How Labour Governs: A conference to mark 100 years of Labour Governments – CONFERENCE

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Date / time: 27 January, 9:30 am - 6:00 pm

Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge campus)

How Labour Governs: A conference to mark 100 years of Labour Governments - CONFERENCE


How Labour Governs: A conference to mark 100 years of Labour Governments

A conference organised by the Labour History Research Unit, Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge campus): University of the Year, 2023 (Times Higher)

Saturday 27 January 2024 – 9.30 – 6.00 | Convenor: Rohan McWilliam (email with any queries)

This conference commemorates the 100th anniversary of the British Labour Party’s first government in 1924 by examining the record of Labour in power and the challenges it has faced since that time.


David Edgerton (Kings, London): ‘A Declinist with a Purpose: Harold Wilson and the Politics of Production.’

Charles Clarke (former Labour MP and Home Secretary): ‘The Political Challenges facing Labour in Government.’

Bookings and Event Information

Booking is essential (final date for booking is 22 January 2024). The conference costs £16 which covers lunch (which includes vegetarian options) and tea/coffee.

To book go to:

The conference takes place on the Cambridge campus of Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge, CB1 1PT. The campus is about twenty minutes’ walk from Cambridge Station.

About the Conference

It is now 100 years since Labour first formed a government. This conference explores the statecraft of Labour in power. How have Labour governments adjusted historically to taking over the levers of the British state? To what extent did Labour governments control their own destiny and implement their programmes? In what ways did Labour transform Britain? How might we define and analyse Labour’s political creativity (or lack of creativity)? To what extent did Labour governments prove able to rethink policy and take account of its changing electorate? How might we use our understanding of Labour’s history to interpret the challenges of Labour today?To what extent can Labour historians make a contribution to the intellectual culture on which future Labour governments might draw? How can we do progressive politics better?

This conference draws together historians, policy specialists, politicians and others to explore the challenges Labour has faced and will face. It is also intended as an event in the path to the next General Election.

Programme and Location of Events  

Note: LAB stands for Lord Ashcroft Building, Cambridge campus of Anglia Ruskin.   

9.30 | Registration in foyer of Lord Ashcroft building (outside LAB 003)

9.45 | Welcome (LAB 003)

10.00 – 11.30 | Strand 1

Panel A | Labour and the Wider World (LAB 002)  

Jonathan Davis (ARU)
From Soviet recognition to the ethical foreign policy: what did internationalism mean to Labour in power?

Richard Johnson (Queen Mary, University of London)
Out and Into the World: Decolonisation, Development, & Euroscepticism in the 1960s-70s Labour Governments.

Charlotte Lydia Riley (Southampton)
A Moral Crusade or Nothing: Labour, foreign policy and identity in government.

Panel B | Labour and the Constitution (LAB 003)

David Torrance (Independent Scholar)
The Labour Party and the territorial constitution, 1924-1997.

Frederick Cowell (Birkbeck)
Labour and Human Rights: The Human Rights Act and the reshaping of British government and society.

Tony Taylor (Sheffield Hallam)
The Labour Party in Power and Constitutional Reform.

11.30 – 11.45 | Tea/coffee (foyer)  

11.45 – 1.00 | Keynote (LAB 003)

David Edgerton (Kings College, London)
A Declinist with a Purpose: Harold Wilson and the Politics of Production

1.00 – 2.00 | Lunch  

2.00 – 3.30 | Strand 2 

Panel A | Labour in Government (LAB 002)   

Adrian Smith (Southampton)
Labour and the military: Dealing with the chiefs of staff (1929-51).

Lyndsey Jenkins (Oxford)
‘If we did not raise these simple issues, nobody will’: Labour women’s campaigns from the backbenches during the Wilson administrations.

Jonathan Portes (Kings, London)
New Labour and new Britons – immigration policy under Labour 1997-2010.

Panel B | Labour and the Economy (LAB 003)

Jim Tomlinson (Glasgow),
The 1974-1979 Labour government: deindustrialisation and the national economy.

Glen O’Hara (Oxford Brookes),
New Labour, New Britain? Tony Blair and the Labour Governments of 1997-2007.

Colm Murphy and Patrick Diamond (Queen Mary),
Is there such a thing as social-democratic austerity? Fiscal ‘constraints’ and Labour in power.

3.30 – 3.45 | Tea (foyer)  

3.45 – 5.00 | Keynote (LAB 003)

Charles Clarke, former Labour MP and Home Secretary
The Political Challenges facing Labour in Government

5.00 – 6.00 | Final Panel (LAB 003)  

Richard Toye (Exeter)
The extremely successful history of the Labour Party.

Pamela Cox (Essex)
How Labour should govern: Securing the next Labour Government.


Image: Wiki Commons