Labour And The New Social Order. Democracy The Long Revolution, ed T Hickey and D Powell, Continuum, 2007
This essay developed themes and issues developed in earlier research relating to the British Labour movement in the period after the Second World War. It looked at conceptions of industrial and political democracy as inflected and mediated through Government, Party and affiliated organisations and groupings. The study, drawing on Cabinet and Party papers, individual memoirs and diaries and trades union and employers records analysed the debates about industrial democracy within the changing political, ideological and economic situation of the new Labour government.
Whilst there has been considerable recent attention paid to the British reconstruction period, in both academic and more populist sources, much of the concern has been about the apparatus of government and the relative success or failure of key Labour initiatives, the welfare state, the nationalisation programme, the economic recovery programme etc with less attention being paid to the 'grass roots' perceptions of those policies and their impact upon pre-existing ideological formations. In looking at the more broadly conceived Labour Movement, rather than simply the Party apparatus or the key ministerial personnel, this essay put the debates about democracy, both industrial and political, in a longer historical context. In analysing key moments and key debates within Labour’s embattled administration it also sought to move away from simplistic 'left-right' internal party divisions to explore fundamental conflicts within the party and within and between the party, trades unions, co-operators and party both party and non-party activists. The essay explored the shifting debates about industrial democracy and nationalisation and the manner in which electoral considerations often impinged upon Party trajectory. To that extent it also charted some of the shift of the party from policies, and an internal persona, concerned primarily with production to policies concerned primarily with consumption, highlighting within that journey some of the intellectual and ideological antecedents of 'New Labour'.