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Mile End Institute

Futures of Socialism

Cover of Colm Murphy's new book, Futures of Socialism, features a photo of Neil Kinnock speaking at Labour Party conference under the flags of each nation of the UK and the Union Jack.


The transformation of the Labour Party by 1997 is among the most consequential political developments in modern British history and still shapes contemporary politics. 

Rocked by crushing defeats, bitter schisms, and ideological disorientation across the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, the British left struggled to respond to a succession of existential challenges, including the remorseless pressures of deindustrialisation, the historic threat of neoliberalism, the acceleration of European integration, and the fraught politics of class, gender, race and democracy. By Tony Blair's landslide election victory in 1997, the Labour Party and the wider left were both unrecognisable.

In this pioneering work of contemporary history, the MEI's very own Colm Murphy dives into the tumultuous world of the British Left after 1973 and overhauls the story of Labour's 'modernisation'. By reconstructing the institutional, intellectual, and political culture of the British left from the 1970s to the 1990s, this innovative book explores the left's different responses to these severe challenges. Murphy not only uncovers forgotten visions of 'modern socialism' and important roads not taken, but also sheds light on the roots of 'New Labour'. 

Futures of Socialism provides an essential analysis of social democracy in an era of market liberalism, and of a historic political reconstruction that remains deeply controversial today. 

Order your personal copy or recommend Futures of Socialism to your institutional library HERE

What people say about the book:

'Futures of Socialism makes a major contribution to our understanding of the British Left between the rise of Thatcherism and the emergence of New Labour. This book is a deft and nuanced exploration of Labour's late twentieth-century modernisation and will undoubtedly become a touchstone in the history of the contemporary Left' - Professor Stephen J. Brooke, York University, Canada

'Brilliantly captures how the Left experienced a process of creative reinvention in the cold climate of the 1980s, challenging the myth of neo-liberal dominance in late twentieth-century Britain. All observers of contemporary British history and politics should read this hugely important book' - Professor Patrick Diamond, Director of the Mile End Institute 

'Shows how a rich and varied discourse on the nature of "modernising" Labour politics came to be narrowed into a single view of what that entailed. A powerful reminder of how the "roads not taken" continue to shape the political present' - Dr Emily Robinson, University of Sussex

'There is no better starting point for politicians, commentators, and academics who want to contribute to the debate on Labour's past and future than Colm Murphy's book' - Professor Ben Jackson, Co-Editor of Political Quarterly

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