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British Politics

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 106–120 | Cite as

Deep religion: policy as faith in Kinnock’s Labour Party

  • Karl PikeEmail author
Forward Thinking

Abstract

Shorn of a coherent theoretical basis for the party’s socialism, some of the Labour Party’s policies become emblematic of the party’s worldview. While Labour’s commitment to public ownership has long been considered in this way, comprehension of how the party’s ‘nostalgia’ or ‘traditions’ affect the party’s trajectory could be aided by a better understanding of why certain policies become so deeply rooted. This article contributes to the existing literature on this topic in two ways. First, in expanding upon Henry Drucker’s concept of ethos, it seeks to establish a framework for understanding why some policies become tantamount to faith in the Labour Party. Second, using this frame, it analyses how Kinnock successfully changed a symbolic policy, working within and through Labour’s ethos. This article explores policy characteristics that combine to make a policy emblematic of Labour’s ideology: a strong socialist heritage; a stark contrast with the Conservative opposition; an adhesive quality which can bind Labour people together and relevance to internal factionalism. As the current Labour leadership consolidates its power, this article also suggests that, while long-dormant, policies such as unilateralism retain their potency and may once again form a part of Labour’s platform.

Keywords

British politics Labour Party Ethos Policymaking Nuclear weapons Neil Kinnock 

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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Politics and International RelationsQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK

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