- 社會經濟史學 (ISSN:00380113)
- vol.67, no.6, pp.689-704, 2002-03-25
Until the late 1980s, the British Labour Party under the leadership of Gaitskell and Wilson was perceived to have been much less successful than the Party had been under Attlee. But in recent years, with the emergence of 'New Labour', more sympathetic analyses have gained ground. This article will reassess the various interpretations through surveying both old and recent writings on the Labour Party of the 1950s and 1960s. In particular, we will look closely at the much questioned attempts by Gaitskell and Wilson to modernise the Party : the removal of Clause IV, the widening of the Party's electoral appeal, and the modernising of Britain through a 'scientific revolution'. Overall, faced by the increased affluence of the 1950s and 1960s, it became more and more difficult for the Labour Party to continue an interventionist stance. On balance, we accept the view that modernising projects were inevitable and necessary. However, Labour revisionists failed to show their own coherent version of a socialist Britain. We also find some difficulty in rehabilitating Wilson and his governments. Although he successfully united the Party traditionalists and modernisers with a new vision of a socialist society, once elected his priority was to remain in office rather than to make and implement policy.