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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.

Part III Community and the Third Way The idea of community forms a significant part of the positive content of the Third Way. Anthony Giddens, in his account of the Third Way, says that ‘the theme of community is fundamental to the new politics’. 1 For Amitai Etzioni, ‘cultivating communities where they exist and helping them form where they have been

in The Third Way and beyond

Introduction Although the ‘Third Way’ has had many previous incarnations, the current version is generally said to have originated with the New Democrats and the Clinton administration, from 1992 in the USA, 1 and been taken up by Blair’s New Labour Government in the UK. However, there remains widespread debate over whether the term is applicable

in The Third Way and beyond
Continuities and contradictions underpinning Amitai Etzioni’s communitarian influence on New Labour

family, community, social discipline, obligation and responsibility – as opposed to an indiscriminate conferral of rights – that lies behind New Labour’s search for a ‘Third Way’ that would go ‘beyond Left and Right’. 8 However, what is not common knowledge in the UK, and so has not been fully explored, is from where Amitai Etzioni actually drew his inspiration. Through a

in The Third Way and beyond
A managerial perspective

Introduction Equality has been ‘the polestar of the Left’, 1 and the redefinition of this concept by Giddens and New Labour marks a significant departure from post-war social democratic goals. Giddens’s Third Way rests on his social theory of modernisation and globalisation, and employs the notion of ‘generative equality’ to propose a new model

in The Third Way and beyond

Introduction It is ironic that the surest indication of the durability of the Third Way is the continuing attention paid to it by its critics. This collection has provided a flavour of the range of such criticism from different disciplinary, analytical and political perspectives. But what general conclusions can be drawn from contributions such as

in The Third Way and beyond

Part IV The discourse and strategy of the Third Way The Third Way, particularly in its New Labour form, is often presented as a triumph of style over substance and the product par excellence of a soundbite political culture. Far from dismissing the discourse of the Third Way, however, the contributions that comprise Part IV

in The Third Way and beyond

Part II The Third Way, economics, equality and the State One major theme in discussions of New Labour and the Third Way more generally has concerned the Third Way’s credibility as a social democratic force. As Part III shows, that credibility is based in part on its appeal to community, although there are some doubts about whether the appeal is a convincing one or whether community is

in The Third Way and beyond

In this chapter I analyse the content and evaluate the significance of the discourse of ‘the Third Way’, disseminated by the New Labour Government. I argue that the Third Way is a brand name that may well be transient. However, while the label may be transient, the content of Third Way discourse does contain substance, much of which predated the use of

in The Third Way and beyond

Labour Party Conference in Brighton, Blair warned that a ‘strong society cannot be built on soft choices’, but ‘is based on duty’. 49 The same idea of community was present in Blair’s Third Way pamphlet, in which he defended a ‘politics of “us” rather than “me”’, one that would be based on ‘an ethic of responsibility as well as [of] rights’. 50 In

in The Third Way and beyond