Manchester Political Studies

Christopher Massey

This chapter investigates Labour’s Partnership in Power reforms which fundamentally altered the party’s constitution, conference agenda, and NEC composition. This project aimed to provide a partnership between the government and the party, which had not necessarily taken place on equal lines in past Labour administrations. Although the intentions of Partnership in Power were honourable, the final product detrimentally diminished the role of the party’s members and increased the power of the party’s leadership and, far from a partnership, created a simmering divide between the two groups. Whilst the unsatisfactory operation of this partnership did not lead to an immediate divorce between the party’s leadership and its members, Labour’s decline in membership from 1997 to 2010 suggests that many of the party’s ‘partners’ became disengaged after not receiving enough attention.

in The modernisation of the Labour Party, 1979–97
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The modernisation of the Labour Party, 1979–97
Christopher Massey
in The modernisation of the Labour Party, 1979–97
Christopher Massey

This chapter examines the Labour Party’s modernisation in the period between 1983 and 1986, emphasising in particular the circumstances surrounding the realignment of the party’s left-wing in the mid-1980s, chiefly on the National Executive Committee, due to a number of factors headlined by the miners’ strike and an investigation into the Militant Tendency in Liverpool. The research into the miners’ strike and the Militant Tendency investigation provides new evidence that the realignment of Labour’s left, into soft-left and hard-left factions, was not complete until 1986. It is argued that the creation of this soft-left alliance around the party leader was crucial to Labour’s pursuit of modernisation in the Kinnock era. Without the soft-left’s support in 1983–84 and 1984–85, Kinnock’s majority on the NEC was paper-thin, whereas, following the soft-left’s conversion in 1986, Kinnock was able to wield a 2:1 majority at the party’s Executive.

in The modernisation of the Labour Party, 1979–97
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Christopher Massey

The position inherited by Neil Kinnock upon his election to the leadership in 1983 is central to understanding the reasons for Labour’s modernisation in the 1980s and 1990s. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Labour’s traditional left made incredible advances and fundamentally changed both the policy direction and constitution of the party. These constitutional victories, alongside far-reaching policy changes, left Labour out of touch with the country’s median voter and consequently, in a position from which the party needed to be modernised in the 1983–1997 period. This chapter investigates the successes of left-wing groups in securing the mandatory reselection of MPs and an electoral college, weighted in favour of the trade unions, for leadership elections. The controversy provoked by both Labour’s swing to the left in policy terms, but crucially also the changes to the party constitution, led directly to the foundation of the Social Democratic Party and the beginnings of Labour’s own modernisation.

in The modernisation of the Labour Party, 1979–97

This monograph recasts the modernisation of the Labour Party and sheds new light on Labour’s years in the wilderness between 1979 and 1997. The monograph uniquely traces the party’s major organisational changes across its eighteen years of opposition. Labour’s organisational modernisation in this period fundamentally altered the party’s internal structures, policy-making pathways and constitution. The study begins with an investigation into the scene inherited by Labour’s leadership in the early 1980s and examines Neil Kinnock’s quest for a stable majority on the party’s ruling National Executive Committee between 1983 and 1987. From this position the monograph surveys the major organisational changes of the Labour Party in their period of opposition: the Policy Review (1987–92), One Member, One Vote (1992–94), Clause IV (1995–96) and Partnership in Power (1996–97). Through a re-examination of Labour’s modernisation, in the light of new source material and extensive primary interviews, this research significantly contributes to the understanding of the rise of New Labour.

