You are on page 1of 3


New labour is fundamentally seen to represent a transition from left wing policies to
more right wing/ centre ground.
There is an inceasing ambivalence about public ownership, equality changes from being
out outcome to opportunities, shift from nuclear disarmament to acceptance of nuclear
weapons, shift from anti alliance approach to a pro-NATO/US approach and a more
accepting approach of the market. It also marked a shift from class politics to a more
inclusive approach that recognized the existence of a variety of interests and finally an
emphasis on modernising the state, party, economy and role within global affairs.
However, modernization was not a new concept. Thus it can be argued that New
Labour was not necessarily new but readapted old ideologies to form a new one.
The wilderness years

1979-83: shift to the Left electorally damaging

Formation of SDP in 1981 split the vote

Fragmentation within the party

1983-92: modernisation under Kinnock

Tackling extremism within party

Abandoned Left policies on economy, nationalisation, defence

Centralised power within party machine

Four consecutive defeats

1992-94: Smith reforms link with unions

1994: Blair elected as ultra-moderniser excel modernization policy. Party

rebranded as new Labour.

Blair re-branded the party as New Labour which was confronted with four major
1) Electoral popularity of Tory policies: no return to tax and spend; tough on
crime. Within the electorate there was a new hegemony with Thatcherism.
2) Sociological demise of the working class: appeal to Middle England
3) Internationalisation globalisation; decline of nation-state because the power of
business and businesses had increased it became difficult for social democratic
parties to be elected
4) Ideological socialism and demise of Communism

New Labour could be considered a third way principle essentially designed as away to
create alternative to neo liberalism of Thatcherism and also top down control approach
of Old Labour. It was seen to be a way between left and right politics. There was a
growing acceptance of the importance of the market in the economy which was
furthered by globalization. There was also a recognition that politics of class no longer
resonated and that the electoral had different interests-gender, environment and that the
party shouldnt just base electoral appeal on social class.
It also marked the beginning of viewing politics not primarily as ideologically driven but a
more pragmatic way of adapting approached that work. It also shifted the focus on the
state as provider and recognized the ability of the market to act as providers too.
Criticism of Third Way

Vague and inconsistent: all things to all people- no focus on a particular group

Too many concessions to Thatcherism and neo-liberalism

Importing American models into British politics (welfare, crime)- policy transfer
from US to UK , policies that did not necessarily fit in with British Politics.

merely another manifestation of social democratic revisionism- not new at all

Blair revised clause IV. The new one focused on equality of opportunities, an enabling
role for the state which emphasises cooperation and partnership rather than public
ownership, an emphasis on transparency and open democracy. Rhetorically and

symbolically this was massively important and was a sign of change but this wasnt
completely new, proposals to revision had been made before.
New Labour

Equality of opportunity
Welfare to work
Rights & responsibilities
Mixed economy in public services
Market economy

Old Labour

Working class
Industrial economy
Equality of outcome
Social rights
State provision of public services
Mixed economy