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Criticisms, futures, alternatives

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.

Sarah Hale, Will Leggett, and Luke Martell

public services. If the public sector can be improved through private sector investment, then the Left should be open-minded about such investment. Eric Shaw, however, questions whether New Labour’s pragmatic arguments actually work. For him, the pragmatic case for the Private Finance Initiative does not stand up. It seems that there may be more than a merely pragmatic belief in

in The Third Way and beyond
The Third Way and the case of the Private Finance Initiative
Eric Shaw

(PPP) or the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), 2 as applied to health policy. The PFI involves a separation between the role of commissioner of public services, which remains the responsibility of public authorities, and the role of provider of those services, which the private sector is encouraged to undertake. It has been described as the ‘key element in the Government

in The Third Way and beyond
An introduction to the book
Colin Coulter

and concerns that embroider the discourse of the British Prime Minister are evidently those that arise out of ‘third way’ politics.17 One of the principal areas in which New Labour has sought to implement this particular ideological agenda is the provision of public services. Since coming to office, Blair has attempted to establish the conditions under which the likes of health and education would be financed jointly by government and business. In principle, the Private Finance Initiative is conceived as an admirable social democratic measure that promises to

in The end of Irish history?
Kevin Hickson

social consensus for limited re-nationalisation measures in cases such as the railways where very high levels of public sector investment have not necessarily resulted in improved performance. Equally, in areas such as public-private partnerships and private finance initiative schemes the claim made by New Labour to do what works can seem more doubtful now. Gordon Brown did talk of a ‘public interest test’ in determining the level and form of private sector involvement and although nothing has been done to develop this, it would seem a particularly fruitful idea to

in In search of social democracy
Interpreting the unions–party link
Steve Ludlam

cross-cutting factionalism, in which individual unions take up opposing positions alongside distinct groups of party members and leaders, must be recognised. It is certainly difficult otherwise to make sense of the link in the New Labour era – for example, in relation to key issues on which unions are divided, such as the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) for the private financing and management of public services, employment law reform and European monetary union. The fact that the crosscutting organised Labour Left of old has been less in evidence in the New Labour

in Interpreting the Labour Party
Class polarisation and neo-liberalism in the Irish Republic
Kieran Allen

have been developed in close consultation with trade unions’.51 The acceptance of privatisation is often driven by a notion that it will not follow the British example but rather there will be a distinct Irish model of privatisation, based, of course, on social solidarity. Union leaders joined the National Competitiveness Council, which, as the OECD points out, ‘has promoted increased competition in energy, telecommunications, transport and many other areas of the economy’.52 While many British unions have expressed vigorous opposition to the Private Finance

in The end of Irish history?
Peter Dorey

taxation, alleged hostility to enterprise and entrepreneurship, and high levels of public expenditure. However, the Conservatives after May 1997 were perplexed by a Labour government which rejected nationalisation, refused to increase income tax and actually reduced corporation tax, and contemplated further privatisation (as well as private sector involvement in public services via Public–Private Partnerships, and the continued application of Private Finance Initiatives, initiated by the previous Conservative government). The Blair government posed a further problem for

in The Conservatives in Crisis
From disaster to devolution and beyond
Peter Lynch

Scotland’ policy), student tuition fees, Alex Salmond’s controversial stance over NATO’s bombing of Kosovo (which he described as ‘unpardonable folly’), Labour’s plans for private finance initiatives, etc. Even though these issues were of the ‘tax and spending’ variety which Conservatives had utilised in the past, the party itself was marginalised from such questions by the dominance of Labour and the SNP in the media. Second, the Conservatives marginalised themselves from the election campaign by ruling themselves out of participation in any post-election coalition. As

in The Conservatives in Crisis
Sarah Hale

policies of the Conservative administration, but while Labour in government have amended the internal market in the health service, market mechanisms play an increasing and more direct role, through the Private Finance Initiative (PFI; see below) and the increasing use of private health facilities for NHS patients. Another policy in which New Labour itself has arguably violated the

in The Third Way and beyond