Steven Fielding
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Cultural and political change in 1960s Britain

This chapter clarifies and contextualises issues that are investigated in greater depth later and outlines the author's approach to the subject. This book examines the nature of Labour's response during the 1964–70 governments led by Harold Wilson. Yet, while a work of history, it views its subject with one eye on the debate that began in the 1990s regarding how parties should react to what was believed to be another period of flux. By establishing how Labour thought and acted during the 1960s, it aims to put into perspective certain issues currently preoccupying those interested in the viability of representative politics. This chapter establishes that cultural change provoked contrasting, and often flawed, readings. Given that contemporaries necessarily lacked the benefit of hindsight, they sometimes questioned the existence of what would later be thought critical trends — and occasionally exaggerated the importance of what would subsequently prove to be fads.

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The Labour Governments 1964–70 volume 1

Labour and cultural change


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