'"Affluence" and the Left in Britain, c.1958-1974'
English Historical Review
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Middleton, S. (2014). '"Affluence" and the Left in Britain, c.1958-1974'. English Historical Review, 129 (536), 107-138. https://doi.org/10.1093/ehr/ceu004
Accounts of British politics in the 1950s and 1960s have hitherto treated ‘affluence’ as a socio-economic condition to which political thinkers and actors responded, with varying degrees of success. This article suggests that closer attention to contemporary usage demonstrates instead that ‘affluence’ constituted a conceptual field in which many of the Left’s crucial ideological and strategic battles were fought during the 1960s. It identifies four distinct usages of the term in Labour discourse following the 1959 election, which were synthesised into a critique of the Conservative Government in the early 1960s, and demonstrates how ‘affluence’ was later turned against the Wilson administrations by their critics on the left. Re-thinking the history of ‘affluence’ in this way sheds new light upon the re-alignment of Labour politics after 1970, with its renewed emphasis upon redistribution and working-class interests; and demonstrates how the meaning of ‘affluence’ came to be fixed in historical usage such that its significance for contemporaries, and its influence upon the course of Labour politics, have hitherto been imperfectly understood.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/ehr/ceu004
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/282917