The Labour Party Conference 2014 takes place in Manchester from Sunday 21 September to Wednesday 24 September. All eyes will be on Ed Milband as new policies are revealed and debated ahead of next year’s general election. Here is our round-up of 6 key books that cover the history and future of the Labour Party.

Interested in Labour’s foreign policy ideas?

The British Labour Party and the Wider World: Domestic Politics, Internationalism and Foreign Policy, edited by Paul Corthorn and Jonathan Davis
The legacy of Blair and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan continue to loom large for the Labour Party, whether in opposition or in government, giving rise to fierce debates over Labour’s attitude towards the wider world. This book considers the idea of Labour’s international identity, examining how world events and Labour’s response to them have helped to shape ideology, political culture and domestic agendas from the 1920s until the Iraq War. Reviewed by Rhiannon Vickers.

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Interested in Ed Miliband’s chances at the next election?

Labour Govs

How Labour Governments Fall: From Ramsay MacDonald to Gordon Brown by Timothy Heppell and Kevin Theakston
The previous Labour Government lost office after the party’s longest stint in Government, eventually losing power under Gordon Brown against a backdrop of intellectual fatigue and economic crisis. Eunice Goes reviews Timothy Heppell and Kevin Theakston’s impressive new book on the fall of Labour governments, and finds recurring themes echoing down the generations.

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Interested in the future of social democracy?

Left Without a Future? Social Justice in Anxious Times by Anthony Painter
In this book, Anthony Painter advocates new economic, social and cultural policies which provide a manifesto for the future development of Social Democracy – and centre-left institutions – in Britain. Left Without a Future? is an engaging read and one of the better, more innovative responses from the centre-left to the challenges posed in post-crisis Britain. This is a valuable contribution, but – with Ed Miliband flirting with different ideas – it remains to be seen whether it is an influential one, writes Daniel Sage.

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Interested in the history of women in Labour politics?

Women in British Politics, c. 1689-1979 by Krista Cowman
Suki Ferguson finds Krista Cowman’s research on the relationship between established male politicians and the burgeoning women’s movement thorough and insightful. It is easy to be daunted by the wealth of diverse literature on UK women’s politics, and the brisk, well-referenced Women in British Politics will make a useful and compact starting point for students of the subject.

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Interested in an introduction to UK political parties?


Political Parties in Britain by Matt Cole and Helen Deighan
This introductory textbook examines the factors contributing to a political party’s fortune and identity. Authors Matt Cole and Helen Deighan examine Britain’s main political parties as well as ‘peripheral’ parties including the BNP and UKIP. Eunice Goes writes that Political Parties in Britain is a highly informative, accessible and up-to-date introductory text that should be included in all British politics reading lists.

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Interested in new ideas for Labour?

What Next For Labour? Ideas for a New Generation. Edited by Tom Scholes-Fogg and Hisham Hamid
Tom Scholes-Fogg and Hisham Hamid present a selection of contributions from key Labour figures on what the party should do to make itself electorally viable again. While the book doesn’t add anything ground breaking to the current Labour policy debate, it clearly reiterates the fact that the Labour party as a whole is taking seriously the mistakes it made in government, and is thinking innovatively about the challenges that economic austerity presents. Reviewed by Alastair Hill.

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