Papers of Ken Coates (1930-2010) special professor of Adult Education at the University of Nottingham, sociologist and politician.

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

KCS/1: The first group of material obtained in 2000 consists of files relating to Coates role as MEP, which had been grouped into thematic series arranged in alphabetical order. Series are entitled: 'People and Organisations', 'Cases and issues', 'Human Rights', 'European Labour Forum', 'Church Assize on unemployment', 'Pensioners Parliament', 'European Parliamentary Labour Party', 'Gulf War', 'Ken Coates Meetings', and files relating to his role in European Elections. The files seem to have been compiled during the period 1989-1994.

File titles include: 'British Labour Group', 'Charter 88', 'Enterprise Zones', 'GCHQ', 'National Power', 'Papplewick Pumping Station', 'Shipping', 'Women', 'AIDS', 'Betting and lotteries', 'Childrens' rights', 'Cyclists', 'Esperanto', 'Federalism', 'Firearms', 'Homeopathy', 'Monetary union', 'Slaughterhouses', 'Youth European Movement', 'Kidnaps', and 'Pit closures', etc.

There is a strong focus on issues relating to Chesterfield, Derbyshire, and Nottinghamshire as a result of his work representing his constituents, but there are also files relating to countries around the world pertaining to his position as Chair of the Human Rights Subcommittee.

KCS/2: Material obtained in 2009 and 2010 consists of files representing his continued work on the issues that he was involved in as an MEP, and which seem to have been compiled during the period 1994-2000. These were found to be arranged into series or themes including: 'People/Subjects/Issues', 'Local campaigns - coalfield etc.', 'Unemployment', 'Local authority and other published reports', 'Clause 4', 'Common Ownership Temporary Committee on Employment (TCE)', 'Full Employment Convention', 'Press cuttings and parliamentary papers', 'Bilsthorpe Inquiry, local environment/regeneration', 'Unemployment appeals to churches, tv etc.', 'Reports on coalfield unemployment/regeneration', 'Meetings and organisations', 'European Parliament Political Groups, MEPs, MPs and Labour Parties', 'Independent Labout Network', 'Human rights', 'KC Expulsion', 'European Labour Forum Pamphlets', 'Newark LP', 'TCE and unemployment', 'KC misc. and pit closures', 'KC Peace and human rights', 'ex TS - Local environmental campaigns', 'Euro-elections', 'Full Employment Appeal', 'Labour Party Expulsion', 'Independent Labout Network (ILN)', 'Euro Constituency issues', 'Socialist Group papers', 'Political Affairs Committee', 'GUE and member parties', and 'Unemployment Assizes, human rights'. Also present are various European Parliament publications.

File titles include: 'Auschwitz', 'Byron and Greece', 'Chechnya', 'Chesterfield Canal', 'Dukeries Complex', 'Euthanasia', 'Foot and Mouth', 'Job Seekers Allowance', 'National Minimum Wage', 'Proportional representation', 'Racism and fascism', 'Textiles', 'Welfare reform', 'Bilsthorpe Colliery', 'Boughton Energy Village', 'May Day appeal on common ownership', 'Mad Cows', 'Chernobyl', 'Ozone', 'Asylum and refugees', 'Conscientious objectors', 'Schengen', 'Disabilities', 'Landfill', 'Mine deaths', 'Japanese Press 1980s', 'Clay Cross', 'Alternatives to neo-liberalism', 'Bevin boys', 'Iran aid', 'Torture', 'Animal welfare', 'Brimington Staveley bypass', 'Mine water pollution', 'Wingerworth', 'Killamarsh', 'Open casting 1990-1995', etc.

The collection includes a small number of audio visual analogue materials including audio cassettes containing recordings of Coates speaking and promotional videos produced by the European Parliament publications to market itself to a wider public.

The files relating to human rights and the environment are likely to be of particular significance for future research in these fields, but the papers also document a significant decade in political history (New Labour, neoliberalism, etc.) and reveal Britain's interactions with Europe, as well as illuminating a wide range of social and environmental issues of local and international importance.

Files tend to contain correspondence with individuals, correspondence and papers relating to particular cases, appeals or investigations, and published/printed/photocopied research materials concerning specific issues.

KCS/3: Material obtained in 2016 consists of articles, letters and book reviews written by Coates, along with newspaper articles relating to Coates' work. These were compiled by Coates as a record of his activities and achievements over the years (1960-2004), and are an essential guide to his career development.

Administrative / Biographical History

Kenneth Sidney Coates was born in Staffordshire in 1930, the son of a municipal engineer/local government surveyor. He was drafted to work as a coal miner on the Nottinghamshire Coalfield (1948-1956) due to his refusal to be drafted into the army (in protest at the treatment of communist and nationalist guerrillas in Malaya). He attended The University of Nottingham as a Mature State Scholar in 1956, obtaining a first class degree. Academic posts at the University followed with Coates becoming successively Assistant Tutor in sociology, Tutor, Senior Tutor, Reader and Special Professor in the Continuing Education Department before his retirement in 2004. In 1966, whilst a Tutor in the then Adult Education Department, he had conducted research with students and colleague Richard Silburn, into poverty in the St Anne's area of Nottingham. The survey and subsequent report were the basis of the television documentary 'St Ann's' (1969) directed by Stephen Frears for Thames Television, and they then published their controversial and widely acclaimed book 'Poverty: The Forgotten Englishmen' (Penguin Press, 1970). In 2007 the original report was republished to mark its 40th anniversary. Ken Coates died in 2010 at the age of 79.

