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Nostalgia and the post-war Labour PartyPrisoners of the past$
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Richard Jobson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526113306

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526113306.001.0001

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‘White heat’ and the Labour Party, 1963–70

‘White heat’ and the Labour Party, 1963–70

(p.60) 2 ‘White heat’ and the Labour Party, 1963–70
Nostalgia and the post-war Labour Party

Richard Jobson

Manchester University Press

This chapter identifies and analyses the ways in which Harold Wilson’s New Britain programme, frequently identified as the apex of modernity, was held back by the nostalgic opposition marshalled against it within the party. It argues that existing historical interpretations of the Labour Party between 1963 and 1970 as ‘progressive’ and ‘modernising’ require reconsideration and revaluation. From the outset, Labour’s rank- and-file members were generally suspicious of the ‘new’ scientific and technological age that Wilson outlined in his ‘White heat’ speech at Labour’s 1963 annual conference. A nostalgic attachment to the traditional industries of the past informed the party’s hostility to notions of change and modernity. As the 1960s wore on, the party membership’s nostalgic backlash against the 1964-70 Labour Governments’ domestic policies intensified. Nostalgia dictated the parameters within which the Labour leadership could operate. It shaped the options that were available to Wilson and his allies and forced them to make both rhetorical and substantive nostalgic concessions.

Keywords:   Labour, Nostalgia, Harold Wilson, White Heat, New Britain

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