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The art of the possiblePolitics and governance in modern British history, 18851997: Essays in memory of Duncan Tanner$
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Chris Williams and Andrew Edwards

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780719090714

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719090714.001.0001

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Community and the Labour left in 1970s London

Community and the Labour left in 1970s London

(p.207) 10 Community and the Labour left in 1970s London
The art of the possible

John Davis

Manchester University Press

This essay traces the relationship between the New Left and the official Labour Party in London in the 1970s, arguing that the tensions evident in these years go a long way towards explaining the Party’s problems in the following decade. The New Left, comprising student and other libertarian radicals associated with ‘1968’, sought to develop communitarian solutions to the social problems of a capital suffering from housing shortage and the decline of traditional industries, and to challenge the authority of sclerotic and socially conservative Constituency Labour Parties. With the housing issue most prominent in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the politics of empowerment, centred on tenants’ and squatters’ movements, gained a certain traction, but it is argued that the community politics movement was essentially at odds with urban evolution in the 1970s. The conviction that residential gentrification represented a major part of the threat to working-class community enhanced the left’s hostility to the middle-class radicals emerging as the new leadership of many inner-city CLPs and Councils.

Keywords:   New Left, London, Labour Party, 1968, Community politics

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