The trade union contribution to the
A ndrew Thorpe
The debate about the relationship between the trade unions and Labour
politics in Britain is older than the Labour Party itself. It has been the stuff
of great controversy, arousing considerable comment as well as important
academic work. Lewis Minkin, in particular, has offered a series of detailed
analyses of the relationship.1 Essay and article-length works look at various
aspects the relationship, particularly for the period since 1945.2 The fifteen
years or so after the Second World
Anglo-Irish diplomatic relations and the
‘The Opposition have put forward proposals for advancing towards a
united Ireland. We believe that that is the right course that we should
travel.’1 With these words, the Labour Party leader, Michael Foot, heralded his party’s commitment to the pursuit of Irish unification by consent, a policy that was welcomed by the Irish government in 1981.2 In
the absence of majority consent to unification, Labour sought improvements in Anglo-Irish relations and the expansion of the Irish
The BritishLabourParty and the tragedy of
Northern Ireland Labour
Labour politics is regarded as a minority pursuit in Northern Ireland.
Indeed, the recent ‘Troubles’ all but destroyed the electoral prospects
of non-sectarian democratic socialism in that deeply divided part of the
United Kingdom. However, there is much more to the story than conventional wisdom would care to admit. For instance, the BritishLabourParty enjoyed long-standing structural ties with the Northern Ireland
Labour Party (NILP) from the 1920s until the 1970s. This
This collection of essays explores a largely neglected aspect of the history of Anglo-Irish relations: British Labour Party policy on Ireland during the twentieth century. Much of the literature on the relationship between ‘these islands’ concentrates on the present or the recent past, but by viewing an important dimension of that relationship through a wider lens, this work makes a significant contribution to the field British-Irish studies, one that will inform future research and debate. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Labour Party was broadly supportive of Irish self-government, as reflected in its espousal of a home rule settlement. However, from the end of the First World War, Labour anticipated a place in government. As a modern, maturing party that was intent on proving its ability to govern, it developed a more calculated and measured set of responses to Irish nationalism and to the ‘Irish question’. With contributions from a range of distinguished Irish and British scholars, this collection provides the first full treatment of the historical relationship between the Labour Party and Ireland in the last century, from Keir Hardie to Tony Blair. By examining the party’s responses to crises and debates around home rule, partition, Irish neutrality during WWII, Ireland’s departure from the Commonwealth, and the Northern ‘Troubles’, it offers an original perspective on longer-term dispositions in Labour mentalities towards Ireland.
This book is an attempt to take stock of how some of the British Labour Party's leading interpreters have analysed their subject, deriving as they do from contrasting political, theoretical, disciplinary and methodological backgrounds. It explores their often-hidden assumptions and subjects them to critical evaluation. The book outlines five strategies such as materialist; ideational; electoral; institutional; and synthetic strategies. Materialist, ideational and electoral explanatory strategies account for Labour's ideological trajectory in factors exogenous to the party. The 'new political history' is useful in understanding Labour within a less reductive framework than either the 'high' or 'from below' approaches and in more novel terms than the Left-Right positions adopted within Labour. The book assesses the contribution made to analysis of the Labour Party and labour history by thinkers of the British New Left. New Left critiques of labourism in fact represented and continued a strand of Marxist thinking on the party that can be traced back to its inception. If Ralph Miliband's role in relation to 'Bennism' is considered in comparison to his earlier attitudes, some striking points emerge about the interaction between the analytical and subjective aspects in his interpretive framework. Miliband tried to suggest that the downfall of communism was advantageous for the Left, given the extent to which the Soviet regimes had long embarrassed Western socialists such as himself. The Nairn-Anderson theses represented an ambitious attempt to pioneer a distinctive analysis of British capitalist development, its state, society and class structure.
This study is concerned with the ‘Old’ Labour right at a critical juncture of social democratic and Labour politics. It attempts to explain the complex transition from so-called ‘Old Right’ to ‘New Right’ or ‘New Labour’, and locates at least some of the roots of the latter in the complexity, tensions and fragmentation of the former during the ‘lean’ years of social democracy in the 1970s. The analysis addresses both the short- and long-term implications of the emerging ideological, organisational and political complexity and divisions of the parliamentary Labour right and Labour revisionism, previously concealed within the loosely adhesive post-war framework of Keynesian reformist social democracy, which have been neglected factors in explanations of Labour's subsequent shift leftwards, the longer-term gestation of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the evolution of ‘New’ Labour. It establishes the extent to which ‘New’ Labour is a legatee of at least some elements of the disparate and discordant Labour right and tensions of social democratic revisionism in the 1970s. In so doing, the analysis advances our understanding of a key moment in the development of social democracy and the making of the contemporary British Labour Party. The book represents a significant departure in analyses and explanations of both the problems and demise of post-war social democracy and decline of ‘Old’ Labour and the origins and roots of ‘New’ Labour.
