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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 February 2006, 15:14 GMT
The Party's Over

Shaun Ley
Shaun Ley explores small parties that had a big impact on politics

Shaun Ley recalls the small parties which briefly lit up the political firmament, before fizzling out.

Over two series of Sunday Supplements for The Westminster Hour he explores the impact of both historic and contemporary political parties which changed the face of politics.

Series Two

In the second series, broadcast in February 2006, Shaun Ley looks at the New Party set up by Sir Oswald Mosley in 1931, Vanguard, the hardline Unionist party from 1970's Northern Ireland and Militant, the Trotskyites who operated as a party with the Labour Party in the mid 1980's.

Sir Oswald Mosley
Sir Oswald Mosley setup the New Party in 1931

In Part One, Shaun Ley tells the bizarre story of the New Party set up by Sir Oswald Mosley.

Mosley was recently rated the greatest British villain of the twentieth century by a group of historians for leading Britain's fascists.

But before that he left the Labour Government in 1931 to set up his New Party to fight unemployment.

William Craig
William Craig lead the Vanguard Unionists from 1972

In Part Two, he recalls the Vanguard Unionists who advocated a semi-independent Northern Ireland.

Formed in 1972, the Ulster Vanguard was led by William Craig - a former Ulster Unionist Minister in the Stormont Parliament.

In Part Three, Shaun Ley looks at Militant, the most famous of parties within a party, who supported Trotsky's revolutionary ideas.

Derek Hatton
Leading Militant member Derek Hatton was Deputy Leader of Liverpool City Council

By the 1980s Militant had more full time staff than either the Liberals or the SDP, but Labour leader Michael Foot resisted demands to expel its members for fear of creating a witch-hunt.

After Neil Kinnock became Labour Party leader, Militant councillors in Liverpool and the national leadership were set on a collision course.


Series One

In the first series broadcast in April 2004, Shaun Ley recalls the surprising influence of the wartime Commonwealth Party, the breakaway Scottish Labour Party and, more recently, the Referendum Party.

In the first part, Shaun Ley returns to the final months of the Second World War when a political newcomer disrupted the wartime truce between the Conservatives and Labour. What impact did the Commonwealth Party have?

In the second part, Shaun Ley turns his attentions to the 1970s and a party that threatened to unbalance Labour in Scotland.

In the final report, Shaun Ley looks at the impact of the Referendum Party, which sent shivers down Tory spines in the run-up to the general election of 1997.



BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
The Party's Over
Part One: the New Party


The Party's Over
Part Two: the Ulster Vanguard


The Party's Over
Part Three: the Militant tendency



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