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John McIlroy

A Labour Historian of the Old School

Raymond Challinor Remembered

(August 2011)

From Labour History Review, Vol. 76 No. 2, August 2011, pp. 143–60.
With the kind permission of John McIlroy, Middlesex University, UK.
Transcribed and edited by John McIlroy and Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

For indeed I am a communist of the old school – reddest of the red.

John Ruskin, Fors Clavigera: Letters to the
Workmen and Labourers of Great Britain

Raymond Challinor who died after protracted illness at the Windsor Court Care Home Wallsend, Newcastle-on-Tyne, on 30 January 2011 was a labour historian of the old school. A lifelong Marxist of a libertarian bent, he was a member of the Independent Labour Party (ILP), the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), the Socialist Review Group (SRG) and the International Socialists (IS). With Marc Bloch, he held that the good historian is a student of humanity who engages with the living as well as the dead. With Marx, he maintained that the role of the intellectual is not simply to understand the world but to help in changing it. Workers, for their part, learned from study as well as struggle: an appreciation of labour’s past was integral to its future emancipation. To that end, he contributed scores of articles to the socialist press. He believed they would stimulate wider interest in the history of the working class. He hoped they would spur activists to emulate and transcend the aspirations, solidarity and creativity of their predecessors. Without exception they radiated faith in ‘socialism from below’. They exuded rejection of what he termed ‘the two monsters of social democracy and Stalinism’. [1]

He possessed few illusions in the academy. Conventional scholarship, he considered, represented progress. But socialist intellectuals had a responsibility to develop it through research and writing which spoke to a working-class audience as well as professional historians. He spent a quarter of a century in further and higher education and his scholarly activity, conducted against the odds, was reflected in the books he produced between 1967 and 1995. In accordance with what was once regarded as the proper time-span of the labour historian, he studied the century from the 1840s. He wrote not only about Chartism but about the birth of British Communism, not only about the early trade unions but about the Second World War. Like most labour historians of his generation he thought collectively. He was an enthusiast of the Society for the Study of Labour History (SSLH). He served it as executive member, vice-chair, chair and vice-president. At regional level he contributed prodigiously to the success of the North East Labour History Society (NELHS)

Raymond Corrick Challinor was born at Stoke-on-Trent, the largest of ‘the five towns’ in the English Potteries on 9 July 1929. His father, Arthur Bertram Challinor, a schoolteacher, for a time a head master, was the grandson of a miner. Arthur’s father followed him underground before becoming a pottery worker and, finally, a composer of songs and Methodist hymns who was awarded degrees in music by the University of Durham. Arthur attended boarding school in Scotland and had hoped to become a doctor. The lingering impact of gas poisoning in First World War France, where he served in the Royal Flying Corps, cast a shadow over his life. Ray’s mother Leonora Margaretta Gertrude (née Gibson), known as Gertrude, was an independent, outspoken woman whose moral rectitude and scepticism of authority was passed on to her son.

On her father’s side, she came from a family of ironmongers who built bicycles and ran a bus service in the railway town of Crewe in Cheshire. Her mother was German, which caused periodic tensions in the local community. Educated at the Bluecoat School, Walsall, Gertrude was a school teacher. Both his parents took an interest in politics. Arthur was involved in the Labour Party in Stoke and inclined towards the Communist Party (CP) in its milder moments. His wife supported the ILP. She had been a friend of Lady Cynthia Mosley, Labour candidate and then MP for Stoke between 1925 and 1931, and a staunch ILPer. Gertrude invariably defended her as a sincere socialist. She was a passionate advocate of adult education and sometime secretary of the Longton branch of the Workers Educational Association, the site of the pioneering classes of R.H. Tawney in ‘Industrial History’ in 1908-9.

Ray grew up in depression and war. When he was eleven his parents separated and his world disintegrated. Arthur’s drinking and gambling had placed strains on the marriage. His sister, Joan, four years younger, remained with her father’s family in Stoke; he moved with his mother to Crewe. He attended Crewe Grammar School and subsequently, in a second uprooting, the George Fox boarding school run by the Friends in the small county town of Lancaster. He admired the Quakers, although at an early age he declared himself an atheist and cleaved to that credo throughout his life. A well-known social historian of his acquaintance liked to remark that nothing had happened in Lancaster since the abolition of the slave trade. However he dated his political awakening to the by-election there in October 1941. It crystallized an interest in politics sparked by his parents’ involvement and fanned by the war and his mother’s opposition to it. When the Labour Party, acting in accordance with the electoral truce, refused to oppose the Conservative candidate, the diplomat Fitzroy Maclean, the ILP stepped into the breach in the person of Archibald Fenner Brockway.

Under the banner ‘Shorten the War by Socialism’, Brockway urged nationalization, an end to profiteering, a minimum wage and colonial freedom. Barely twelve years old, Ray was encouraged by his teachers to attend meetings. It confirmed his inherited allegiance. He remembered leading ILP figures – Bob Edwards, John McNair and Jimmy Maxton, and the, in retrospect, tragic irony of the latter’s insistence that he would give up food before cigarettes – speaking at the Jubilee Hall and the Friends Meeting Place. He recalled his mother’s pleasure at Brockway’s advocacy of higher wages for women workers. In later years he still savoured his elation when the ILP garnered almost 20 per cent of the vote. The behaviour of the Communists left a lasting impression. Declaiming ‘A vote for Brockway is a vote for Hitler’, the followers of Hitler’s ally of four months before outdid some Conservatives in their support for MacLean.

He left school at the end of the war and worked on the Crewe Guardian, one of the town’s two newspapers. He sometimes referred to himself in later years as a journalist and always enjoyed writing. His ideas developed through reading the ILP’s New Leader and its discussion journal Left. He was excited by the contributions of the free thinker, historian and erstwhile supporter of Trotsky, Frank Ridley. They strengthened his sense that socialism could not be identified with state ownership. He sometimes cited Ridley’s use of examples stretching back to the nationalization of the Indian railways to speed-up troop movements, to illustrate that social ownership per se did not facilitate human liberation.

At an ILP summer school he met the Scottish journalist Frank Maitland who, after experience in the CP, the successor groups to the Socialist Labour Party (SLP) and the Trotskyist movement, had found a home of sorts there. Maitland impressed upon him the significance of work in the unions and the importance of industrial struggle in furthering socialist progress. Their friendship was cemented in the 1950s and endured until Frank’s death in 2001. As a plural, comparatively tolerant milieu for the free-ranging discussion of ideas, the ILP left a deep mark on somebody who experienced it as a teenager in his first, sharp encounter with socialism. As late as 1958 he wrote to Maitland: ‘My political line is that of the ILP’. [2] In 1997 he spoke to me emotionally about its importance to his political formation.

