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Oral History Project

The History of Parliament’s oral history project is working with the British Library to create a sound archive of British politics since 1945. We plan to interview as many former Members of Parliament as possible about their careers and political experiences. Since we began in 2012 we have now interviewed nearly 250 former MPs and 195 interviews have been deposited in the British Library.

The HPT Sound Archive

A full catalouge of our deposited interviews is available to download here.

Our interviews are 'life story' interviews which include much more than memories of Westminster. We discuss interviewees' entire lives: their background, education and career before parliament, family life and motivations. We discuss life 'behind the scenes' at Westminster, including offices, working culture, the bars and social life, as well as specifics of parliamentary business and procedure. We are interested in the growth of constituency work, campaigning for elections and on specific issues, and how MPs balanced their competing priorities in Westminster, in the constituency, and in their domestic lives. We ask what it felt like to be an MP, how they found leaving the Commons as well as reflecting on achievements and regrets and lives afterwards. The interviews are intended as a starting point for future biographical work and include fascinating nuggets of social, cultural and local history as well as the inner workings of Westminster.

Unfortunately, the disruption following the cyber-attack on the British Library in October 2023 means that the interviews that are deposited in the BL Sound Archive, as well as those usually available online on the British Library website, are currently not accessible. Please consult our downloadable catalogue and if you would like to review any interview summaries or listen to an interview, please Contact Us.

MP Interviews

In its early years the project was generously supported by Dods, publishers of Dods Parliamentary Companion. They commissioned Michael Waller-Bridge to create photographic portraits of some of those we first interviewed. Since 2017, Barbara Luckhurst has continued this photographic work.

Featured on these pages are some of the former MPs who have now been interviewed. Photographs from Michael Waller-Bridge’s collection are featured in black and white, those from Barbara Luckhurst's collection are in colour, and other photographs displayed here in sepia were taken by our interviewers during the recording sessions.

Each page contains a brief biography, a short clip from the interview as well as a full summary. This archive is growing and as it does we shall continue to add material from our interviews with former MPs.

For more on our oral history project, and how you can get involved as a volunteer, see here.

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