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Durham e-Theses
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The labour party, Europe and consensus politics 1960. 1975

Redford, Dan (2000) The labour party, Europe and consensus politics 1960. 1975. Masters thesis, Durham University.



This thesis concerns the Labour Party and British European Policy. While Labour, historically, has had a pluralistic structure and has been prone to internal division, in Government the Party felt compelled by the external environment within which it was operating, to maintain the 'consensus’ view. It was able to do this because the post- war consensus was strong enough to cement it into the governmental process.(^1) Out of office, however. Labour opposed the same policies it had proposed in Government. By doing so the Party performed its constitutional role of opposition and was, more importantly, also able to maintain a semblance of Party unity. So before elections and while the Party is in power, the tendency is usually towards an ideological compromise around which the Party can unite, if only temporarily. In opposition, however, the ideological differences become more acute, there is more ideological debate and those on the extreme ends of either wing of the Party stand a better chance of influencing policy. Compromises made while in government may heighten ideological disputes once the Party loses an election, since a genuine compromise is almost impossible.(^2) Applying these insights to the seemingly perennial issue of Britain's relationship with Europe, our story is fundamentally about how Labour simultaneously dealt with the emerging consensus about Common Market membership in the 1960's and early 1970's, whilst also dealing with the abiding problem of party unity. In this thesis we examine how unity in the Labour Party was so difficult to achieve for the Party leadership during a period in which British governments were persistently confronted with the need to accommodate significant changes in Britain's global role.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:2000
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:13 Sep 2012 15:49

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