Labour’s liberalism
Gay rights and video nasties
in Labour and the left in the 1980s
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This chapter explores Labour's liberalism in the 1980s. It covers a time when the defence and improvement of the lesbian and gay community was employed as a political stick with which to beat Labour. In 1983 under Michael Foot, and again in 1987 under Neil Kinnock, there were specific commitments to improve gender and racial equality, gay rights and a more humane approach to immigration control. The chapter highlights the tensions and contradictions in Labour's liberalism. It also highlights how a party which, in the 1950s and 1960s, had facilitated a relaxation of censorship laws in Britain was unsure of how to react to the great 'video nasties' furore of the mid-1980s. The chapter represents the classic dilemma faced by the Labour Party in having to appeal to both the liberal-minded middle classes and the more socially conservative working class which it was set up to serve.

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