Initially a member of the Communist Party, he resigned in 1948, becoming active in the National Association of Labour Student Associations, before going on to become its Secretary General. He was also President of the University of Nottingham's Socialist Society and head of the Nottingham Labour Party for a time, and served on the editorial board of the journal International Socialism, helping to re-launch a group of British supporters of the Fourth International (which later evolved into the International Marxist Group).

Coates served as a Member of the European Parliament for Nottingham (1989-1994) and then North Nottinghamshire and Chesterfield (1994-1999) originally representing the Labour party, but came into conflict with Tony Blair's 'New Labour' over his opposition to the dropping of the public ownership Clause IV of the Labour Party constitution, and was expelled from the party in 1998 for allying himself with the Confederal Left Group in the European Parliament in protest over the new closed list electoral system. He instead stood as Independent Labour candidate but failed to be elected in the subsequent European parliament election.

Whilst in the Parliament, Coates was Chair of its Human Rights Subcommittee (1989-1994), work for which he won widespread acclaim, and rapporteur of the Temporary Committee on Employment (1994-1995). He was also Joint Secretary of the European Nuclear Disarmament Liaison Committee from 1981-1989, and was active in creating a European Union-wide ‘pensioners parliament’, a European disabled peoples' assembly, and a European convention on full employment.

His campaign against nuclear weapons with the philosopher Bertrand Russell, led to the creation of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation in 1965, and Coates edited 'Spokesman', the magazine of the Foundation. He was instrumental in launching the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign, as well as taking part in the Russell Tribunal on Palestine from March 2009. He was one of the founders of the Institute for Workers' Control in 1968, editing, with Tony Topham, an anthology of pamphlets published by the IWC alongside earlier works on industrial democracy, entitled 'Workers’ Control'.

Throughout his life he published various works on left-wing political subjects, including: articles for 'Spokesman'; together with Richard (Bill) Silburn an influential report 'St Ann's: Poverty, Deprivation and Morale in a Nottingham Community' (the study and report were the basis of the television documentary 'St Ann's' (1969) directed by Stephen Frears for Thames Television); with Professor John Morgan 'The Nottinghamshire Coalfield and the British Miners' Strike' (1989). He also published an acclaimed study of Nikolai Bukharin. Nearly fifty of his publications have been generously donated to the University of Nottingham by Spokesman Books and form a special collection (Ref. KCC).

Arrangement

The current arrangement reflects the order the files were in before transferral to the University of Nottingham. This vast collection needs much more work to establish what should be kept, what should be discarded (copies of published material, duplicates, corporate marketing information, etc.), and how it should be arranged.

Pending full cataloguing, access is limited and is possible only by advance notice and agreement. Due to the sensitive nature of some of the material within KCS/1and KCS/2 which includes case histories detailing personal circumstances, access is currently restricted to much of the correspondence, though it may be possible to identify published material that could be made accessible in the Reading Room.

Conditions Governing Access

Pending full cataloguing, access is limited and is possible only by advance notice and agreement due to the sensitive nature of some of the material.

Other Finding Aids

Copyright in this description belongs to The University of Nottingham.

This description is the only finding aid available for the collection although for KCS/1&2 a PDF of words used in file titles is available, and for KCS/3 a detailed box list has been prepared by Tom Unterrainer (Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation).

Conditions Governing Use

Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult.

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in writing.

Reprographic copies can be supplied for educational and private study purposes only, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.

Custodial History

The collection was offered by Ken Coates to the University of Nottingham, and the first group of records was acquired in 2000 (KCS/1). A substantial accrual was received in 2009-2010 (KCS/2), and a further accrual in 2016 (KCS/3)

Related Material

Papers of Richard (Bill) Silburn relating to his work with Ken Coates upon poverty in the St Ann's and Edwards Lane areas of Nottingham in the 1960s; 1960s-1970s (Ref: MS 875)

Archives of Bertrand Russell (1872–1970), British philosopher, logician, essayist, and renowned peace advocate, at McMaster University, Ontario, Canada

Papers relating to the Ken Coates Memorial Lecture Series (Ref: MS 958)

Ken Coates Collection (printed books) (Ref: KCC)

Bibliography

See titles in the Kenneth Coates printed books collection at The University of Nottingham, and titles published by Spokesman Books, the publishing imprint of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation. (Ref: KCC) A word cloud based on the titles of files in KCS 1 and 2 is available online in PDF format (follow the links in the 'URL' field)