Identities of class, locations of radicalism : popular politics in inter-war Scotland
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This thesis explores the shifting political culture of inter-war Scotland and Britain via an examination of political identities and practice in Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh. Drawing on the local and national archives of the Labour movement and the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) alongside government records, newspapers, personal testimony and visual sources, relations on the political Left are used as a means to evaluate this change. It is contended that, as a result of the extension of the franchise and post-war fears of a rise in political extremism, national party loyalties came to replace those local political identities, embedded in a sense of class, trade and place, which had previously sustained popular radicalism. This had crucial implications for the conduct of politics, as local customs of popular political participation declined, and British politics came to be defined by national elections. The thesis is structured in two parts. The first section considers the extent to which local identities of class and established provincial understandings of popular democracy came to be identified with an appeal to class sentiment excluded from national political debate. The second section delineates the repercussions this shift had for how and where politics was conducted, as the mass franchise discredited popular traditions of protest, removing politics from public view, and privileging the individual elector. In consequence, the confrontational traditions of popular politics came to be the preserve of those operating on the fringes of politics, especially the CPGB, and, as such, largely disappeared from British political culture. This thesis thus offers an important reassessment of the relationship between the public and politics in modern Britain, of the tensions between local and national loyalties, and of the role of place in the construction of political identities.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2020-11-04
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Electronic copy restricted until 4th November 2020
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