The Blair Supremacy

A study in the politics of Labour's party management

By Lewis Minkin

The Blair Supremacy
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  • ISBN: 9780719073793
  • Publish Date: Apr 2014
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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  • ISBN: 9780719073809
  • Publish Date: Apr 2014
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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  • ISBN: 9781847799012
  • Publish Date: Jun 2014
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Book Information

    • Format: Paperback
    • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7380-9
    • Pages: 816
    • Price: £30.00
    • Published Date: April 2014


    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.


    "Minkin's fascinating and illuminating journey through the archaeology of Labour's underworld."

    (Ivor Gaber, Times Higher Education Supplement, 14/08/2014)

    "infinitely painstaking in rooting out the details of Party management under New Labour"
    (Stan Newens, The Spokesman, 125, 2014)

    "Party politics - boring? Oh, no. There are many facets to this extra-ordinarily well written and extensively sourced study"
    (Peter Kenyon, Chartist #270, September 2014)

    The book reads like a thriller. What makes it captivating is Minkin's grasp of the scrupulous planning that went into Blair's managerialis coup, which, for a time, took ownership of both the Labour Party and the country.

    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 tend 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 Minkin (1978, 1991) is the author of two brilliant studies of the Labour party...The Blair Supremacy consolidates his reputation as the outstanding scholar of the Labour party. It is a painstakingly and thoroughly researched study, formidably analytical and buttressed by huge amounts of systematically marshalled evidence... In light of one of the most extraordinary upsets in Labour's history, this book, more than ever, is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the party and its future - scholars, journalists, politicians, party members, and not least the new Corbyn leadership. Anyone who seeks to contribute to the debate over Labour's future, whether they agree or not with Minkin's arguments, will find they have much to learn from The Blair Supremacy's highly sophisticated and subtle analysis, rooted in both Minkin's penetrating intelligence and in his huge experience of observing and, at times participating in political life.'
    Eric Shaw, Political Studies Review, May 2016

    'Lewis Minkin's mammoth, scrupulously researched, 800-page book, The Blair Supremacy builds on and develops the arguments mapped out in his earlier work...Those familiar with the earlier tomes will be unsurprised by the remarkable depth of the material marshalled by Minkin in the new publication alongside the sensitivity of his observations and his capacity for nuanced, qualified discussion of Labour politics. It is a scholarly tour-de-force which will become, unquestionably, a standard work on its subject.'
    Mark Wickham-Jones, Political Studies Review, May 2016


    Preface: Origins, roles, methods and sources
    Introduction: The dynamic Leader
    Part 1: Antecedents
    1. The tradition of party management and the road to destabilisation
    2. Revolt and restoration
    3. Contentious alliance, OMOV and the management of democratic renewal
    Part 2: Forging 'New Labour' management
    4. 'New Labour' and the culture of party management
    5. The leader, the machine and party management
    6. Transforming fundamentals and laying new foundations
    7. Creating 'The party into power' project
    8. Managing the changing NEC
    9. Managing policy relations with business and unions
    10. Managing new policy institutions
    11. Managing the party conference
    12. Managing candidate selection
    13. Managing the Parliamentary Labour party (PLP)
    14. Employment relations, representation and party management
    Part 3: Crisis and control
    15. The crisis of party management
    16. Distrust, management and the long road to Iraq
    17. New challenges and management on the road to Warwick
    18. Managing for legacy
    Part 4: Appraisal
    19. Summary - analysis and characterisation
    20. Evaluation and perspectives
    21. Brown, 'New Labour' management inheritance and Miliband's problems


    Lewis Minkin is Visiting Honorary Professor in the School of Politics and International Studies at the University of Leeds. He is the author of two seminal works on Labour party organisation, The Contentious Alliance and The Labour Party Conference

    The Blair Supremacy

    By Lewis Minkin

    Paperback £30.00 / $45.95

    Hardcover £90.00 / $140.00

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