Called up for national service in 1946 he registered as a conscientious objector. He was exempted on condition he undertook two years of horticultural work under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture. He had numerous jobs, largely in the South of England. He never lasted long: awkwardness and lack of co-ordination rendered him accident-prone. His introduction to Trotskyism came via T. Dan Smith and Bill Hunter whom he met at the ILP’s 1945 conference which ratified the expulsion of Smith who had sat simultaneously on the leading bodies of the ILP and the RCP. He had discussions with Ted Grant and Roy Tearse, leading lights in the firmament of British Trotskyism. He read its papers, Socialist Appeal and Workers’ International News, and as much as he could find of Marx and Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. The RCP was more active and interventionist; it seemed to possess a more coherent programme and superior organisation. The ILP was falling apart.

In 1947 he joined the Thames Valley branch of the British Section of the Fourth International. He worked on its behalf in the National Council of Labour Colleges (NCLC) and as an entrist in Chertsey Labour Party. Karl Westwood, a veteran of the Labour Party in the 1920s and C.L.R. James’ Marxist Group in the ILP in the 1930s, and now a leader of the RCP’s entry work, was an inspiration. Westwood became the Labour Party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Richmond and Barnes and a full-time organiser of the NCLC before his untimely death in a motor-cycle accident at Whitsun 1951. While living with Karl and his wife Cath at the Cottage Café they ran at Staines, he met Tony Cliff (Ygael Gluckstein). Cliff, he recalled, ‘had the most profound influence on my political development’. [3]

In his eighteenth year he commenced a struggle to understand the world that Hitler, Stalin and the capitalist democracies had made. The RCP was a rigorous school; dogma rubbed shoulders with heresy. In 1946, Jock Haston, its talented leader, raised the possibility that Russia and its imperium in Eastern Europe was moving towards state capitalism. He quickly reverted to the received Trotskyist doctrine that Russia was a degenerated workers’ state. Cliff travelled in the opposite direction. Another handful of RCP members agreed with the American Max Shachtman and the Irish section that Russia was neither state capitalist or a workers’ state but a novel bureaucratic collectivist formation. In a break with orthodox Trotskyism and its umbilical links with Stalinism, the innovators agreed that socialists had no obligation to defend Eastern imperialism against Western imperialism. [4]

In this context, but largely independently, and at 17 precociously, he arrived at a state capitalist position. He was familiar with such debates from the ILP: they had been aired there since the 1930s. His article, State Capitalism – A New Order, came out in Left in June 1948 as part of a debate involving Tom Colyer and C.A. Smith. It appeared simultaneously with Cliff’s more substantial internal RCP document, ‘The Nature of Stalinist Russia’. There were a number of problems with this analysis, from the composition of the new ruling class and its structural relation to the economy to the operation of the law of value in Russia. At a time when many activists on the left believed that Russia and its conquests were in some sense socialist and intellectuals, increasingly influenced by Isaac Deutscher, pronounced the Eastern Empire progressive and capable of self-reform, it was important and liberating. It affirmed that Stalinism, and Deutscherism, entailed a rupture with the tradition of Marx and Engels, the tradition of socialism as workers’ self-emancipation and self-government. Ray insisted that those who defended Russia discarded these inalienable concepts. To defend despotism and exploitation, he wrote, ‘harms not only the cause of the Russian worker but that of Revolutionary Socialism. The only thing to do is to tell the truth and to show it has nothing in common with Socialism’. [5]

In 1949 the railways took him home to Crewe and his job on the local paper. It was a wasteland for the revolutionary left. When Haston came North that year he was able to introduce him to just three contacts – only one, Ted Alcock, an old SLPer, was in any way sympathetic to Trotskyism. The RCP collapsed. Ray joined ‘the Club’, the reorganized section of the Fourth International. Led by Gerry Healy and John Lawrence, it pursued ‘deep entry’ in the Labour Party. The experience was bitter and brief. He found the organisation’s adaptation to reformism and Stalinism in its paper Socialist Outlook hard to swallow. He chafed at its intolerance of dissent. When the Korean War broke out in June 1950 he refused to back North or South, the USSR or the USA. ‘The Club’ provided not very critical, or effective, support to what it perceived as the workers’ states in their anti-imperialist struggle. [6] In the summer of 1950 he received a letter from Healy: it congratulated him on his efforts in establishing the Labour League of Youth in Crewe. Weeks later he was informed by his friend and fellow state capitalist, Duncan Hallas, that he had been expelled from ‘the Club’ at a meeting of its Manchester branch which he had been unable to attend.

He was a founding member of the SRG which was launched in London in September 1950 with all of thirty-three members. He endorsed its stand against defencism. But he harboured reservations about its rather quixotic decision to seek affiliation to the Fourth International. The solitary difference he had with Cliff, he reflected, was that he saw the new thinking as transcending Trotskyism. Cliff viewed himself as an orthodox Trotskyist who differed with the International over Russia. [7] Ray became a member of the three-man editorial board of the initially intermittent and duplicated Socialist Review which appeared in November 1950. The following year he secured a printer, Oliver Amey, who produced it at almost cost price in Lune Lane, Preston. He found this fitting. Lune Lane, he recalled, was ‘the road where the military shot the Chartist demonstrators during the general strike of 1842. At the bottom of the street bullet-holes still scarred the bricks’. [8]

1952 was a significant year in his life. He became a student at the University College of North Staffordshire, later Keele University. He was joined there by his sister Joan, somewhat ironically a subsequent recruit to the CP. He studied for a degree in economics and politics. More importantly, he met his future wife at a Labour League of Youth meeting. Mabel Brough was an eighteen-year old bank clerk from Etruria near Stoke. In the way of her new family she became a primary school teacher. They married in 1957 and their son Russell was born in 1962. It was a happy marriage. It endured until his death. It gave him new moorings and provided him with the security shattered in his early life, with solidarity and with a necessary element of organization. He formed another partnership in 1952, this time with Stan Newens, a young socialist from Bethnal Green by way of University College London, where he had become aware of the RCP and then the SRG. He was doing a stint in the North Staffordshire mines as a substitute for national service. Most Saturdays during the next four years saw the pair traversing Northern England and the Midlands on Stan’s motor-cycle selling Socialist Review and seeking adherents to its politics. It was another friendship forged in what George MacKay Brown called ‘the good comrade-time of youth’ that lasted a lifetime. He maintained his editorial involvement until his final exams loomed in 1956 when he handed over to Bernard Dix who worked on the TUC magazine Labour. For a short time Socialist Review was edited from Congress House. [9]

The group was distinguished by its state capitalist analysis, the conviction that the future lay with ‘neither Washington nor Moscow’, the belief that capitalism had stabilised itself through arms expenditure and the need for patience and ‘the perspective of the long haul’. It moved some distance from the Fourth International. In comparison with its competitors and its successors, it was unassuming and creative, open and eclectic: its members tried to develop new ideas in order to explain a changing world, not catechize old ones which obfuscated reality. At different times a diverse array of talented socialists worked in or around the SRG: Sid Bidwell, Ken Coates, Henry Collins, Bernard Dix, Eric Heffer, Harry McShane, Stan Newens, Peter Sedgwick and James D. Young. There were also visiting Americans associated with Shachtman’s Independent Socialist League, notably Justin and Jackie Grossman, Shirley Lerner and Donna and Seymour Papert. A mixture of ideas – rediscovered Luxemburgism, bureaucratic collectivism the autonomisms of C.L.R. James, Raya Dunavskaya and Cornelius Castoriadis swirled around the organization. Cliff, its major figure – although from 1955, Michael Kidron played a key role – was receptive to rethinking but remained anchored in a Leninist mentality. [10]

