The Tides of History project was forged in the aftermath of the 2016 E.U referendum, to better understand the events that took the country towards that historic moment.
The referendum laid bare various divisions in British society, but none more emotive than the identity crisis at the heart of the Labour movement and in working class life more generally. The disconnect between Labour and its traditional voters in its heartland towns of the Midlands and the North of England just added to its woes in Scotland, where the traditional power base had just collapsed.
Since Tides began, in 2017, Labour has gone on to suffer its hardest and perhaps most important electoral defeat since the 1930s. It was symbolic of a much Longer historical trajectory of the post-war era, in which the party has often struggled to capture the mood of the politics and culture of the age. The recurring political question of the 20th century – Must Labour Lose? – again confronts us.
At a time of complex and uncertain political change, an understanding of the party’s heritage can hopefully play a role in Labour’s eventual revival. At the heart of our research is an attempt to understand where Labour is situated in the lives of the voter, as a cultural entity and as part of wider ideas about identity.
It aims to offer fresh approaches to its subjects through essays and online discussions. By providing archival resources, we hope to make a fundamental contribution to the study of both the contemporary and historic politics of Britain
And whilst the Conservative Party already have a large range of archival documents online – such as the vast Margaret Thatcher foundation – the Labour Party has yet to match it with an equivalent online project – something we are looking to rectify by building an online archive alongside the Labour Party Graphic Designers at https://www.labourdesign.co.uk.