Mon, 20 May 2024

Newsletter sign-up

Subscribe now
The House Live All
By Earl of Sandwich
By Baroness Lister
By Baroness Bryan
Press releases

A magnum opus: Lord Clark reviews 'A Century of Labour'

London, 1924: Members of the first Labour government leaving Buckingham Palace | Image by: Heritage Image Partnership Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

3 min read

A sophisticated and revealing history, Jon Cruddas writes with great style

When I first saw this book, I wondered if there was really the need for another history of the Labour Party. As I began reading, it became clear I was wrong. This book is different and adds greatly to our understanding of the emergence of Labour as a party of government. It is particularly relevant as on 24 January 2024, it is 100 years since Labour first became the government of Britain.

For most of the 20th century much effort was expended in academia on explaining how Labour replaced the Liberal Party as an alternative to the Conservatives. That basic task has been completed, and we now understand how and why the changes occurred.

Cruddas effortlessly interweaves his extensive and unique insight to add substance to his new approach in evaluating Labour’s history

This book is different. It takes as read the background history. It is a more sophisticated and revealing approach. Jon Cruddas writes with great clarity in this sympathetic analysis in identifying key themes of Labour’s history: its origin and question of its purpose. His analysis of these critical issues paints the picture of Labour’s past and future, and Cruddas effortlessly interweaves his extensive and unique insight to add substance to his new approach in evaluating Labour’s history.

A Century of LabourAs he does so, he draws upon his encyclopaedic knowledge of the Labour movement. Cruddas knows the party’s history inside out, based on having “been active in the trade union and Labour movement for 44 years” and having represented the Labour Party for 35 years, initially as a local councillor and in 2001 this then culminated in his sitting in the House of Commons, first as a Labour MP for Dagenham and since 2010, following boundary changes, for Dagenham and Rainham. Furthermore, he worked on Labour national policy committees and as chief assistant to the general secretary. When Labour became the government in 1997, he was at its very heart in the prime minister’s political office in Downing Street.

It shows Cruddas not only as a Labour devotee – this work is truly a “magnum opus”. He writes with real style, leaving us with an insightful and most accessible book which is a joy to read and indeed re-read. Few can match his wide experience in working for the Labour movement which, in his own words, “I still believe to be the hope of the world.” This book clearly explains why. 

Lord Clark of Windermere is a Labour peer

A Century of Labour
By: Jon Cruddas
Publisher: Polity

PoliticsHome Newsletters

Get the inside track on what MPs and Peers are talking about. Sign up to The House's morning email for the latest insight and reaction from Parliamentarians, policy-makers and organisations.


Books & culture