Parliamentary Leadership: YouTube Round-up

During the Covid-19 pandemic, like many others we moved more of our work online and as part of that we took to YouTube! In today’s blog we’re looking back at one of our most successful pandemic projects: our YouTube series, ‘Parliamentary Leadership’.

As for most of you, the last 18 months have been strange for the History of Parliament team as COVID-19 lockdowns saw us leave our office in Bloomsbury Square and start to work from home. However, whilst archives and libraries were closed and physical events cancelled, we had the chance to focus on creating work for social media, blogging and, excitingly, YouTube.

Inspired by Zoom meetings with our research staff and our forthcoming publication to mark 300 years since Sir Robert Walpole became the so-called first Prime Minister, in June 2020 we launched our ‘Parliamentary Leadership’ Youtube series. Unlike our other videos, in this series our Public Engagement Manager Sammy Sturgess has had the chance to sit down with members of the History of Parliament team and discuss the careers and legacies of prominent parliamentary figures. In the videos we discuss topics such as the rise and fall of parliamentary leaders, what they achieved at the top, and their relationship to their colleagues and the monarch.

We’ve created a guide to the series below, all of which can be found in our Parliamentary Leadership playlist over on our YouTube channel.

In the first video in our ‘Parliamentary Leadership’ series Sammy sat down with Dr Stephen Roberts to talk about one of the most famous political figures of the 17th century: John Pym. In this video Dr Roberts explains how Pym rose to be considered as leader of the House of Commons between 1640 and 1643 and the impact that he had, even after his early death…

In our next video Dr Robin Eagles, editor of our House of Lords 1715-1790 project, spoke about Robert Walpole. In 1721 Walpole became first lord of the treasury, soon becoming known as the first ‘Prime Minister’. In this video Sammy asks just how he became the first person to wield this title…

Unlike other videos in this series, our episode on 20th century Labour MP Denis Healey considers his career in his own words, thanks to our oral history project. Healey was interviewed for the project in 2013. Utilising excerpts of Healey’s voice, in this video Dr Emma Peplow, our Oral History project lead, explored his career as the Labour party leader ‘that never was’…

For our next video we returned to the 17th century, as Dr Vivienne Larminie, assistant editor of our Commons 1640-1660 project, discussed the long career of William Lenthall, Speaker of the House of Commons during the English Civil War and the majority of the interregnum. The longevity of his career is central to this discussion – and to Lenthall’s legacy as a parliamentary leader…

Dr Andrew Thrush, editor of our House of Lords 1558-1603 project, was next to sit down with Sammy. They discussed the career of William Cecil, Lord Burghley. As Elizabeth I’s principal advisor, Burghley proved himself from a young age as a skilled parliamentary manager, but it wasn’t an easy task…

Finally, most recently we welcomed back Dr Robin Eagles to talk about not one, but two parliamentary leaders: William Pitt, 1st earl of Chatham and his son William Pitt the Younger. In this conversation Sammy and Dr Eagles compare and contrast the personalities, political approach and leadership styles of this father-son duo…

A year on, we are continuing to produce videos for the ‘Parliamentary Leadership’ series, including an upcoming discussion of Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury. Our thanks to all of our colleagues for taking part in this series and to everyone who’s tuned in.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to avoid missing new episodes!

Are there any prominent parliamentarians that you would like to see discussed in this series? Leave us a comment below or tag us on social media!

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