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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.

The making of modern Gibraltar since 1704

This study concerns the history of Gibraltar following its military conquest in 1704, after which sovereignty of the territory was transferred from Spain to Britain and it became a British fortress and colony. It focuses on the civilian population and shows how a substantial multi-ethnic Roman Catholic and Jewish population, derived mainly from the littorals and islands of the Mediterranean, became settled in British Gibraltar, much of it in defiance of British efforts to control entry and restrict residence. To explain why that population arrived and took root, the book also analyses the changing fortunes of the local economy over 300 years, the occupational opportunities presented and the variable living standards which resulted. Although for most of the period the British authorities primarily regarded Gibraltar as a fortress and governed it autocratically, they also began to incorporate civilians into administration, until it eventually, though still a British Overseas Territory, became internally a self-governing civilian democracy. The principal intention of the study is to show how the demographic, economic, administrative and political history of Gibraltar accounts for the construction, eventually and problematically, of a distinctive ‘Gibraltarian’ identity. With Gibraltar's political future still today contested, this is a matter of considerable political importance.

Shipyard workers and social relations in Britain, 1870–1950

This study examines British shipbuilding and industrial relations from 1870 to 1950, addressing economic, social, and political history to provide a holistic approach to industry, trade unionism, and the early history of the Labour Party. Examining the impact of new machinery, of independent rank-and-file movements and of craft and trade unions, it provides an account of industrial action in shipyards in the period and their effect on the birth and development of the Labour Party.

Democratic socialism and sectarianism

This is a definitive history of the Northern Ireland Labour Party (NILP), a unique political force that drew its support from Protestants and Catholics and became electorally viable despite deep-seated ethnic, religious and national divisions. Formed in 1924 and disbanded in 1987, it succeeded in returning several of its members to the locally based Northern Ireland parliament in 1925–29 and 1958–72, and polled some 100,000 votes in the 1964 and 1970 British general elections. Despite its political successes, the NILP's significance has been downplayed by historians, partly because of the lack of empirical evidence and partly to reinforce the simplistic view of Northern Ireland as the site of the most protracted sectarian conflict in modern Europe. The book brings together archival sources and the oral testimonies of the NILP's former members to explain the enigma of an extraordinary political party operating in extraordinary circumstances. It situates the NILP's successes and failures in a broad historical framework, providing the reader with a balanced account of twentieth-century Northern Irish political history.

Open Access (free)

Rohinton Mistry is the only author whose every novel has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Such a Long Journey (1991), A Fine Balance (1995) and Family Matters (2002) are all set in India's Parsee community. Recognised as one of the most important contemporary writers of postcolonial literature, Mistry's subtle yet powerful narratives engross general readers, excite critical acclaim and form staple elements of literature courses across the world. This study provides an insight into the key features of Mistry's work. It suggests how the author's writing can be read in terms of recent Indian political history, his native Zoroastrian culture and ethos, and the experience of migration, which now sees him living in Canada. The texts are viewed through the lens of diaspora and minority discourse theories to show how Mistry's writing is illustrative of marginal positions in relation to sanctioned national identities. In addition, Mistry utilises and blends the conventions of oral storytelling common to the Persian and South Asian traditions, with nods in the direction of the canonical figures of modern European literature, sometimes reworking and reinflecting their registers and preoccupations to create a distinctive voice redolent of the hybrid inheritance of Parsee culture and of the postcolonial predicament more generally.

Along with the suffrage campaign, women's liberation activism is one of the most renowned aspects of women's political history. The women's liberation movement (WLM) has often been linked with the 'big city'. This is the first book-length account of the women's liberation movement in Scotland, which charts the origins and development of this important social movement of the post-1945 period. In doing so, it reveals the inventiveness and fearlessness of feminist activism, while also pointing towards the importance of considering the movement from the local and grassroots perspectives. This book has two central arguments. First, it presses for a more representative historiography in which material from other places outside of the large women's liberation centres are included. Second, it highlights that case studies not only enrich our knowledge about women's liberation but they also challenge the way the British movement has been portrayed by both participants and historians. The book commences with contextualising the subject and summarising recent research into the movement in the United Kingdom. It looks at the roots of the movement by offering portrayals of the women who went on to form women's liberation groups in Scotland. The book then analyses the phenomenon of 'consciousness-raising' (CR) and the part it had to play in the WLM's development. The focus then moves to exploring where, when and why women's liberation groups emerged. The campaigns taken up by the WLM were to defend abortion rights and campaign against violence against women.