Explanations of working-class politics in Australia and Britain have traditionally been heavily rooted in domestic 'bread and butter', socio-economic factors, including the much-debated issue of social class. 'Traditional' and 'revisionist' accounts have greatly advanced our knowledge and understanding of labour movements in general and labour politics in particular. This book offers a pathbreaking comparative and trans-national study of the neglected influences of nation, empire and race. The study is about the development and electoral fortunes of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the British Labour Party (BLP) from their formative years of the 1900s to the elections of 2010. Based upon extensive primary and secondary source-based research in Britain and Australia over several years, the book makes a new and original contribution to the fields of labour, imperial and 'British world' history. It offers the challenging conclusion that the forces of nation, empire and race exerted much greater influence upon Labour politics in both countries than suggested by 'traditionalists' and 'revisionists' alike. Labour sought a more democratic, open and just society, but, unlike the ALP, it was not a serious contender for political and social power. In both countries, the importance attached to the politics of loyalism is partly related to questions of place and space. In both Australia and Britain the essential strength of the emergent Labour parties was rooted in the trade unions. The book also presents three core arguments concerning the influences of nation, empire, race and class upon Labour's electoral performance.
This book makes an important contribution to the existing literature on European social democracy in the wake of the 2008 financial crash and ensuing recession. It considers ways in which European social democratic parties at both the national and European level have responded to the global economic crisis (GEC). The book also considers the extent to which the authors might envisage alternatives to the neo-liberal consensus being successfully promoted by those parties within the European Union (EU). The book first explores some of the broader thematic issues underpinning questions of the political economy of social democracy during the GEC. Then, it addresses some of the social democratic party responses that have been witnessed at the level of the nation state across Europe. The book focuses in particular on some of the countries with the longest tradition of social democratic and centre-left party politics, and therefore focuses on western and southern Europe. In contrast to the proclaimed social democratic (and especially Party of European Socialists) ambitions, the outcomes witnessed at the EU level have been less promising for those seeking a supranational re-social democratization. In order to understand the EU-level response of social democratic party actors to the Great Recession, the book situates social democratic parties historically. In the case of the British Labour Party, it also identifies the absence of ideological alternatives to the 'there is no alternative' (TINA)-logic that prevailed under the leadership of both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
This book attempts to understand how two sister centre-left parties, the British Labour Party and the Australian Labor Party (ALP), have sought to adapt to the modern era and effect changes. It identifies and examines a range of drivers for Labour's desire to experiment and find new forms of citizen engagement. Linked to the influence of the New Social Democracy (NSD) is the lingering legacy of the new public management (NPM) reforms implemented in the public sectors in both countries. For Labour, democratic renewal is an attempt to secure wider legitimacy in neoliberal settings; similarly, the NSD is also linked to the debates about the perceived shift from government to governance. The NSD has attempted to respond to these debates and in Britain a concerted effort has been made to reformulate the role of the state and, by extension, civil society. The book examines how far the NSD has influenced Labour governments in Britain and Australia. It establishes Labour's interest in democratic renewal, specifically, the role of political participation and civic engagement in the wider context of democratic theory. Given that the NSD calls for an 'active citizenry', this is important. A central motif of democratic theory is an ambivalence about the role of political participation in a modern liberal democratic polity. The book explores how far New Social Democratic governments in Britain and Australia have been successful in seeking to link new forms of public dialogue to existing democratic decision-making processes in the modern western world.
normal politics and that the NILP would emerge as a party capable of winning marginal seats like East Belfast’. 8 Unfortunately, what probably crippled morale even further among the rank-and-file was the blundering attitude of the BritishLabourParty, whilst in power and in Opposition. In his role as Home Secretary James Callaghan had ordered the introduction of troops onto the province’s streets in August 1969; once out of office both Callaghan and Harold Wilson did little to reverse this decision – even entering into a bi-partisan line on security with Edward Heath