Is New Labour either?
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Is New Labour either? Since 1997 a new age commenced in British politics, the age of the New Labour Party. After 18 years of shadow cabinet and four lost elections, the Labour Party is again back in power of the British politics and more impressive than ever before. The re-election of the Labour in 2001 and in particular the myth about the inner-party and political renewal caused numerous discussions and terms like 'New (Labour)' and 'the Third Way' came into the forefront. What exactly is New Labour? Is it only an inexpressible ideology or is there more at the bottom of the term 'the Third Way'? This and a few further questions I will be concentrated on in the course of this essay. But, above all I would like to contemplate both the political and party renewal in the course of time and the Third Way movement all over the world. 'The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few. Where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe. And where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.'1 This is the Clause 4 of the Labour Party constitution, it is precisely what the Labour Party stands for. It illustrates the party members' ideology and heart. ...read more.
The essential beginning of New Labour is however seen in the era Kinnock. Adam Lent states in his article 'Labour's Transformation' that the analysis and reports are oversimplified and do not realise that Kinnock already had his reformation thoughts before his leadership. Kinnock himself confirmed that he had his own reform plans, but did not want to share them with anyone else, because this could mean the early end of the reforms. After his election as party leader 1983, he started numerous initiatives with regards to political reforms. He replaced the NEC with Joint Policy Comittees, he altered the defence policy by stating that 'he would keep cruise missiles' 18and he shifted away from Labour's old-fashioned attitude to finish the engagement in the EU. In 1985 Peter Mandelson was appointed Director of Campaigns and Communication and a new epoch of campaign strategy started. Kinnock's principal task and merit was the party's reunification, after the disastrous election defeat in 1983. Martin J Smith mentioned that he 'changed the expectations of the party in the 1980's and slayed a number of important dragons'19 and that he had the backing of the left that allowed him to change the party. One further possibility to illustrate the party renewal, is the comparison of the different manifestos. In order to emphasise the development I have concentrated on the campaigns of 1964, 1983, 1992 and 1997. What views held the party leaders in their manifestos with regards to the perils of a nuclear threat, the fiscal system, the European Union and what significance did the nationalisation have? ...read more.
The social-democratic opinion has changed, but due to earlier mentioned reasons nobody can deny, that it is still a social-democratic party. The new way of thinking cannot be seen as a betrayal of old principles. Blair and his fellow thinkers have only recognised that it is about time, to get rid of the out-fashioned ideology and to adapt itself to the people's way of thinking and get into closer contact with the electorate. Many little steps were necessary to create today's picture of New Labour. Initiated by Neil Kinnock, the modernisation process peaked in the 1997- election victory of Tony Blair and the revision of Clause 4. Tony Blair was the person, who made a go of the concept of New Labour and found a compromise between both young and old, and modernisation and traditional ideology. The re-election in 2001 confirmed Blair and his party to be on the right track. However, an example, which represents the transition of the newly adapted principles becoming old-fashioned again, is best presented in the presidential election 2001 in the United Sates. Gore lost the election as the candidate for the New Democrats. We will see how Tony Blair is able to cope with the present problems. He has not only to face domestic issues, like the NHS and the conflict in Northern Ireland, but in particular the crisis relating the 'War against Terrorism'. Gerhard Schroeder had to challenge the vote of no confidence in the German Parliament to enforce a participation of German troops in Afghanistan. How long will the British Parliament follow the United States in supporting them in this war with regards to a possible attack against Iraq? I think Labour has to stay in power to maintain the image of a new party. ...read more.
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