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A new history

Chartism was a profoundly politicised response to recent political history, but it did not develop in an economic vacuum. Indeed, in the later nineteenth century, it became commonplace for those who had been Chartists or who sympathised with them to explain the movement and excuse its militancy exclusively as the politics of hunger. The book focuses on political activities because Chartism (for all its compelling cultural dimensions) was nothing if not a political movement. Its emphasis has therefore been upon selected 'lower tier' Chartist leaders because it was at this level that the movement's enduring legacy was so vital. The book shows that Chartism was a movement of small victories. It might also be characterised as having a multiplicity of small endings. The book emphasises the perils of the elegiac mode. Blatant careerism, political charlatanry, and vapid oratory could all be found in Chartism along with casual anti-Semitism, racism and personal dishonesty. There were serious systemic flaws too. O'Connor's alarm at the implications of the new move reflected a creditable concern that Chartism must remain united around the democratic and egalitarian vision of The People's Charter. Yet more than once in the movement's history, O'Connor and other Chartist leaders were confounded, even unnerved, when suddenly faced by truly mass political mobilisation. A gradual transition from a movement that emphatically mobilised whole communities to one which increasingly espoused the male-breadwinner ideal and the politics of respectability closed-off opportunities for women's participation.

The reign of Richard II

This book covers one of the most controversial and shocking episodes in medieval English history, the 'tyranny' and deposition of Richard II and the usurpation of the throne by his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, who became King Henry IV. Richard's deposition was arguably the most portentous event in the political history of late medieval England. The book represents all the principal contemporary chronicles from the violently partisan Thomas Walsingham, chronicler of St Alban's Abbey, who saw Richard as a tyrant and murderer, to the indignant Dieulacres chronicler, who claimed that the 'innocent king' was tricked into surrender by his perjured barons. Of the three most substantial contemporary chronicles which cover the earlier part of Richard's reign, two cease before 1397: namely the Westminster Chronicle, which ends in 1394, and the Chronicon Henrici Knighton, which peters out in 1395. Fortunately, the third, the Chronica Maiora of Thomas Walsingham, continues through the revolution of 1399 and well beyond, right up to 1420. The Lancastrian, French and Cistercian chronicles are the principal narrative accounts of the years 1397-1400, though they are not the only ones. The book focuses on the course of the Bolingbroke-Mowbray dispute, or his description of the early events of the 'Epiphany Rising'.

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The military in British art, 1815-1914

In an age when engraving and photography were making artistic images available to a much wider public, artists were able to influence public attitudes more powerfully than ever before. This book examines works of art on military themes in relation to ruling-class ideologies about the army, war and the empire. The first part of the book is devoted to a chronological survey of battle painting, integrated with a study of contemporary military and political history. The chapters link the debate over the status and importance of battle painting to contemporary debates over the role of the army and its function at home and abroad. The second part discusses the intersection of ideologies about the army and military art, but is concerned with an examination of genre representations of soldiers. Another important theme which runs through the book is the relation of English to French military art. During the first eighty years of the period under review France was the cynosure of military artists, the school against which British critics measured their own, and the place from which innovations were imported and modified. In every generation after Waterloo battle painters visited France and often trained there. The book shows that military art, or the 'absence' of it, was one of the ways in which nationalist commentators articulated Britain's moral superiority. The final theme which underlies much of the book is the shifts which took place in the perception of heroes and hero-worship.

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Over a writing career spanning more than fifty years, Thomas Pynchon has been at the forefront of America's engagement with postmodern literary possibilities. This book explores the ways in which postmodernity, and its embrace of epistemological, ethical and ontological aporia, is put to work in the service of profound reflections on the political possibilities of narrative. Pynchon remains the most elusive and important writer of American postmodernity. V., Thomas Pynchon's first novel, was published in 1963. Within the dialectic of freedom and constraint , Pynchon's characters find themselves in networks of signification they struggle to understand but which urge them to make connections and establish forms of relationship. Of the stories reprinted in Thomas Pynchon's Slow Learner, the book discusses three in detail: 'Low-lands', 'The Secret Integration' and 'Entropy'. It examines how critics have argued about the ways in which Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 sets it in the contexts of debates about modernism and postmodernism. Published in 1973, Gravity's Rainbow has frequently been described by critics as Pynchon's most complex, challenging and experimental novel. Vineland describes how the paranoid sensibility is encouraged and maintained by structures of power that require the identification and persecution of an enemy who is variously defined across the political history of the United States. Mason & Dixon, published in 1997, takes the reader back to the period of the country's founding and the historical densities of eighteenth-century colonial culture. Against the Day is an epic novel of global and other-worldly proportions.