Hard left

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

Hard left was a pejorative term used by elements of the media to describe left wing Labour MPs, organised in the Socialist Campaign Group and Labour Briefing, as well as Trotskyist groups such as Militant, the Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Organiser. These are groups that were more influenced by Marxism in contrast to the soft left which had a more gradualist approach to building socialism.

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.[1]

The pejorative was used during Gordon Brown's leadership for some Labour MPs in contrast to the soft left.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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

Further reading[edit]