‘What kind of people are you?’

Labour, the people and the ‘new political history’

in Interpreting the Labour Party

The 'new political history' alerts historians to the manifold relations between the politics and the people. 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. O'Farrell's blithe account of the 1980s' Labour Party shows that a range of prejudices and assumptions about lifestyle continued to flourish. The New Left theorised Labour's shortcomings in relation to those of the working class. The defensive consciousness and the paucity of theory were embodied in Labour. Besides theoretical shifts, regional studies stressing the specificity of social structures and the contingencies of local politics, and excavating a sense of popular politics are in practice. Those practices have suggested that the social explanations not alone suffice in explaining political character and patterns.

Interpreting the Labour Party

Approaches to Labour politics and history

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