Who Turned New Labour?



The impact on British politics of ‘Thatcher’s downfall ‘was immediate. Britain felt bereft of the dominant leader it had got used to. So Britain turned to New Labour to dominate for 3 consecutive terms of office. Thatcher’s confrontational style was based on ideological dogma which divided the country. Blair nullified opposition by accommodation not by division, yet was wholly uncompromising in doing this – a dogma of inclusivity. He was also politically ruthless in his forcing unions to sign up to a non re-nationalization policy, as well as a more military partnership initially with President Clinton then President Bush. People forget that Blair was more ideological about dead-wood policies such as ‘Clause 4’ within his party than he was to his competitors outside his party. Perhaps that relates to Blair’s appeal to the middle and well to do middle classes, where as Thatcher appealed to working people and entrepreneurial lower middle classes. This jettisoning of orthodox electoral support based upon social class was most successfully achieved by Thatcher. She transformed the country whereas New Labour introduced a completely original political concept and economic sub- text that in effect, was not the emancipation that Blair had heralded for Britain. Indeed, although it is de rigueur for Tory politicians today to play down Thatcher’s achievements there is no doubt that people remember her as the ‘The lady (who) is not for turning’ where they draw a contrast with Blair who is regarded as turning so much that he put the country in a spin. Or not? You decide.

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© 2019 Stephen Hornsby-Smith

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