In 2016 Labour burst into new life. The Westminster beltway of political insiders, pollsters, commentators and newspaper proprietors were left with egg all over their faces. Few took the trouble to ask how or why Labour, almost alone amongst parties on the left in Europe, had re-grouped, revived and successfully turned its back decisively on Tony Blair and Bill Clinton's 'third way'; how it had four times as many members as it had a few years before, and at last was appealing to the young.
Labour England wasn't dead. It had been sleeping. For thirty years it had been kicked into near oblivion, first by Margaret Thatcher and then by Tony Blair. That strange, sentimental, almost mystical mix of the trade unions, adult education institutes, powerful Labour councils, the local comprehensive school and the local Co-op that sustained Labour governments for thirty years from the 1940s to the 1970s had been in full retreat. Now, against all the odds, it was back.
Francis Beckett and Mark Seddon have been around Labour politics too long to be blind to the downsides of Corbynism. But they say that the Corbyn phenomenon has revived the spirit of Labour when it was on the brink of extinction and that Corbyn will be a Prime Minister in the best traditions of Labour England. And that those, in the Labour Party and elsewhere, who want only for an end to it, are on the wrong side of history.
In this book they chart the forty-year decline of the Labour Party, and its extraordinary revival.
Francis Beckett is an author, award-winning journalist and playwright. He has been a Labour Party press officer, a trade union head of communications, and president of the National Union of Journalists. His nineteen books include Clem Attlee, Fascist in the Family (which is about his own father) and 1956: The Year that Changed Britain. Mark Seddon was editor of Tribune for thirteen years and a member of Labour's ruling National Executive Committee for eight years, before becoming the first UN & New York correspondent for al Jazeera English TV. He has also worked for UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon and for Gordon Brown in his capacity as UN Special Envoy for Global Education. He has written for amongst others: the New York Times, Boston Globe, The Guardian, The Times, The Independent, Daily Mail, The Spectator, New Statesman, Private Eye, The Oldie and Country Life. He is the author of Standing for Something: Life in the Awkward Squad.