Friday, 31 January 2014

New history and politics discussion group launches with a public meeting on Ellen Wilkinson and the future of the welfare state

A new historical and political discussion group, the Mary Quaile Club, will hold its first meeting on 15 February 2014 in Salford.

The  Mary Quaile Club was set up in December 2013. It will hold regular discussions on working class history and its links with  contemporary political issues facing working people in Tory Britain.  The Club takes its name from the  Manchester trade unionist, Mary Quaile  who was prominent in the 1920s and 1930s.

The organisers say, “We  believe there is  a new generation of political activists campaigning  on issues such as the bedroom tax, the privatisation of the NHS, zero hours contacts, fracking,  the slashing of welfare benefits etc   who would engage with  discussions on history and politics,  but who  are  not being reached at present. We will be holding regular meetings linking history with current political issues.”

The first public meeting of the Mary Quaile Club will be on Saturday 15 February 2014, 2pm, at  the Cornerstones Community  Centre, 451 Liverpool Street, Langworthy, Salford M6 5QQ.  

The theme of the meeting will be “What Ever Happened  to the Welfare State?”

The speakers will be Paula Bartley and Hugh Caffrey

Paula Bartley will discuss the life and politics of Ellen Wilkinson. Paula is the author of Ellen Wilkinson, from Red Suffragist to Government  Minister,  to be published by Pluto Press in February 2014.

Ellen grew up in Manchester and was an active socialist and suffragist. She was a Manchester City councillor for a short time before becoming a Labour MP for Middlesbrough and later Jarrow.  In 1936 she took part in the Jarrow Crusade, a march of the unemployed to London. In 1945  the Labour party won a landslide victory and set up the NHS and welfare State.  Ellen became Minister of Education. She died suddenly in 1947.

When I went to the Ministry of Education I had two guiding aims, and they come largely out of my own experience. I was born into a working-class home, and I had to fight my own way through to the University. The first of those guiding principles was to see that no boy or girl is debarred by lack of means … the second one was that we should remove from education those class distinctions which are the negation of democracy.Ellen’s speech to the 1946 Labour Party  Conference

Hugh  Caffrey is Secretary of Greater Manchester Keep our NHS Public.. which campaigns against the privatisation of the NHS. He will outline  what is happening at the moment and explain what people can  do to save the NHS from being taken over by the private sector.

 For more information,