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  1. Introduction.
  2. The third way.
    1. Controversy among students of social-democracy.
    2. The field of welfare.
    3. New Labour: Its incorporation of values more associated with neo-liberalism than with social-democracy.
  3. New Labour.
    1. Blair and the Labour party.
    2. A major part of the debate around new labour.
    3. Understanding the birth of New Labour.
    4. The traditional social-democratic battleground of welfare.
    5. Adoption of a pragmatic approach on pensions.
  4. The Blair government and a growing inequalities and low government spending.
    1. Redistributive policies.
    2. A noticeable increase in the means-tested income support for old people.
  5. Another field of greater state intervention: Education.
  6. New Labour in 2003.
  7. The German social-democratic party.
  8. Conclusion.
  9. Bibliography.

In 1999, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder issued a joint statement entitled The Third Way, Die neue Mitte. The statement committed itself to a ?newly defined role for the active state? and stated that ?the essential function of markets must be complemented and improved by political action, not hampered by it? , sometimes raising eyebrows among the European left, not least the French one, which thought that both SPD and Labour had abandoned their social-democratic commitments and embraced neo-liberal ideology. Recently, a clutch of welfare and labour market reforms was adopted in Germany, sparking protests and demonstrations. The Third Way has brought controversy among students of social-democracy when it comes to its relations with social-democracy and its positioning on a right-left spectrum. For its major academic theorist, Anthony Giddens, the Third Way is ?social-democracy revived and modernised? , whereas for one of its most vocal critics, sociologist Stuart Hall, it stands for ?deregulation of markets, the continued privatisation of public assets, low taxation, breaking the inhibitions to market flexibility and institutionalising the culture of private provision and personal risk? .

[...] Therefore, the concern with equality of opportunity has replaced the commitment to equality of outcome, a greater concern with flexibility has been brought to the idea of labour market protection, a new rhetoric links social rights with duties and responsibilities, and both parties have taken into account the rise of individualism among Western societies. However, what we have to bear in mind during this comparison is that the idea of a generous welfare state is much more entrenched in Germany than in Britain, and that the two countries face different economic contexts (which would mean that the British government has more room for manoeuvre, but to know whether the Blair government has initiated economic growth or has just beneficiated from favourable economic trends will not be discussed here). [...]

[...] 79-92 Martin Rhodes, ?Desperately seeking a solution: social democracy, Thatcherism and the ?Third in British Welfare?, West European Politics (Vol N 2000), pp. 161-186 Eric Shaw, ?Britain: left abandoned? New Labour in power?, Parliamentary Affairs (Vol N 2003), pp. 6-23 Polly Toynbee and David Walker, ?Social policy and inequality?, in Anthony Seldon and Kevin Hickson New Labour, Old Labour (Routledge, 2004), pp. 105-122 Stewart Wood, ?Education and training: tensions at the heart of the British Third in Stuart White New Labour, The Progressive Future? [...]

[...] One could have thought of alternatives such as putting more government money in universities or reducing the number of students, but the government has cleverly played on the British low consent to taxes and on the view that students are privileged: according to a poll, more than 60 per cent of Labour voters think that top-up fees are a fair way to raise extra funding for higher education, compared to less than 50 per cent of the ABs, whose children are most likely to go to university[15]. [...]

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