A Party with Socialists in It review – Labour’s left from the 19th century to Corbyn

Simon Hannah’s survey of the left of the party is unsparing and more about unfulfilled promise than Corbynistas may like

In writing about a party as muddled together and misrepresented as Labour, clarity is a powerful weapon. Authors who accurately describe the party’s competing factions and traditions, and the ever shifting balance between them, are relatively rare. They are also a threat to Labour’s many enemies, who have often relied on portraying the party, and the left of it in particular, as a vast but hazy conspiracy.

This pithy book, “intended mainly for those who have been drawn into politics” since Jeremy Corbyn stood for leader, aims to “introduce the major historical struggles” of the Labour left and “explain what was at stake”. Simon Hannah is a young leftwing Labour activist, and there is an avuncular foreword from the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell. Yet Hannah’s approach to the Labour left, ...