One difficulty in thinking about the Labour Party in a historically informed way is that beyond cliched generalities - such as that the Labour Party is 'the party of the working class' - there is so little work to build on, whether as history, theory or politics. Both Marxists and social democrats tend to deal in timeless and unspecific categories - reformism, parliamentarism, leadership, rank-and-file. Little attention is paid either to the major trans­ formations which have taken place within the Labour Party and the trade union movement in various epochs and crises; or at the way in which these might relate, positively or negatively to changing class formation and party affiliation, changes in the

*Raphael Samuel is tutor in social history at Ruskin College, Oxford and an editor of History Workshop Journal. Gareth Stedman Jones is fellow of King's College, Cambridge, university lecturer in history, and an editor of History Workshop Journal.