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Britain and the European Union

Administrative/Biographical History

Since its creation in 1958, policy towards the European Common Market, later European Economic Community and European Union has been a central feature of British foreign and economic policy.

Until the late 1980s the Labour party was very much anti-European Party policy focused on nationalisation and protectionism, the European Community was seen by some in the party as an exploitative common market supporting capitalist domination over working people. From the late 1980s under the leadership of Neil Kinnock, John Smith and later Tony Blair, the party gradually warmed in their attitude towards the community and especially the protections it offered to working people and consumers.

The collections held here include those related to the 1975 UK referendum on membership of the Common Market, papers of the European Parliamentary Labour Party (EPLP) and Labour Party or personal papers relating to Britain and the European Union.


European Parliamentary Labour Party papers (EPLP)
The United Kingdom joined the European Common Market on 1st January 1973 and was able to send 36 members to the European Parliament. From January 1973 to June 1979 these were nominated by the British parliament. In June 1979 the first direct elections to the European Parliament took place, the records in this collection are of the British Parliamentary Labour Party and cover the period from 1979 to 2004.
This collection includes correspondence and reports of the British Labour Group and some relating to organisations of which they were affiliated to such as the European Socialist Group. It also includes personal and constituency correspondence of Labour MEPs and copies of speeches.
EPLP/1 EPLP minutes
EPLP/2 EPLP correspondence
EPLP/3 EPLP briefing documents and press releases
EPLP/4 EPLP election correspondence and publicity
EPLP/5 British Labour Group MEPs personal correspondence (by person)
EPLP/6 European Parliament debates and reports;
Nation State Issues
International Issues
Agriculture/Environment/Social Issues
Economic Issues
Defence Issues
Trade Union Issues
Anti-Fascist/Human Rights Issues
EPLP/7 Official Visits to European Parliament
EPLP/8 Partner organisations and groups in the European Parliament
EPLP/9 British Labour Party papers and conference reports

Papers of Ron Leighton (LEI)
Labour MP for Newham North East, Ron Leighton was also involved in Labour committees opposed to British membership of the EEC and became chairman of the all-party Common Market Safeguards Campaign – in 1991 as chairman he criticised the European Social Chapter dismissing it as a “mirage”.
UK parliamentary & Labour Party papers regarding EEC
Pro/Anti EEC pamphlets, leaflets and press cuttings
1975 Referendum
Labour Disputes
Police Complaints Committee

Papers of David Candler (CAN)
A lifelong member of the Labour Party, journalist and press officer during Harold Wilson’s premiership 1964-1970, he joined the press office of the National and Local Government Officers Association, moving on to work for groups like the British Tourist Authority and its newly created London Tourist Board. He was recruited to work for the newly won Labour GLC under Ken Livingstone, joining the Docklands Development Team in 1975, remaining until it was closed down. He returned to work for other GLC departments running press relations and writing speeches, until the GLC was closed down by the Conservative government. He joined Hertsmere Council as head of press until again he was made redundant, and then worked as an adviser to Labour Shadow spokesman Minister Robin Corbett on the Tory Broadcasting Bill.
Speeches, press cuttings regarding Harold Wilson and Labour Government
“Greater London Enterprise Board” material
“Local Government Group for Europe” material
“Labour Movement for Europe group” material
Pro-Anti EEC pamphlets and booklets
Labour Solidarity and Social Democratic Alliance
Labour Party election and legal material
Personal correspondence and cards

Papers of Colin Beever and Labour Committee for Europe (BEE)
The Labour Movement for Europe is a Socialist Society affiliated to the Labour Party whose aim is to improve and broaden the understanding of the European Union and its potential throughout the wider Labour movement and the United Kingdom. It is the home of the pro-Europeans in the Labour and trade union movement. It campaigned with other organisations in the Labour movement for the UK to remain at the heart of the EU, exercising influence in accordance with its progressive values.
Labour Committee for Europe:
Membership & Financial Records
Reports &Speeches
Pamphlets and leaflets
Press releases, notes & briefings
Labour Party policy towards the Common Market
Publications and records of Other Organisations

Michael Foot Papers
Author and Labour leader 1980-1983, avowedly left-wing, unilateralist and anti-Common Market
MF/C3 Cabinet Papers regarding Common Market 1965-1978

Labour Party records
EEC Sub-committee, Liaison Committee and Study Group, 1976-1979
Joint NEC/PLP Committee, 1973
Common Market Alternatives Group, 1962
National Executive Committee (NEC) Minutes 1945-2006

Trades Union Congress
Annual Reports 1945-1984

Pamphlets boxes / Books / Leaflets
328.51 UK and the European Common Market/EEC
.5101 UK membership of Common Market debate
.5102 Elections to European Parliament
.5103 European single currency and debate surrounding UK membership
.5104 European Parliament
.5105 Enlargement of EU
329.18 Manifestos for European elections
.68 Conservative Party European manifestos
350.93 Agriculture: Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

Labour EuroNews 1996-1999
Labour Weekly 1971-1987
New Socialist (monthly) 1984-1990
Socialist Commentary (Labour and pro-Common Market) 1943-1978
Marxism Today (Communist)

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