On Burnley Road: Class, Race and Politics in a Northern English Town


A book launch and conversation with Mike Makin-Waite , author of the book On Burnley Road: Class, Race and Politics in a Northern English Town.


How was the emergence of the far right in England experienced at the community level? And what can we learn from this experience about the present moment?

In his important new book, On Burnley Road: Class, Race and Politics in a Northern English Town, former ISRF Fellow Mike Makin-Waite draws upon two decades of experience as a council worker in Burnley to chart and analyze the rise of local nationalist movements. Starting with a description of the 2001 ‘northern town’ riots, the book explores these events’ historical roots, their local meanings, and multiple afterlives.

For Makin-Waite, the Burnley disturbances and subsequent far-right successes were symptoms not of some primal popular irrationality but of a deeply rooted political crisis. This crisis, he argues, has yet to be resolved, and this is why our political landscape remains vulnerable to far-right agitation and reactionary populism. Combining profound insight into local politics with careful historical analysis, On Burnley Road is essential reading for anyone seeking understand contemporary English politics.

Mike Makin-Waite offers an overview of his book with responses from two experts on the topic: Councillor Afrasiab Anwar, Leader of Burnley Council since May 2018; and Dr Manjeet Ramgotra, a Lecturer in Political Theory at SOAS University of London and an ISRF Fellow working on ‘Postcolonial Republicanism: The Indian Founding and its Impact’. Questions and a discussion follow, moderated by Professor Christopher Newfield, ISRF Director of Research.

This is the twelfth in the ISRF’s series of Book Launches.