Keeping the radical flame alive

Nestled in the heart of Durham City, The People’s Bookshop is an independent, radical bookshop that is fast becoming a focal point for progressive politics in the county.

Ben Sellers

Run by Ben Sellers, a former trade unionist and Waterstones employee, its walls overflow with classics of socialist political thought, intermingled with local history and rare books.

’This space is an alternative to the mainstream,’ Ben explains. ‘It seemed like a crazy idea to start with but I wanted to create a place in Durham which could be a hub for political activity and campaigning. I wanted to create a community space for people, a place where they could have a voice.’

Surrounded by volumes of Marx and Engels, Ben speaks passionately about the progress of radical left-wing politics in Durham.

‘It’s been very quiet for a long time. We don’t get frequent protests and campaigns around here but things are changing. For example, the People’s Assembly held a meeting in the Miners’ Hall in July that drew hundreds of people.

Radical

‘The Trades Union Council of Durham also meets every month in my shop and I’ve set up a group called ‘Red Labour’ which stresses the core values of the party.’

Ben is critical of New Labour and the party’s recent history but through The People’s Bookshop he is taking action. ’I think our leaders need a kick and some pressure from below. I don’t sit back and think “I hope Ed Miliband turns out alright”. I’m doing something about it.’