The Labour Party’s movement to the Centre:an explanation using the Wright Mills approach
Page Chapter 2 Introduction9 C. Wright Mills’ Elite Theory12 David Sainsbury and the 1983 general election23 Tony Blair and the “Opinion Maker”31 New Labour and the Corporate Elite47 Conclusion49 Bibliography
Using C. Wright Mills’ theoretical approach – a strand of elite theory set out in
The Power Elite
– this dissertation offers an entirely original explanation as towhy the Labour Party moved to the Centre. It, firstly, demonstrates how theLabour Party mitigated its ideological objectives in gaining the approval andinfluence of the elite, approval that helped the party win successive generalelections. It begins with a critical analysis of existing explanations of theLabour Party’s ‘modernisation’, before outlining what the Wright Millsapproach entails. It then illustrates how the elite in Britain influenced theoutcome of the 1983 general election and altered the electoral landscape,which consequently encouraged Tony Blair to seek the approval of RupertMurdoch. It outlines the way in which members of the corporate elite wereexplicitly co-opted into the party’s policy-making process, when ‘TheCommission on Public Policy and British Business’ was set up by the IPPR. Italso discerns the influence the elite had on the party in government after their landslide general election victory in 1997, citing most notably the connectionbetween New Labour and the Bilderberg Group, the financial sector – inparticular the investment bank Goldman Sachs International – and DavidSainsbury’s influence on the party. It also analyses the connection betweenthe Labour Party and the nuclear lobby, deriving from the use of the WrightMills approach an analysis of how the Labour Party sought to gain theapproval of the influential corporate elite, capitalising on their affiliationthrough favourable media coverage and party funding.