Union Songs

Centre For Political Song - From Idea To Reality

An article by Caroline Cochrane (March 2001)

The Health Building at Glasgow Caledonian played host to a highly successful press conference on January 23rd 2001 announcing the establishment of the world's first Centre for Political Song.

The Centre, under the line management of the Dean of the Health Faculty, Professor David Walsh, will be housed in the library and staffed by a Development Officer, Caroline Cochrane and the Project Manager John Powles.

The Centre is the brainchild of former Labour MEP Janey Buchan who has donated the bulk of the current collection. It contains material dating as far back as the 19th Century, and crossing the whole political spectrum from far left to far right. Items range from old 78s, tapes and CDs, to lyric sheets, serial parts, books and collections of songs. Prior to the press conference Mrs. Buchan commented,
"It has been a long slog to get this show on the road but I am now certain that it is going to be worthwhile for Glasgow Caledonian University. Everyone will now realise that the apparently unimportant has a role in recording our own and past times. The width and dept of the material will, I am absolutely certain, stun most people."

Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University, Dr Ian Johnston continued,
" Songs, anthems and even operas have been used as political tools throughout the ages. They are therefore a fascinating and legitimate area of academic study, and we are delighted to host this world class centre at Glasgow Caledonian".

The Centre aims to be both eclectic and international in its political song content, providing a collection of extreme historical and political significance for researchers and interested parties world-wide. Material (real and virtual) will be gathered as appropriate: from bothy ballad to punk rock; from political party rally to street demonstration; from the pantomime, the folk club, the rap artist and the opera. It aims to be the first and the best internationally recognised Centre for Political Song.

The press conference was undoubtedly a success, and the publicity generated has certainly astounded the Centre staff! As a result, enquiries to the Centre and donations of material have been pouring in from all over the world: from as far afield as Canada, the United States, Israel, Spain and even Japan.

The Centre for Political Song has certainly started off on a high, but the staff realise there is still much work to be done. The establishment of a web site and securing further funding to help with the ongoing development of the project are top priorities for the embryonic centre. The staff hope to have an official launch date in the Summer of 2001, preceded by the web site going live, but longer term plans are being formulated. It is hoped that the Centre itself will have a collecting and preserving role, both of printed and oral material, but they hope that in time it will also develop a more cultural role, with the provision of lectures, seminars and concerts. All the while, the staff are eager for further support and donations. Development Officer Caroline Cochrane commented,
" The general public are such a rich source of information and material for our collection. It is their input that will make the Centre an outstanding research facility and an immense worldwide resource. We would love to hear from anyone who feels they have something to contribute"

The Centre for Political Song can be contacted via:
Project Manager John Powles on 0141 331 3920 J.Powles@gcal.ac.uk
or through:
Development Officer Caroline Cochrane on 0141 331 8453 C.Cochrane@gcal.ac.uk

The Centre for Political Song
Glasgow Caledonian University
Cowcaddens Road
United Kingdom
G4 0BA

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