In the late 1990s Third Way governments were in power across Europe - and beyond, in the USA and Brazil, for instance. The Third Way experiment was one that attracted attention worldwide. The changes made by Left parties in Scandinavia, Holland, France or Italy since the late 1980s are as much part of Third Way politics as those developed in Anglo-Saxon countries. Since the early 1990s welfare reform has been at the heart of the Centre-Left's search for a new political middle way between post-war social democracy and Thatcherite Conservatism. For Tony Blair, welfare reform was key to establishing his New Labour credentials - just as it was for Bill Clinton and the New Democrats in the USA. Equality has been 'the polestar of the Left', and the redefinition of this concept by Giddens and New Labour marks a significant departure from post-war social democratic goals. The most useful way of approaching the problem of the Blair Government's 'Third Way' is to apply the term to its 'operational code': the precepts, assumptions and ideas that actually inform policy choice. The choice would be the strategy of public-private partnership (PPP) or the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), as applied to health policy. New Labour is deeply influenced by the thoughts and sentiments of Amitai Etzioni and the new communitarian movement. Repoliticisation is what stands out from all the contributions of reconstructing the Third Way along more progressive lines.
directly ruled by the British
government. Between the 1880s and 1921 there was an ongoing campaign
among nationalist Irish politicians, British Liberals and the newLabourparty.
At the more extreme end of the nationalist movement Sinn Fein, a political
party dedicated to Irish independence and the Irish Republican Army (IRA,
originally the ‘Irish Volunteers’) were formed to fight for independence.
The momentum for independence gradually built up to something of a
crescendo when there was an IRA-led uprising in 1916 – the so-called ‘Easter
Rising’. Though the revolt was
with the Ulster Unionists at Westminster.
After 1997, they had no MPs in Scotland, Wales and most large cities,
Conservative parliamentary representation being largely confined to its
southern English heartlands. A party that had fought successfully on the
electoral centre ground in the 1950s and 1960s then steered elite and (to a
lesser extent) public opinion towards its political agenda under Thatcher
found itself trumped by a NewLabourparty that managed to do both. The
Conservative reputation for sound political and economic management had
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Heath, A. F., Jowell, R. M. and Curtice, J. K. (2001) The Rise of NewLabour. Party Policies and
Voter Choices, Oxford
Heath, A. F. and McDonald, S. K. (1987) ‘Social change and the future of the Left’, Political
Heclo, H. (1974) Modern Social Politics in Britain and Sweden, New York
Heffernan, R. (1997) ‘Ideology, practical politics and political consensus: thinking about the
process of political change in
turnout prompted the Charter
Movement to contest the legitimacy of the reforms (see Figure 5.1).
When reflecting on the birth of The Fresh Future, the parallels with NewLabourparty management are almost eerie – particularly in respect of
Labour’s Clause IV debate of 1994–95. There too was a tightly managed
‘consultation’ period, with members only allowed to discuss proposals drawn
up by the leadership. There too was an all-party ballot to validate change.
There too, members could merely ratify or reject the package on offer. And,
there too, a new party leader claimed
, reductions in
income tax, the weakening of organised labour and attempts to reduce the
role of the state in welfare provision were all tried in these countries,
with varying degrees of success. The British ‘New’ LabourParty
converted to this and the rest of the liberal credo (devolution, civil
rights and communitarianism) in the 1990s. Liberal attitudes to divorce,
abortion and homosexuality all seemed to be generally accepted
from the party and paving the way for the decidedly reformist
‘New’ LabourParty of the late 1990s.
Initial hopes that the fall of the
USSR would liberate Marxism from Stalinism do not appear to have been
realised, as global capitalism and liberal democracy seemed to carry all
before them. This very triumph has aroused radical challenges, however, as
exemplified in recent years by vigorous demonstrations against globalisation
League of Nations, on the importance of self-determination, on
the dangers of the Versailles Treaty, originally came from the UDC. ‘By
1918 UDC policy had virtually become Labour Party policy – the antiwar ILP-ers had joined the UDC and the anti-war Liberals had joined
the Labour Party. Both groups together dominated the newLabourParty Advisory Committee on International Questions.’98 This
Committee ‘was of the utmost importance’ during the 1920s.99
Despite the divisions and contentions caused by the First World War,
not only within the Labour Party but within
A national ethics committee and bioethics during the 1990s
championed in his
Reith lectures remained conspicuous by its absence.
This, however, looked set to change following the May 1997
election of Tony Blair’s ‘NewLabour’ Party. The architects of
‘New Labour’ based their policies on a strategy known as the
‘Third Way’, which they used to differentiate themselves from the
Conservatives and what Blair called ‘the fundamentalist Left’.118
This involved rejecting the leftist assumption that a strong state
was a vital component of civil society and the Thatcherite belief
that freedom could only be achieved by ‘rolling back the