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Prisoners of the past

This book examines the impact that nostalgia has had on the Labour Party’s political development since 1951. In contrast to existing studies that have emphasised the role played by modernity, it argues that nostalgia has defined Labour’s identity and determined the party’s trajectory over time. It outlines how Labour, at both an elite and a grassroots level, has been and remains heavily influenced by a nostalgic commitment to an era of heroic male industrial working-class struggle. This commitment has hindered policy discussion, determined the form that the modernisation process has taken and shaped internal conflict and cohesion. More broadly, Labour’s emotional attachment to the past has made it difficult for the party to adjust to the socioeconomic changes that have taken place in Britain. In short, nostalgia has frequently left the party out of touch with the modern world. In this way, this book offers an assessment of Labour’s failures to adapt to the changing nature and demands of post-war Britain.

Approaches to Labour politics and history

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.

Trying but failing to renew social democracy

When Ed Miliband was elected leader of the Labour Party in 2010 he sought to turn the page on New Labour and use the global financial crisis as an opportunity to renew social democracy. With great intellectual and ideological gusto Miliband and his team searched, adopted and adapted new and old ideas that would address the policy puzzles left open by the global financial crisis. This book seeks to determine whether Ed Miliband was successful in his task by analysing the different ideas that were adopted and adapted by the Labour Party in the period 2010-15. Using discursive institutionalism and historical institutionalism, this book will map the political ideas and will identify the main ideational, institutional and political constraints that impacted and shaped the Labour Party’s political agenda. The book argues that the Labour Party under Ed Miliband tried but failed to renew social democracy. The timing, the prevalence of the neoliberalism in public discourse as well as Miliband’s inability to find a coalition of supporters for his transformative agenda and his own shortcomings as party leader led to a watered down political agenda that lacked boldness, clarity and definition. This lack of definition and clarity was one of the reasons why Milibandism was so overwhelmingly rejected by voters in May 2015.

Labour’s foreign policy since 1951

This is the second book in a two-volume study tracing the evolution of the Labour Party's foreign policy throughout the twentieth century to the present date. It is a comprehensive study of the history of the Labour Party's worldview and foreign policy. The study argues that Labour's foreign policy perspective should be seen not as the development of a socialist foreign policy, but as an application of the ideas of liberal internationalism. Volume Two provides a critical analysis of Labour's foreign policy since 1951. It examines Labour's attempts to rethink foreign policy, focusing on intra-party debates, the problems that Labour faced when in power, and the conflicting pressures from party demands and external pressures. The book examines attitudes to rearmament in the 1950s, the party's response to the Suez crisis and the Vietnam War, the bitter divisions over nuclear disarmament and the radicalisation of foreign and defence policy in the 1980s. It also examines Labour's desire to provide moral leadership to the rest of the world. The last two chapters focus on the Blair and Brown years, with Blair's response to the Kosovo crisis and to 9/11, and his role in the ‘war on terror’. Whereas Blair's approach to foreign affairs was to place emphasis on the efficacy of the use of military force, Brown's instead placed faith in the use of economic measures.

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.

Paul Kelemen

1 The Labour Party and the Zionist project In the last two decades of the nineteenth century, it was common among socialists, anarchists and radicals of all sorts to give voice to anti-semitic sentiments by identifying the harshest forms of capitalist exploitation at home and abroad with Jewish financiers and industrialists. In Britain, there was a surge of anti-semitism in 1899–1900 during the Boer War, anti-semitic attacks against ‘rich Jews’ persisted for some years in sections of the socialist press1 and isolated outbursts of such prejudices also continued

in The British left and Zionism
Richard Jobson

4 Reinventing the Labour Party, 1983–92 Introduction New Labour’s ‘year-zero’ approach to politics and its advocacy of the idea that it represented a fundamental rupture with the party’s past meant that it was never entirely comfortable locating the genesis of its ‘modernising’ programme in the years during which Neil Kinnock was party leader. As we shall see in the next chapter, Tony Blair made it clear that he believed he (and, effectively, John Smith before him) had inherited a party that was still in thrall of its nostalgia. Central to this analysis was the

in Nostalgia and the post-war Labour Party
Contextual, analytical and theoretical issues
Colin Hay

ITLP_C12.QXD 18/8/03 10:02 am Page 182 12 How to study the Labour Party: contextual, analytical and theoretical issues Colin Hay The political analysis and the political economy of the British Labour Party have tended to concern themselves principally with the concrete and the substantive. This is both unremarkable and entirely legitimate. Yet something is potentially lost. For while an aim of the present collection is to discuss the principal positions of some of the leading exponents in this literature, it cannot be doubted that the literature rests

in Interpreting the Labour Party
Alastair J. Reid

9780719081033_2_C14.qxd 1/20/10 9:09 Page 306 14 John Hill and an independent Labour Party Given the analysis of John Hill’s radicalism in the previous chapter, it is clearly no longer adequate to characterise every new development in the early Labour Party as a step towards the public ownership of the means of production. The new moves were rather, for some time into the twentieth century, about a traditional liberal outlook negotiating changing times. In the first half of 1917 change was in the air but there was little to suggest the domestic political

in The tide of democracy
From Parliamentary Socialism to ‘Bennism’
Michael Newman

ITLP_C04.QXD 18/8/03 9:57 am Page 57 4 Ralph Miliband and the Labour Party: from Parliamentary Socialism to ‘Bennism’ Michael Newman Ralph Miliband completed Parliamentary Socialism at the end of 1960 and it was published in October 1961. This proved to be probably the most influential book on the Labour Party written during the post-war era – possibly the most significant of any period. As chapter 5 will confirm, the book helped shape a whole school of left-wing interpretations of the party (Coates 2002; Panitch and Leys 1997) and established an analytical

in Interpreting the Labour Party