Old Labour New Labour Essay

Old Labour New Labour Essay-49
A meritocratic society is one in which the state takes action to raise the level of the talents-particularly the talents of the disadvantaged-which the market proceeds to reward. That leads on to a third, more paradoxical, difference.Like the Thatcher and Major governments, the Blair government looks across the Atlantic for inspiration, not across the Channel.

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It is more tender to the employers than to the trade unions, more anxious to court Rupert Murdoch than the Guardian, and more wary of the European social model than of the contemporary American mixture of hyper-individualism and social authoritarianism.

Yet the widely held notion that New Labour stands for the continuation of Thatcherism by other means is hopelessly wide of the mark.

The new wine of the free market was to be poured from the old bottles of the British ancien regime.

An individualistic economy was to go hand in hand with an authoritarian polity. In ten years, the Thatcher governments transformed the political economy and the public culture.

Let market forces rip, they thought, and talent would automatically command its market price.

The only role for the state was to eliminate the obstacles to the free play of market forces-including, of course, the obstacles presented by traditional elites.

This may have nothing in common with social democracy, but it is the nearest thing to christian democracy that modern British politics have known.

And christian democracy is light years away from Thatcherism. Like its predecessor, the new regime is for individual achievement, not collective action.

Like the New Democrats, New Labour takes globalisation as a given and seeks to run with what it believes to be the grain of the global marketplace.

That is why it is suspicious of the European social model, why it shares its predecessor’s commitment to flexible labour markets and low social costs and why it sees the French socialists and German social democrats as suspect deviationists rather than as fraternal exemplars.


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