He was on the libertarian wing. He recollected the excitements of the time. He remembered the donkey work, the uphill struggle to secure and produce articles for Socialist Review and publish Cliff’s, Russia: A Marxist Analysis in 1955 and Rosa Luxemburg in 1959. Through the decade he contributed analysis, history and reviews to the journal. [11] Things improved after 1956 although Healy’s group was the main beneficiary. He corresponded with Edward Thompson whom he recalled meeting in the early 1950s and whom he came to admire as a human being as well as a historian. He attempted to educate Thompson in Trotskyism and lent him some of the Old Man’s writings. On his side, Thompson was enduringly friendly. In a letter to his fellow editor of The Reasoner, John Saville, in 1957 he commended Ray’s writing. He dubbed him, perhaps in relation to their mutual antipathy to the Healyites, ‘a Trot of the milder persuasion’. [12] Ray spoke at the conference at Wortley Hall, Yorkshire, in April 1957, convened to regroup refugees from the CP with the Labour and far left which launched the Left Clubs. He called for dialogue and unity in action: ‘The question was how best they could influence members of the working class. They must have some publication which reflected their common views. Only through an interchange of ideas could they hope to break down the barriers which past sectarianism had raised’. [13]

He was active in the New Left. As an elected member of the Labour Advisory Committee of CND he argued, under the slogan ‘Black the Bomb! Black the Bases!’, that, rather than relying on the state, trade unionists should take direct action and boycott all nuclear weapons. He criticized the vacillations of the campaign’s leadership and the tergiversations of the CP. [14] The SRG was an entrist organisation and the struggle in the Labour Party his daily diet. In Newcastle-under-Lyme, adjacent to the five towns, he found a party with a suitable left-wing complexion. The seat had been Labour since 1922. There were right-wing activists such as the future MP, John Golding. Most reflected the ‘Keep Left’ and Bevanite stance of the sitting MP, Stephen Swingler. By the turn of the decade, he was a fixture in the constituency party, a stalwart of its executive committee and political education officer, as well as a member of Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council. There were, he concluded, limits to what isolated left-wingers could achieve in local government. In the absence of numerically stronger, more concentrated forces, the council chamber should be regarded as a platform for socialist ideas, rather than a vehicle for significant reforms. Even propaganda, if it was to be effective, demanded more left-wingers in local government. It required a national network of socialist councillors. [15]

After completing his degree at North Staffordshire he taught in a secondary modern school in the Potteries. In 1961, he was appointed as a lecturer in Government at Wigan Mining and Technical College, today part of the University of Wigan, and the family moved to nearby Hindley, once home to the young George Formby. The SRG had never been proscribed by the Labour Party: he made it on to the ‘B list’, the national panel of candidates deemed suitable to stand in general elections. In December 1961, he was selected as prospective parliamentary candidate for the small, affluent, constituency of Nantwich, five miles from Crewe. Famous for its salt and the Civil War battle in 1644, it remained predominantly a farming area which increasingly served as a dormitory town for commuters to Crewe, Chester, Liverpool and Manchester. In the 1959 general election the Conservative MP, Wing-Commander Grant-Ferris, piled-up a 6,000 majority over Labour. Given disillusion with the Macmillan government, Ray had high hopes. He claimed that the seat was winnable; he could, he considered, at least erode the Conservative majority in the election expected in 1964. [16] He did his best to stir things up in a sleepy market town which had changed little since before the war. Hardly a week went by in 1962 and 1963 without a hard-hitting letter from the Labour candidate disturbing the calm of the Nantwich Chronicle. They stimulated debate on the health service, rates, pensions, unemployment, the funding of political parties, the private interests of Conservative MPs, the 1945 Labour government and foreign policy. [17]

In relation to the arguments put forward for entrism – if it is not to be of the ‘deep’ sort and, thus, too accommodative of the reformist host, it should be used to explicitly propagate revolutionary ideas – the discourse, allowing for necessary adaptation, appears substantially that of party policy statements and the mainstream Labour left. He did participate energetically in campaigns to avert closure of Nantwich Railway Station and Tarporley hospital. He backed nuclear disarmament and withdrawal from NATO. This stimulated friction inside the party. It provided ammunition for the Conservatives who needled him about his membership of CND while advocating Labour’s contradictory position. [18] In a conservative constituency and Labour Party, matters were not helped by publicity attending an unsuccessful private prosecution for assault and battery he mounted against the police after being denied access to a meeting addressed by the Labour leader, Hugh Gaitskell. Difficulties were compounded when he made a formal statement to Crewe CND arguing that Britain should abandon nuclear weapons and join the non-aligned group of nations. [19]

He tried to play the game: he was reported paying tribute to Gaitskell, the bệte noire of the left, just after his death. [20] But he failed to survive to fight the election. In March 1964, with the contest little more than six months away, he stepped down. There was no explanation from either side, beyond statements that travelling forty miles from Wigan made for problems and that he had kept local officials insufficiently informed about his activities. Those who commented ‘call it incompatibility’ and those who remarked that ‘the Party’s chance at the election would be rosier with a candidate who stands more to the right’, [21] were probably not far wrong. The involvement in the denouement of Labour’s influential North-West Regional Organiser, Reg Wallis, an apparatchik well-practised in the art of excluding Trotskyists, suggested that the powers-that-be were better informed in 1964 than they had been in 1961. [22]

In the context of the conservative authority relations that obtained in the technical colleges of the period, the episode did him little good at Wigan. Arguments about his absences were exacerbated by his ‘fearlessness in conversation’, his reluctance to tolerate what he saw as unfairness and his frequent lack of organisation in what aspired to be a regimented regime. [23] Nil desperandum, he continued to crusade. In the early summer of 1965 Asian and black workers at the Courtauld’s plant in Preston struck against speed-up. They received little support from their fellow white workers; or the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU). It was one of a series of strikes in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s which highlighted the embattled predicament of Britain’s black proletariat in the post-war years, as well as the limited sustenance it received from trade union officialdom. Ray knew Coketown. He now encountered divisive industrial conflict in a different Preston, with a different working class, more than a century later.

