Must Labour lose?
Lessons from post-war history
in Labour and working-class lives
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This chapter explores what light can be shed on the party's present-day malaise by its wider post-war performance, which includes other low points, such as those of 1983 and 1992, as well as that of 1959. A short overview of Labour's post-war losses underlines the importance of two key determinants: disunity and poor leadership. Labour's history shows that while avoiding disunity is not a sufficient condition of regaining power, it is a necessary one. Internal strife and inadequate leadership have clearly cost Labour dear on numerous occasions, and both feature prominently on the list of contingent, avoidable factors that have contributed to the party's patchy record at Westminster elections. In the 1950s and 1980s especially, Labour seemed willing to prolong its internecine warfare without much regard for the electoral consequences.

Labour and working-class lives

Essays to celebrate the life and work of Chris Wrigley


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