Lewis Minkin (1936-2021)

Lewis Minkin, who has died aged 84, wrote three authoritative, even definitive, books on the exercise of power and political influence inside the Labour Party.

In researching The Labour Party Conference (1978), The Contentious Alliance (1991), and The Blair Supremacy (2014), Minkin accessed records available to few and clearly spoke to everyone; equally clearly, everyone spoke to him. Taken together, these three monumental works are essential reading for anyone wanting to understand not just the constitutional and rule-book operations of the party, but the the unspoken rules and informal relationships, the arcane processes of compositing and much else, and the times when rules were simply ignored or overridden.

Minkin was born in Leeds. His father Barnet Minkin was originally from Glasgow, born there shortly after the family fled Gomel, now in Belarus, to escape the anti-Jewish pogroms; his mother Annie Richards was from a mining family. Educated in Leeds, Minkin left school at 15 and worked in Burton’s tailoring factory. Called up for National Service, he served in RAF Signals in Cyprus. Aged 26, he won a place at Leeds University where he was awarded a first in politics; a doctorate from the University of York followed.

Minkin worked for 20 years in the department of government at Manchester University. In 1976, he was series adviser to the television series Bill Brand, written by Trevor Griffiths, which followed the career of a liberal studies lecturer turned Labour MP. He also advised on two internal Labour Party reviews. In later years, he was honorary professor at Leeds University.

Obituary in the Yorkshire Post.

Front covers on Lewis Minkin books.