Labour's Civil Wars

Patrick Diamond and Giles Radice

‘The British tradition of social democracy has needed a powerful shot of political and analytical adrenaline for a long time. Patrick Diamond and Giles Radice, bearing a large syringe, are about to administer it.’
Peter Hennessy

‘Two renowned commentators, historians – and players – in Labour’s life, offer a cool assessment of times past together with some wise suggestions on how not to repeat past failings to avoid future civil wars.’
Dianne Hayter

‘Patrick Diamond and Giles Radice have written the best, highly readable history of the Labour party and its civil wars that I have ever come across. Coming from different political generations but with a shared commitment to the success of social democratic politics, Diamond and Radice tell as sad but gripping story of repeated cycles of political failure, bitter division, and Left self-destructiveness… It is a must read for anyone who cares about Labour’s future.’
Roger Liddle

‘Bloodcurdling strife has bedevilled the Labour party, as social democrats and socialists found fighting each other easier than defeating the real enemy. Here is a riveting account of that warfare: from Ramsay McDonald, to Bevan, Benn, and Blairites v Corbynism, these are tales of woe that helped keep Conservatives in power for most of our lives… Enjoy the riveting stories of bygone battles – and take hope that Labour can avoid repeating fratricide in future.’
Polly Toynbee

The biblical adage that ‘if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand’ remains sound theological advice. It is also essential counsel for any political party that aspires to win elections. Though both major parties have been subject to internal conflict over the years, the Labour Party has been more given to damaging splits. The divide exposed by the Corbyn insurgency is only the most recent example in a century of destructive infighting. Indeed, it has often seemed as though Labour has been more adept at fighting itself than defeating the Tory party.

This book examines the history of Labour’s civil wars and the underlying causes of the party’s schisms, from the first split of 1931, engineered by Ramsay MacDonald, to the ongoing battle for the future between the incumbent, Keir Starmer, and those who fundamentally altered the party’s course under his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn.

PATRICK DIAMOND is associate professor of public policy at Queen Mary University of London. He was senior adviser to the Prime Minister (2001-05) and head of policy planning in 10 Downing Street (2009-10).

GILES RADICE is a former MP and now Labour member of the House of Lords.

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