The General Election 2017

As the U.K. prepares itself to vote in the snap General Election, we thought it fitting to show some of the printed and archival material held here in Special Collections and Archives from the elections of the past.

Within our printed collection holdings, many pamphlets of the nineteenth century highlight the popular political topics of the day. Sydney Charles Buxton became an MP for the Liberal Party in the late nineteenth century, shortly after his publication of Electoral Purity and Economy (London: The London and Counties Liberal Union, 1882). The paper is written to suggest reforms in the electoral process to counteract bribery and expenses, which the reader is encouraged to undertake and promote themselves. The below referenced “crushed” Corrupt Practices Act finally came into fruition in 1883, formally known as the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act. This was the first act which required the expenses of candidates to be publicly published.

SPEC Y84.3.269 (9)

SPEC Y84.3.269 (9)

We also hold archival material relating to individuals who held both local and national political positions. Eleanor Rathbone sat as an Independent MP for the Combined English Universities, and as a local councilor for the Granby Ward from 1909 -1935. Eleanor was instrumental in the passing of a number of bills, including those with a focus upon benefiting the socio-economic position of women and children.

RP XIV.3.3

RP XIV.3.3

The Glasier papers provide us with an insight to the political movements of the Independent Labour Party (ILP) through politician John Bruce Glasier and his wife, Katharine Glasier. In 1900 John Bruce Glasier became the chair of the ILP, which he held for three years. In the campaign pamphlet shown below, Glasier was standing in Bordesley, Birmingham – a campaign which was unsuccessful.

GP/5/2/2 (6)

GP/5/2/2 (6)

Lastly, the David Owen Archive is abundant with material relating to his time as a member of both the Labour party and the Social Democrats. Below is campaign material from the 1974 parliamentary election, when Owen was successfully elected as MP for Plymouth Devonport, holding the seat for the Labour Party.

D709 2/2/4/3

D709 2/2/4/3

D709 2/2/4/3

D709 2/2/4/3

All of the items included within this post are available to view in our reading room. Please see our website for more information on booking an appointment.

You can read the Manuscripts and More post for the General Election in 2015 here.

February: UK LGBT History Month, a guest post by Darren Mooney

Thursday 27th July 2017 will probably be a fairly quiet day here at the University of Liverpool. The excitement of the previous week’s graduation ceremonies will have dissipated, and many will be looking forward to a relaxing summer. However, Thursday 27th July 2017 also marks the 50th Anniversary of when The Sexual Offenses Act 1967 came into effect in England and Wales, legalising same-sex relationships between men (lesbian relationships were not illegal).

In 1957 the ‘Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution’ published the Wolfenden Report, which recommended that male homosexuality should be decriminalised. However, it took another 10 years of public debate and parliamentary discussion until the Sexual Offenses Act was officially passed. This decriminalisation was limited in scope, as it only applied if there were two participants aged 21 or over, and the act took place in private. Failure to comply with these rules could potentially result in 2-5 years imprisonment.

Since then a lot of things have changed. Laws have been repealed, and new legal rights created, and social attitudes towards gay people have been transformed.

Back in 2011, we here at the Diversity and Equality team decided to research if, how, and when the issues of ‘homosexuals’ had come up here at Liverpool University. When I was a student in the early 00’s, I had friends here at Liverpool who were active in the ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Trans Committee’ in the Guild. We went on lobbies of parliament and NUS LGB Conferences, they ran campaigns and lobbied for new Guild Policies on LGBT issues. So, I knew at least that there was some activity going on from the early 2000’s to today.

So I took myself off to Special Collections and Archives in the Sydney Jones Library to see what they had, I spoke to the Guild and went through old minute books, and I even went through my own archive in case there was anything of use.

Gay Times, Issue 115, April 1988. Darren Mooney Personal Archive.

Gay Times, Issue 115, April 1988. Personal Archive of Darren Mooney.

The outcome of all of this was an exhibition which I called Pink Brick [a play on Red Brick]: LGBT Histories of the University of Liverpool, in the Victoria Gallery and Museum. A website was also developed to archive the exhibition materials and make available some of the references used. This is still a project in development, and each LGBT History Month we make sure that at least some of it is updated.

So, what did we find in Special Collections and Archives in relation to Liverpool University?

The earliest reference to ‘homosexuals’ I came across was an article in the Guild Gazette newspaper, whereby the columnist ‘Cornus’ undertakes some investigative journalism to find out what the ‘homosexual victims’ think about the idea of decriminalisation:

“Should homosexuality be made lawful? Do we heed the plaintive calls of O- W- [Oscar Wilde] and other cultured sodomites or do we maintain our steadfast disgust and intolerance against such practices?

This was 27th November 1961, the same year the Beatles first performed in the Cavern, the Runcorn Bridge was opened, and the pill becomes available on the NHS (Guild Gazette, Tuesday 27th November 1961, reference R/LF379.5.G95.U55).

Gay Times, Issue 154, July 1991. Personal Archive of Darren Mooney

Gay Times, Issue 154, July 1991. Personal Archive of Darren Mooney.

