About this Archive
(1927-2013) economist and teacher
John Hughes was an economist and teacher, serving as principle of Ruskin College, Oxford, from 1979-1989.
Born in London on 28 January 1927, Hughes father was a milkman and his mother had worked in service from the age of 12. Hughes was awarded a scholarship to Westminster City School, later attending Lincoln College, Oxford, graduating with a degree in politics and economics. In 1949 he joined the international youth brigade rebuilding the Samac-Sarajevo railway line in Yugoslavia.
Hughes began his career in adult education as an extramural tutor, moving from Scunthorpe (for Hull University) to Sheffield, and then to Ruskin College. Before his period as principal, he was tutor in economics and industrial relations (1957-1970) and vice-principal (1970-1979). At Ruskin College, Hughes introduced project work, set up a labour studies course, and devised and taught new advanced courses for senior trade union officials.
Hughes’ academic work focused on arguing for a fairer economic system (with higher wages and better working conditions), based on reasoned argument and rigorous analysis of trends and theories. He was a prolific writer, producing both pragmatic Fabian pamphlets and tracts on workers’ control. He also co-edited the book ‘A Special Case? Social Justice and the Miners’ with Roy Moore, (1972).
In the 1960s, Hughes helped the Trades Union Congress set up its annual Economic Review, presenting an alternative perspective on economic strategy. He was also the founder of Ruskin's Trade Union Research Unit, which provided sophisticated breakdowns of the basis of pay claims, in 1970. The document he produced that year for the Ford car workers' pay claim, linking the full economic cycle, profitability and the ability to raise wages, reportedly found a readership that for once extended to the City of London.
As deputy chairman of the Prices Commission (1977-1979), Hughes acknowledged the effect of raging inflation by insisting on a housewife being appointed as an adviser. This commitment to the cause of consumers in a fairer economic system led him to sit on the National Consumer Council (1982-1994), and then on the Rail Passengers Council (2001-2005).
John Hughes died on 1 November 2013.
Scope and Content
Papers of John Hughes, (1955-2008) including:
- Articles, reports and notes written by Hughes
- Papers about industrial disputes including Ford, Austin Rover, and Jaguar as well as coal, water, railways, gas and chemical industries
- Economic theories and practices including Marxism, UK competitive policy, part time work and shift work and industrial democracy
- Papers of other organisations including National Union of Marine, Aviation and Shipping Transport Officers (Nautilus UK since 2006), Rail Passengers Council (Passenger Focus since 2006), and the William Temple Foundation
- Papers created during the course of Hughes' work as an educator at Ruskin College and other institutions.