The Labour Party in Opposition 1970-1974 (Hardback) book cover

The Labour Party in Opposition 1970-1974

By Patrick Bell

© 2005 – Routledge

304 pages

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Paperback: 9781138867765
pub: 2016-03-03
Hardback: 9780714654560
pub: 2004-08-12
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1970 to 1974 was a pivotal period in the history of the Labour Party. This book shows how the Labour Party responded to electoral defeat in 1970 and to what extent its political and policy activity in opposition was directed to the recovery of power at the following general election. At a point in Labour's history when social democracy had apparently failed, this book considers what the party came up with in its place.

The story of the Labour Party in opposition, 1970-1974, is shown to be one of a major political party sustaining policy activity of limited relevance to its electoral requirements. Not only that, but Labour regained office in 1974 with policies on wages and industrial relations whose unworkability led to the failure of the Labour government 1974-1979, and the Labour Party's irrelevance to so many voters after 1979.

Using primary sources, the author documents and explains how this happened, focusing on the party's response to defeat in 1970 and the behaviour of key individuals in the parliamentary leadership in response to pressure for a review of policy.


"Overall, this is an excellent, well-written book with a very strong narrative. What is most pleasing about this book is the superb archival research that has gone into it, for no stone has been left unturned in the search for fine detail. Patrick Bell has produced a book which perfectly captures the reasons why Labour became highly successful in opposition by only tinkering and fine tuning its message and policies on the road back to power." - Neil Pye, University of Huddersfield

About the Series

British Politics and Society

Social change impacts not just upon voting behaviour and party identity but also the formulation of policy. But how do social changes and political developments interact? Which shapes which? Reflecting a belief that social and political structures cannot be understood either in isolation from each other or from the historical processes which form them, this series will examine the forces that have shaped British society. Cross- disciplinary approaches will be encouraged. In the process, the series will aim to make a contribution to existing fields, such as politics, sociology and media studies, as well as opening out new and hitherto-neglected fields.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Elections