Where Dickens reported and imagined, he intervened. His involvement was popular with the strikers who were eventually forced back to work. Less so with the TGWU officials, latter day Slackbridges of Hard Times, whose stock in trade was rhetoric; or with some black activists such as the Race Today Collective. They saw only a white Labour Party politician on the make. Yet he played an exemplary part with considerable sensitivity. He used his position on the executive of Westhoughton Labour Party to muster support and funds in the local labour movement and as far away as Oxford and London. His vigour in constructing solidarity ensured that he was co-opted on to the Action Committee which raised problems with TGWU general-secretary, Frank Cousins, then a minister in the first Wilson government. Crucially, courageously and successfully he opposed attempts to start a breakaway black union. Strike committee meetings commenced with prayers from each denomination present. A confirmed atheist, he recited the Lord’s Prayer. [24]

Things were looking up for the group. After the launch of its new journal in 1960 it gradually became known eponymously as ‘the International Socialism Group’. This morphed into ‘the International Socialists’. Socialist Review disappeared in 1962. The space was filled by Labour Worker and, as IS gradually pulled out of the Labour Party from 1965, by Socialist Worker. At the end of 1968, the group had 1,000 members. It had benefitted from its efforts in the Labour Party Young Socialists, then from the stirrings of industrial and student militancy, finally from the agitation around Vietnam and May 1968 in France. [25] He remained active. That year he was prominent in support of a rent strike in Skelmersdale. He was a member of the editorial board of International Socialism and contributed frequently to both the journal and Socialist Worker.

His interest in labour history and his desire and determination to undertake research into it intensified. He came from mining stock and, although intriguingly there was no explicit connection, he was particularly interested in mining trade unionism. But unlike many contemporary labour historians he was on the fringes of academia. He was not employed in the more favourable climate of a university. The students he taught in further education – in the mid 1960s he moved on to Harris College in Preston (later part of Preston Polytechnic and later still the University of Central Lancashire), and, in 1968, to Bolton Institute of Technology, now part of Bolton University – were often working-class. Most university lecturers in the 1960s would have quailed at the lecturing load and blanched at its range. At different times he was teaching economics and politics as well as history, at a variety of levels and on a range of courses from the Higher National Certificate and Diploma to external University of London degrees. Research was unusual and time allotted for it rare. His political activity remained a time-consuming pre-occupation. But he gradually created space in which to develop his inquiries into nineteenth-century miners. One catalyst was the upsurge of interest in labour history from the early 1960s and his membership of the SSLH. His fellow student of the miners, Robert Colls, paid tribute to the role that the Society and the History Workshop movement played in making labour historians: in those years they were ‘the apprenticeship guilds’ [26] of aspiring practitioners. Ray joined the Society in 1964. He was encouraged by engagement with a community of fellow historians. He acknowledged the inspiration provided in different ways by Royden Harrison, Raphael Samuel and Edward Thompson as well as other scholars he had encountered in the New Left and listened to and discussed with at Society meetings. [27]

Another spur was serendipitous. One day in 1965 he was working in Wigan Public Library with his collaborator and colleague at Wigan, Brian Ripley. They came across a neglected collection of documents on strikes in the formative period of mining trade unionism. It provided purpose and it yielded valuable material. [28] Formal study and the discipline it required constituted a further factor. Seeking recognition and enhanced academic mobility he registered for a PhD at Lancaster University. Harold Perkin, another outspoken outsider from Stoke keenly and iconoclastically interested in working-class history, had been appointed to a chair there in 1967. He proceeded to establish a Centre for Social History and a doctoral programme which attracted talented, innovative young historians such as Carol Dyhouse and John Walton. [29] Ray submitted his thesis, Trade Unionism in the Coal Industry until 1900, with particular reference to Lancashire in 1970. Newly credentialed, he pursued academic vacancies which would facilitate further research work. They included an unsuccessful application for a post at the Centre for the Study of Social History at the University of Warwick, then at the cutting edge of British labour history. In the autumn of 1971 he was appointed to a senior lectureship in history at Newcastle-upon-Tyne Polytechnic. The family set up home in the small seaside town of Whitley Bay: ‘132 Claremont Road’ became a familiar address to many on the left and almost everybody seriously interested in labour history.

The three texts that stemmed from his labours in those years were published between 1967 and 1972. [30] The existing historiography of trade unionism in coal had been assessed by Jim Williams a few years earlier. Williams was critical of the absence of detailed studies of key periods and issues, insufficiently rigorous probing of trade union development, inadequate contextualisation, some tendency to essentialism and over-emphasis on teleological tales of Homeric struggle epitomized by the work of Robin Page Arnot. [31] In that context these texts filled a gap and were well-received. Alexander MacDonald was pronounced ‘a contribution of very great significance – certain to influence all future work on that matter’. [32] The Miners’ Association was deemed ‘a pioneering history … the first serious study of the first effective national union’. [33] John Lovell found The Lancashire and Cheshire Miners ‘a very readable account of nineteenth-century trade unionism. The author has related his account to the special characteristics and problems – economic, technical and social – of the Lancashire coalfield and has not simply told a traditional trade union story’. [34] Raphael Samuel observed of the same book: ‘Raymond Challinor is a devoted historian. He has a fine knack of rescuing vanished organizations from oblivion. His accounts of strategy and tactics are convincing and unforced. He lets his facts speak for themselves and the reader is free to put his own construction on them’. [35]

As with most good history this work provoked controversy, extension and amendment. Earlier analysis by Arthur Taylor and Eric Hobsbawm had minimised the impact of Chartism on miners and their unions. The Miners’ Association demonstrated that at its formation and throughout its brief life it was closely connected with Chartism, although attachments varied in origin, extent and intensity among officials and particularly among the rank and file. The book insisted that it was important to take account of the climate of repression, which required caution in declaring allegiances, as well as the identification of miners with Chartist ideas as a means of fighting economic deprivation. These conclusions were questioned – and supported – with reference to the Midlands and developed further in regard to the North-East. [36] Argument smouldered on into the 1990s. Authoritative summation has recently affirmed the substance of the Challinor-Ripley revision, emphasising that, given the circumstances of the time, formal measures such as mass membership of the Charter Association are insufficient. There was substantial support for Chartism although attitudes among ordinary miners remained diverse and ambivalent. [37]

He also revised existing estimations of MacDonald. The latter had been positively portrayed by the Webbs and by Clegg, Fox and Thompson as the herald of economic realism and the architect of mining trade unionism, with Page Arnot lending further credence to the latter verdict. In contrast, Ray stressed MacDonald’s collaboration with capital, his shares in mining companies and his agency in creating a trade unionism which managed and manipulated miners in the mineowners’ interest. MacDonald’s career was bound up with the growth of labour aristocracies and the birth of bureaucracy in the unions. [38] These points were developed by later historians. For example, they recognised and built on the significance of his critical reassessment of the role of the checkweighmen, legally protected after 1860, which had been noted briefly and benignly by the Webbs. John Foster argued that this layer formed part of a new authority structure in coal; if not aristocratic in the full sense of the word, it contributed in some places to increased conservatism among colliers. [39] Alan Campbell depicted checkweighers in more ambiguous terms. A focus for pressure from both mineowners and miners, which was not invariably resolved in favour of the former, they constituted the lowest rung on the ladder of the emerging trade union bureaucracy. [40]

