Loughborough University
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Class war at the 2015 UK General Election: radicalism, subversion and the democratic process

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posted on 2021-07-23, 09:34 authored by Jonathan Bigger
The anarchist movement Class War stood candidates in the 2015 UK general election. Anarchists tend to shun official politics so it is appropriate to ask why the group took part and what it hoped to achieve? In answering that question, this thesis provides the first ethnographic study of Class War, focusing on a small but significant subculture on the fringes of UK politics and society. In recounting their general election campaign, it examines how far radicals can utilise the mechanisms of the liberal democratic state for their own advantage. It highlights where the group was successful and how its subversion could be developed and improved. The thesis argues that the experiment punctured the normal, stale election process and provides a benchmark for radicals wishing to subvert it for their own ends.

Election leaflets, campaign launches, hustings events, media appearances and the election count were all used as forms of direct action, piercing through the fabric of constitutional activity and therefore forging liberated spaces within the electoral process. The research was conducted in the run up to, during, and in the aftermath of the election. Embedded within the group, I used Participatory Action Research as a reference point to write about my own experiences as an election candidate and those of my research participants during the research process.
The thesis provides a thick description of how one small group of activists attempted to fuse direct action with constitutional means in an effort to inspire the working class beyond the staid failures of leftist party politics. It is the story of Class War’s election told through the lens of their activists.



  • Social Sciences and Humanities


  • Politics and International Studies


Loughborough University

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© Jon Bigger


A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


  • en


Ruth Kinna ; Ian Fraser

Qualification name

  • PhD

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

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