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The political thought of Aneurin Bevan

Davies, Nye 2019. The political thought of Aneurin Bevan. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Today Aneurin Bevan is a revered figure in British politics, celebrated for his role as founder one of the country’s most cherished institutions, the National Health Service. In his day, however, he was regarded as highly controversial and even divisive. There remain fundamental disagreements in the now voluminous literature on Bevan about how we are to interpret his politics and political legacy. This thesis seeks to develop a clearer understanding of Bevan’s politics by engaging in a comprehensive analytical study of his political thought, treating him primarily as a political thinker rather than a practicing politician or institutional pioneer. It has two central aims. Firstly, it seeks to reconstruct Bevan’s political thought from his written work; then, secondly, it uses the insights generated by this unique approach to reconsider the debates and disagreements about Bevan’s ideas found in the extant literature. To achieve the first aim, the thesis engages with Bevan’s voluminous writing, including his myriad contributions to Tribune (a thesis Appendix contains for the first time an index of the contents of Bevan’s journalism). On the basis of these very varied and often unsystematic contributions, it then reconstructs Bevan’s key ideas within a framework derived from Michael Mann’s account of the sources of social power: with the use of ‘power’ as a heuristic device for the thesis echoing its role as, arguably, the central preoccupation in Bevan’s political project. The thesis argues that Bevan’s political thought was fundamentally shaped by his adherence to an orthodox Marxist understanding of social development that emphasised the centrality of the material base of society in determining its political and ideological structures. It highlights how this view was central to both his domestic and international political outlooks; notwithstanding Bevan’s reverence for the British Parliament and State.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Law
Subjects: J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
K Law > KD England and Wales
Uncontrolled Keywords: Aneurin Bevan; Labour Party; Political Thought; Democratic Socialism; British Politics; Power; Tribune; Labourism
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 3 April 2020
Date of Acceptance: 3 April 2020
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2020 12:47

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