The Matthew Caygill Lecture, 17:30 – 19:00 3rd May 2017

Last year Taking Soundings tragically lost Matthew Caygill, a founder member and a dear friend.

Matthew worked at the School of Cultural Studies at Leeds Beckett University, and they are going to hold an annual lecture in his name…

The School of Cultural Studies & Humanities is pleased to welcome Dr Madeleine Davis who will give the inaugural Matthew Caygill Lecture on a subject close to Matthew’s interests.

17:30 – 19:00 3rd May 2017, Leeds Beckett University, Rose Bowl Lecture Theatre B, City Campus

Madeleine Davis (Queen Mary, University of London) will speak on ‘‘Among the ordinary people’: the New Left and working class political organisation’. Madeleine specialises in the history of political thought, particularly the development of socialist thought in Britain in the twentieth century. She has published on the work of intellectuals and activists associated with the post-1956 British New Left, and has a forthcoming book on The British New Left and its Legacy.

Madeleine’s research overlaps with many of Matthew Caygill’s historical interests as well as the contemporary concerns and challenges facing political activists. Matthew, a much loved and respected colleague, teacher, activist and friend who passed away suddenly in 2016, was keen to help students and younger researchers to think through ideas – particularly related to political ideology and social and cultural theory – and apply them to their own research. He had recently started his own PhD research into the cultural politics of the New Left during the 1960s.

Matthew was an integral member of staff in the School of Cultural Studies & Humanities, not least as our long-serving UCU rep. He taught on multiple courses since the university’s days as a polytechnic, organised memorable student trips to Berlin and Paris, and even taught students from other schools in the university. A committed interdisciplinarian, passionate educator, and staunch political activist, Matthew embodied Cultural Studies as we practice it in the classroom, through our research and in the wider community.

The event is free to attend, but booking is required.

 Refreshments will also be available at the event.

For further information, please contact Shane Ewen by email at, or by telephone on 0113 812 3340.

Simon Hall speaks about ‘1956: The World in Revolt’

Thursday, March 17th, 6PM in Broadcasting Place BPAG02 (Woodhouse Lane, opposite the Fenton)
1956 was one of the most remarkable years of the twentieth century – all across the globe, ordinary people spoke out, filled the streets and city squares, and took up arms in an attempt to win their freedom.
Popular uprisings in Poland and Hungary shook Moscow’s hold on its eastern European empire. Across the American South, and in South Africa, black people risked their livelihoods, and their lives, in the struggle to dismantle institutionalised white supremacy. France and Britain, already battling anti-colonial insurgencies in Algeria and Cyprus, faced the humiliation of Suez. Meanwhile, in Cuba, Fidel Castro and his band of rebels launched their audacious bid to overthrow a dictator. Faced with unprecedented challenges to their authority, those in power fought back, often ruthlessly, in a desperate bid to shore up their position. It was an epic contest, and one that transformed the post-war world.
Dr Simon Hall, is Head of School and Senior Lecturer in American History in the School of History at the University of Leeds. He is also the author of Peace and Freedom: The Civil Rights and Antiwar Movements in the 1960s (2005), American Patriotism, American Protest: Social Movements Since the Sixties (2010), and Rethinking the American Anti-War Movement (2012).

Dave Webb speaks about Trident

6pm, Wednesday 17th February, Broadcasting Place BPAG10 (Woodhouse Lane, opposite the Fenton)
Dave is a Professor Emeritus of Leeds Beckett University, a member of the Green Party and Chair of CND – the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Trident has emerged as a key political issue in British politics – a major fault line in the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn.
The United Kingdom has been committed to nuclear submarines carrying nuclear weapons as a supposed contribution to keeping global peace via the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) since 1969. Since the 1990s the nuclear missiles have been American Trident missiles. The British state is about to decide on a renewal programme with replacements designed to come into action in the 2020s. This has had the support of both Conservative and Labour parties, but with the leadership of the Labour Party now in the hands convinced of the Unilateralist case the issue has become very real. The cost will be huge.
Leeds Taking Soundings wants to discuss the political issues involved – Dave will present the case against Trident with expert knowledge, but we also want to consider what the alternatives are – for world peace and the economy of the UK. Leading unions have taken up positions in support of Trident arguing that their members’ jobs are at risk, so what is the alternative?
Timing of the meeting is strongly affected by the campaign against Trident: there is going to be a big and important national demonstration against Trident on Saturday February 27th and we would ask you to consider supporting this demonstration.
For more details of Soundings meeting contact Matthew Caygill at
Leeds Taking Soundings hold regular discussion meetings on matters of interest to left-wingers and progressives. Email Matthew at the above address if you want to be on our distribution list.
See the CND web-site:

Leeds Taking Soundings Readers Meetings – Is the World ‘Awash with Hatred’?

Paul Mason6pm Wednesday, 10th February in Broadcasting Place Boardroom (opposite the Fenton pub).

PAUL MASON, the economics editor of Channel 4 News, Guardian journalist, soul fan, and author of a range of books, wrote a short article recently declaring that the world today is “awash with hatred.”

Do we share his concerns about the way things are developing?

If not, what’s he getting wrong and, if so, what might be done about it?

This is to be the discussion at the next Taking Soundings Readers’ Meeting at 6 pm on Wednesday 10th February at our usual venue, the Boardroom in Broadcasting Place (opposite the Fenton).

