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Political Ideology in Britain / Edition 2

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This fully revised and updated second edition of Political Ideology in Britain provides a comprehensive assessment of the evolution of ideology in Britain provides a comprehensive assessment of the evolution of ideology in Britain and its changing role in British politics at the start of the twenty-first century.

The specific focus on ideology in Britain allows the author to capture the interplay between ideas, institutions and political practice, and to illuminate the importance of ideas in politics and the constraints upon their implementation. Yet the author's approach is never insular. Distinctive British variants of ideologies are compared with international currents of thought and set against world-wide political developments.

This new edition has been updated throughout. It shows how major international developments, including new wars, genocides and acts of terrorism, as well as increased concerns over climate change and the impact of the global economic crisis, have transformed British political ideas. It also assesses the impact of a change of leadership on the ideology of each of Britain's major political parties.

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Editorial Reviews

Evaluating the changing role of ideology in contemporary British politics, this book describes contending ideologies and emphasizes their relations to the ideas, institutions, and practices of British political life. Chapters describe the content and applications of liberalism, conservatism, socialism, nationalism, fascism and racism, feminism, Green ideology, the New Right, and New Labour. Specifically British variants are compared and contrasted with international currents of thought. Leach teaches business at Leeds Metropolitan University. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
From the Publisher
Reviews of previous editions:

"A joy to read: well written with a clarity that will make it accessible to students, it is also very successful in achieving its objectives as an introduction to the main ideologies and their significance in British politics." — Wyn Grant, University of Warwick
"Clearly and objectively written, this book will interest all students of political thought." — M.Curtis, Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230584723
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 7/7/2009
  • Series: Contemporary Political Studies Series
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

ROBERT LEACH was Principal Lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University, where he is now Visiting Reader. He is also the author of The Politics Companion and with Jane Percy-Smithe of Local Governance in Britain.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures, Tables and Boxes x

Preface xi

1 Introduction: Ideology in British Politics 1

Political ideas and ideologies 1

Ideas, power and interests 2

Ideology as dogmatism - the 'end of ideology' 4

Ideological conflict and consensus 4

Contemporary approaches towards the study of ideologies 5

Studying ideology - the issue of bias 6

Elements of ideologies 8

Classifying ideologies - left and right 10

Levels of ideology 13

Power, influence and indoctrination 15

Ideology and pragmatism in British politics 17

Moderation and consensus in British politics 18

The British political tradition 19

Further reading 21

2 Liberalism 23

Introduction 23

Liberalism: key concepts and values 25

Early influences on liberalism in Britain 30

The Whig tradition 32

Radicals 34

Classical economics and utilitarianism 36

Victorian liberalism 38

Liberalism, Capitalism and democracy 40

The New Liberalism 42

The decline of the Liberal party - and the triumph of liberalism? 45

The ideas of modern Liberals and Liberal Democrats 47

The Liberal Democrats today 49

Further reading 51

3 Conservatism 53

Introduction 53

What is conservatism really about? Key values and concepts 54

The Tory tradition 61

Reaction and reform 63

Imperialism, unionism and protection 64

'One-Nation' conservatism 66

The New Right and Thatcherism 67

Classical liberalism, neo-liberalism and the free market 69

Neo-conservatism 72

Tensions within Thatcherism 74

Ideology and pragmatism 76

The legacy of Thatcherism 77

From Thatcher to Major 78

Conservatism in opposition - from Hague to Howard 81

Conservatism today 85

Further reading 89

4 Socialism91

Introduction 91

Evolutionary and revolutionary socialism 92

State socialism, anarchism and syndicalism 95

Socialism: key concepts and values 97

Socialism in nineteenth-century Britain 101

Marxism and the British labour movement 103

Trade unionism and labourism 105

Ethical socialism 107

Fabian socialism 108

State socialism and alternatives to state socialism 110

Labour in power? MacDonaldism 112

Labour in power - the Attlee government 113

Revisionism, fundamentalism and pragmatism 115

Democratic socialism and social democracy 118

The international context: the Cold War and collapse of Communism 120

The road to New Labour - the end of labourism? 121

New Labour in power 126

Labour under Brown 129

Further reading 134

5 Nationalism 137

Introduction 137

What is nationalism? 138

When and why nationalism developed 139

Varieties of nationalism 140

Nations and states in Britain 147

Nationalism in nineteenth-century Britain 149

Scottish and Welsh nationalism 150

Nationalism and devolution 152

Europe, regionalism and nationalism 156

Globalisation, decentralisation and the future of nationalism 159

Further reading 161

6 Racism and Fascism 163

Introduction 163

Racist ideology: critical issues 164

The origins and development of racism - physical, cultural and religious differences 165

Colonialism and imperialism 166

'Scientific' racism 167

Fascism and Nazism 169

Fascism in Britain 172

Immigration and race in modern Britain - a new racism? 174

Racism and class 177

Racism, religion, and religious fundamentalism 177

Racism, asylum seekers and Europe 179

Institutional racism 180

Anti-racism 182

Ethnic-minority community mobilisation 183

Further reading 185

7 Multiculturalism 186

Introduction 186

Culture 186

Cultures 187

Ethnic minority cultures 189

Culture and identity 190

From homogeneous national culture to a multicultural society? 192

The case for multiculturalism 196

The conservative critique of multiculturalism 199

The liberal critique of multiculturalism 201

Further reading 206

8 Feminism 207

Introduction 207

The origins and development of feminist thought - liberal feminism 208

Modern feminist criticism of liberal feminism 210

Socialist and Marxist feminism 211

Criticism of Marxist and socialist feminism 213

Radical feminism 215

Criticism of radical feminism 217

Eco-feminism 219

The impact of the New Right - Conservative feminism? 220

Feminism and post-modernism 222

Post-feminism or new feminism? 223

Further reading 228

9 Green Ideology 229

Introduction 229

Green and other ideologies 230

Greens and the right 231

Greens and the left 233

Key elements of green thinking 234

Limits to growth - sustainability 235

Ecocentrism 237

The holistic approach 239

Small is beautiful? 240

Green strategy 243

Further reading 249

10 Changing Ideologies 250

Continuity and change 250

From class politics to identity politics? 250

A new political consensus? 252

The 2008 financial crisis and its ideological implications 254

The impact of the 2008 US Presidential election 257

Bibliography 259

Index 275

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