Christopher Massey

This chapter examines Tony Blair’s change to Clause IV, part 4, of the Labour Party constitution. The chapter investigates the historical antecedents of the clause alongside the campaigns for and against the change. It is argued, in contrast to the existing historiography, that Blair’s change to Clause IV was both symbolic and revolutionary. Whilst Labour policy has alternated between left and right throughout the party’s existence, the constitutional change secured by the revision of Clause IV made an indelible mark on Labour’s future outlook, firmly distancing the party from its past. Beyond mere symbolism, the rewriting of Clause IV cemented the changes made under Kinnock and Smith, and placed an identifiable ideological, organisational and constitutional gap between old Labour and New.

in The modernisation of the Labour Party, 1979–97
Christopher Massey

The modernisation of the Labour Party had a multitude of authors. The fightback of the traditional right in the early 1980s ensured that there was a party left to save. The defection of the soft-left in 1986 established a clear majority for modernising changes in the Kinnock years under the Policy Review. Smith’s move towards One Member, One Vote symbolically distanced the party from the trade unions in the eyes of the public, even if little power shifted within Labour’s internal mechanisms. These changes put Labour on course for a general election victory. However, Blair’s further modernisation led Labour to a landslide majority at the 1997 general election. Without Blair’s change to Clause IV Labour could not prove, beyond doubt, to the public that the party had changed from the days of the old left, or the 1983 manifesto. Without the Partnership in Power reforms the all too familiar attacks on Labour governments from the left, and from some within the trade unions, could have doomed Labour to another one-term government. Blair’s modernisation built and extended the Kinnock and Smith reforms and provided the apparatus for Labour to win three successive general elections.

in The modernisation of the Labour Party, 1979–97
Christopher Massey

This chapter analyses the progress towards modernisation made under John Smith’s leadership, principally through an examination of his relationship with the trade unions and One Member One Vote. Although Smith’s reforms had a positive impact on the image of the party, they made only small differences to the internal balance between Labour and the unions. These reforms were more symbolic than revolutionary. The trade unions traded a small share of their conference block vote (from 90 to 70 per cent) and a small decrease in their vote within the electoral college (from 40 to 33 per cent), for arguably an increased role as individual trade unionists, if not as a collective movement, in candidate selection. Yet the OMOV decision paved the way for further internal reform; however, such reform was by no means inevitable under Smith and occurred under a different leader – Tony Blair

in The modernisation of the Labour Party, 1979–97
Christopher Massey

This chapter examines the major changes made under Labour’s Policy Review of 1987–92. This Review fundamentally reversed the party’s positions on nuclear disarmament, public ownership and the repeal of Conservative trade union laws. The extent to which the Policy Review distanced Labour’s policies away from the party’s socialist roots, or narrowed the ideological gap between the Conservative Party and Labour, remains an area of significant historiographical debate. This chapter firmly argues that, rather than playing ‘catch-up’ with the successes of the Conservatives’ 1979, 1983 and 1987 election victories, the Policy Review updated Labour’s policy positions for the late twentieth-century within the parameters of the party’s history. Whilst the Review did not succeed in its ultimate objective of preparing the party for victory at the next election (ultimately held in 1992), the consultation, engagement and publicity surrounding the Review re-established, reinvigorated and redefined the Labour Party for the 1990s. In essence, the Review provided the foundations from which New Labour could be built.

in The modernisation of the Labour Party, 1979–97
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Joseph Webster

This chapter takes as its ethnographic focus the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, examining the Orange Order campaign against a ‘Yes’ vote. The chapter opens with a discussion of the Order’s exclusion from the mainstream ‘Better Together’ campaign, and their decision to set up a rival campaign called ‘British Together’. Analytically, the chapter argues that the Order found itself well outside the mainstream of the Scottish independence debate because it refused to separate (unionist) politics from (Protestant) religion, a move that was mirrored in their insistence that the SNP was not only pro-independence, but pro-Catholic. The chapter goes on to argue that this logic left many Orangemen positioning themselves as latter-day Covenanters, fighting to maintain the heritage of the Protestant Reformation. For other Orangemen, the referendum and their campaign against independence led them to embrace the identity of latter-day loyalists, imagining themselves to be fighting (as in Northern Ireland) to maintain the integrity of the UK against republican enemies. This chapter concludes with an examination of Barth’s Ethnic groups and boundaries. The chapter critiques Barth by showing how Orangemen embrace reification and self-essentialism, suggesting that such actions cannot be dismissed as analytical category errors.

in The religion of Orange politics