The renewal of radicalism

Politics, identity and ideology in England, 1867–1924

Author: Matthew Kidd

The renewal of radicalism maps the trajectory of Labour politics from its origins in a ‘class-conscious’ radical tradition through to its emergence as a major electoral force in the 1920s. During the 1880s and 1890s, working-class radicals in the East Midlands, East Anglia and the South West embraced the collectivist spirit of the times and built local labour parties that eventually became local branches of the national Labour Party. But even as they established new organisations, ‘labour’ activists – as they came to be known – remained committed to the cultural assumptions, discursive practices and ideological beliefs of their political predecessors. Focusing on largely neglected areas in provincial England, this book offers a new narrative of continuity that challenges conventional understandings of English political history. By applying the conceptual analysis of ideologies to the world of local politics, it identifies, for the first time, the conceptual building blocks of radical and labourist ideologies, suggesting that both deserve to be treated separately from liberalism and socialism. It also offers fresh perspectives on the Labour Party’s contribution to the ‘nationalisation’ of political culture; the survival of restrictive assumptions about gender, place, work, nationality and race in the face of political and economic change; and the process through which political identities and ideologies were forged at a local level.

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