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New Left Review I/140, July-August 1983

Jenny Taylor

Canvassing for Socialism

Immediately after June 9th I went round in a daze, feeling like an alien, not a citizen of this country at all. I half expected everybody to have turned bright blue, or to hear military music blasting out of unseen amplifiers. Now, oddly enough, after this initial period of alarm and despondency, I feel quite energized by what has happened. Partly because it should force the Left into taking a much longer-term view of British politics—to think more strategically and in longer time-spans. Partly because the situation we are in now could lay the basis for building a mass extra-parliamentary resistance movement. But neither of these are inevitable. There is a real danger that apathy will become even more deeply rooted in the labour movement and that the Left will fall back into habitual and defensive ways of thinking and acting. The general election at least helped to clarify the nature of the political crisis: it did not represent an outburst of authoritarian populism, though nonetheless Thatcher has managed to maintain a large measure of her support. But it did prove how profound Labour’s moral as well as political defeat has been.

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Jenny Taylor, ‘Canvassing for Socialism’, NLR I/140: £3

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