The Labour Party, although formed to embody collective aims, has been rich in striking and charismatic figures and has always had a highly developed 'cult of the personality'. In 'Labour Forces: From Ernie Bevin to Gordon Brown', Kevin Jefferys has brought together lively and accessible biographies by leading writers - both academics and journalists - of the leading figures in the history of the Labour Party since the Second World War. This follow up to 'Leading Labour: From Kier Hardy to Tony Blair' assesses the personalities and political careers of key figures who reached the senior ranks in Labour politics but never became party leader. There are studies of charismatic leftwingers such as Nye Bevan and Tony Benn, great pillars of the movement in war and peace like Ernest Bevin, senior and highly successful ministers like Denis Healy, and Roy Jenkins - a legendary figure on the Party's Right, who abandoned Labour in the 1970s - leading intellectuals and writers like Anthony Crossland and Michael Foot and arguably, the most important women in Labour history - Barbara Castle and Shirley Williams. The biographies are set against a background of turbulent Labour history from the landslide victory of 1945 and the years of Labour achievement under Attlee, through the Wilson years - now beginning to enjoy some rehabilitation - via the 'unelectability' and near-eclipse of the later 1970s and 1980s, to the triumph of New Labour in 1997. The book focuses on the impact of each individual on Labour's fortunes, their successes and failures, their legacy and place in the history of the Labour Movement and of modern Britain.
From Ernie Bevin to Gordon Brown