A more complex narrative emerged when Ray’s version of MacDonaldism was addressed through the lens of the new mining history of the 1970s, associated particularly with Campbell, Royden Harrison and Fred Reid. Relating ‘MacDonaldism’ to a greater degree to its context and base made for greater explanatory power. MacDonald rested on and reflected the perceived interests of ‘the independent collier’ – an ideal type which emphasised strains of individualism, artisanship and respectability. Such miners aspired to aristocracy, assertion of skill and advocacy of collaboration with the owners to organise markets, restrict output and restrain entry to ‘the trade’. Failure was rooted in the difference between mining and engineering or printing, the prevalence of a supply of ‘green’ labour with different interests and the pervasive possibility of dilution. Moreover, Ray’s dichotomy between MacDonald’s union, cast as moderate, and the Amalgamated Association, cast as militant, was overdrawn. Halliday, the leader of the latter emulated much of MacDonald’s political economy. He shared his belief in conciliation, arbitration and legislation as an alternative to strikes. MacDonald’s policies worked for some miners for a period. They achieved wage increases in the good times. With changing markets they floundered – and by the 1870s they stimulated rank-and-file revolt – on the rock of employer intransigence over reductions which did not halt at a living wage. [41] If MacDonald put miners’ organisation before miners, this has been a perennial dilemma, not a unique or treacherous predilection.

He remained active in IS. He never worked out an alternative to it, but he was always ambivalent about democratic centralism. When Cliff turned to one variant of it in 1968, he spoke against its adoption. Nonetheless, he held aloof from the ephemeral eruption of internal groupings that the new turn occasioned, although he was quoted in support of the platform of the Libertarian Marxist Faction. [42] Nor did his differences compromise his allegiance: he served on the National Committee of the remoulded group. Against the background of militancy, the organisation grew to 2,500 members in the early 1970s. Together with Logie Barrow, Sheila Blackburn, Alan Campbell, Richard Croucher, James Hinton, Richard Hyman, Merfyn Jones and Lawrence Marlow, to name only a few, he was a member of the short-lived IS History Group. With his balding hair, tweed sports jackets, corduroy trousers, well-polished shoes and deliberate, schoolmasterly manner, Ray seemed to some younger adherents an unlikely member of IS. Any doubts were laid to rest by his erudition, optimism about the future and taste for disputation, eccentricity and beer.

He never shirked an argument and he started a few. Yet he took little part in the factionalism that emerged in IS during the early 1970s. The deterioration of political prospects for the left after 1974; the leadership’s over-estimation of the potential for progress under the Wilson government; prolonged internal wrangling; the defection of experienced members; and, among all this, the group’s projected transformation into a party, formed the background to his gradual exit. [43] Other preoccupations doubtless exercised a pull. After twenty-five years he drifted out of the organisation he had helped create. He was never a member of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) established in 1977. He was never hostile to it. He still contributed to its press and attended its annual ‘Marxism’ event. In later decades he criticized Cliff’s manoeuvring and ruthlessness in political infighting: ‘it stems from his view of the Bolshevik model of the party … But the problems which face us in Britain are not the same as those which confronted Lenin in Russia, capitalism has changed … Lenin’s old formula cannot be applied mechanically.’ [44]

He continued to wrestle with injustice. He supported Eddie Milne, the Labour MP for Blyth, an old ILPer, deselected in 1974 because of his campaign against corruption in the North-East, who briefly retained his seat as an ‘Independent’. In January 1976, Liddle Towers, an electrician and amateur boxer, died in a Newcastle hospital after being transferred from Gateshead Police Station where he had been held after an incident in a Birtley night club. Ray was a prominent and articulate member of the committee which campaigned for a proper investigation of the affair which sparked a small but memorable wave of protest over the next two years. [45] He took an active but critical part during the late 1970s in campaigning for workers’ plans for alternative production. He became a well-known figure in the North East. He felt at home there and forged long-lasting friendships. [46]

He remained immersed in labour history. He developed it at the Polytechnic and he took it into the local community. His long and varied experience had made him an effective and respected teacher. In 1974, he was elected to the SSLH executive. He had been the first in the Society to raise the issue of restrictions on access to Home Office papers of later than 1850s’ vintage. Pointing to the devastating use made of such material by Professor Aspinall, the Hammonds and Thompson, he argued that what was operating was not a thirty but a 129 year rule. His initiative stimulated a long-lasting campaign to liberalise release. [47] For his part he had little doubt that state-secrecy shielded ‘sinister things’. Full and proper disclosure of dusty but sometimes devastating documents would compromise the state’s occupancy of the moral high ground. It would expose the arsenal of unscrupulous methods it had applied in order to derail, defeat or domesticate working-class movements. The responsibility of historians was to reveal to readers where their research had been impeded by restricted access to relevant records. [48]

He was active throughout the 1970s in the NELHS. It was a buoyant body: it attracted both professional and lay historians and those simply determined to find out more about the history of labour in their region. The Society had been founded in 1966 and it maintained fairly close links with the SSLH. Succeeding a more conservative scholar, Norman McCord of Newcastle University, Ray served as its chair between 1974 and 1977. He was now fully into his stride as a historian; he haunted the archives, and he indulged his passion for the hidden, the obscure and the neglected. A colleague recorded around this time: ‘… he has been a hard-working labour historian, initially writing extensively on the miners … In more recent years he has turned his attention to the collection and analysis of material relating to political movements of the sort in which he has been personally involved’. [49]

Writing this kind of history has potential advantages in maximising understanding and empathy. Activism in the labour movement can enrich comprehension of its history – and vice-versa. It has its hazards, in terms of over-identification and conceptual presuppositions. Both benefits and hazards apply across the political spectrum. In Ray’s case researching his antecedents fused his professional and political preoccupations in a new and fruitful post-organisational practice. Meeting him in these years was to be treated to detailed disquisition on the Ernest Jones’ papers, his attempts to trace the descendants of W.P. Roberts, his pursuit of Peter Petrov, Theodore Rothstein, the Crewe suffragette, Ada Nield Chew, Arthur MacManus and Irish Republicanism or C.A. Smith’s journey to Zionism. He would expound, dramatically and at length, on the latest additions to his ever-expanding and enviable library, his annexation of the collections of former NCLC organisers, Stan Rees and Tom Sweeney, the valuable material on Trotskyism beginning to trickle into the Warwick archives, or the cornucopia that existed in the papers of the Tait family of Edinburgh which stretched back to the SLP and which were later housed in Stirling University.

