The 1975 European Community Referendum: The First of Two … or of Three?

by Dr Linda Arch

form of ballot paper

“Referendum. A bill [as amended in committee] to provide for the holding of a referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Economic Community,” Paper Number 145, 1974-75, House of Commons Parliamentary Papers Online, accessed 11 January 2019.

On 5 June 1975 the UK held a referendum in which the electorate were asked the following question:

Do You Think that the United Kingdom should stay in the European Community (the Common Market)?

Voters were required to answer either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. In total 17,378,581 (67.2 per cent of those voting) voted ‘Yes’ to staying in the Community, a number uncannily close to the 17,410,742 who voted to leave the European Union in the 2016 EU referendum. The turnout in 1975 was 64.5 per cent, considerably lower than the 2016 turnout of 72.2 per cent.1

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Department seminar series, spring term 2019

All seminars are held on Wednesday at 4:30–6pm in Edith Morley 128. Refreshments are provided and all are welcome!

Wednesday 23 rd, January, Professor Rebecca Rist (Reading), ‘Were Medieval Popes Anti-Judaic or Anti-Semitic?’

Wednesday 6 th February, Dr Dafydd Townley (Reading) , ‘The Year of Intelligence: A History Lesson for Donald Trump.’

Wednesday 6 th March, Professor Elizabeth Gemmill (Oxford), ‘The Register of John Salmon, Bishop of Norwich 1299 – 1325.’

Wednesday 20 th March, Professor Mary Vincent (Sheffield) and Professor Paul Preston (LSE), Title TBC.

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‘To err is human; to forgive, divine’ – Medieval popes and the concept of papal infallibility

By Professor Rebecca Rist.


Pope Pius IX, who in 1854 decreed the doctrine of papal infallibility in Ineffabilis Deus. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

My research focuses on the history of religious culture and the medieval papacy, and especially the relationship between popes and specific social and religious minority groups, such as Jews (in my recent book, Popes and Jews, 1095-1291), and heretics (in my current research, which you can learn about here).

One of the key tenets of papal authority is the concept of papal infallibility: that the popes, due to the authority they have been granted by God, cannot err in their solemn pronouncements. I was one of three experts – along with Professor Tim O’Loughlin and Dr Miles Pattenden – invited onto BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time to speak to host Melvyn Bragg about the development of this concept.

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Midnight Mass, the Stone Roses, and ‘cuddling boys’: Recollections of Christmastime and New Year’s Eve in teenage girls’ diaries, 1970-1998


Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

by Amy Gower, PhD student.

Christmas evokes a sense of nostalgia in many of us, as a holiday wrapped up in tradition, family, and the home. Through my research into the diaries of teenage girls from the 1970s, 80s and 90s, I have stumbled across many years’ worth of Christmas reflections from teenagers across the country. Most of their diaries were kept between the ages of 13 and 18, charting their growth from awkward pre-teens to young adults about to leave the security of their familial homes. Christmas and New Year’s entries allow us to glimpse the experiences of a few families in this era, and reveal how girls navigated their familial expectations and busy social lives.

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‘A mixture of minds which cannot unite’: John Milton and no-fault divorce

by Dr Rachel Foxley


Portrait of John Milton from Paradise Lost (1667), British Library, Public Domain.

The government’s current consultation (closing on 10 December) about making ‘no fault’ divorce quicker and easier might have drawn a robust contribution from the famous seventeenth-century poet and polemicist John Milton, if he were alive today. From 1643 to 1645, in the midst of the English Civil War, Milton published a series of works urgently pleading for the introduction of divorce on the grounds of incompatibility. The nature of marriage was evidently an abiding concern for him, as the complex relationship between Adam and Eve is also at the core of his masterpiece Paradise Lost, first published in 1667.

The case which has inspired the current debate about divorce reform is that of Tini Owens, whose husband is refusing a divorce even though the couple are separated. Since she was unable to prove unreasonable behaviour on his part, she will have to wait until they have been separated for five years for the divorce to go through. Even when both parties do agree to divorce, under the 1973 Matrimonial Causes Act they have to wait for two years if they want to avoid attributing fault to either partner. Tini Owens’ plight has given ammunition to those arguing for a less damaging and acrimonious way for marriages to end.

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