Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, will give the inaugural Ken Coates Memorial Lecture at the University of Nottingham (Law and Social Sciences Building) on Wednesday 3 June 2015 at 6.30pm, a few weeks after the General Election.
Ken Coates died on 27 June 2010, in his eightieth year. He was a prolific author whose work included the Penguin Classic Poverty: The Forgotten Englishmen, about the St Ann’s district of Nottingham, co-authored with Richard Silburn. The Times commented:
‘Writing with compassion, style, wit and an almost complete lack of jargon, [they] present us with inescapable facts which must remould our thinking and our actions.’
During the 1960s, Bertrand Russell invited Ken Coates to work with him at the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation. This was to lead to location of the Foundation’s offices in Nottingham, where they remain to this day. Ken Coates edited The Spokesman, the Foundation’s journal, for 40 years; he also directed the Foundation’s activities, such as launching the Appeal for European Nuclear Disarmament in 1980, which ultimately led to the removal of a category of nuclear weapons from Europe in accordance with the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. That significant disarmament achievement is once again under threat as international tensions worsen.
Ken also established the Institute for Workers’ Control in the 1960s, which organised a series of influential conferences during the following decades, several of which took place in Nottingham, addressing aspects of industrial and political democracy. Tony Benn was one among many political associates who participated.
Many people will remember Ken for his adult education classes at the Workers’ Education Association in Shakespeare Street and elsewhere. He was an industrial tutor for many years, and became a Special Professor of Adult Education at the University of Nottingham when he was elected to the European Parliament in 1989. During the next ten years, he chaired the Parliament’s Human Rights and Employment Committees. His work for full employment and a New Deal for Europe, in conjunction with Jacques Delors and Stuart Holland, continues to attract attention in the current era of austerity and mass unemployment in many European countries.
The Ken Coates Memorial Lecture is sponsored by the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation and hosted by the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice, with support of the local University and College Union association (University of Nottingham), other trade unions, and Five Leaves Bookshop.
You can RSVP on our Facebook event page here: