What are the main distinctions between Old and New Labour?

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What are the main distinctions between Old and New Labour?

Old and New Labour are two quite distinct and different sections of Labour.  Old Labour effectively sticks to the original core beliefs of Labour and is somewhat socialist, whereas New Labour has moved more to the centre (a shift to the right effectively), and is less socialist than Old Labour.

The core beliefs of old labour are the concepts of class, collectivism, equality, organised labour, and the role of the state.  Old Labour is a fervent believer in the theory that most political conflicts stem initially from class conflicts.  Essentially, there is a clash between the working class and the capitalist class in the eyes of Old Labour.  Old Labour tried to redress the perceived imbalance of power between the capitalist class and the working class in favour of the latter.  This was attempted through the protection of workers’ rights, giving trade unions considerable power, and the nationalising of major industries.  New Labour on the other hand has come to accept that the class system has broken down and that this old fashioned concept of segregation between the classes is no longer true in our modern society.  People identify less with a specific class; they are more interested in their own personal issues.  New Labour has come to recognize this.

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Also, the attitude towards collectivism has shifted a lot.  Old Labour believes that people enjoy working collectively to achieve a common goal.  New Labour has come to accept that people nowadays are actually more interested in working towards their own personal goals, than towards collective goals.  An example of this is the welfare state.  This was and to an extent still is a symbol of collectivism, however, nowadays; New Labour tries to implement policies that encourage individuality, for instance, owning your own home.  The welfare system has been restructured to promote self-reliance rather than dependency on the state.


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