Keeping the Red Flag Flying - Labour in Opposition since 1922


By Mark Garnett, Gavin Hyman and Richard Johnson

20 April 2024

Labour leader Harold Wilson was once asked how difficult he found being Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. ‘Not half as difficult as being Leader of the Opposition’, he replied. Sadly for the Labour Party, much of the last century has been spent in shadow government. But were these wasted years in the Party’s history? Or did they offer vital opportunities for creation and improvement?

In Keeping the Red Flag Flying political historians Mark Garnett, Gavin Hyman and Richard Johnson offer the first in-depth account of Labour’s periods out of office since becoming the Official Opposition in 1922. Far from being barren periods in the Party’s history, they argue that Labour’s opposition years from MacDonald to Starmer have been undervalued and misunderstood. Across, the book’s seven chapters, they scrutinise Labour’s approach to reforming the party machinery, its development of policy proposals, its success in appealing to the wider electorate, and its skill in opposing the Government to identify the key hallmarks of successful opposition, as well as common mistakes. As the Labour Party prepares for a long-awaited return to government, this insightful book on Labour’s past has vital lessons for the party’s future.

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