An analysis of the Labour Party's discourse on Europe, 1961-2000 : a matter of national identity
A common view of the British Labour Party's troubled relationship with Europe since the early nineteen sixties explains the changes in policy purely in terms of inter-party and intra-party competition. However, globally induced changes such as the disintegration of the Commonwealth along with the foundation and further development of the European Community have given rise to fundamental debates about identity. Accordingly, by delineating the nationalist arguments voiced by the party representatives during five crucial moments of the intra-party debate on Europe (1961-2,1967,1970-75,1980-83 and 1997-2000), this thesis points out that the European issue has been primarily an issue of national identity for the Labour Party, which, since its inception, has been embedded within the British culture. As a result, by placing the party's nationalism against the background of its intellectual traditions, this study argues that, what the different sides of the argument have exposed has not been merely partisan feuds, but, instead, three competing and interrelated narratives of British nationalism: the space of the nation (the imperial and the Atlantic links, the British isles and the Continent), the culture of the nation (constitution, Parliament, Protestantism,a nd the enduringv alues),a nd the time of the nation (war memoriesa nd memories and practice of a benevolent empire). These three narratives have been defined not only by their inter-relationships with each other, but have been also produced through a process of negation. They have been primarily defined against the `other': race and alien have constituted the conceptual partners of the British nation in the Labour Party's discourse. In particular, immigrants, European workers, asylum seekers, and their corresponding `different' cultural and temporal backgrounds have been some of the `significant others' that have conditioned the existence of Labour Britishness during the last forty years.