To What Extent Had Labour Moved Away from Its Roots

Topics: Labour Party, Socialism, Social democracy Pages: 7 (2863 words) Published: March 12, 2013
To what extent has the Labour party moved away from its traditional roots? The Labour party believed in more traditional principles post the 1997 reforms where Labour was rebranded as ‘‘New Labour’.’ Prior to this, the party communicated in a ‘left wing’ approach with socialist ideas. They believed in core values, where some were emphasised more than others. Equality was significant as there was expansion of the welfare state e.g. they introduced the ‘free’ health care system and taxation in favour of the working class. This also included investment in Education and Housing sectors where they proposed everyone should get substantial support. Thus emphasising the equality of opportunity as they show their commitment to the importance of choice in employment. Additionally, the core value of common ownerships as they committed to nationalisation in key industries. They were also the party of collectivism as they had a key relationship with trade unions; this aided their campaign as they gained the working class votes. Hence we can clearly state the Labour party was traditionally for the people as they had a big impact on society as they attempted to brake the gap between the classes which brought social justice- another few of the core values. These reforms were enacted in an extremely hostile economic environment, thus it was inevitably one of the most radical and ambitious government. This however changed considerably in 1997 after the general elections where Tony Blair modernised the Labour party by making it more authoritarian. This was due to the lack of faith in the members of the party who believed that the core values had to change in order for them to succeed, they found the more right-winged approach was needed, most of the other parties has transitioned from the consensus to become adversarial and Labour didn’t want to be single-handedly different in politics to its opponents. Through this, Blair enforced changes to the party’s appearance by conveying a more enthusiastic and confident front. He took a leading role in foreign affairs such as global climate change and poverty. Anti-terrorism laws were introduced as well as ASBO’s and harsher sentences. This then resulted in Blair working closely with USA after 9/11 to resolve problems in Iraq and Afghanistan. Adding to this world renowned name Tony Blair had made for himself. He essentially moved Labour away from its traditional roots. The welfare state reforms in ‘‘Old Labour’’ were candidly linked to equality of opportunity, where they introduced a new health care system which was ‘free at the point of use’, now known as the NHS. This was introduced to allow more people to receive the care they needed; this initialised more votes as people felt this was social justice. The then party believed this was necessary as it opened opportunities in the other fields in the welfare state where the government could gain the trust of the nation to ultimately win the elections. This was continued though ‘‘New Labour’’ as they increased the spending on NHS. Blair’s targets were set to cut waiting lists and improve efficiency. Spending on health increased to the European average. This to an extent maintained some traditions as traditional Labour voters felt this was a way they can continue to contribute to the society. This was crucial as Blair did not want to lose the votes of avid Labour supporters, whilst trying to gain new support. This to some degree was reassuring as many felt the Labour party was getting stronger as its values were sustained. However, this was all contradicted by Labours encouragement of privatisation. Private businesses were encouraged to play a role in delivering services in the NHS this meant that Labour was enforcing their new ideas behind the scenes which aimed to eventually please all. This change in the reforms emphasises the methods ‘‘New Labour’’ used to move away from its traditional roots as they did it slyly. Equality of opportunity is also...
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