Class, Party and
This study has sought to demonstrate that an adequate account of the development of British-Soviet relations over the period under consideration cannot confine itself simply to a description of the process by which that policy was formulated within government. Individual decisions were, of course, powerfully influenced by the advice of the government's representatives abroad, the recommendations of the Foreign Office, the predilections of the Foreign Secretary of the day and the views of the Cabinet as a whole. At a more fundamental level, however, British policy was shaped by a number of factors which together constituted the structural environment within which the makers of policy had necessarily to work. The most important of these factors, so far as relations with the Soviet government were concerned, were the fluctuating levels of unemployment and foreign trade, the strength and political orientation of colonial nationalism and the extent and degree of militancy of labour solidarity with the Russian workers' state. It is in the interaction between these factors and British governing circles, we have suggested, that an explanation of the course of British-Soviet relations must ultimately be located. Those relations, that is to say, were an expression, in the last resort, of relations between classes.
This is not necessarily to suggest that the Conservative Party, as the traditional custodian of the interests of big business, was engaged in a policy of consistent and uncompromising hostility towards the Soviet government, while Labour, as a party at least ostensibly representing the different and opposed interests of working people, aimed rather at the establishment of closer and more fraternal relations with that government. In fact no categorisation of this kind can reasonably be sustained. Both the Labour and Conservative parties, as we have seen, were deeply divided on the Russian question; and even the business world, while presum