This is a book written for the times – indeed for this particular moment. A certain kind of Englishness, incoherent and by no means shared by all the English, is driving the United Kingdom out of the European Union, regardless of the consequences, while a certain kind of Scottishness, by no means shared by all Scots, has brought Scotland to the point of independence and, therefore, all of us towards the end of the United Kingdom as we know it. What happens to Northern Ireland is anyone’s guess. Of the two major parties, Labour has probably suffered most from the upheavals caused by the warring nationalisms of the United Kingdom, though the Conservatives have fared little better. Gerry Hassan and Eric Shaw’s aim is to account for this. Their book attempts to study Labour’s relationship with Britishness and to explain why Labour was apparently so unprepared for the political and electoral turmoil of the last decade.
The authors suggest that there are five strands in Labour’s political and ideological history. The first is unreformed parliamentarianism, which they see as playing a central role. The second is the expansion of the state and the urge to centralise. The third is the party’s constitutional conservatism and commitment