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A Party with Socialists in It

A Party with Socialists in It

A History of the Labour Left

by Simon Hannah

Foreword by John McDonnell

Series: Left Book Club

A history of the British Labour Party, uncovering its deep internal divisions and shifting positions in politics.

** Guardian Politics Book of the Day**

For over a hundred years, the British Labour Party has been a bastion for working class organisation and struggle. However, has it ever truly been on the side of the workers? Where do its interests really lie? And can we rely on it to provide a barrier against right-wing forces? By looking into its history, this book shines a light on the internal dynamics of the 'party with socialists in it'.

From its origins in the late nineteenth century, the Labour Party was uncomfortably divided between a metropolitan liberal and a working class milieu, which characterises the party to this very day. This history guides us through the Bevanite movement and the celebrated government of Clement Attlee, to the emergence of a New Left that was highly sceptical of the Labour party during the Wilson era. It explores the move towards Blairism and the disheartening story of the decline of the Labour Left after their historic defeat in the 1980s.

With the emergence of socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party's fate rests in the balance. Will they reconcile their internal divisions or split into obscurity?

Published in partnership with the Left Book Club.

Simon Hannah is a writer, labour activist and trade unionist. His work has been featured in Open Democracy and New Left Project.

John McDonnell is a British Labour Party politician who was appointed the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in September 2015. He became the Member of Parliament (MP) for Hayes and Harlington at the 1997 general election, and has retained his seat from then onwards.

'A welcome corrective ... This book astutely appraises British politics’ most frustrating but important dissident tradition'

- Andy Beckett - Guardian

'Admirably clear-sighted'

- George Eaton - New Statesman

'The rise to prominence of Jeremy Corbyn has made relevant again the history of the Labour Left from which he comes. But that history is not generally known. Simon Hannah has therefore done us a great service. At a very crucial time in British politics, his book helps us to fill in important gaps in our knowledge'

- David Coates, author of Prolonged Labour: The Slow Birth of New Labour in Britain

'A well-timed explanation of the class contradictions at the root of the Labour Party from its creation to the present day'

- Graham Bash, Labour Briefing

'This informative and thought-provoking historical account allows us to assess the Party's history, whilst acknowledging that the progressive movement inspired by Corbyn's leadership is something new and exciting'

- Liz Davies, Labour Party Activist

'This well-researched history could hardly be more relevant for the political moment we are living through and participating in'

- Morning Star


- Left Foot Forward

'A well written and concise history of the Labour left from the party's inception through to the present day'

- Workers' Liberty
Series Preface
Foreword by John McDonnell
1. Divided Beginnings
2. Second Time as Disaster
3. The Age of Consent
4. The Civil War
5. 'Though Cowards Flinch...'
6. The Broad Church Collapses
7. The Single Idea
8. The Corbyn Supremacy
Published by Pluto Press in Feb 2018
Paperback ISBN: 9780745337470
Hardcover ISBN: 9780745337487
eBook ISBN: 9781786802170

288 pages

129mm x 198mm

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