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Centre for British politics and government event - after the defeat

Lessons from history for Labour?

Kendra Kumor Walk-home-from-class

On Wednesday 18 March 2020, the Centre for British Politics and Government, in conjunction with the IHR Contemporary British History Seminar, hosted ‘After the Defeat: Lessons from History for Labour?’. The event took take place in Bush House Lecture Theatre One (S)1.01 from 4 to 6pm.

In this event a panel of historians – including Professor Andrew Thorpe – reflected on how the Labour, Conservative and Liberal parties have responded to previous heavy electoral defeats. They sought to determine what, if any, lessons the current Labour Party – on the back of winning its fewest number of seats in Parliament since 1935 – can learn from these.

Three speakers provided papers on the response of each of the main parties to a particular election defeat:

  • Dr Iain Sharpe discussed the Liberal Party’s experiences at the turn of the 20th century and the influence of Herbert Gladstone in securing its return to power at the 1906 election
  • Professor Andrew Thorpe (Leeds) discussed Labour’s response to its defeat in 1935
  • Dr Michael Kandiah (KCL) discussed the Conservative Party and how it dealt with losing power in the 1945 general election