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History, heritage and tradition in contemporary British politicsPast politics and present histories$
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Emily Robinson

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780719086311

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719086311.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
History, heritage and tradition in contemporary British politics

Emily Robinson

Manchester University Press

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, which presents contemporary party politics as ahistorical, it is clear that history remains an ever-present point of reference in political discourse, providing a source of lessons, warnings and precedents. Yet while previous understandings of the political past emphasised its capacity to make demands upon the present – whether of conservative duty or radical obligation – this has now been sidelined in favour of a present-focused view of the past as ‘heritage’, which can be embraced or rejected as politically expedient. Above all, the past is used to set the present within a legitimating framework, whereby it appears constantly ‘historic’, as can be seen in the rhetoric surrounding the 2010 General Election and formation of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.

Keywords:   Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition, 2010 General Election, Progressivism, Conservatism, Nick Clegg, Historicised society, Heritage

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