The Party's Over

Shaun Ley's on political parties that were short-lived but made an impact.



Sara Parker returns to Clapham, south London, where she went three years previously to report on the wealthy borough's inhabitants as they prepared for the annual fete.

As the 2009 financial crisis bites, she returns to the Abbeville Village area, with its designer shops and restaurants, to meet up again with Frances and Melissa, two well-off and proactive mothers.

She learns that a third, their friend Arlene, has since has moved to nearby Streatham in order to reduce her outgoings.

Now fear of failure is in the air, and those who three years ago helped keep alive the expansive party atmosphere of Clapham en fete are worried.

Sara asks if, for Abbeville Village, the party is now over?

Sara Parker reports from the wealthy borough of Clapham.

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Common Wealth won by-elections on a radical programme during the Second World War.

Shaun Ley considers what it achieved with the party's last MP, Ernest Millington, Labour's Tony Benn and former Common Wealth supporters.

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campaigned for devolution, Europe and socialism in the late 1970s.

Shaun Ley considers what it achieved with former leader Jim Sillars, journalist Neal Ascherson, and former Scottish Secretary Helen Liddell.

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Sir James Goldsmith's Referendum Party demanded a vote on British membership of Europe.

Shaun Ley considers what it achieved with leading supporter, Robin Page, and former Cabinet Minister, David Mellor.

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Shaun Ley explains why New Labour isn't anything new.

The first man to use the title was Oswald Mosley, just before he left Labour to found The New Party in 1931.

Mosley is now remembered as the demagogue who led Britain's pre-war fascists.

In fact, he'd begun his career as a Conservative MP in 1918, and by 1930 was a rising star of the Labour Government.

But his conviction that unemployment could only be tackled by government intervention led to his resignation.

His journey out of the mainstream began with the foundation of the New Party, a movement which attracted intellectual heavyweights and renowned sportsmen.

Its birth coincided with the most traumatic period in Labour Party history, as the cabinet split on the question of unemployment, and Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald broke with his party to form an alliance with Liberals and Conservatives.

For a time, it looked as though Mosley would seize the moment.

His love of hedonism, however, may have cost him his best chance of changing British politics.


At the height of the Northern Ireland conflict in the 1970s, Vanguard rallied Unionists against direct rule from Westminster and opposed power-sharing.

It split when its leader, William Craig, called for a coalition with the nationalist SDLP.

Contributors include former Vanguard member David Trimble, who later became Northern Ireland First Minister.

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Troskyite Militant Tendency operated as a party within the Labour Party until its members were dramatically expelled in the 1980s.

Shaun hears from former Labour leader Lord Kinnock, Baroness Boothroyd, Derek Hatton and Peter Taaffe.