Much of this was bound up with the work that went into his book on the SLP which was published in 1977. [50] The militancy of the 1960s and 1970s impelled labour historians searching for useable pasts to look at the years between 1910 and 1926 which witnessed a growth in class combativity and consciousness and intensifying conflict with the state. The Origins of British Bolshevism filled a gap left by earlier work, notably Walter Kendall’s The Revolutionary Movement in Britain and James Hinton’s First Shop Stewards’ Movement. These books discussed the tiny Manichean SLP and its role in the unrest. British Bolshevism’s unquestionable achievement was to present a fully-fledged, meticulously-researched history of the party, its policies and practice, from its formation in 1903 to its split over the creation of the CP and its decomposition in the 1920s. Its significance was acknowledged even by those who felt labour history devoted too much time to revolutionary marginalia. [51]

The problems stemmed from its under-development of its central thesis: that SLP members were British Bolsheviks. Russian Bolshevism was a phenomenon both the SLP and even British historians of the 1970s knew too little about. Hinton had insisted that what was primary in the trajectory of the shop stewards’ movement was not so much the issues of war and internationalism as the interaction between socialist groups and industrial militancy. Distilled in the arguments of J.T. Murphy prioritising workers’ councils, and personified in his enrolment in the SLP, this led key stewards towards sovietism. British Bolshevism’s expansion on the SLP’s determination to smash the state, its ‘democratic centralism’, its stress on Marxist education and opposition to the war did not satisfactorily establish with sufficient specificity that the SLP had developed on Bolshevik lines. As distinct from embracing 1917 and, on the part of some, a Russian model. Far from fully internalising Bolshevism, many SLP members recoiled from it as it was then understood when they were faced with the practical consequences in the form of the CP.

The SLP’s economic reductionism and what Ray described elsewhere as its ‘dull and fatalistic Marxism’ [52] arguably had more in common with the Second International than the infant Third. His conclusion that Lenin was less than infallible about British labour was justified. On the key question of the Labour Party, his criticism of Lenin’s stance was contentious. The assertion of an SLP Bolshevism which flowed into the CP, only to be sidelined by ‘bureaucracy’ and then Stalinism, was under-argued. Some former SLPers, notably MacManus and Murphy, espoused, and others such as William Paul accepted, most of the changes in the CP’s line through the 1920s. The political path of most of them is difficult to distinguish from that of many comrades who joined the CP from the British Socialist Party or the ILP. The conclusion that the SLP was a model for revolutionaries was questionable. Pondering the past is necessary and educational. It improves understanding; it discloses possibilities and choices, their complexities and their consequences. It rarely provides operational parallels or neat lessons directly applicable to different presents and their complicated dilemmas. In that context Ray’s thoughts on consistent work in the unions, independent working-class education and a revolutionary party were general and commonplace on the contemporary left. His brief, uneven but memorable, biography of the forgotten John S. Clarke which traced his journey from the SLP to the Labour back benches, Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Daily Express, amidst much else more exotic, came out the same year. It provided a delightful coda to his research in the 1970s. [53]

In 1979 he had a stroke. There were complications but he made a 90 per cent recovery. There was an abatement of vigour. He compensated by concentration of effort. In 1985 he took early retirement at Newcastle Polytechnic. He had done good work there and was by then Principal Lecturer in History. His exertions on other fronts continued undiminished. He had been elected vice-chair of the SSLH in 1982. Two years later he succeeded John Saville as chair. The financial alarums of a few years earlier had subsided. The Society had secured charitable status and in consequence its objectives had been amended to make specific its purpose to educate the public in labour history. Nothing of significance, the occasional conference on museums or archives aside, was done to realise this. It was treated as a formal change with responsibility discharged by the fact that membership and conferences were open to all-comers. [54]

In the past he had spoken of the importance of popularizing the subject, particularly among trade unionists. As chair he urged no initiatives. He was supportive of the move to Labour History Review (LHR) in 1990 and pleased that it preserved the essential character of the Society’s long-running Bulletin which it absorbed. Discussion about fundamental innovation in the form of a conventional academic journal – LHR Mark II was launched in 1996 – was only beginning when he stepped down in 1994. In later years he regretted the demise of the ‘news and notes’, conference reports, letters and debate which, it was understood, would be maintained within the new format. [55] The potential for dialogue between members and a wider readership was reduced; the LHR’s relationship to its audience became similar to that of most other academic journals. A colleague on the executive from 1982 reflected: ‘Like some, but not all, chairs, he did not consider himself the leader of the Society. He saw his main job as chairing meetings to elicit consensus – or as near to it as we could get. He was not in the business of giving a strong lead. But then as I recall much of the business was relatively routine.’ [56]

The SSLH did not exhaust his still formidable energies. In 1987, he became president of the NELHS. Over the years he contributed regularly to its journal, North East Labour History. He wrote reviews and articles on diverse topics from T. Dan Smith, to the memories of the veteran militant Jack Parks, to gun-running on the North-East coast. He was a collaborator in the society’s production of four volumes of essays on regional history from 1977. [57] In 1990, together with Mabel and the historian of boxing and Konni Zilliacus, Archie Potts, he established Bewick Press, named in honour of the Northumberland engraver. Its catalogue was rich and regional: it covered Cast-Iron Casey, ‘the Sunderland Assassin’, Child Birth in Newcastle 1760–1990 and the history of the South Shields Labour Party. But it occasionally published excellent work from further afield. It brought out books by, inter alia, Owen Ashton, Maureen Callcott, Bill Lancaster, Archie Potts and Stan Shipley, as well as reissuing The Miners’ Association in the aftermath of the 1984–5 strike.

Throughout the 1980s, 1990s and into the new century his work appeared in the pages of socialist periodicals such as Critique, ILP News, What Next?, Workers’ Liberty and Workers’ Press. The last of many contributions to the SWP’s Socialist Review, aptly entitled The Red Mole of History, was published in 2001. His final extended work was A Radical Lawyer in Victorian England. It is a marvellous essay in excavation and restoration and my favourite among his books. A text whose wide canvas belies its title, this life and times of ‘the Pitmen’s Attorney-General’, W.P. Roberts, the battler against the Bond, the solicitor Engels termed ‘a terror to the mineowners’, justified the twenty-five years research that went into it. [58] The volume was recognised by scholars as an ‘extraordinarily well-grounded piece of research which provides insights inaccessible to mere theorists and lazy historians … a tremendously valuable contribution to the understanding of an important aspect of Victorian English society’. [59] One commentator touched on the difference between the independence, dedication and stamina of labour historians of the old school and their successors in more timorous times whose practice is frequently constrained by the demands of careerism. ‘Work of this sort,’ he observed, ‘can only be conducted [today] with an army of research assistants or at a pace likely to leave the scholar well-behind in the race for academic appointment, tenure, or promotion’. [60]

Roberts left no personal papers. The man had to be revived through archival alchemy. Some felt this produced an inadequate portrait deficient in personality and motivation. [61] Others, more convincingly, pronounced the volume ‘a fine biography’. [62] Roberts is recuperated as a frockcoated crusader imbued with the values of early Victorian, Christian humanism, a fervent belief in the rule of law and awareness of the need for vigilance against its corruption. The text anatomizes a lifelong endeavour to better the world and the working class. It teems with detail and illustration. It is illuminated by anecdote, vignette and verse as well as its author’s only occasionally ahistorical commentary. In the course of a chronicle of Herculean struggle, more than a little of the character of this fascinating Chartist, friend of Mazzini, defender of the Manchester Martyrs and legal adviser to Marx, is revealed.

