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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.

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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, and gurus of the Third Way could count on invitations to conferences and gatherings of the politically interested across the world. Yet only a few years later

in The Third Way and beyond
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British Labour Party, given by Hartwig Pautz and Eric Shaw respectively, are more negative. Pautz examines the SPD’s programmatic debates from the 1990s until the present day, including its engagement with ‘third way’ revisionism, and finds that the outcome has been deep confusion in the SPD’s identity, policies and electoral appeals. Shaw directs our attention to the ‘third waygovernment par excellence, the Blair–Brown administration in Britain, and in particular to Labour’s approach to public services. Shaw acknowledges the significant public investment in education

in In search of social democracy

travel is fully distinct from the one charted by totalitarian and libertarian approaches’. Moreover, ‘while the various Third Ways differ in their specific synthesis of the ways of the state and the market, they are pulling closer to one another’. The term ‘Third Way society’ suggests a greater permanence than a transitory ‘Third Way government’. However, in the period since

in The Third Way and beyond

benevolent social forces which Third Way governments need only manage competently. This volume has pointed to where, on the contrary, a revitalised Left politics is vital in overcoming the barriers that remain to the realisation of Giddens’ vision. Material inequality, asymmetrical power relations and the continuing tendency of capital to undermine the kinds of dialogic spaces Giddens

in The Third Way and beyond