Oral histories of politics and government

The debating chamber of the British House of Commons. Image courtesy of Parliament of the United Kingdom.
The debating chamber of the British House of Commons. Image courtesy of Parliament of the United Kingdom

Our collections of interviews span the political spectrum and provide unique insights into British political figures, movements and events.

About the collection

The recordings include interviews with those involved in government administration, political parties and the civil service. The interviews chart the changing face of British politics and their impact on British society in the 20th century and beyond.

What is available online?

  • The Bow Dialogues are debates on social issues recorded between 1964 and 1979. They feature a number of important political figures invited to speak on topics of current importance. Available online for higher education institutions only, and available in our Reading Rooms.
  • Observing the 1980s  includes recordings with those involved in key events and issues from the period, such as the Falklands War, the Miners' Strike, the Brixton riots, unemployment and redundancy, and HIV and Aids.
  • The History of Parliament Oral History Project provides a unique record of post-war British political history. Run by the History of Parliament Trust, its volunteers aim to interview as many current and former Members of the House of Commons as possible and senior Members of the House of Lords. 54 interviews are so far available online.

What is available in our Reading Rooms?


Labour Party

  • The Labour Party Recordings include Labour Party conference recordings and party political broadcasts. There are also as recordings discussing policy questions, distributed by the Labour Party to branches in Labour News Cassettes.
  • Hilary Wainwright Labour Party Tapes include interviews with Labour Party activists and focus on the political scene in the 1980s, in particular, Trade Unions, Party democracy, women's and black sections, factionalism and the politics of opposition.
  • Labour Oral History Project includes interviews with activists in the Labour movement conducted by project volunteers from all over Britain. Interviewees are past or present members of the Labour Party or the Communist Party of Great Britain.
  • National Co-operative Society Oral History Project is a series of life story interviews with active members of the Co-operative movement from all over Britain.

Conservative Party


Political movements and ideologies

  • The Ronald Fraser Interviews: 1968 – A Student Generation in Revolt are interviews with student activists about the events of 1968 in Britain and the United States. The collection includes interviews with lecturers and students.
  • The Donald Soper cassettes includes recordings of the Labour peer, Lord Soper, speaking on a range of political issues at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park between 1971 and 1996. Topics include Northern Ireland; the Falklands War; the 1984-1985 Miners' Strike.


  • The Stoneman Fascist Recordings includes speeches of Oswald Mosley between 1934-79. It also includes meetings of several far-right parties such as the National Front and British National Party.

Trade Unionism