Labour in the 1980s – Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK – 15 November 2014
The 1980s was, in many ways, not a happy decade for the Labour Party and the wider labour movement. Critics point to the 1983 General Election Manifesto (‘the longest suicide note in history’), the industrial action in response to policies pursued by the Thatcher government, and of course, the four successive election defeats between 1979 and 1992 as evidence of a party in disarray. Others, however, regard the 1980s as the last bastion of old socialism before the advent of New Labour saw the party move resolutely to the centre ground, with significantly more successful electoral consequences but with many arguing the party had forgotten its roots.
The 1980s therefore tell us much about how Labour views itself, and how it presents its message to the electorate. We seek papers which explore all aspects of Labour in the 1980s. We value both top-down and bottom-up approaches, and seek to further our understanding of the party at every level from constituency to Westminster arenas. Commentaries on the nature of socialism per se in the 1980s – and which draw upon international comparison – are also very welcome.
The Labour History Research Unit at Anglia Ruskin hosts a range of events and conferences on the history of the Labour Party and wider labour movement. We intend this conference to lead to a major publication – as with a previous conference on the 1929-31 Labour Government.
Please send abstracts (max. 400 words) by Monday 16 December to email@example.com
Possible topics for papers (20 mins max.) include:
• Class in the 1980s
• Perspectives on the SDP
• What was socialism in the 1980s?
• Alternative views on the period, including ‘Red Wedge’ musician and comedian led activism
• The origins of New Labour – and perspectives on the 1980s in the New Labour era
• The international left
• Labour and Europe
• Gendered perspectives on the 1980s
• Greenham Common, women, and the peace movement
• Trade union relations with the party
• The miners’ strike, including gendered and geographical perspectives
• Studies at a constituency level
• Race and the Labour Party
• Studies of election(s) from 1979-1992
• The Thatcher governments response to the challenge of Labour
• ‘Wet’ Tory views on Labour
• Labour, the stock-market ‘Big Bang’ and the relationship of the party to capital
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