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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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Ideology and Temporality

Ideology and Temporality

(p.18) 1 Ideology and Temporality
History, heritage and tradition in contemporary British politics

Emily Robinson

Manchester University Press

The distinction between conservatism and progressivism is often understood as one of temporal perspective, with conservatives looking backwards and progressives forwards. This characterisation is contested in this chapter, which shows that both conservatism and progressivism involve nostalgia and obligation to the past but that this has different implications within each tradition: inheritance and preservation on the one hand, action and justice on the other. Moreover, it suggests that both attitudes are in decline, having been predicated on a division between the parties’ views of their place in British politics which no longer holds true. The Conservative and Labour parties can no longer be characterised as the representatives of ‘national’ versus ‘sectional’ interest, of ‘elite’ versus ‘marginalised’ history. Both parties now compete for the same place in the national story and both have adopted a similar approach to the past. This approach is strongly influenced by Whig history and can best be described as ‘presentist’.

Keywords:   Conservatism, Progressivism, Time, Temporality, Presentism, Nostalgia, Whig interpretation of history, Socialist history

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