Whatever Happened to the Labour Movement? Proletarians and the Far Right in Contemporary Britain

  • Thomas P. Linehan


This chapter has two principal strands. First, it contends that, historically, the British far right, because it sought to mobilise a diverse cross-class support base, as did generic fascist parties and movements in other national contexts, showed a capacity to successfully to draw support from the working class. Second, the chapter posits the view that in the contemporary period, owing to a distinct convergence of structural, ideological and party-political developments which are serving to fundamentally reconfigure the traditional British labour movement, there exists a greater potential for the far right to make inroads into working-class voter constituencies across a wide and varied geographical space. The years since the mid-1980s have been characterised by the structurally induced contraction of the organised working class, the gravitational shift to the right in British politics, the porous nature of political identities, and a waning of traditional proletarian militancy and working class collective self-identity Now passed over by New Labour and increasingly disorganised, the electoral support of unspecified numbers of workers seems to have been secured by the latest manifestation of Britain’s far right, as signified by the recent alarming British National Party (BNP) electoral gains in certain former predominantly working-class Labour strongholds, particularly in the north-west of England.


Trade Union Labour Movement Labour Party National Front Council Election 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

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  • Thomas P. Linehan

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