The art of the possible

Politics and governance in modern British history, 1885–1997: Essays in memory of Duncan Tanner

Edited by Chris Williams and Andrew Edwards

The art of the possible


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9071-4
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: July 2015
  • BIC Category: United Kingdom, Great Britain, Humanities / 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000, Humanities / British & Irish history, History, History & Archaeology, European history, 20th century, c 1900 to c 1999, HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain


This volume explores some of the major transitions, opportunities and false dawns of modern British political history. It engages with the scholarly legacy of Professor Duncan Tanner (1958-2010) whose work was focused on the political process and on politics in government. Chronologically its span runs from the first general election to be conducted under the terms of the Third Reform Act through to the 1997 referenda in favour of devolved assemblies in Scotland and Wales. This was the period in which British politicians most obviously addressed a mass, British-wide electorate, seeking national approval for policies and programmes to be enacted on a UK-wide basis. Aimed at scholars and students of modern British history this volume will also interest the general reader who wishes to get to grips with some of the latest thinking about British politics.


'As is to be expected of a volume based on a conference which took place in 2012, aspects of the contributions collected in this volume will be familiar from other articles or books produced by the authors. Nonetheless, as the preceding survey indicates, this is a rich and varied volume, which indicates the continued health of twentieth-century political history in Britain and offers a fitting reflection of the influence of Duncan Tanner on its writing.'
David Thackeray, University of Exeter, Journal of the Historical Association


Introduction: Duncan Tanner and the art of the possible - Chris Williams
1. The making and remaking of 'common sense' about British economic policy - Peter Clarke
2. The 'big state' versus the 'Big Society' in twentieth-century Britain - Pat Thane
3. 'One meaning blots out another'? Liberals and Labour in the east midlands coalfield - David Howell
4. Cartooning the rise of Labour, 1900-21 - Chris Williams
5. Novels for 'thinking people': fiction and the inter-war broad left - Steven Fielding
6. Myth and counter-myth in Second World War British politics - Andrew Thorpe
7. Labour, nationalism and the problem of Welsh devolution, c.1939-64 - Andrew Edwards
8. Defending the constitution: the Conservative party and the idea of devolution, 1945-74 - Matthew Cragoe
9. Public and private languages of 'class' in the Luton by-election of 1963 - Jon Lawrence
10. Community and the Labour left in 1970s London - John Davis
11. Labour, the Union and the rebirth of Welsh devolution - Mari Elin Wiliam
Duncan Tanner: a select bibliography - Chris Williams


Chris Williams is Professor of History and Head of the School of History, Archaeology and Religion at Cardiff University

Andrew Edwards is Senior Lecturer in History and Dean of Arts and Humanities at Bangor University

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