What does the History of the Labour Party tell us?

175 TUTOR: Christopher Barder

Despite whatever else happens by the time you read this, or indeed during the course, it may seem from history that the Labour party is not much given to looking back with remorse or guilt. The party also seems to espouse internationalism not patriotism. It has historical roots in Marx if not Marxism, Socialism and the Trade Union movement. It has generally chosen to operate within the British parliamentary democracy, but does it still? Plans for a Marxist leadership with disrespect for private property and earnings may once have existed largely within Militant Tendency and the writers of the Socialist Worker paper. However, are they nowadays becoming more acceptable within the party as a whole?

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Course Notes

What do these imply about beliefs and objectives?

Why did working men feel the need of such a party; what about its broader context helps explain this need?

After World War I, how did it come to power and why so briefly?

What economic, social and legal features defined the Party?

What happened to divide it and how was it affected by 1926 General Strike and 1931 National Government?

How did the Party develop a foreign policy, especially in light of Fascists in Europe and at home, given it had to relate more and more to the middle classes of parliament?

1945 landslide - how come?

How to interpret the creation of a bolted-on welfare state, added to the Liberal one of 1906-14?

Today some such leaders would have been called full of 'toffs' and not traditional Labour

The 1950s and 60s - how socialist, how moderate? Tearing one another to pieces in 'Conference' became a tradition

Wilson and Heath: leading to the IMF and Callaghan - spend and go bust

1980s huff and puff and get punished in the polls - why?

1990s and the age of Blair and his flair, a middle way? Really? A war that he thought right and the public did not

United Kingdom starts to divide - why? Has devolution ended that or made it worse?

A freak heir to Michael Foot or even further Left? What does this really mean, the Corbyn Communist Party; and has it been a Labour characteristic lurking beneath, before, or has it just now emerged?

This outline seeks to show what has lurked beneath, what does lurk beneath now and what the Labour Party thinks itself necessary for. Is it all about class war, or finding pockets - such as among minorities - of the needy? Why is it so closely associated with anti-Semitism? Why is the Left a tradition when its origins suggest it is outmoded, old fashioned and needlessly confrontational and divisive? Or is it useful, benevolent and a great aid to the country in economic and foreign policies? Hopefully this course will inform you to be the jury concerning these and many other issues.

Course Tutor

Christopher Barder

About Christopher

Christopher Barder, a sometime History Foundation Scholar at Pembroke College Cambridge and researcher, has had various articles published on British politics and international relations. He has had books published and in-depth analyses of Israeli security affairs; and has a pronounced understanding of matters pertaining to terrorism and policy. He has not stood on the fence too often!

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