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Our Little History

The Mileend Group (MEG) is Queen Mary, University of London’s forum for government and politics. MEG events are open to all and free to attend providing you secure a ticket.

The MEG was created in December 2003 by doctoral students of Peter Hennessy, Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History at Queen Mary. The initial focus of the MEG was to provide a lively gathering for the findings of postgraduate research, allowing for discussion in an informal yet dynamic environment and building on Professor Hennessy’s undergraduate course, ‘Cabinet and Premiership’, and his MA class, ‘The Hidden Wiring’. As the particular emphasis of the research centred on the worlds of Westminster and Whitehall, past and present, the MEG invited contribution from a variety of individuals with inside knowledge of the workings of government, and over the years has evolved into a seminar series attracting increasingly high profile speakers.

Professor Sir Michael Barber, Lord Healey, Lord Heseltine, Lord Hurd, Sir John Major, Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, Sir David Omand, Peter Riddell, Alan Rusbridger and David Willetts, amongst others, have all spoken at MEG seminars. The involvement of such noted speakers has served to widen the appeal of MEG events, and attendees include those from academia, business, government and journalism. Many students also attend, making the group a truly intergenerational forum for the exchange of ideas and experience.

From the summer of 2004, the IT firm EDS began sponsoring MEG events, continuing this when it was bought by the computer giants Hewlett Packard. This ground-breaking sponsorship has allowed the MEG to flourish and now provides for student bursaries and internships.

In 2005, the Mile End Institute (for the Study of Government, Intelligence and Society) was created and in 2007 jointly-published two books, The New Protective State and Cabinets and the Bomb.

In 2008, ‘The Blair Government’ undergraduate Special Subject – described by The Guardian as ‘ultra-contemporary history’ – was created by Dr Jon Davis and John Rentoul of The Independent on Sunday to bring the MEG ethos of practicality and connections back into the classroom. The first course in the country to take Tony Blair as history, it blended historical rigour with cutting edge primary research and enjoyed guest appearances from Alastair Campbell, Lord Mandelson, Ed Balls and Blair himself. Dr Jon Davis was shortlisted in 2010 for the Times Higher Education‘s ‘Most Innovative Teacher’ award for the course. In 2012, the course was promoted to MA level, extended to take in the Gordon Brown years and renamed ‘New Labour in Government’.

In 2012, the MEG was asked to help re-write the biographies of the Prime Ministers since 1945 for the No. 10 website.

The MEG co-operates with a number of institutes and think tanks and has partnerships and links to the Attlee Foundation, the British Academy, the Cabinet Office, Churchill College Cambridge, Corpus Christi College Cambridge, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the Ministry of Defence, the National Archives, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Royal Society, the Royal United Services Institute, the Science Museum, the Treasury, and the Young Foundation.

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