On the 21st July 1994, Tony Blair was elected leader of the Labour Party. He would be the leader, who would lead the Labour Party to victory in 1997, 2001 and 2005. Blair’s passion, energy and statesmanship propelled Labour to victory and kept Labour in power for an unprecedented three consecutive terms. This radical Labour government would be tasked with rebuilding a Britain broken over a decade of Tory rule.
The new Labour government would be not be a government of dogma and ideology but a government of principled pragmatism. From the principled and pragmatic of New Labour’s radical Third Way, the Government forged ahead with dynamic and radical policies from public sector reform to equalities legislation. New Labour understood that neither the state nor market is perfect; therefore new partnerships were needed between the state, private and voluntary sectors. This understanding can be seen in the education, where Lord Adonis created the Academies Programme. The latter meant that the private and voluntary sectors could sponsor schools. Throughout our public services, Labour increased standards and quality of service through forging dynamic and radical partnerships between the state, private and voluntary sectors.
Beyond our public services, New Labour worked to ensure people could make ends meet. New Labour introduced a minimum wage, tax credits and a myriad of other measures. The measures taken by Labour radically reduced poverty among the child and pensioners of Britain. This is an achievement that we would be immensely proud of. It is clear, these are measures that would have not been taken under a Conservative government. It is clear a Conservative government would mean slower progress on civil equalities, widening inequality and crumbling public services.
New Labour was firmly a Third Way government, which governed from the radical centre. Tony Blair understands that to govern successfully, there must be a political understanding starting with an evaluation of the world, as it is, not as we want it to be. Therefore we must disregard dogmatic ideology, look at what works and apply that to the country and world, we find ourselves in. The politics of the Third Way is fundamentally one of the radical centre and cuts across the traditional boundaries of left-wing and right-wing politics. The dogma and ideology of right-wing and left-wing are not productive to forming radical and dynamic policies to solve the issues of Britain today.
Ed Miliband’s Labour Party have certainly been radical in areas. The Labour Party today has pledged a mass house-building programme, reform of the energy market, public-sector bidding rights for the railways and devolution to cities. Labour must go forward and stay true to the principled pragmatism of the Third Way. If the Labour Party wins the next election, it have pragmatic solutions to the issues we face today. Furthermore these solutions must be workable, when the Government will have to make further cuts to balance the books. Therefore we must look at solutions, such as the integration of health and social care and further devolution to the countries and regions of Britain. This is of more importance now than ever before, as we are the brink of the United Kingdom being broken up.
The Labour Party must resist the temptation to resort to dogma and the policies of tax and spend. This is crucial, if Labour is to create lasting and sustainable solutions to the issues in Britain. The Labour Party will therefore have to present a package of big reform, not big spending, such as devolution to our regions, which will involve devolving budgets from Whitehall to ‘city-regions’ where money can be spent more efficiently and focused towards the unique needs of that part of the country.
New Labour was a government of the third way and so must Ed Miliband’s Labour Party. Britain needs solutions that can cut past the traditional boundaries of left and right, which can bring lasting change to Britain. This does not mean, we must adopt the same policies as the New Labour. That would make us conservative and clinging to the past. The Third Way is about policies, which work in the world as it is today. Ed Miliband must show strength of leadership in this and not give way to those in the Labour Party, who want to retreat to a dogma and ideology, which will only herald defeat for Labour and another term, where the Tories and their lapdogs can do greater damage to Britain.