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Chair’s Report 2018

It has been a privilege to work with an incredibly hard-working, talented and creative (not to mention fun!) Committee of people on various LHP work over the last year. That this voluntary organisation continues to thrive, despite thirty years of neoliberalism, is testament to the long-standing commitment of members and Committee members to this organisation.

I want to thank the LHP Archiving Subcommittee – Claire-Louise McCurdy, Anna Green, Richard Hill, Jess Moran, Jock Phillips, and Sue Hirst – for overseeing and supporting Emma Kelly in her valuable work of identifying, collecting and depositing Labour Party records into public archives: the Labour 100 Archiving Project. Emma Kelly did an amazing job and we were excited to keep working with her when she joined the LHP Committee last year. She is part of the Archiving Subcommittee, which is working to collect the archives of our own organisation – strangely neglected given our role of supporting and promoting history.

David Grant led a talented group of people – Peter Clayworth, Richard Hill, Anna Green and Debbie Levy – in the Stout Centre, to organise the Dissent and the First World War conference, 31 August-2 September 2017. It was an incredible event with fascinating keynotes from Cyril Pearce, Joan Beaumont and David Grant, and a packed programme of parallel sessions; choosing between sessions was very difficult as they were all so good!

Central to our work is the production of the Bulletin. Ciaran Doolan stepped down from the editorship this time a year ago, but remained on the Committee and schooled up those of us who put our hands up to edit. Barry Pateman did a marvellous job of editing the August 2017 ‘Stop the Cuts’ Bulletin with able assistance from Reviews and Research Editor Ross Webb.

2017 was the first year we had a theme of focus – precarious work – chosen from a list suggested by our comrades in the union movement, culminating in the November, special-themed Bulletin. A fine cast of amazing people (all members I believe!) contributed articles, news, reviews, then copy-edited, and designed this issue, making editorship a dream job. The 2018 LHP theme – Pay Equity and Equal Employment Opportunity – was announced. Paul Maunder, of Blackball fame, agreed to become the new LHP Bulletin editor and produced the April Bulletin, ‘Labour History & the Future’ – thank you for all your work Paul. All Bulletin editors were assisted by Ross Webb and the fantastic design work of Jared Davidson. Many thanks, Bulletin Subcommittee and all of you who have contributed.

In September we said goodbye to Grace Millar who is on a three-year post-doc conducting oral histories with mining communities in the UK. We miss her but she continues to assist from afar, particularly with setting up the judging process of the Bert Roth Award. Claire-Louise, Ross Webb and I took on this job, with the able assistance of Russell Campbell, which is a daunting one given how much amazing labour history is being produced. More on that tonight.

In late November 2017, LHP Committee member Therese O’Connell did a stunningly poignant and funny job of delivering the biennial Rona Bailey lecture – ‘Stories and Songs‘. It was heart-warming and wonderful to laugh and sing alongside so many other LHP members in the room. Emma Kelly beautifully captured this talk in LHP Bulletin 72, April 2018.

I continued the work begun by Grace and Ciaran, presenting on LHP work at the CTU Affiliates Council meeting in March and gaining feedback on labour history that could assist trade union work. Linking the past to contemporary issues continues to be a very important part of our work. Thanks to CTU Rūnanga kaumātua Syd Keepa, I was also able to attend a Rūnanga meeting on behalf of the LHP in June 2018. This marked the beginning of a LHP Committee Treaty journey, exploring what this means for a predominantly Pākehā organisation.

The LHP Social Media Outreach Subcommittee have done extraordinary work this past year with the talented Asher Wilson-Goldman at the wheel of the website. As well as attending to website crashes, overzealous security and so forth, Asher has been making PDFs of the articles that make up the Bulletins so they are searchable online. Asher steps down from the Committee tonight and we will miss him greatly.

Ciaran Doolan has been making podcasts and Jared Davidson has done an amazing job running our Facebook page, sharing many varied and fascinating labour history images, news and views items. Jared also took charge of redesigning our logo and banner strapline, proudly displayed at the top of this report.

A new venture for this coming year is the creation of a graphic novel/book that tells our labour history from perspectives less widely known. Watch this space!

I want to warmly thank Claire-Louise for her incredible support as secretary – and the myriad of tasks that involves. Russell Campbell, thank you so much for your meticulous book-keeping, membership records, and financial reports – and for mentoring deputy-Treasurer, Therese O’Connell into the role when you were away. Russell also represented the LHP at the Re-Opening of Trades Hall in all its new attention to the past. I also want to thank Anna Green, who steps down from the Committee tonight, for her amazing work for the LHP, particularly in the Archives and Dissent conference organising committees.

We continue to live in turbulent times. Our new Labour Coalition government has brought some changes that have been helpful for working people, but we also have become more aware than ever of how much damage has been done to people’s lives by previous governments. We face the reality of a low-wage economy, lack of rights in the workforce and cracked and crumbling state systems. People have had enough, and solidarity is more important than ever, as workers strike in increasing numbers for fair pay and conditions. As Grace Millar says, ‘We’re always stronger together than we are alone’.

Kia kaha Labour History Project.

Cybèle Locke, LHP Chairperson 2018