Narratives of Delusion in the Political Practice of the Labour Left 1931–1945.


Roger Spalding’s new book, published by Cambridge Scholars, sets out a challenging re-interpretation of the politics of Labour’s left-wing. It shows how the Left developed a range of simplistic, self-sustaining narratives, rather than supported analyses, to guide its actions in the aftermath of the political crisis of 1931. This approach, it is argued, persisted down to the opening years of the present century; its employment in part explaining the decline of the pre-Corbyn Left.

The narratives developed by the Left reflected a belief in the existence of a working class waiting to be led in a radical direction. The leading figures of the Left often had limited direct contact with working people, but, within their narratives, the responses of their target audience were predictable and automatic. The Left created an idealised working class that behaved as the Left wished.

In addition, the book questions the popular view, often enhanced by biographers of many of these Labour Left leaders.


Roger Spalding currently leads the BA History programme at Edge Hill University, UK. Before his appointment at Edge Hill, he worked for a number of years in independent television production as a producer and researcher, producing, among other things, Fish‘n’Ships, a two part documentary on the Grimsby fishing industry for Channel 4, which was screened in 1987, accompanied by a book of the same name. Since then he has published in a variety of areas, including articles on the Labour Party in the Second World War in Socialist History; Labour’s treatment of its centenary in New Politics; and the history of the British fishing industry in Journal of Regional and Local Studies. His most recent books include Historiography: An Introduction (with Christopher Parker; 2007) and an edited collection Entertainment, Leisure and Identities (with Alyson Brown; 2007).