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New Labour


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Originally a label given to (but not by) supporters of Neil Kinnock's changes in the Labour Party (UK) between 1985 and 1992. The label was then adopted as a brand by Tony Blair and his circle on Blair's accession to the party leadership in 1994 and to power in 1997, Blair then saying ‘We were elected as New Labour, and will govern as New Labour’.

Kinnock first expelled the Militant Tendency from the party, then set about changing party policies which he believed had caused voters to defect from Labour to the Liberal–Social Democrat Alliance. The party abandoned unilateralism, distanced itself from the trade unions, and embraced the market. John Smith (Labour Party leader 1992–4) was more traditionalist, but Blair launched the theme ‘New Labour, New Britain’ at his first party conference in 1994. Blair barely concealed his admiration for Margaret Thatcher's programme of privatization, regulation of trade unions, and deregulation of utilities. In 1997 the Conservatives tried to turn the slogan back on its creators as ‘New Labour, New Danger’, and failed spectacularly. In social policy, New Labour has attempted to reduce social exclusion by a mixture of targeted tax changes and moralizing. The moralizing blinded many to the fact that the targeting of the socially excluded helped to make the 1997 administration one of the most redistributive governments in British history.

Subjects: Politics.


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