Westminster's Narration of Neoliberal Crisis: Rationalising the Irrational?


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The thesis draws upon the work of Antonio Gramsci, Stuart Hall, and Norman Fairclough to analyse Westminster narration of the neoliberal capitalist crisis from 2010-2015. It is argued that Westminster parties sought to ˜resolve' the crisis by intensifying the neoliberal conditions that caused it. This served the interests of private capital whilst inflicting harm and injustice on the less powerful and less wealthy. The thesis centres on Westminster definers' discursive strategies of crisis narration, which sought to rationalise their ˜resolution' and maintain hegemony.
This thesis addresses lacunae in the existing literature of elite narration of the crisis in a British context in a number of ways. It is concerned with the comparatively broad scope of Westminster definers' narration of ˜causes', responses and proposed responses to the crisis, and the discursive strategies for countering challenges presented by oppositional movements. It contributes an analysis of Westminster's narration of challenges that began to emerge over the period. This thesis provides a longitudinal study examining the development of Westminster narratives between 2010 and 2015, contributing a detailed analysis of three ˜intense narration moments': the General Election 2010, the Scottish Independence Referendum 2014, and the General Election 2015. Utilising Fairclough's framework of critical discourse analysis, it critically analyses a comprehensive data set of 185 texts disseminated by Westminster definers. Texts include televised election debates, radio interviews, manifestos, budget statements, speeches, and posters. The thesis evidences that false, inaccurate, and misleading representations were central, systematic, and ubiquitous to Westminster's narration of the crisis. It is argued that Westminster: restricted debate within narrow boundaries that excluded non-neoliberal alternatives and reinforced the ˜necessity' of neoliberal responses. They identified ideologically advantageous but false ˜causes' of crisis that had concomitant neoliberal responses and favourably structured Britain's political agenda and shifted debate onto more neoliberal terrain. They operated to generate misunderstanding of Britain's fiscal position to justify austerity, and constructed neoliberal responses as moral imperatives. Westminster definers countered challenges by representing parties inaccurately, constructing alternatives as unviable and immoral, and reinforcing an element of a challenge's narrative but adopting a different framing to redirect Britain towards Westminster's ˜resolution'.
Date of Award10 Oct 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorHOWARD DAVIS (Director of Studies) & JOHN DIAMOND (Director of Studies)


  • neoliberal
  • crisis
  • strategies
  • Westminster

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