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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.

Contextual, analytical and theoretical issues

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
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origins and development in the last two centuries in some depth, giving particular attention to the British Labour Party. We conclude with some reflections on ‘Blairism’ and the ‘Third Way’, and the possible future of socialism as an ideology. POINTS TO CONSIDER Does the assertion that socialism is the product of specific historical circumstances cast doubt on its

in Understanding political ideas and movements
The evolution of Labour’s foreign policy, 1900–51

This is the first book in a two-volume set that traces the evolution of the Labour Party's foreign policy throughout the twentieth century and into the early years of the new millennium. It is a comprehensive study of the political ideology and history of the Labour Party's world-view and foreign policy. The set argues that the development of 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. The first volume outlines and assesses the early development and evolution of Labour's world-view. It then follows the course of the Labour Party's foreign policy during a tumultuous period on the international stage, including the First World War, the Russian Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, the build-up to and violent reality of the Second World War, and the start of the Cold War. The book provides an analysis of Labour's foreign policy during this period, in which Labour experienced power for the first time.

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The emergence of the British Labour Party

Vic01 10/15/03 2:09 PM Page 16 Chapter 1 Context: the emergence of the British Labour Party The Labour Party emerged in a very specific context, namely to represent the working class of the most powerful nation of its day. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Britain’s dominant position in the world, her economic, military and political power, were largely taken as given, and Labour’s world-view and foreign policy developed within this environment of Britain as global hegemon. This is not something that the founders of the Labour Party necessarily

in The Labour Party and the world, volume 1

understanding relations between states, and each their own way of responding to concrete situations. These different influences provided a rich source for ideas on international politics, but also produced impulses towards Labour’s appropriate response to particular foreign policy issues that were sometimes antithetical to each other. This has added to the problems of developing a typology of the British Labour Party’s foreign policy, while also explaining in part the depth of the some of the intra-party conflict on international affairs. The first main group and influence

in The Labour Party and the world, volume 1

, R. (1994) Intellectuals and Socialism – ‘Social Democrats’ and the British Labour Party Downs, A. (1957) An Economic Theory of Democracy, New York Driver, S. and Martell, L. (1997) ‘New Labour’s communitarianisms’, Critical Social Policy, 17:3 Driver, S. and Martell, L. (1998) New Labour. Politics After Thatcherism, Cambridge Dunleavy, P. (1991) Democracy, Bureaucracy and Public Choice: Economic Explanations in Political Science Goes, E. (2000) ‘Blair and Jospin: two different paths for social democracy?’ Paper presented at the Political Studies Association Annual

in Interpreting the Labour Party
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British Labour Party, given by Hartwig Pautz and Eric Shaw respectively, are more negative. Pautz examines the SPD’s programmatic debates from the 1990s until the present day, including its engagement with ‘third way’ revisionism, and finds that the outcome has been deep confusion in the SPD’s identity, policies and electoral appeals. Shaw directs our attention to the ‘third way’ government par excellence, the Blair–Brown administration in Britain, and in particular to Labour’s approach to public services. Shaw acknowledges the significant public investment in education

in In search of social democracy
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The Nairn–Anderson interpretation

by reformists in the United Kingdom, a trajectory that led directly to the exceptional form of labourism as a peculiarly British phenomenon. Although lacking Nairn’s historical perspective, Wertheimer’s discussion of Labour politics also accords a fundamental significance to exceptionalism. His central contrast was with the German Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD) but he also drew more general parallels between Britain and Europe. The opening sentence of his book is blunt: ‘The foreign socialist undertaking a study of the British Labour party is met by

in Interpreting the Labour Party
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Soviet Union offered a competing world-view to that of the British Labour Party. Chapter 4 examines the post-war period and the two Labour minority governments of 1924 and 1929–31, which saw a number of foreign policy achievements. As a result, the Labour Party had some considerable impact at this time on British views of internationalism, the arms trade and the League of Nations. From the early 1920s to the late 1930s, the internationalist, anti-war section of the party, strongly influenced by the UDC, dominated Labour Party thinking on international affairs. While

in The Labour Party and the world, volume 1