Here’s the link to the article:

As a companion piece (for eager readers), this article by Jonathan Freedland focuses on the dangerous soap opera that is unfolding – the Republic party’s leadership race – and the alliance of two cartoonish yet scary political characters; Donald Trump and Sarah Palin Palin


Come along and share your views.

Antonio Martinez-Arboleda on ‘Spain: the Hothouse of the Left’

6pm Wednesday 20th January 2016 in Broadcasting Place BPA312 (Woodhouse Lane, opposite the Fenton), Leeds Beckett University

The evolution of the Spanish Radical Left after the 15M Indignados movement of 2011-13 has been fascinating. A number of very diverse organisations, old and new, now live together in a demanding and blurring electoral space. Podemos, the new main actor of the Radical Left, has moderated its revolutionary language, discourse and programme, whilst the rest of the Radical Left forces are rapidly adapting to the new scenario. Is the Radical Left in Spain liquidated or simply liquefied?

Antonio Martinez-Arboleda, Principal Teaching Fellow in Spanish at the University of Leeds, will discuss the transformation of the Spanish Radical Left in the last 2 years. He will examine the December general election results, identifying the challenges that the different parties and movements of the Radical Left face.antonio

Katy Shaw speaks about the Culture Crunch

Apologies: this event has been postponed. Check Our Events for the meeting that will replace this one.

Thursday, December 3rd, 6PM in Broadcasting Place BPAG10 (Woodhouse Lane, opposite the Fenton)

In the wake of the financial crisis, cultural critics were quick to ask ‘what […] is the best “narrative of the meltdown”?’

In the weeks and months following the crash, literary representations entered into a competitive exchange to tackle the subject of the credit crunch across musical theatre, stand-up comedy, television and film.

This talk will examine how writings for stage and screen have forged new understandings of the credit crunch in performance. Critiquing the impact of risk and crisis on twenty-first-century life, it will argue that new writings representing the events of 2007–2008 offer a significant critical space for consideration of the various pathways to, and the lived reality of, financialisation in the neoliberal contemporary period.

Katy Shaw is Principal Lecturer in Contemporary Literature and Subject Lead for English Literature at Leeds Beckett University. Her publications include: David Peace: Texts and Contexts (Sussex Academic Press, 2010); Mining the Meaning: Cultural Representations of the 1984-5 UK Miners’ Strike (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012); and Crunch Lit (Bloomsbury, 2015).

katy shaw

Generation Rent and the Housing Crisis

Following a great event with Quintin Bradley, Senior Lecturer in Housing Studies at Leeds Beckett University, last Thursday (October)

Quintin has agreed to share his slides from the talk, which can now be found here Generation Rent. & the Housing Crisis

A chronic under-supply of housing, and grossly inflated house prices, have condemned ‘generation rent’ to the endless insecurity of the private rented sector. A new assault on the provision of social housing coupled with the imposition of further benefit caps has created a swaggeringly unequal landscape with central areas of our cities rendered entirely unaffordable. But there are growing signs of popular protest in this country against the injustices of the broken housing market. A new wave of direct action from tenants in the private rented sector signals the resurgence of a movement for housing rights with rent control and new council housing among its demands. This talk will identify the key sites of conflict in government housing policy and discuss the possibilities and opportunities for this new resistance movement.

Blacklisted: The Secret War between Big Business and Union Activists

6pm Tuesday 6th October, Leeds Beckett University, Broadcasting Place, Woodhouse Lane, BPAG10


12noon – 2pm Tuesday 6th October, University of Leeds Fairbairn House, Suite A Room 1 (G.01) Clarendon Road –

Blacklisted tells the controversial story of the illegal strategies that transnational construction companies used to keep union activists away from work. Drawing on first-hand accounts of the workers, Blacklisted reveals how, when major construction projects were unionized, those involved were unlawfully victimized. From the building sites to the High Court, this is a story of ordinary working people taking on some of the most powerful transnational companies in the world. Hear direct from the authors of this important book – Phil Chamberlain and Dave Smith – about their experiences of blacklisting, their search for answers and the fight for justice.

“I recommend people read this book. Just by picking up this book, just by reading it, you challenge what I believe to be a state and corporate spying culture that is out of control.” Mark Thomas, comedian.

As part of their book launch tour, the authors will present two meetings in Leeds on Tuesday 6th October, one lunchtime, one evening.

Venues and times:


University of Leeds Fairbairn House, Suite A Room 1 (G.01) Clarendon Road 12pm-2pm

Refreshments served from 12 noon. Talk 12:30-13:30. Book sales and signings and networking 13:30-14:00.  Sponsored by University of Leeds Unison and Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change.

(Directions from Parkinson Steps: Follow the path to your right then turn right underneath the link building, go all the way through campus until you reach Clarendon Road, turn left, Fairbairn House is about two mins walk on the right – opposite the entrance to Hyde Terrace).


Leeds Beckett University, Broadcasting Place, Woodhouse Lane, BPAG10 6pm onwards.

Presented by Leeds Taking Soundings

(This is the ‘rusty tower’ building opposite the Fenton Pub. The room is on the groundfloor)

Read more about Blacklisted here:

To join or not to join…



We at Taking Soundings have been debating the merits of joining the Labour Party as a supporter (for £3, or for free if you are part of an affiliated union) in order to vote for Jeremy Corbyn in the upcoming leadership elections.

If you think it is a good idea, you can become a Labour Supporter for £3 here: until 10th August.

You can have your say by debating the pros and cons in the comments section below…