The period between 1918 and 1945 witnessed dynamic social and economic developments in Britain as the notion of a government controlled economy and welfare state took root. In order to be understood, this shift in the political landscape needs to be seen in context of the growth of mass political movements and the implementation of fuller democratic processes in the aftermath of the Great War. But whilst much has been written on the rise of the Labour Party, the decline of the Liberals and the domination of the Conservatives in the sphere of high politics, much less research has been done on the local or regional experience of Britain's main political parties between the wars. This volume brings together ten essays that together provide an introduction to the role, influence and effectiveness of Labour Party activists across Britain. Taking a systematic and comparative approach that examines a range of representative areas, this volume is more than simply a collection of local studies. Instead it utilises the local to develop and illuminate the wider dynamics at work inside the Labour Party. By emphasising the role of the party membership, Britain's social and political evolution can be reconstructed from grass-roots level, taking into account the priorities and expectations of the people who sustained and cultivated the nation's social-political base. By addressing reoccurring issues of interest to labour historians, such as gender, nationalism, the co-operative movement and trade unionism, through the locus of regionalism and local party activity, this volume will not only provide scholars with a better understanding of the Labour Party, but should stimulate similar much needed research into other political parties and organisations.
Contents: Introduction: Labour's grass roots, Matthew Worley; Elections, leaflets and whist drives: constituency party members in Britain between the wars, Stuart Ball, Andrew Thorpe, Matthew Worley; Following the procession: Scottish Labour, 1918-45, Catriona Macdonald; 'Happy hunting ground of the crank'? The Independent Labour Party and local Labour politics in Glasgow and Norwich, 1932-45, Gidon Cohen; Making politics in local communities: Labour women in interwar Manchester, Karen Hunt; Labour's family: local Labour parties, trade unions and trades councils in cotton Lancashire, 1931-39, Andrew Flinn; The reactions of municipal voters in Yorkshire to the second Labour government, 1929-31, Sam Davies and Bob Morley; The political dividend: co-operative parties in the Midlands, 1917-39, Nicole Robertson; Gender, civic culture and politics in South Wales: explaining Labour municipal policy, 1918-39, Duncan Tanner; Sociable capital: London's Labour parties, 1918-45, Daniel Weinbren; 'One of the most backward areas of the country': The Labour Party's grass roots in South West England, 1918-45, Andrew Thorpe; The formation of party milieux: branch life in the British Labour Party and the German Social Democratic Party in the interwar period, Stefan Berger; Index.