Our national oral history project has now interviewed more than 100 former MPs, and to celebrate we have added some more webpages dedicated to our interviewees. These pages include brief biographies, full interview summaries and extracts from the interviews themselves. The six new MPs added – Kenneth Baker, Patrick Jenkin, John Osborn, Christopher Price, James Prior and Sir Teddy Taylor – were also photographed by Michael Waller-Bridge, now you can see all of his wonderful portraits, commissioned by Dods for this project, on our website.
One of our oral history project’s strengths is in documenting the personal experiences and emotions of the interviewee – feelings that rarely show up in Hansard! Some of our new audioclips really highlight the MPs’ lives and lifestyles. For example, the former Scottish Conservative MP Sir Teddy Taylor remembered that hardly anyone spoke to him on his first day at Westminster, and recalls his impressions on first encountering the strict divisions in place in the tea and dining rooms:
Two other former MPs reflected on the personal impact of losing political support (and their quite different responses). Patrick Jenkin, MP for Wanstead and Woodford, remembered losing his Ministerial post when Heath’s government fell in 1974 – but it wasn’t just the job he missed, but the personal trappings that went with it!
For John Osborn, MP for Sheffield Hallam, his retirement from politics was prompted after his constituency association had “had enough” of him – but he was able to enjoy a more leisurely lifestyle:
Our other new clips explore selection processes, internal Labour party politics and the increased amount of lobbying entering politics in the later part of the 20th century. Of course you can listen to many of our interviews in full in the British Library, but we’ll be adding more to our website as soon as we can.
For more on our national oral history project, and to hear extracts from some of our interviewees, visit: http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/research/oral-history.
If you would like to get involved in our oral history project we would love to hear from you – this doesn’t have to be as an interviewers! Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
For more on our ‘From the Grassroots’ oral history project in Devon, visit: http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/from-the-grassroots/.