Hard left

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For the usual meaning of hard left, see far-left politics.

The 'hard left' is a reference used by conservative elements[who?] in the media in the United Kingdom to describe sections of the British left, both inside and outside the Labour Party.[1] In the 1980s in the United Kingdom, the term hard left was used to brand groups such as the Socialist Campaign Group and Labour Briefing, as well as Trotskyist groups such as Militant tendency, the Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Organiser. The hard left was more strongly influenced by Marxism, while the soft left had a more gradualist approach to building socialism. Politicians commonly branded as hard left in the Labour Party included Derek Hatton, Ken Livingstone,[2] Dennis Skinner,[3] Eric Heffer,[4] and the current Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn (although this label has been rejected by some, such as former First Minister of Wales and former leader of Welsh Labour, Rhodri Morgan).[5][6][7]

In 1997 Paul Anderson and Nyta Mann wrote:

Labour [in the early 1980s] was ... in the depths of the fratricidal blood-letting that had engulfed it after the defeat of Jim Callaghan's government. The activist left in the constituency parties and the trade unions, with support from some left MPs, most notably Tony Benn, was in revolt against what it saw as the failure of the 1974–9 government to put Labour's principles into practice. On policy, it was insistent that Labour adopt unambiguously radical positions, particularly withdrawal from the European Economic Community and unilateral nuclear disarmament ... But the activists' biggest priority was to make the Parliamentary Labour Party accountable to the party as a whole ... The left coalition [the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy] was a bizarre mix of radical democrats, Leninists old and new, traditional Labour leftists, feminists, libertarians and decentralists. It was notoriously unstable, not least because it could not agree on the detail of its proposed reforms to the party constitution, and was already beginning to divide into a hard left that wanted to push the revolt to its limit and a soft left that was prepared to compromise.[8]

During Gordon Brown's leadership of the Labour Party, MPs in the Socialist Campaign Group and the Labour Representation Committee were described as hard left in contrast to the soft left represented by politicians such as Jon Cruddas.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Paul Anderson; Nyta Mann (January 1997). Safety First: The Making of New Labour. Granta Books. ISBN 978-1-86207-070-7. 
  2. ^ Hill, Dave (2002). Marxism Against Postmodernism in Educational Theory. Lexington Books. p. 188. ISBN 0739103466. 
  3. ^ Andrew Roth (20 March 2001). "Dennis Skinner". The Guardian. Andrew Roth's parliament profiles. 
  4. ^ Thorpe, Andrew (2008). A History of the British Labour Party (3rd ed.). Palgrave Macmillan. p. 228. ISBN 1137248157. 
  5. ^ Kilroy-Silk, Robert (29 September 1986). Hard labour: the political diary of Robert Kilroy-Silk. Chatto & Windus; University of Michigan. Retrieved 26 September 2015. 
  6. ^ Christopher J. Kam (26 March 2009). Party Discipline and Parliamentary Politics. Cambridge University Press. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-521-51829-1. 
  7. ^ "Labour's Rhodri Morgan rejects Jeremy Corbyn as hard left". BBC News. Retrieved 29 September 2015. 
  8. ^ Anderson and Mann, Safety First: The Making of New Labour, Granta, 1997, ISBN 1-86207-070-9 chapter 31. FAULTY LINK. http://www.granta.com/books/chapters/31
  9. ^ Luke Akehurst. "Elections should be fun". the Guardian. Retrieved 29 September 2015. 

Further reading[edit]