When Tony Blair decided, in 1997, to challenge the electoral power of four consecutive Conservative governments, he pertinently chose to call his draft for Labor's electoral platform New Labor, New Life for Britain. Indeed, Labor or shall we say New Labor manifesto flaunted an unprecedented motto: New Labor is a party of ideas and ideals but not of outdated ideology. What counts is what works. The objectives are radical. The means will be modern. Indeed, the phrase New Labor, wittily created as a rhetorical device and intended to incorporate a wider re-branding of the party in the eyes of the electorate, embraces two essential canons: solidarity on the one hand, marriage of democracy and capitalism on the other hand. Consequently, if we had to define it, Blair's approach retains the fundamental values of the Labor party, while changing the means appropriate to their realization, and consists of trying to combine two apparently antithetic tenets: the liberal commitment to individual freedom in the market economy, and the social democratic commitment to social justice through the action of government.
[...] Third Wayers rely on a stable economy, where hard work is rewarded by rising living standards and where one can receive world- class education and healthcare, feel safe and secure in a strong community. Blair's purpose is clear: he wants to re-design public services around the interests of their users, maintaining economic stability and driving through radical changes in what he calls “essential services” –such as education, health, transports, and so on. The text actually puts the emphasis on New Labor's overall aim: reconciling economic growth mechanisms with structural reform of the Welfare State and restructuring social democratic doctrines to respond to globalization and the so-called knowledge economy. [...]
[...] In many respects, the Third Way does not constitute a new paradigm. Actually, an increasing number of critics from both left and right have decried the vagueness of Blair's Third Way. These critics charged that Blair and his fellow centrists had made clear what the Third Way is not –namely, neither the Old Left with its attachment to state ownership of the means of production, nor the New Right with its pro-market, anti-government rhetoric. Apart from those general considerations about the political principles of Blairism in its widest sense, it is worth mentioning that Mr Blair's speech was not accepted unanimously and did not receive full support. [...]
[...] Tony Blair has decided views concerning the future of his country: a great part of the text under study is dedicated to his clear aims, matching with New Labor values, and the methods and measures he proposes to reach the target. However, after examining the beliefs, ideals, objectives and means which emerge from the text, one is entitled to wonder what the results of such a speech are. Did Mr Blair keep his promises? How did the “wreckers” react? What are the limits of the Third Way? [...]
[...] More generally, for critics, the Third Way is contradictory. In a day-to-day government, choices have to be made, and potential contradictions and controversies may then arise. Measures are needed to restore equity and justice as a balance against the overriding drive for economic efficiency. Politically speaking, Blair's New Labor no longer represents a Socialist project, but does not hesitate to use Thatcherite methods even where its agenda promotes equity, welfare and social entitlements. Its economic break with Conservatism is weak and hesitant. [...]
[...] On the basis of his hard-won first term economic stability, the Prime Minister highlights what his clear goals are, redefining his New Labor party and his Third Way policy, pointing out the dogmas and beliefs characterizing his party, and differing from the opposition more than ever. In our analysis of Mr Blair's quote, we will first try to settle a definition of New Labor through the values underlined by the Prime Minister's speech; in a second part of our scrutiny, we will focus on Blair's political aims on the one hand, stressing the magnitude of preserving economic stability and social justice, as well as we will apply ourselves to sort out the means Mr Blair proposes to exploit in order to attain his objectives, drawing the “battle lines” with the Conservatives. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee