October 25, 2005


Blair's public service crusade (Patrick Wintour, October 25, 2005, The Guardian)

Tony Blair is using his final years in government to rush through a radical transformation of the role of the state right across the public sector. The aim, clearly evident in today's white paper on education, is that the state should no longer be primarily a direct provider of services, but instead become a regulator and commissioner of services purchased from public, private and voluntary sectors.

Mr Blair sees the white paper as pivotal for the government since it symbolises a model for this reform in which the state does not quite wither away, but recasts itself. Similar, if specifically different, reforms are being implemented through the prison and probation service, housing provision, employment service, health and of course education.

In one shape or other, markets are being introduced into the public sector - "contestability", in the jargon - in which providers compete not necessarily over price, but quality. The hope is that once the system is right, the reform becomes self-perpetuating. Such ideas have long been discussed in New Labour thinktanks, the strategy unit or the office of public service reform, but they are now being acted on the ground. The extraordinary range of the reforms is probably only slowly dawning on traditional Labour MPs.

Some of the leading ideologues of change in government, such as the cabinet office secretary John Hutton, privately recognise they have yet to find the right language to describe the reform. Words such as "market mechanisms", "privatisation", and "choice" merely engender hostility, especially among those who believe reform is best secured through public investment. Mr Blair himself seems less anxious on this point, at least for now. As he admitted to last month's party conference, his one great regret has been his failure to reform further and faster, and he now seems determined to make amends.

The enemies aren't likely to react well if he starts calling it compassionate conservatism either. To reconcile the Right to the American Third Way we came up--thanks to Andrew Moore and ted welter--with the name Uberconservatism (with lightning bolts and umlouts). Now we need a kind of sissified name for the Third Way that will attract the Left. Any ideas?

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 25, 2005 8:58 AM

Market progressivism

Posted by: Brandon at October 25, 2005 9:26 AM


Posted by: pj at October 25, 2005 9:27 AM

The Choicecare State

Posted by: Matt C at October 25, 2005 9:31 AM

Wet Way

Posted by: Luciferous at October 25, 2005 9:52 AM

"Progressive Individualism" or "Family-Centered Progressivism"

I call it "indivdualizing the welfare state" and tell my liberal friends that "conservatives are better at achieving their stated goals than they are."

I then pile on and tease them for not being serious about achieving their stated goals bacause their true goal is to create a permanent, powerful bureaucratic class whose only interest is to rule.

You'd be surprised how fast this seperates the intellectually honest liberal from the commie skank.

Posted by: Bruno at October 25, 2005 9:57 AM

Call in by it's right name, "Solidarity."

Those people won't get it: they don't read papal encyclicals.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 25, 2005 10:19 AM


"Oh brave new world, with such levels of ownership in it."

Posted by: herb at October 25, 2005 10:43 AM

The Second Way, or is truth disqualifying?

Posted by: David Cohen at October 25, 2005 10:47 AM


How about StemCellnomics--they love anything with stem cells in it.

Posted by: oj at October 25, 2005 10:51 AM


Then you can't trick the Right.

Posted by: oj at October 25, 2005 10:52 AM

Now we need a kind of sissified name for the Third Way that will attract the Left.

Semi-subsidized Latte-ism (with your choice of soy or skim).

Posted by: John Resnick at October 25, 2005 10:52 AM

How about dusting off "Free Love"?

Posted by: Maiku at October 25, 2005 10:55 AM

If it were free even libertarians would support it.

Posted by: oj at October 25, 2005 11:00 AM


(they really dig all things French, right?)

Posted by: John Resnick at October 25, 2005 11:01 AM

StemCellnomics ... I like it! You make your spare-parts clone go to the office for you, do your taxes for you, register for Selective Service for you - he even gets mugged in your place! All you do is sit at home and collect the checks. The only things you don't let your clone do in your stead: 1)sex; 2) vote.

Posted by: herb at October 25, 2005 11:06 AM

Howzabout "pragmatic socialism" or "reality-based liberalism?"

Posted by: ted welter at October 25, 2005 12:55 PM

A Fresh Beginning. A Just Society. Fairness for All.

Remember, if you're going to give them a slogan for the Third Way, the really important thing isn't that the slogan accurately represents the Third Way, it's that the opposite of the slogan makes the Republicans look bad.

Posted by: John at October 25, 2005 1:11 PM

Progressive Empowered Social Transformation

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 25, 2005 1:11 PM

The Left will never go for pragmatism.

Posted by: oj at October 25, 2005 1:26 PM

"Just enough of a nod to market economics to throw another ten years' worth of dust in the eyes of confused moderates, while we continue to accrue our index-linked pensions", is all this will (once again) turn out to be.

I still think the supreme achievement in terms of empty 'third way' pronouncements came from Harold Wilson (UK Prime Minister 64-70 and 74-76) when he announced he was "forg[ing] a new Britain in the 'white heat' of scientific and technological revolution". In fact he knew next to nothing about the impact of technological change on the economy and society, most of what he thought he knew was wrong (he was a college lecturer in economics), and he was doing nothing of the sort. It was all made up on the spot.

Got him elected though, and even confused his Conservative opponents long enough for him to be able to set up a couple of institutions which went on to waste a great deal of public money propping up, ironically though predictably, a ghastly array of doomed economic, organizational and technological laggards such as the (then) UK-owned car manufacturers and shipbuilders.

When it comes to the third way it's forever it seems a case of 'Plus ca change..."

Posted by: ZF at October 25, 2005 1:30 PM

This is either much easier or much harder, because the Left is always up making ridiculous names like this.

Posted by: Timothy at October 25, 2005 1:30 PM

How do you say Justice in French?

Posted by: oj at October 25, 2005 1:38 PM


Posted by: tefta at October 25, 2005 3:16 PM

Drat! I thought it was guillotine.

Posted by: ratbert at October 25, 2005 4:15 PM

oj - They went for pragmatism 70 years ago. How about another name with proven resonance -- "Socialism."

Posted by: pj at October 25, 2005 5:23 PM

How would Old Labour react to "dog-eat-dog liberalism"?

Posted by: pj at October 25, 2005 5:28 PM

Market Socialism? Personal Socialism?

Posted by: oj at October 25, 2005 5:28 PM

Competitive Liberalism?

Posted by: oj at October 25, 2005 5:42 PM

Openness and Restructuring?

Socialism with Chinese Characteristics?

Posted by: Mike Earl at October 25, 2005 9:12 PM

national socialism

Posted by: anon at October 26, 2005 8:56 AM


It is socialist, but it's anti-nationalist.

Posted by: oj at October 26, 2005 9:23 AM


Send me your address and I'll send a book:

Market progressivism


Posted by: oj at October 26, 2005 2:12 PM