A major history of the decline and fall of one of the dominant ideologies of this century.
Tony Blair’s espousal of privatization before the last General Election finally extinguished the life of socialism as a significant political force in this country. There have been many reasons – both philosophical and personal – for its demise, yet in the end socialism sickened and died because of its impracticability and the failures consequent thereon.
Edmund Dell’s highly authoritative and compellingly written history traces the British socialist tradition from the origins of the Labour Party in the trade union movement, examining what socialism meant to the Atlee government in 1945 and what socialist governments from Atlee to Callaghan sought to achieve and why they often failed. It portrays the leading figures and their thoughts and actions from the perspective of one who was an MP and a Minister during the heyday of Labour in the seventies, and who knew all the key players well.
A Strange Eventful History echoing George Dangerfield’s classic The Strange Death of Liberal England, will show how socialism tried to come to terms with reality but died in the attempt; how it failed to resolve its own paradoxes and how, as a result, revisionists and the hard left were set at each others’ throats; how policies attractive to the trade unions and the working classes eventually alienated them; how it broke upon the rock of Europe; and how the SDP finally destroyed the chances of either wing of the Labour Party and enabled Thatcherism to try a very different road to economic regeneration.
Following the tortuous path of the socialist project among the fields of philosophy, policing and personality, with a cast of characters that includes not only leading figures in the Labour Party but those who in their different ways have contributed to the death of socialism such as Macmillan, Heath and Thatcher, A Strange Eventful History will be a highly significant book about one of the great – but ultimately doomed – movements of the last hundred years.
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Reviews for The Chancellors:
‘The best book this year’
'A Strange Eventful History' is one of the dramatic rise and fall of one of the dominant ideologies in British twentieth century history. For the last one hundred years the pursuit of socialism by democratic means has been a source of both inspiration and vexation to some of Britain's most remarkable politicians. In 1900 British socialist groups combined to form the Labour Representation Committee, in order to establish 'a distinct Labour Group in Parliament', the first waymark on the parliamentary road to socialism. On the hundredth anniversary of the Labour party, Edmund Dell reviews the century and follows Labour's reluctant transition from socialism, advocated as a new form of society, to its acceptance of the market economy. He traces the fortunes of both the people and the politics. The cast of characters includes not only the leading figures in the Labour party, from Ramsay MacDonald to Tony Blair, but also others such as Mrs Thatcher, Edward Heath and Harold MacMillan who, he argues, have been prime contributors to socialism's death. From the visions of the new Jerusalemers and the rescue plans of Keynesianism, toi Clause IV socialism and the view of a modernised social democracy in the Third Way, Dell elucidates successive attempts to adapt socialism. But, he concludes, each has only created a new set of unresolvable problems: socialism has tried to come to terms with reality but died in the attempt.
This is a timely, authoritative and panoramic study, informed by the author's own knowledge of many of the key protagonists over a period of fifty years.
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Book Description Harpercollins, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 1St Edition. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0002559374