Speaking for the People, first published in 1998, draws our attention to the problematic nature of politicians' claims to represent others, and in doing so it challenges conventional ideas about both the rise of class politics, and the triumph of party between 1867 and 1914. The book emphasises the strongly gendered nature of party politics before the First World War, and suggests that historians have greatly underestimated the continuing importance of the 'politics of place'. Most importantly, however, Speaking for the People argues that we must break away from teleological notions such as the 'modernisation' of politics, the taming of the 'popular', or the rise of class. Only then will we understand the shifting currents of popular politics. Speaking for the People represents a major challenge to the ways in which historians and political scientists have studied the interaction between party politics and popular political cultures.
Preface; Abbreviations; Introduction; Part I. Rethinking Popular Politics: 1. From the rise of 'demos' to the rise of 'class'; 2. Working-class homogeneity reconsidered; 3. Relocating popular politics; Part II. A Local Study: Wolverhampton, c.1860-1914: 4. Liberal hegemony and its critics; 5. Popular Toryism and the origins of Labour politics; 6. Labour and the working class, 1890-1914; Part III. Party Games, 1885-1914: 7. Popular politics and the limitations of party; 8. The fall and the rise of popular Liberalism, 1886-1906; 9. Labour roots, Labour voices, Labour myths; Conclusion; Bibliography.