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 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.

Contextual, analytical and theoretical issues
Colin Hay

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
From Parliamentary Socialism to ‘Bennism’
Michael Newman

ITLP_C04.QXD 18/8/03 9:57 am Page 57 4 Ralph Miliband and the Labour Party: from Parliamentary Socialism to ‘Bennism’ Michael Newman Ralph Miliband completed Parliamentary Socialism at the end of 1960 and it was published in October 1961. This proved to be probably the most influential book on the Labour Party written during the post-war era – possibly the most significant of any period. As chapter 5 will confirm, the book helped shape a whole school of left-wing interpretations of the party (Coates 2002; Panitch and Leys 1997) and established an analytical

in Interpreting the Labour Party
Rhiannon Vickers

Vic05 10/15/03 2:11 PM Page 107 Chapter 5 The Labour Party, pacifism and the Spanish Civil War On 18 September 1931 Japan invaded China on the pretext that a Japanese railway in Manchuria had suffered from Chinese sabotage. Japanese troops over-ran Manchuria and set up a puppet state. China appealed to the League of Nations for assistance under Article 11 of the Covenant, and the League responded by asking Japan to evacuate the territory it had occupied. Japan, which had signed up to the Covenant of the League of Nations and the Briand-Kellogg Pact (thereby

in The Labour Party and the world, volume 1
Rhiannon Vickers

Vic02 10/15/03 2:10 PM Page 32 Chapter 2 The main political influences on the development of the Labour Party’s attitudes towards international affairs The Labour Party was born out of domestic political discontent, and its policies – to a greater extent forged in opposition up until the 1940s – tended to reflect this. Because of these two factors, Labour’s foreign policy reflected the party itself, the beliefs and standpoints of the various groups that came together to create it, and the dynamics between them, rather than necessarily the external world and

in The Labour Party and the world, volume 1
David Coates and Leo Panitch

ITLP_C05.QXD 18/8/03 9:57 am Page 71 5 The continuing relevance of the Milibandian perspective David Coates and Leo Panitch The belief in the effective transformation of the Labour Party into an instrument of socialist politics is the most crippling of illusions to which socialists in Britain have been prone . . . To say that the Labour Party is the party of the working class is . . . important . . . but it affords no answer to the point at issue, namely that a socialist party is needed in Britain, and that the Labour Party is not it, and it will not be

in Interpreting the Labour Party
Alastair J. Reid

Communist Party was frequently dismissed as Cold War propaganda. At that time his contributions to the history of the Labour Party were commonly pigeon-holed as scholarly but narrow, for they were seen as mere political history with no obvious wider implications for the analysis of society as a whole. As Jay Winter (1983: x) put it, albeit respectfully, in the Introduction to a collection of essays in Pelling’s honour: In place of what may be called the ‘sixty years’ march syndrome’ of labour history, Pelling quietly and authoritatively provided . . . a rigorous and

in Interpreting the Labour Party
Madeleine Davis

ITLP_C03.QXD 18/8/03 9:55 am Page 39 3 ‘Labourism’ and the New Left Madeleine Davis This chapter assesses the contribution made to analysis of the Labour Party and labour history by thinkers of the British New Left. In part constituted in opposition to old left tendencies, including Labour, the British New Left took an independent, broadly Marxist, position. Its thinkers thus offered theoretically informed analyses of the party and its role – mainly, as will be seen, in terms of the category labourism – that were highly critical. They were preoccupied in

in Interpreting the Labour Party
Open Access (free)
John Callaghan, Steven Fielding and Steve Ludlam

ITLP_A02.QXD 18/8/03 9:53 am Page 1 2 Introduction John Callaghan, Steven Fielding and Steve Ludlam Interpreting the Labour Party 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. The book explores their often-hidden assumptions and subjects them to critical evaluation. In introducing this collection, we position the various chapters within a wider context and draw out some of their

in Interpreting the Labour Party