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A Critique of the Labour Party and Labourism in Trevor Griffiths’ Bill Brand

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2020, 33(3), pp.99-128
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama
  • Received : November 13, 2020
  • Accepted : December 14, 2020
  • Published : December 31, 2020

KIM, YOO 1

1성균관대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Trevor Griffiths’ criticism of the Labour Party in Bill Brand, a 1976 TV drama series about a left-wing Labour MP, is closely linked with a recurrent theme in his cannon, the possibility of socialist revolution in Britain via parliamentary socialism. Bill Brand is based on Griffiths’ critique of Labourism, one of the traditional ideologies for the British Left which sees the Labour Party as “only one true vehicle for progressive politics.” In Bill Brand Griffiths criticises Labourism from a structural perspective rather than personal integrity and depicts the Labour Party as an interest group with the first and foremost purpose of the maintenance of political power, thus alienating the working class. This paper examines the criticism of the Labour Party and Labourism in Bill Brand in terms of intra-party democracy and the relationship between the party and extra-parliamentary socialist activities. It begins with an investigation into the unique status of Brand as the New Left, tracing his activities in the public and private areas. Brand’s public activities in the parliament disclose “the actual tissue and texture, of the social democratic processes within a major party” and demonstrate the Labour Party confined to anti-democratic decision-making. Brand’s private life with Alex, a feminist activist, is also related to the criticism of Labourism, displaying Brand’s deeply entrenched patriarchal masculinity as a product of the party machine. Bill Brand is distinguishable in that it aims to seek “connective tissue between electoral party politics, which still has a mystifying mass appeal, and extra-parliamentary socialist activity.” However, the play stops short of presenting those significant connections, showing Brand at the crossroads. It leaves a key question, ‘is the Labour Party still the one and only vehicle for socialist change?,’ further complicating a dilemma over the troubled relationship between parliamentary socialism and extra-parliamentary social movements.

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