In 1971 a group of students who were members of the Liverpool Campaign for Homosexual Equality (C.H.E) group floated the idea of setting up a student society. They had their first stall at the 1971 Fresher’s Fair, and on the 15th May 1972 the Guild Council formally approved the establishment of the ‘Homophile Society’, what is now called the LGBT Society. In the 1980s the Liverpool University GaySoc often held discussion groups regarding prominent LGBT issues, which are as significant to LGBT+ people today as they were back then.

A161 67 Bi Coffee

A161/67 Liverpool University GaySoc Flyer, dated April 1982.

A161/67 Liverpool University GaySoc Flyer, dated 1981

A161/67 Liverpool University GaySoc Flyer, dated 1981

Nationally, the NUS passed the first comprehensive motion on gay rights in April 1973 [‘NUS Supports Gay Rights at Exeter Conference’ Guild Gazette, 8th May, 1973] , and held the first ever Gay Rights Conference in October of the same year [‘What they said at the Gay Lib Conference’ Guild Gazette, 31st October 1973]. The NUS continued to hold events, such as the “N.U.S Gay Rights Campaign National Week of Action”, as shown in the below flyer created by the Liverpool University GaySoc.

A161/67 Liverpool University GaySoc Flyer, dated 6th May 1976

A161/67 Liverpool University GaySoc Flyer, dated 6th May 1976.

Also held at Special Collections and Archives, the David Owen archive also provides an insight into the support for Gay rights from the SDP party in the 1980s. Below is the Gay Social Democrat, marketed as the “official journal of Social Democrats for gay rights”, and published as a quarterly newsletter.

D709/3/8/2/2 Gay Social Democrat newsletter

D709/3/8/2/2, Gay Social Democrat newsletter, dated June 1984

As a personally strong advocate for gay rights, Lord Owen is here outlining in the Gay Times the principles of the Liberal party, which will uphold legal rulings to support gay rights and focus on eliminating social stigma.

D709/3/18/6/34, Gay Times, Issue ... p. 32.

D709/3/18/6/34, Gay Times, Issue 91, April 1986, p. 32.

Since 2000, we have seen the ban on LGBT people in the military lifted, the age of consent reduced to match that of straight people, employment protections introduced, the right to marry, the right to legal transition, and the right to adopt introduced.

Darren Mooney is the Equality and Diversity Officer at Liverpool University.

You can explore some of the items referenced in this post further on the LGBT Histories of the University of Liverpool project website. As always, the items featured in this post that are referenced as Special Collections and Archives are available to view in our reading room, Sydney Jones Library.

Explore Your Archive: Papers of David Owen

Archive Discovered

As part of the 2015 Explore Your Archive campaign, this post looks at the David Owen Archive and reveals the scope of material we hold that can be consulted for research. Lord David Owen was a prominent political figure in the later 20th century for both the Labour Party and the later founded Social Democratic Party. Lord Owen has had a varied political career, from Minister of Health 1974-1976 to Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs 1976-1979, these rolls fulfilled under the Labour Party. Prior to co-founding the Social Democratic Party in 1982 with the ‘Gang of Four’, including Baroness Shirley Williams. Later Lord Owen was leader of the SNP from 1983-1987.

The archive contains papers relating to Lord Owen’s early life as a medical student at Cambridge University through to his retirement from political parties before he stood in the House of Lords as an independent social democrat. Lord Owen was Chancellor of the University of Liverpool from 1996 until 2009. Lord Owen thus chose the University of Liverpool in which to place the initial material of his archive during his chancellorship. Lord Owen has published many books and is still politically active. Currently Lord Owen is reflecting his policies and beliefs from his time as Health Minister in 1974 in his active role in the NHS Reinstatement Bill 2015 Campaign. Lord Owen also still campaigns for international peace relations, showing his steadfastly held beliefs throughout his entire political career.  The archive not only allows researchers a unique insight into the evolving and developing personal and professional life of a politician; but also gives a snapshot of a country’s political attitude in context.

Owen Cartoons

The David Owen Archive has a large variety of material types. Even including items of political satire, as seen above.
[Left: D709/3/21/2/19 Copyright of Sunday Times Magazine 1981. Top right: D709/3/21/2/10 Copyright of Nicholas Garland 1987. Bottom left: D709/3/21/2/17 Copyright of Gibbard undated]

The David Owen Archive is fairly comprehensive – material ranges from personal correspondence to notes on draft parliamentary bills. One of the many research uses of the archive is the study of schisms in political parties exemplified by  Owen’s personal and professional transition from the Labour Party to the SDP. With a signed copy of the Limehouse Declaration of 1981 and drafts and correspondence leading to its finalisation, a clear narrative can be seen for the process of political change in British politics.

D709-2-17-1-3 final ed

A signed copy, by the ‘Gang of Four’, of the Limehouse Declaration 1981. [D709/2/17/1/3]

Furthermore, the David Owen Archive can be used to examine the establishment of new parties in British politics, especially relating to liberal beliefs. The papers relating to Owen’s co-founding of the Social Democratic Party show both support and criticism for the political move, thus reflecting the more private and back of house scene of politics through correspondence – something not often released into the public world of national politics.

D709-3-1-1-13

Papers relating to the creation of the SDP. [D709/3/1/1/13]