Movement politics, the electoral machine, and the ‘masses’: lessons from the early Labour Party

Journal: 
Issue: 
Autumn 2016
Author(s): 

There is nothing new about the problem of reconciling the idea of the left as a radical movement enacting new ways of living, and the idea of the left as a vote-winning machine, aiming to take power and enact gradual social reform. Labour needs to learn, now, from the ways in which that difficult balance was delicately achieved in the party’s early years. And activists must heed another warning from history made doubly relevant by the fall-out from the referendum: to have disdain for ‘the masses’ will always be fatal for our political project.

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Renewal Vol 24 No 3