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Leading the Labour Party in the 1980s

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Martin Farr


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This is the first book collection to explore the cultures of the British left in the age of Thatcherism. The book pioneers new ways of thinking about the left's response to the neo-liberalism of the 1980s. All articles are original and none have been published elsewhere. The volume's contributors include some of the leading labour historians of our time and it emerges from a successful conference hosted in 2014 by the Labour History Research Unit at Anglia Ruskin University (although it also includes articles specially commissioned for this volume). The period saw repeated defeats and setbacks for the left: the 1983 and 1987 general elections, the Miners' Strike, privatisation, the removal of trade union rights, deindustrialisation. However, the volume argues that the 1980s was in some respects a creative decade for the left which has shaped British culture ever since. Arguments about race, democratic participation, local government, citizenship, environmentalism, sexuality and gender equality became increasingly the common sense of mainstream opinion. Despite the emergence of the Social Democratic party, the Labour party ended the decade as the principal vehicle of opposition to the Conservatives. It was an important moment in what proved to be the reinvention of the party in the form of New Labour. This will be a major contribution to understanding the pivotal decade that has shaped our times and will be a significant contribution to debates surrounding the reshaping of the Labour party after its defeat in the elections of 2010 and 2015. It builds on the earlier Labour History Research Unit volume: John Shepherd, Jonathan Davis and Chris Wrigley (eds.), The Second Labour Government: A reappraisal (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011). Labour and the Left in the 1980s does not seek to be comprehensive. Some key issues and themes are not explored. Instead, it offers a series of explorations that make sense of the cultures of protest and engagement in the 1980s. The Labour History Research Unit was founded at Anglia Ruskin University by John Shepherd and Jonathan Davis in 2007. It exists to promote research into the histories of labour and the left in Britain and around the world.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Farr M

Editor(s): Jonathan Davis and Rohan McWilliam

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Labour and the Left in the 1980s

Year: 2018

Pages: 44-68

Online publication date: 11/12/2017

Acceptance date: 01/12/2016

Publisher: Manchester University Press

Place Published: Manchester


Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781526106438