In the United Kingdom, the hard left are the left-wing political movements and ideas outside the mainstream centre-left.[1]


The term was first used in the context of debates within both the Labour Party and the broader left in the 1980s to describe Trotskyist groups such as the Militant tendency, Socialist Organiser and Socialist Action.[2] Within the party, the "hard left", represented by the Campaign Group, subscribed to more strongly socialist views while the "soft left", associated for example with the Tribune Group, embraced more moderate social democratic ideas.[3][4]

Politicians commonly described as being on the hard left of the Labour Party at the time included Tony Benn, Derek Hatton, Ken Livingstone,[5] Dennis Skinner,[6] Jeremy Corbyn and Eric Heffer.[7]

The term has since then often been used pejoratively by Labour's political opponents, for example, during the Conservative Party's election campaigns of the early 1990s, and by the media. [8][9]

Notable Labour politicians on the hard left



See also


  1. ^ *John Wilson (1996). Understanding Journalism: A Guide to Issues. Psychology Press. p. 203. ISBN 978-0-415-11599-5. Condemnation by label is a favourite tactic of political antagonism ... Descriptions like 'hard left', 'far left' ... all have extra connotations, political under-meanings to damage the people they describe
    • Grant, Moyra (1984). The British media (illustrated ed.). Comedia. p. 29. ISBN 9780906890516. Retrieved 1 November 2015. Key words and phrases like 'hard left', 'extremist' and 'Soviet style' are explicitly derogatory and dismissive labels which mask a serious lack of information and analysis about the theory and practice of socialism and communism.
  2. ^ Eric Shaw (1 January 1988). Discipline and Discord in the Labour Party: The Politics of Managerial Control in the Labour Party, 1951–87. Manchester University Press. p. 267. ISBN 978-0-7190-2483-2.
  3. ^ Crines, Andrew Scott (2011). Michael Foot and the Labour leadership. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars. p. 161. ISBN 9781443832397.
  4. ^ "What's left of the Labour left?". Total Politics. Archived from the original on 21 August 2015. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  5. ^ Hill, Dave (2002). Marxism Against Postmodernism in Educational Theory. Lexington Books. p. 188. ISBN 0739103466.
  6. ^ Andrew Roth (20 March 2001). "Dennis Skinner". The Guardian. Andrew Roth's parliament profiles.
  7. ^ Thorpe, Andrew (2008). A History of the British Labour Party (3rd ed.). Palgrave Macmillan. p. 228. ISBN 978-1137248152.
  8. ^ James Curran (29 July 2005). Culture Wars: The Media and the British Left. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 196, 209.
  9. ^ Kinnock attacks hard left", BBC World Service. 18 September 1998.

Further reading