4 March 2016 – the launch in Leeds of local author, Lewis Minkin’s, book The Blair Supremacy, A Study in the politics of Labour Party management
Seven Arts Centre, Harrogate Road, LS7 3PD.
7 p.m.
Free entry.
The Blair Supremacy
Lewis is Visiting Honorary Professor in the School of Politics and International Studies at the University of Leeds. He is a recognized expert on the Labour Party and its internal organization – author of two previous books The Contentious Alliance – on the Party’s relationship with the Trade Unions, and The Labour Party Conference, A Study in Intra-Party Democracy.

He is especially well-placed to discuss the internal party management of the Blair years.

Lewis Minkin has immense experience of the Labour Party and has acted as adviser to two major internal reviews of the internal party organisation. As the author of two widely acclaimed and original studies on the Labour Party, The Labour Party Conference and The Contentious Alliance, he possesses an unrivalled grasp of the subtleties and nuances of Labour’s internal relationships. The Blair Supremacy is groundbreaking in its investigation of the processes, methods, character and politics of party management, during a period when Blair strengthened his own position as he and his allies and managers drove the party through a ferment of new developments under the name ‘New Labour’. For this book Minkin has been able to draw on a wealth of sources unavailable to other scholars. What is uncovered here is revealing and at times startling. It includes an extensive covert internal organisation, a culture which facilitated manipulation and what can be described as a rolling coup. These developments are rigorously and critically examined with a strong focus on three fundamental questions: How were these changes achieved? Was it, as it was often represented, a complete supremacy? Why did it end so badly with Blair being forced, in effect, to step down? The study challenges many misconceptions and sheds new light on the Blair legacy and on the intense controversies surrounding him. It also adds greatly to our understanding of some acute contemporary problems in British political life.”

The book – published in 2014 – has been well received.

David Blunkett commented:
‘For anyone interested in or studying the history of the Labour Party, this book is a seminal work. The thoroughness, the detail and the revelations around key moments in the history of the Party, its relationship with those in Parliament and leading the Party, makes it both a reference work and a necessary insight for those who wish to learn from history in order to apply the lessons to better organisation and more honest politics in the future. Milestones in the past (including in our post war history) shed light on the interplay of the role of powerful characters in politics and between administrative and organisational systems and political ideology and values. This tome which is in essence a life’s work brought together in one volume, makes the point by dint of numerous examples, that what came to be known as ‘control freakery’ did not start in the last quarter of the 20th century. In fact, my only disagreement with Lewis Minkin is that I think there is for understandable reasons, a tendency to over emphasise more recent examples of central control by leaders, implemented by key appointments within the Party structure, given the historical precedents which this book amply provides. I believe this to be both excellent academically and insightful politically. I would recommend it to those interested in the political process as well as those studying politics and political organisation.’

Lewis will be there – along with a range of other local speakers.

The event is free – doors open at 6.30.

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