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Dave Renton

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Name  Dave Renton

Education  University of Oxford
Dave Renton
Books  Fascism, Struck Out: Why Employm, Dissident Marxism: Past Voic, The Congo, When We Touched the Sky
Similar People  Nigel Copsey, Leo Zeilig, Karl Marx

Dave Renton 1

David (Dave) Renton (born December 1972), is a historian, barrister, and former member of the Labour Party and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP).


Early life and education

Renton was born in London in 1972, into what he has described as "a family which saw history as its canvass." His great aunt was Dona Torr the Communist historian, his grandfather the shoe designer Kurt Geiger. One uncle was a clown and activist in the Equity trade union, another was the Conservative MP Tim Renton, Baron Renton of Mount Harry. He was educated at Eton College where became a member of the Labour Party. He then studied history at St John's College, Oxford under the labour historian Ross McKibbin.

Before becoming a Barrister, Renton was an academic historian and sociologist, teaching at universities including Nottingham Trent, Edge Hill, Sunderland University, and Rhodes and Johannesburg Universities in South Africa.

He joined the Socialist Workers Party in 1991 (reluctantly resigning in 2013).

Renton was also a county-standard middle-distance runner. He is a follower of Liverpool football club.

Historical writing

Renton's first short book, based on his undergraduate dissertation, was a pamphlet history of anti-fascism in 1930s Oxford. This was followed by a PhD at the University of Sheffield on fascism and anti-fascism in 1940s Britain. Renton studied there under Professor Colin Holmes and Dr Richard Thurlow.

Renton's book Fascism, theory and practice criticised the "new consensus" theory of fascism associated with Roger Griffin and others, in which fascism is understood as a form of palingenetic ultranationalism. Renton's approach was to analyse fascism as a specific form of reactionary mass politics. In contrast to Griffin, Renton placed greater emphasis on what he portrayed as a key contradiction between the popular support many fascist parties have enjoyed, and their ideology, which he characterised as radically inegalitarian and anti-democratic. Fascism, in Renton's argument, was always a tentative politics, capable of rapid growth but also (if opposed) organisational lethargy or even collapse.

His 2000 book Fascism, Anti-Fascism and the 1940s was widely reviewed internationally.

In When we touched the Sky, Renton considered the part played by British anti-fascists in the Anti-Nazi League in bringing about the defeat of the National Front.

Renton has also written histories of the British Communist Party and biographies of Leon Trotsky and C.L.R. James.


Since 2009, Renton has practised as a barrister at Garden Court chambers in London, in employment, housing and family law.

Renton's clients have included the Bank of Ideas and Dave Smith, a construction worker who in 2012 and 2013 sued Carillion (JM) Ltd for blacklisting, in the aftermath of the Consulting Association scandal.

Renton is the author of the employment law blog Struck Out, which accompanies a book of the same name.

Political activism

In 2003–2006, when Renton worked full-time as a national official of the lecturers' union Natfhe (now the University and College Union), he was a member of the national steering committee of Unite Against Fascism.

He is a member of the London Socialist Historians Group and the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers.


  • Fascism: theory and practice 1999, Pluto Press. ISBN 978-0-7453-1470-9
  • Fascism, Anti-Fascism and the 1940s 2000
  • The Twentieth Century 2000 (with Keith Flett)
  • This Rough Game 2001
  • Marx on Globalization 2001
  • The Communist Party since 1920 2002 (With James Eaden)
  • Classical Marxism 2002
  • New Approaches to Socialist History 2003 (with Keith Flett)
  • Dissident Marxism 2004
  • Trotsky 2004
  • Sidney Pollard: a Life in History 2004
  • British Fascism, the Labour Movement and the State 2004 (With Nigel Copsey)
  • The Congo 2006 (With Leo Zeilig and David Seddon)
  • When we touched the Sky: the ANL 1977–1981 2006
  • CLR James: Cricket's Philosopher King. 2007 Haus Publishing
  • Colour Blind? Race and Migration in North East England 2008
  • Struck Out 2012
  • Lives; Running 2012
  • Socialism from below 2013
  • References

    Dave Renton Wikipedia