This is an ambitious work. Professor Jefferys’s goal is to write history from the bottom up. He shuns the doings of politicians climbing the greasy pole, with their battles over policies and personalities. At first sight it seems odd for a study of twentieth-century politics to have an index that contains no reference to George Lansbury, Lord Halifax, Roy Jenkins, Michael Heseltine or Gordon Brown and only an entry or two for most prime ministers and party leaders. But the goal of this readable work is to focus on ordinary people and on the extent of their civic involvement.
It is a difficult venture, as Cole and Postgate showed in their pioneer work, The Common People, written seventy years ago. The evidence has to be amorphous. What was going on – or not going on – in the minds of electors is never easy to