Kenneth O Morgan

Flying The Red Flag

Speak for Britain! A New History of the Labour Party

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The Bodley Head 464pp £20 order from our bookshop

The End of the Party: The Rise and Fall of New Labour

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Viking 802pp £25 order from our bookshop

Old Labour took pride in its history and the legends surrounding ‘This Great Movement of Ours’. In its heartlands, generations treasured what the French call lieux de mémoire, their sites of memory. It was an often sentimental tradition – heroes like Hardie, Lansbury or Bevan, crises like Taff Vale or Tonypandy, triumphs like 1945, occasional traitors, such as Frank Hodges on ‘Black Friday’ and Ramsay MacDonald in 1931. Even so, it provided a robust alternative chronicle. Nothing more signally diminished New Labour than its lack of interest in history, even the party’s own past. Tony Blair and his associates thereby emphasised their own rootlessness and detachment from a culture they sought to reinvent. It was a dangerous amnesia. The recent death of Michael Foot, that History Man supreme, underlines the point. As Nye Bevan declared, you can’t find the way ahead if you don’t know where you’ve come from. 

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