The book captures the drama of Roberts’ battles inside and outside the courtroom, the class basis of the law, its mobilization to undermine resistance to exploitation and oppression, the deployment of spies, informers and provocateurs, as well as the manoeuvres of the military and the police. It raises questions of historical and contemporary pertinence concerning trade union strategy. In the light of developments since the 1870s, but particularly since the 1970s, had labour’s espousal of legal abstention and the ultimately spurious security of voluntarism, or collective laisser-faire, combined with resistance to attempts to restrict the limited protections it offered, constituted the best road? Or was there a need for more positive engagement with the law? He was particularly pleased with the reception the volume received from lawyers. [63] The Struggle for Hearts and Minds which appeared in 1995 was an irreverent, incisive and witty tour of several Second World War ideological battle-fields. A readable collection of essays, it enjoyed, as its predecessors had, an audience beyond the university lecture theatre. [64] His entries on John S. Clarke, the miners’ leader Martin Jude and Roberts in the 2004 Oxford Dictionary of National Biography were his final published contributions to scholarship.

In 2001, he suffered an attack of hydracephalitis. Health problems dogged him until his death, ten years later. He was a driven, at times difficult, essentially decent man. He took pleasure in family life and appreciated classical music and good novels. He was a loyal friend who at the extreme stuck by Dan Smith through thick and thin. He loved drinking, discussion and disputation with comrades and fellow historians. Ray was a communist and a contrarian. Like Marx, he doubted many things but not the need to supersede capitalism. He wrote good history. He did so outside the universities. He combined exemplary scholarship with a life of struggle. As doughty a battler in contemporary causes as any of his friend Archie Potts’ pugilists, he was equally and existentially engaged with the conflicts and dramatis personae of the past. He was blessed, some might say afflicted, with the archival itch. Like Jules Michelet, the more he breathed on the dust of the documents the more he restored the dead to life. He knew Alexander MacDonald and disliked him. He understood and loved William Prowting Roberts beyond the image he nodded to on the Monkwearmouth Miners’ Lodge banner. The past and its struggles remained; they remained to be continued in the present. He dedicated A Radical Lawyer to his son and daughter-in-law, Russell and Rebecca: ‘They are fighting injustice in present-day society with all the determination that W.P. Roberts showed in Victorian times’. [65]

He was in every sense of the term a socialist scholar. His life represented a unity between past and present, between writing history and agitating for social change. In 1951, he pitted against both American-dominated capitalism and ‘Soviet totalitarianism no whit better’, [66] the third camp of international socialist transformation. Fifty years later he reiterated that faith. [67] It informed all his work. As a communist and a labour historian of the old school he aspired to make that work accessible to those who make labour history, because he believed with George Lukács that they could, and would, see that history deeply affected their daily lives and was thus of immediate concern to them. That purpose has been abraded by changes in capital and class, in society, education and labour history. [68] Those who want to restore the vital sense that our existence is historically conditioned and may be beneficially transformed through collective agency, those who wish to radically repair the academization, fragmentation and decline of labour history have more than a little to learn from the example of Raymond Challinor.


I am indebted to Ian Birchall, Alan Campbell, John Charlton, Stan Newens and Brian Ripley for information and comments.


1. Raymond Challinor, The Origins of British Bolshevism (London: Croom Helm, 1977), p. 275. Where unreferenced this appreciation is based on conversations with Ray from the 1970s to 2004 and tapes recorded in April 1996 and May 2002.

2. Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick, Maitland-Sara collection, MSS15B/M/3/IL/I/40-69. The background was unity discussions between the SRG and the ILP – see Ian Birchall, Tony Cliff: A Marxist For His Time (London: Bookmarks, 2011), p. 145. I am grateful to Ian for letting me have sight of the proofs of Chapter IV.

3. Raymond Challinor, Tony Cliff’s Early Years in Britain, Revolutionary History, 7.4 (2000), p. 185.

4. The story is told in Sam Bornstein and Al Richardson, War and the International: A History of the Trotskyist Movement in Britain, 1937–1949 (London: Socialist Platform, 1986), pp. 182–85.

5. Raymond Challinor, State Capitalism – A New Order, Left, June 1948, pp. 131–41 (pp. 139, 141).

6. John McIlroy, The Revolutionary Odyssey of John Lawrence, Revolutionary History, 9.2 (2006), pp. 105–93 (pp. 120–30); idem, Healy, Thomas Gerard (Gerry) 1913–89, in Dictionary of Labour Biography (DLB), p. xii, ed. by Keith Gildart and David Howell (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), pp. 136–46.

7. Raymond Challinor, The Perspective of the Long Haul, Workers’ Liberty, May 1995, pp. 27–28.

8. Challinor, ‘Tony Cliff’s Early Years’, p. 86.

9. Raymond Challinor, Letter, Revolutionary History, 6.2–3 (1996), p. 304; Robert H. Fryer and Stephen Williams, Dix, Bernard Hubert 1925–1995 in DLB, xiii, ed. by Keith Gildart and David Howell (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), p. 92.

10. For a detailed account of the SRG, see Birchall, Tony Cliff. For reminiscence, see James D. Young, Making Trouble: Autobiographical Explorations and Socialism (Glasgow: Clydeside Press 1987); Stan Newens, Cliff Never Really Understood the British Labour Movement, Workers’ Liberty, February 1995, p. 31; Ken Tarbuck, Ever Hopeful – Never Sure, chapters 6–8, <http://www.revolutionaryhistory.co.uk/ken-tarbuck/autobiography> [accessed 17 February 2011.

11. Before Ray’s death Einde O’Callaghan compiled an incomplete list of his articles in Socialist Review and International Socialism – see <http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/writers/challinor/index.htm> [accessed 22 February 2011].

12. Reply to the SWP and Paul Blackledge by Edward Palmer Thompson, <http://myspace.com/makingworkingclasshistory/blog/339305859> [accessed 22 February 2011].

13. Quoted in Peter Fryer, The Wortley Hall Conference, excerpted in The Left in Britain 1956–1968, ed. by David Widgery (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976), pp. 78–85 (p. 84).

14. Birchall, Tony Cliff, pp. 146, 152; Raymond Challinor, Zig-Zag: The Communist Party and the Bomb, International Socialism (Winter 1960–1), pp. 6–11.

15. Raymond Challinor, ‘Remembering Lansbury’, Socialist Review, May 1957; idem, Socialism at the Parish Pump, International Socialism, (Winter 1962).

16. Nantwich Chronicle, 4 August 1962, 4 April 1964.

17. Based on files of the Nantwich Chronicle, 1962–64, Cheshire Record Office, Chester.

18. See, for example, Nantwich Chronicle, 21 July 1962, 13 April, 17 August 1963.

19. Nantwich Chronicle, 1 December 1962, 21 December 1963.

20. Nantwich Chronicle, 9 February 1963.

21. Nantwich Chronicle, 21 March 1964.

22. Wallis was au fait with Trotskyist entrism, although the only case featuring Socialist Review noted in the most authoritative survey occurred in the East Islington constituency in 1959 – see Eric Shaw, Discipline and Discord in the Labour Party: The Politics of Management Control (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988), pp. 71–73. However, by 1964 the group was more visible in the Labour Party Young Socialists than it had been three years earlier.

