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Last updated:07 May 2015


Globalisation is a buzzword now, but the feeling that the world is one, with people in different countries facing the same problems, is not new to members of working class political groups.

Workers of the World Unite handkerchief'Workers of the world unite' was the catchphrase of socialism when the colonial and capitalist powers were busy carving the world into competing empires. From the campaign against slavery to the current fight against sweatshop conditions, international sympathy and support has been a part of the labour movement's reasons for being.

Our collection contains a wide range of items that illustrate how and why these links were made. We also have information that shows how important events in other countries affected people in the UK.

India - from distant colony to growing economy and the home of groundbreaking civil rights campaigner Mahatma Ghandi, India and its relations with the UK have been important subjects for working class campaigners and thinkers for many years.

Ireland - the complex struggle for Southern Ireland to win independence from Britain and the ongoing ‘Troubles' in Northern Ireland have been a hot political topic for over two hundred years. Our collection contains information that shows how working people organised, campaigned, went on strike and fought to turn southern Ireland from a British colony into a Republic.

Union of Democratic Control - this organisation campaigned hard for clear control of foreign policy by the UK Parliament during the First World War, issuing many pamphlets, leaflets and books. Many MPs of the first Labour Government were UDC members. In the 1930s anti-militarism and anti-fascism were its focus. After World War 2 it was chiefly concerned with anti colonial campaigns.

Spanish Civil War (1936-39) - around 2,000 British men and women volunteered to help the democratically elected Spanish Republican government to fight the Fascist army of General Franco. Our collection contains letters, leaflets, books, posters and more that captures how ordinary working people put their principles into action to defend democracy.


Related Object of the Month

June 2009: May 1968, France: revolution posters

French posters from May 1968June's object is revolution posters from strike in France in May 1968 chosen by Alain Kahan, our former Librarian who was in his second year at University, when "les evenements" in France took place