for the ‘British Communism and Commitment’ day-school to be held between 9.45 and 4.45 on 9th June 2016 in the Labour History Archive and Study Centre at the People’s History Museum, Manchester. The day-school is part of the AHRC funded-project, ‘Wars of Position: Communism and Civil Society.’ It brings together former party activists and researchers from a wide range of academic disciplines to analyse the complexities of commitment in the British Communist Party over its seventy-year history (1920-1991). The day-school also marks the opening to researchers of new CPGB-related archive material, including the papers of Monty Johnstone (1928-2007).

Registration is £20, which includes lunch. Places are limited. The closing date for registration is 31/5/16 (5pm).

Please register here:

Provisional schedule:

09:45-10:00: Registration / Tea/ Coffee

10:00-11:30: Panel One: Writers and commitment. Aidan Byrne, ‘Lewis Jones: the struggle for commitment’; Matthew Taunton, ‘Communism by the letter: Doris Lessing and commitment’; Glyn Salton-Cox, ‘Sylvia Townsend Warner and Valentine Ackland’s queer commitment’

11:30-11.45: Tea / Coffee

11.45-1.15: Panel Two: Communist trajectories. Lewis Young, ‘Douglas Hyde and the God that Failed: a journey from Communist activist to Catholic anti-Communist theorist’; Jane Bernal, ‘“Communism, coal and my other subject”: the life of Margot Heinemann between 1937 and 1953’; Don Watson, ‘The Apostates: six ex-Communist autobiographies’

1.15-2.15: Lunch, talk from project archivist James Darby about the Monty Johnstone papers and related collections, archive tour

2.15-3.15: Panel Three: Communists and the trade unions. Sheryl Bernadette Buckley, ‘Coalfield Communists: loyal party functionaries or committed trade unionists?’; Geoff Brown, ‘John Tocher, the limits of commitment’

3:15-3:30: Tea / Coffee

3:30-4:45: Round-table: Communism, commitment and the archive. Chaired by Professor Kevin Morgan. Featuring Francis King (historian, former CP activist and archivist, editor of Socialist History), John Attfield (historian and former secretary of the Communist Party History Group) and Geoff Andrews (author of Endgames and New Times: The Final Years of British Communism 1964-1991 (2004) and The Shadow Man 2015), a biography of James Klugmann).

Any queries, please email the organiser, Ben Harker (

Image Credit: Lancashire District Communist Party, March ca. 1948, Papers of Monty Johnstone, People’s History Museum.

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