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.

Steven Fielding

2 Labour’s organisational culture The purpose of this chapter is to establish the institutional context for Labour’s response to cultural change.1 It surveys the character of the party’s organisation and the nature of its membership on the verge of the 1960s, and in particular highlights the activities and assumptions of those most responsible for the party’s well-being. Before that can be done, however, it is necessary to outline Labour’s organisational structure and identify some of the issues to which it gave rise. The basic unit in all 618 constituency

in The Labour Governments 1964–70 volume 1
Nick Randall

ITLP_C01.QXD 18/8/03 9:54 am Page 8 1 Understanding Labour’s ideological trajectory Nick Randall The Labour Party is habitually considered the most ideologically inclined of all British political parties, and ideological struggle has been endemic within the party since its foundation. It is no surprise, therefore, that studies of the party have endeavoured to understand why Labour’s ideology has shifted repeatedly throughout its history. This chapter considers those efforts. A large and varied literature is available to explain Labour’s ideological movements

in Interpreting the Labour Party
Open Access (free)
Actresses, charity work and the early twentieth-century theatre profession
Catherine Hindson

4 Offstage labour Actresses, charity work and the early twentieth-century theatre profession Catherine Hindson Though their stage performances often feature as the subjects of focused attention, early twentieth-century actresses functioned as part of a wider theatre industry that was sustained by the non-theatrical social, material, consumer and economic cultures that surrounded it. In this context, the onstage performances offered by actresses of this period were just one element of more expansive, diverse professional repertoires that also included offstage

in Stage women, 1900–50
Rhiannon Vickers

Vic04 10/15/03 2:10 PM Page 80 Chapter 4 The Labour minority governments The Labour Party saw an improvement in its electoral fortunes in the immediate post-war period. At the 1918 election Labour gained 22 per cent of the vote, a tremendous increase from 7 per cent at the last election held in 1910.1 During the war both the trade union and the Labour Party membership had doubled, and working-class militancy had increased in the first few years of peace.2 With the concomitant increase in class-consciousness, the working class now identified far more

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

Vic03 10/15/03 2:10 PM Page 54 Chapter 3 Labour and the First World War The Labour Party grew only moderately in parliamentary strength following its 1906 election success of thirty seats, gaining forty seats in the election of January 1910, and forty-two seats in the election the following December.1 However, the labour movement in general was growing significantly in terms of its economic, social and political impact, with trade union membership increasing from just under two million in 1900 to over four million in 1914, at a time of rising union

in The Labour Party and the world, volume 1
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
Theories and evidence
Josep Banyuls and Albert Recto

7 Labour segmentation and precariousness in Spain: theories and evidence Josep Banyuls and Albert Recio Introduction Spain is a country with strongly marked contrasts in the labour market. Since the economic crisis of the 1970s until today it is the European country that has experienced the greatest fluctuations in the volume of employment. During periods of recession, unemployment rates have been among the highest worldwide, but conversely, during recovery periods, employment growth has been very intense. It is also the European labour market with the greatest

in Making work more equal
Annamaria Simonazzi

14 Labour policies in a deflationary environment Annamaria Simonazzi Introduction National models of employment, production and welfare both mediate and respond to multiple pressures for change associated with various external and internal challenges: increased globalisation, deregulation and financialisation of markets, technological change, the ageing of the population and migration flows. The analysis of these challenges, their effect ‘in maintaining, reshaping, revitalizing or indeed destabilizing national employment models’, as well as the interlocking

in Making work more equal