‘Bevanism’ and the Rise of Gaitskell

  • Stephen Haseler


The early years of the Labour Party in opposition saw the polarisation of political thinking and the emergence of factionalism. During this period ‘Bevanism’, as it came to be called, became a major force in both the Parliamentary Party and in the Movement. This new force not only attempted to change the domestic and foreign policies of the Party but also it attempted to control its decision-making centres, and even the central Leadership itself. The right-wing and moderate sections of the Party saw this as a direct threat not only to their own positions but also to the Party as such, and they were quick to respond to the challenge. The leaders of the large trade unions and the bulk of the PLP had, by 1955, restored their authority and also had bolstered this success by ensuring that Hugh Gaitskell (the major revisionist figure in the Party) succeeded Clement Attlee as Leader. The struggle between the ‘Bevanites’ and the right-wing establishment of the Party is important not only in illustrating the power structure of the Party and the Movement, but also in that it serves to show the firm base of right-wing and moderate opinion that launched the revisionism of Gaitskell.


Foreign Policy Trade Union Union Leader Official Policy Public Ownership 
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© Stephen Haseler 1969

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  • Stephen Haseler

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