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Psychological SocialismThe Labour Party and Qualities of Mind and Character, 1931 to the Present$
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Jeremy Nuttall

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780719071645

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719071645.001.0001

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(p.126) 5 1979–1994
Psychological Socialism

Jeremy Nuttall

Manchester University Press

Before the 1980s, the Labour Party could electorally afford to give little systematic attention to the issue of qualities of mind and character. However, the revival of the political right from 1979 onwards forced socialists to assess their own interpretation of ‘human nature’ more openly in various ways. This chapter therefore makes some reference to the Conservatives' approach to qualities of mind and character as a means of illuminating that of their main opponents. The Conservative Party won four consecutive elections between 1979 and 1992. Central to their political dominance was an intellectual factor: the right's apparently perceptive understanding of ‘human nature’. For Margaret Thatcher, ‘self-interest will generally prevail in the real world’. It is not clear why David Marquand dismissed the potential of ‘kindly altruism’, or how, in a liberal society, doing one's duty would be achieved without kindly altruism. This chapter also focuses on Neil Kinnock and the issue of responsible behaviour in politics, ‘soft socialism’, and the continuing prioritisation of economics by both Conservatives and Labour.

Keywords:   Labour Party, self-interest, human nature, Conservative Party, Margaret Thatcher, kindly altruism, David Marquand, Neil Kinnock, soft socialism, economics

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