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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.

Nick Randall

new skilled working class. Thus Crewe (1992: 96) argued: ‘If Labour is ever again to form a secure majority government it must pitch camp on the “affluent centre ground”.’ Ideational strategies A second approach to understanding Labour’s ideological shifts is to refer to ideational factors. Here two broad sets of explanations emerge. The first strand has been concerned with dominant ideas. The ‘Labourist’ critique of the party has identified a dominant bourgeois intellectual tradition in Britain which constrains and moderates Labour ideologically. For Anderson (1992

in Interpreting the Labour Party
Abstract only
Tim Aistrope

subsequently elaborated into a broader strategic logic. Identity politics and the War of Ideas This section explores tensions embedded in the Bush Administration’s ideational strategy via an analysis of the NSS 2006. The NSS is the central US policy document on national security. 31 It is hard to over-emphasise its importance

in Conspiracy theory and American foreign policy