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Welfare reform and the ‘Third Way’ politics of New Labour and the New Democrats

This chapter examines whether a policy strategy based on social exclusion and pushing 'work first' can sustain a commitment to egalitarian social democratic values. It argues that there are important social democratic elements in New Labour policy which cast doubt on a straightforward 'neo-liberal convergence' thesis. The chapter also examines whether the Government's welfare-to-work programme is undermining Labour's commitment to social justice. In government, Labour's welfare-to-work programme has been the centrepiece of the welfare reform drive and of Labour's attempt to mark out a new 'Third Way' for the Centre-Left. Welfare politics in the twentieth century on both sides of the Atlantic operated within a political and institutional culture that gave priority to managing social security and which neglected human capital.

in The Third Way and beyond