23. Brian Ripley in conversation with the author, March 2011.

24. Ian Birchall, Ray Challinor and the 1965 Courtauld Strike, Newsletter of London Socialist Historians (Summer 2011); Ray Challinor, Danger – Racial Split in Union, Labour Worker, mid-June 1965.

25. Jim Higgins, More Years for the Locust: The Origins of the SWP (London: IS Group 1997), pp. 55–77.

26. Robert Colls, The Pitmen of the Northern Coalfields: Work, Culture and Protest. 1790–1850 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1987), p. xii.

27. See, for example, Raymond Challinor and Brian Ripley, The Miners’ Association: A Trade Union in the Age of the Chartists, Foreword, no pagination. In later work he acknowledged debts to a variety of historians including Dorothy Thompson, R.S. Neale and the Frows; and in the North East, Bill and Maureen Callcott, Norman McCord and Archie Potts.

28. Challinor and Ripley, The Miners’ Association.

29. Harold Perkin, The Making of a Social Historian (Twickenham: Athena Press, 2002), pp. 161–64.

30. Raymond Challinor, Alexander MacDonald and the Miners (London: History Group of the Communist Party, 1967); Challinor and Ripley, Miners’ Association; Raymond Challinor, The Lancashire and Cheshire Miners (Newcastle: Frank Graham, 1972).

31. J.E. Williams, Labour in the Coalfields: A Critical Bibliography, Bulletin of the Society for the Study of Labour History (BSSLH), 4 (1962), pp. 23–62.

32. Unsigned review (the reviewer is probably Royden Harrison), BSSLH, 16 (1968), p. 47.

33. J.E. Williams, Politics in the Coalfields, BSSLH, 19 (1969), pp. 39–42, (p. 40); Colin Griffin, review of reissue by Bewick Press 1990, Labour History Review (LHR) 57.2 (1992), pp. 53–54.

34. John Lovell, review, Economic History Review, new series, 26.3 (1973), pp. 536–37.

35. Raphael Samuel, The Pit Set, New Society, December 1972.

36. For example, Raymond Challinor, Letter, BSSLH, 20 (1970), pp. 24–25; C.P. Griffin, Letter, BSSLH, 22 (1971), pp. 21–25; George Barnsby, Letter, BSSLH, 23 (1971), pp. 33–35; Raymond Challinor, Letter, BSSLH, 24 (1972), p. 37; Colin Griffin, review of reissue of Miners Association, LHR, 52.2 (1992), pp. 53–54; Raymond Challinor, Letter, LHR, 58.1 (1993), p. 6; Roy Church, Chartism and the Miners: A Reinterpretation, LHR, 56.3 (1997), pp. 23–36.

37. Malcolm Chase, Chartism: A New History (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007), pp. 243–45.

38. Challinor, MacDonald, passim; idem, Lancashire and Cheshire Miners, Chapters 5–8; idem, The Rise of the Bureaucracy’, International Socialism (June–July 1971), pp. 16–18.

39. John Foster, Class Struggle and the Industrial Revolution: Early Industrial Capitalism in Three English Towns (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1974) pp. 234–36, 33, n.7.

40. Alan Campbell, The Scottish Miners 1874–1939, vol. 2: Trade Unions and Politics (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000), pp. 49–51.

41. See the essays in Independent Collier: The Coal Miner as Archetypal Proletarian Reconsidered, ed. by Royden Harrison (Hassocks: Harvester, 197–1874 (Edinburgh: John Donald, 1979), particularly chapter 10. See also, Gordon M. Wilson, Alexander McDonald, Leader of the Miners (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1982), pp. 208–11.

42. Higgins, More Years for the Locust, p. 82.

43. For background see John McIlroy, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned: The Trotskyists and the Trade Unions, in The High Tide of British Trade Unionism: Trade Unions and Industrial Politics 1964–1979, ed. by John McIlroy, Nina Fishman and Alan Campbell (2nd ed, Monmouth: Merlin Press, 2007), pp. 259–96, (pp. 270–285).

44. Challinor, Perspective of the Long Haul, p. 28.

45. And songs from The Jam, The Crux and the Tom Robinson Band.

46. Andrew Glover, ‘Death of a Passionate Historian and Lecturer’, Evening Chronicle (Newcastle), 4 February 2011.

47. Challinor, ‘Letter’, BSSLH, 18 (1969), p. 27; ‘Editorial’, ibid., pp. 2–3. I have written about this in John McIlroy, The Society for the Study of Labour History, 1956–1985: Its Origins and Its Heyday, in Making History: Organizations of Labour Historians in Britain since 1960, Labour History Review Fiftieth Anniversary Supplement, April 2010, ed. by John McIlroy, Alan Campbell, John Halstead and David Martin, pp. 19–112, (pp. 59–60).

48. Raymond Challinor A Radical Lawyer in Victorian England: W.P. Roberts and the Struggle for Workers’ Rights (London: I.B Tauris, 1990), p. viii.

49. Geoff Brown, ‘British Bolshevism’s Origins’, BSSLH, 38 (1979), p. 55.

50. Challinor, Origins of British Bolshevism.

51. Royden Harrison in conversation with the author; Stuart Macintyre, review, Historical Journal, 22.3 (1979), pp. 721–30 (p. 721).

52. Raymond Challinor, John S. Clarke: Parliamentarian, Poet, Lion-Tamer (London: Pluto Press, 1977), p. 81.

53. Challinor, John. S. Clarke.

54. ‘Editorial’, BSSLH, 48 (1984), pp. 4–5.

55. ‘Editorial’, LHR, 62.1 (1997), pp. 1–3, (p. 2); ‘Editorial’, LHR, 64.1 (1999), p. ii.

56. Alan Campbell, email to author, 30 March 2011.

57. The NELHS website carries much valuable material including an index of articles in North East Labour History and a history of the Society by Archie Potts: www.nelh.org.

58. Challinor, Radical Lawyer.

59. Wesley Pue, review, Victorian Review, 17 (1991), pp. 256–59; Mike Radford, review, Modern Law Review, 54.1 (1991), pp. 167–69.

60. Pue, review, 257.

61. David J. Moss, review, Albion, 23.4 (1991), pp. 772–74.

62. Pue, review, 257.

63. Radford, review; Pue, review. Ray’s original intention was to collaborate on the book with the talented, left-wing, legal scholar, Geoffrey de N. Clark, whom he had met through the SSLH. This was thwarted by the University College London academic’s early death in 1972.

64. Raymond Challinor, The Struggle for Hearts and Minds: Essays on the Second World War (Whitley Bay: Bewick Press, 1995).

65. Challinor, Radical Lawyer, p. ix.

66. Raymond Challinor, The Balance Sheet of the Labour Government, Socialist Review, March 1951 [accessed 19 March 2011].

67. Raymond Challinor, The Red Mole of History [accessed 19 February 2011].

68. See Neville Kirk, ‘Challenge, Crisis and Renewal? Themes in the Labour History of Britain, 1960–2010’, LHR, 75.2 (August 2010), 162–80.

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