Calum Aikman

Thesis title: 'The Fragmentation of the Labour Party 'Revisionist' Right, 1971-1983'


Calum Aikman grew up in an ex-mining community in nearby Midlothian, and attended local schools. He has degrees from the universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh, and in 2016 began his doctoral studies under the supervision of Professor Ewen Cameron and Dr Robert Crowcroft, with the aid of a full studentship from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). From 2011 to 2012 Calum was a research assistant to Professor Cameron, working on the 'Fyffe Family History Project'. 


2012 - 2013: MSc (by Research) History, University of Edinburgh

2005 - 2008: BA History (later MA Cantab.), University of Cambridge

Responsibilities & affiliations

Postgraduate Member, The Royal Historical Society

Steering Committee Member, Centre for the Study of Modern and Contemporary History, University of Edinburgh

Member, The British Universities Industrial Relations Association (BUIRA)

Member, History & Policy Trade Union Forum

Member, University of Edinburgh Political History Research Group

Member, Newbattle Abbey College Historical Research Group

Undergraduate teaching

‘Britain, Ireland and Empire, c. 1800–2000’ (2018–9)

‘The History of Edinburgh: From Din Eidyn to Festival City’ (2018–9)

'Modern Scottish History, 1750–1914' (2013–4)

'Scottish History since 1914' (2012–4)

Research summary

Calum's research concerns the divisions that became apparent among the Right wing of the British Labour Party in the 1970s. These divisions have been portrayed as the beginnings of a permanent schism between intellectual middle-class ‘revisionists’ on the one hand, and populist working-class ‘traditionalists’ on the other. Calum intends to examine these forces and their ideas (especially those of the latter, which have often been ignored or denied altogether), with the ultimate aim of questioning just how valid such a dichotomy is in understanding the nature of the Labour Party Right during this period.

Current research interests

Modern Scottish and British History; History of Political Thought; Labour and Trade Union History


'Democracy and Devolution in the 1970s', University of Edinburgh, April 2018 – a one-day conference, organised together with Prof. James Mitchell (Academy of Government), Robbie Johnston and Thomas Stewart (both HCA).

‘Britain in Europe from the 1970s to the present’, University of Edinburgh, April 2017 – a one-day workshop, organised alongside other members of the Edinburgh University Political History Research Group.

Papers delivered

'Stephen Haseler: From Social Democrat to Thatcherite', Political History Research Group, University of Edinburgh, November 2018.

‘Populist Politics and the Campaign for an EEC Referendum’, Alienation, Communication, Existence symposium, Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities (SGSAH), Glasgow, June 2018.

'The Scottish By-Elections of 1978', Democracy and Devolution in the 1970s conference, Academy of Government, University of Edinburgh, April 2018

'Frank Chapple: A Thoughtful Trade Union Moderniser', The British Universities Industrial Relations Association conference, University of Portsmouth, June 2017. Awarded the prize of best paper in the early career category.

'The Birth of the Social Democratic Party in Scotland, 1981-1983', Scottish History Research Seminars, University of Edinburgh, April 2015.

'Frank Chapple: A Trade Union Alternative', Other Worlds of Labour seminar, Girton College, Cambridge, September 2014.

'The SDP and the Trade Unions', 9th European Social Science History Conference, University of Glasgow, April 2012.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles:

Calum Aikman, ‘From Labourism to Thatcherism: Stephen Haseler and the Social Democratic Alliance’, Labour History Review, 84:3 (2019), pp.267-94. Winner of the Labour History Review 2019 postgraduate essay prize. (

Calum Aikman, ‘The Birth of the Social Democratic Party in Scotland’, Contemporary British History, 27:3 (2013) pp. 324-47. (

Contributions to Edited Volumes:

Calum Aikman, ‘Chapple, Francis Joseph (Frank) (1921–2004)’, in Keith Gildart and David Howell (eds.), Dictionary of Labour Biography, vol. XV (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), pp. 54-66. (

Calum Aikman, ‘Frank Chapple: A Thoughtful Trade Union Moderniser’, in Peter Ackers and Alastair J. Reid (eds.), Alternatives to State-Socialism in Britain: Other Worlds of Labour in the Twentieth Century (Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), pp. 211-42. (

Book Review:

Calum Aikman, Review of 'Glasgow 1919: The Rise of Red Clydeside' by Kenny MacAskill (London: Biteback, 2019), in Scottish Labour History, 54 (2019), pp. 181-3. (