This chapter examines how Lewis Minkin contests the premises, underpinning the orthodox thesis of trade union 'baronial power'. It analyses the 'sociological' frame of reference he devised as an analytical tool to uncover the roots and essential properties of the party-unions connection. The chapter addresses the question of the relevance of Minkin. The task Minkin sets himself in The Contentious Alliance is twofold: on the one hand to explain why and how he reached that conclusion; and, on the other to lay bare the inner dynamics of the party-unions connection. The party-unions connection acquired many of its defining properties from a process of functional differentiation. But this notion implies the existence of a common organism, a system each of whose inter-related parts had a distinct function to discharge, but which operated for the survival and advancement of the whole.
If there is a dominant motif in Labour's approach to the conduct of domestic policy, it is 'modernisation' - and its synonym, 'reform'. This chapter argues that an underlying pattern in Labour's approach to the public services can be uncovered. This will be called 'New Labour Managerialism', a policy project with four interlinked constituent elements: tight performance management, choice, competition and diversity of supply. The chapter briefly outlines the traditional Labour approach to the public services, labelled the 'professional model' and the objections lodged against it by New Labour. It explores the main contours of the Tony Blair Government's alternative model, 'New Labour managerialism'. The chapter considers the extent to which this new approach has succeeded in promoting its key objective of higher quality, more equitably delivered services in the two central policy sectors of secondary education and healthcare.
The Third Way and the case of the Private Finance Initiative
This chapter outlines the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), and highlights its political and ideological importance. It reviews research findings on the operation of the PFI in the health service. The chapter explores that there is little substance to the Government's claim that the PFI is on strictly pragmatic grounds the most effective way of renewing the capital infrastructure of the National Health Service (NHS). It also explores the reasons for its adoption and focuses on the character and contours of the Third Way as New Labour's operational code. To New Labour a defining feature of the Third Way is its pragmatism, its commitment to evidence-based policy-making: in the pithy precept so often reiterated, 'What matters is what works'. The Third Way prescribes for the State a major role in social life, but less as a direct provider than as purchaser and regulator.