Dissension and Decline (1950–60)

  • Henry Pelling


The main characteristics of the 1950’s for the Labour Party were: public dissension among its leaders, and a decline of its popularity with the electorate. The two features were of course connected, though perhaps not as closely as some people may imagine, for, as we have seen, there had been plenty of open disagreements within the party in its long years of growth before the Second World War.


Short History Party Leadership Labour Party Defence Policy Conservative Party 
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Further Reading

  1. For a journalistic but well-informed account of the controversies within the Labour ranks, see Leslie Hunter, Road to Brighton Pier (1959).Google Scholar
  2. For left-wing attitudes to questions of foreign policy in the first postwar decade, see Leon D. Epstein, Britain: Uneasy Ally (Chicago, 1954).Google Scholar
  3. Different views of the party’s power-structure and the role of the party conference are put by Robert T. McKenzie in his British Political Parties and by Saul Rose, ‘Policy Discussion in Opposition’, Political Studies, iv (1956), 126–38.Google Scholar
  4. See also Robert T. McKenzie, ‘Policy Decisions in Opposition: A Rejoinder’, Political Studies, v (1957), 176–82. Mr McKenzie’s book, though of great value, deals inadequately with the historical role of the trade-union leadership within the party.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. For an account of how the succession to Attlee was determined, see the articles by Lord Williamson and Sam Watson in W. T. Rodgers (ed.), Hugh Gaitskell, 1906–63 (1964).Google Scholar
  6. Martin Harrison’s Trade Unions and the Labour Party since 1945 is also important for this period, as are the Nuffield election studies for 1951, 1955, and 1959, all of them partially or wholly prepared by David Butler.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Henry Pelling 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henry Pelling
    • 1
  1. 1.St John’s CollegeCambridgeUnited Kingdom

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