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Rodney Bickerstaffe 1945-2017: Labour historian

In Uncategorized on October 3, 2017 by kmflett

Rodney Bickerstaffe 1945-2017: Labour historian

The labour movement has lost one of its great post-1945 figures with the death announced today of Rodney Bickerstaffe.

Bickerstaffe a man of the broad left, was known for his campaigning work on low pay in the public service, and it is perhaps an irony that he has departed on the day the Tory Conference is talking about ‘injustice’.

He went on of course to become a trade union General Secretary and later still a pensioner’s leader.

What is perhaps less well known and certainly not as common as one might like amongst union leaders, was that Bickerstaffe had an abiding and active interest in labour history.

He wrote an introduction to a scrapbook his mother had kept about the Spanish Civil War:
http://www.international-brigades.org.uk/content/spanish-civil-war-scrapbook

and was sometimes to be found speaking at labour history related events, for example one to mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of EP Thompson’s Making of the English Working Class.

He carried out a series of oral history interviews with labour movement figures and I endeavoured to get him to speak around this at the socialist history seminar at the Institute of Historical Research. Unfortunately despite the good offices of his son Philip who I knew as a union official, we never quite got it organised.

Rodney Bickerstaffe’s papers are at the Modern Record Centre, Warwick University, and it is to be hoped both that some of his labour history work and a good biography of his life and times will see the light of day in due course.

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One Response to “Rodney Bickerstaffe 1945-2017: Labour historian”

  1. Thanks Keith for that info, I knew about his writing but had not realised that he took such an interest in labour history. He is a great loss in so many ways.

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