June 3, 2010


New Labour is dead. Long live new Labour: The new generation of leaders will move on from the term that defined us. But they must never abandon our ideas (Peter Mandelson, 6/03/10, Times of London)

[W]hile I understand why the term new Labour may cease to be used by a new generation of potential Labour leaders who rightly wish to move on from the past, the concept that new Labour represents should not be cast aside so easily. New Labour is not an affectation or a marketing tool that enabled us simply to win elections. It is more fundamental than that.

It is, and was, a logical flow from the revisionist, social democratic tradition in our party — the tradition that applies the timeless values of our party afresh to new times; that believes the Left should concentrate on the ends — a strong economy, social justice and high-quality public services — but should always be willing to consider new means of achieving those ends.

It is about Labour not being a party of class or sectional interest, but about being a broad-based party of conscience and reform. An outlook that remains in tune with the priorities and ambitions of families across the country. Open, not tribal. Pluralist, not statist.

But it is also a mindset that is, above all, governmental. Which recognises that democratic power is the only route to implementing our values, and that very difficult policy choices — such as those raised by the deficit — cannot be ducked.

I am not arguing for the new Labour of Blair, Brown and Mandelson to be preserved in aspic — that would be the opposite of the revisionist instincts that lay at the root of our project. This phase of new Labour is now over and died on May 6, 2010. But the cast of mind that new Labour represents — aspirational, reforming, in touch and that faces up to the choices power demands — must not die with it if our party is to be a serious party of government again.

Like the Tories, they'll return to power when they are seen as more Third Way than their opponents again.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 3, 2010 6:40 PM
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