The Labour Party in Opposition 1970-1974  book cover
1st Edition

The Labour Party in Opposition 1970-1974

ISBN 9781138867765
Published March 3, 2016 by Routledge
304 Pages

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Book Description

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, Labour History Review

"Patrick Bell has done a very thorough job of trawling through all the avaliable committee papers and interviewing key individuals. The result is that the reader gets a vivid picutre of the deep left-right split at all levels of the party and the great skill of Harold Wilson as a leader in keeping the whole show on the road." Michael Meadowcroft, Journal of Liberal History