reflection of economic changes. The communist project, which was a major
dimension of working-classpolitical identity in many European countries,
lost its appeal and credibility, because most communist parties remained
frozen in a representation of societies dating from the 1930s, and because
of the collapse of the Soviet Union. And social democracy has been subjugated by the ‘modernity’ of finance and the neoliberal market, progressively
demoting the welfare state and its benefits and protection for the working
class. The political forces which were factors
The women’s Conservative organisation in the age of partial suffrage, 1914–28
the women’s Conservative organisation in Lancashire has subsequently been explored by Neil Fleming. See N. C. Fleming,
‘Women and Lancashire Conservatism Between the Wars’, Women’s History Review, 26
Rethinking right-wing women
5 Pamela M. Graves, Labour Women: Women in British Working-ClassPolitics 1918–1939
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994); Cheryl Law, Suffrage and Power: The
Women’s Movement, 1918–1928 (London: I. B. Tauris, 1997).
6 Patricia Hollis, Ladies Elect: Women in English Local Government 1865–1914 (Oxford:
stocked in nearby buildings, they were put on trial on conspiracy charges. They were finally acquitted,
having repeatedly used the slogan ‘self-defence is no offence’.
73 Interview, 20.10.2015.
74 Merry, Equality, Citizenship and Segregation, p. 32.
75 Ibid., pp. 6–7.
76 Ibid., p. 32.
77 Sally Tomlinson, A Sociology of Special and Inclusive Education: Exploring the
Manufacture of Inability, London: Routledge, 2017, p. 145.
78 Evening Standard, 1.10.2012.
79 Justin Gest, The New Minority: White Working-classPolitics in an Era of
Immigration and Inequality, Oxford
week from £163 to £36. Wives please note!’ He also gave the nationalisation scare a distinctly economistic twist by claiming, ‘No-one has denied that
the Socialists would reduce production in Vauxhall’s, Electrolux … with lower
take-home pay.’74 No one needed to tell him that ‘instrumentalism’ lay at the heart
of new working-classpolitics, though it could do nothing to save him from defeat in
the face of his opponents’ excoriating critique of government complacency, neglect
and economic failure.
Liberals and the demonising of class
Although Luton had been Liberal in
Jokes, racism and Black and Asian voices in British comedy television
. Stedman, ‘Working class culture and workingclasspolitics in London:
Sport, Politics and the Working Class: 1870–1900; notes on the remaking of a
working class’, Journal of Social History, 7 (1974), p. 237.
14 Bailey, Peter, Popular Culture and Performance in the Victorian City (Cambridge
University Press, 1998), p. 149.
15 Malik, Representing Black Britain, pp. 100–3.
Framing The Fosters
16 For analysis see Schaffer, Gavin, ‘Till Death Us Do Part and the BBC: Racial
Politics and the British Working Classes 1965–75’, Journal of Contemporary
History, 45:4 (2010
where they could shape and influence
the direction of organised working-classpolitics, not just in the workplace,
but also beyond.
From Rock Against Racism to Grunwick
Significantly, this layer of socialist activists that came to prominence in
the early 1970s were on the whole more conscious of the dangers of racism
undermining working-class solidarity and more willing to challenge it than
socialist activists in previous waves of working-class insurgency in British
history. Principally, the difference in position towards racism arose because
this New Left, the ‘class
-Class Life with Special Reference to Publications and
Entertainments (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1958), pp. 26 and 31;
Gareth Stedman Jones, ‘Working-class culture and working-classpolitics in London 1870–1900: notes on the remaking of the working
class’, Journal of Social History, 7:4 (1974),
460–508; Bernard Waites, ‘Popular culture in late nineteenth
and early twentieth century Lancashire’, in Open
disreputable tavern culture of groups
like the Spenceans. By the 1830s, a new culture of unionism was slowly coming to
supplant Painite and Spencean outlooks in favour of an ideology based on class
It has been argued that the Irish found themselves alienated from this new type
of working-classpolitics for several reasons. Most important was the changing
profile of Irish migration to Britain. This period witnessed the near-destruction of
small manufacturing in Munster and the southern counties of Leinster as a series of
industrial recessions in 1817–19, 1822
– and of postmodern identity politics
as being in part a ‘properly interminable series of neighbourhood issues …
invested with something of Nietzsche’s social Darwinism’, at risk of ‘disintegrating into the more obscene consumerist pluralisms’ of the dominant culture.82
On this front, City Fun also homed in on the broad left culture of which
it was a part. At a time when sections of the British left were retreating from
a previously held faith in the centrality of working-classpolitics, the zine
elaborated a nuanced and comical critique of this tendency. Its
‘Crisis music’ and political ephemera in the emergent ‘structure of feeling’, 1976–83
class has been absent except when defined negatively. ‘Class,
which was once principally defined by gender and occupation, is now largely
defined by lack of employment, social marginalisation and even criminalisation’.79 This has been the consequence of the ‘cultural’ impact of the processes of
neoliberalism and the fragmentation of an identity that had been built around
work over generations via the defeat of working-classpolitical, economic and
When the punks go marching in
cultural organisations (e.g. ‘Old Labour’; Communist Party; trade unions;