Document ReferenceKCC
TitleKen Coates Collection of printed books
Extent53 items
AbstractWorks by Ken Coates, primarily those published by Spokesman Books
Access ConditionsAccessible to all readers.
Admin HistoryKenneth 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 in Sociology. Academic posts at the University followed with Coates becoming successively Assistant Tutor, 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 an invitation to join the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation in 1965, and Coates edited ‘The 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.
Custodial HistoryThe collection began with a donation by Spokesman Books in 2015. It aims to collect further titles by Ken Coates and is actively being added to.
DescriptionThe Ken Coates Collection consists mainly of publications from the Nottingham publisher Spokesman Books written or edited by Ken Coates. Substantive works by this author such as his publications about social deprivation in Nottingham’s St. Ann's area were also made part of the Collection, although these were published by other bodies.

The themes of Coates’ published work are workers’ control and industrial democracy, particularly trade unions in the 20th century.

In 1966, Ken Coates and Richard Silburn working as part of the St. Ann’s Study Group affiliated to the Adult Education Centre, Nottingham conducted a social survey into the living, social and working conditions of the residents of the St. Ann's area of Nottingham. When the authors published their research under the title 'Poverty: The Forgotten Englishmen' in 1970 it become a seminal study of social deprivation in Britain. The Collection includes the 1970 study and its two precursors from 1967 and 1968: 'Poverty, deprivation and morale in a Nottingham community: St. Ann’s: a report of the preliminary findings of the St. Ann’s Study Group' (1967) and 'The morale of the poor: a study of poverty on a Nottingham Council Housing estate' (1968).

Ken Coates pursued his interest with labour economics in the aftermath of the Soviet Revolution and the impact of this development on Britain throughout his writing career. Coates’ 1978 study of Nikolai Bukharin and his much later biography of Bukharin titled “Who was this Bukharin” (2010) are included in the Collection. A number of books in the Collection published between 1974 and 2010 deal specifically with the impact of policies from the USSR and China on the international labour movement. In the last two decades of the author's life Labour politics and particularly New Labour under the leadership of Tony Blair generated a few new studies, also the European Union’s transformation of labour markets in Europe and beyond. The 1993 title 'A European recovery programme: restoring full employment' edited by Ken Coates and Michael Barratt Brown was followed in 1995 by 'Full employment for Europe: the Commission, the Council and the debate on employment in the European Parliament, 1994-95' by Ken Coates and Stuart Holland.
MgtGroupPrinted Book Collections
Trade Union and Trade Associations
ArrangementThe collection is arranged by Library of Congress classification.
TermHuman rights
Full employment policies - Europe
World politics - 21st century
Great Britain - Politics and government - 20th century
Peace movements
Coal miners - Great Britain - social conditions
Labor unions - England - Nottinghamshire
FindingAidsUnfortunately it is not possible to link directly from this description to the catalogue descriptions for the items within the collection as it is catalogued on the University of Nottingham's library catalogue NUsearch ( To browse the descriptions of the items, enter the search term KCC (the code for the Ken Coates Collection) into the main search box of the NUsearch library catalogue and filter the results to search within the Ken Coates Collection within the UoN Collections.
ReprodnNoteReprographic copies can be supplied for educational and private study purposes only, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.
Related MaterialPapers 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)
Records of the Institute for Workers' Control (Ref. IWC)
Papers relating to the Ken Coates Memorial Lecture Series (Ref: MS 958)
Papers of Ken Coates (1930-2010) special professor of Adult Education at the University of Nottingham, sociologist and politician (Ref: KCS)
Related RecordMS958

Click the links below to view related name indexes

CodePersonNameDates of existence
DS/UK/82294Coates; Ken (1930-2010); Labour politician; special professor of Adult Education, The University of Nottingham1930-2010
DS/UK/83791Spokesman Books; fl 2017; The publishing imprint of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundationfl 2017
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