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Supervision 03 Political and Sociological Aspects of Economics
"Under New Labour Britain is witnessing a new era of neoliberal consensus on economic and social policy." Discuss. "New Labour" is the new ideology the labour party had adopted during the 90s. Being in opposition for 18 years, the labour party was forced to undertake some fundamental change in order to become the governing party again. The traditional labour patronage, the working class, has shrunk both in its size and its unity. Instead, Britain has become more bourgeois, individualistic and middleclass under 18 years of conservative government. The labour party had to undertake a shift to the right if it was ever to get a majority in the parliament again. This shift has already begun under Neil Kinnock and John Smith. Under their leadership unilateral disarmament, large
scale nationalization and hostility to market forces were abandoned. Furthermore, the internal modernization of the party under Kinnock and Smith has weakened the ties with trade unions and marginalized the leftwing activists within labour. These small steps started to reduce the differences in policies between labour and the conservative party. However, it was eventually Tony Blair, who epitomizes New Labour like nobody else with the 1996 labour party manifesto "New Labour, New Life for Britain". New Labour is in some aspects a continuation of Thatcherism: It embraces the free market as economic system and accepts the privatizations undertaken by the Thatcher government. The marked change in this regard was the rewriting of Clause 4 of the labour party's constitution, which was once called the "ark of the socialist covenant" by Harold Wilson. This statement shows us the importance of rewriting Clause 4, which dropped the commitment to nationalize key industries of the nation. New Labour abandons the Keynesian remedy which has been consensus in the immediate postwar era and turns to the more monetarist approach with its low
inflation policy adopted under Thatcher. Despite these similarities, new labour is more than Thatcherism, it is in some ways "postthatcherite", reflecting the changing 1
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