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Left political views

Both Green politics and religious socialism are not mutually exclusive with other left points of view.

OverviewEdit

Clinton Blair

US President Bill Clinton (left) meets with Blair in November 1999, his close partner in their mutual Atlanticist views and emphasis on the special relationship.

In British politics, the term Blairism refers to the political ideology of former leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister Tony Blair. It entered the New Penguin English Dictionary in 2000. Proponents of Blairism are referred to as Blairites.

Politically, Blair has been identified with record investment into public services, an interventionist and Atlanticist foreign policy, support for stronger law enforcement powers, a large focus on surveillance as a means to address terrorism and a large focus on education as a means to encourage social mobility. In the early years (circa 1994–1997), Blairism was also associated with support for European integration and particularly British participation in the European single currency, though this waned after Labour took office.

Tony Blair was accused of being a Political parrot in late 2008.

BlairisumEdit

TonyBlairArmagh1998

Blair speaks in support of the Northern Ireland peace process in Armagh in September 1998.

New Labour developed and subscribed to the "Third Way", a centrist platform designed to offer an alternative to both complete capitalism and absolute socialism. The ideology was developed to make the party progressive and attract voters from across the political spectrum. New Labour offered a middle way between the neo-liberal free market economics of the New Right, which it saw as economically efficient, and the ethical reformism of post-1945 Labour, which shared New Labour's concern for social justice. New Labour's ideology departed with its traditional beliefs in achieving social justice on behalf of the working class through mass collectivism; Blair was influenced by ethical and Christian forms of socialism and used these to cast a modern form of socialism.

Politically, Blair has been identified with record investment into public services, an interventionist and Atlanticist foreign policy, support for stronger law enforcement powers, a large focus on surveillance as a means to address terrorism and a large focus on education as a means to encourage social mobility. In the early years (circa 1994–1997), Blairism was also associated with support for European integration and particularly British participation in the European single currency, though this waned after Labour took office.

The term is used in particular in contrast to Brownite, to identify those within the Labour Party with a connection to, or identification with, Gordon Brown rather than Blair. However, with Blair and Brown typically in agreement on most political issues (from Iraq to public sector reform), commentators have noted that "the difference between Brownites and Blairites … is more tribal than ideological". This is believed to stem from a personal disagreement between Blair and Brown over who should have run for the leadership following the death of John Smith in 1994: though Brown was originally considered the senior of the two, he waited until after Smith's funeral to begin campaigning by which point Blair had gathered too much momentum to be beaten. However, in his book Whatever it Takes, Steve Richards offered an alternate view: that there were significant disagreements between the two about relative poverty, the level of public spending and the potential for choice in public services.

There has been a great deal of discussion in British politics about the Blairite legacy. This intensified after September 2006, when Blair announced his intention to resign within one year, and especially since May 2007, when he said he would resign as Prime Minister on 27 June 2007. While centrists such as Gordon Brown and David Cameron claim that Blairism is safe in their hands, critics on the left (e.g. John McDonnell) and right (e.g. Norman Tebbit) dispute its value to British society. Others have even speculated that, if the Blairite coalition is to be seen as essentially one of pro-market anti-Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats could even be its ultimate inheritors.

  • In a 1999 article, the news-magazine The Economist stated:
"Mr Blair will doubtless do his duty and lavish praise on Labour's glorious past. But, in truth, Mr Blair has always displayed a marked ambivalence towards Labour history. His greatest achievement in opposition was to get the party to ditch its historic commitment to nationalisation, and to water down its traditional links with the unions. At times he has even hinted that the very foundation of the Labour Party was a mistake, since it divided "progressive" politics and led to a century dominated by the Conservatives. Mr Blair knows that all this makes many of his party faithful deeply uneasy."

Blair's tenure is known for an expansion of LGBT rights, such as the introduction of legal civil partnerships. Blair himself has told the LGBT organisation Stonewall that "[w]hat has happened is that the culture of the country has changed in a definable way" and that "[i]t's a thing that doesn't just give me a lot of pride, but it has actually brought a lot of joy." Blair has also claimed to have got up off his seat and danced upon seeing the first partnership ceremonies on television.

  • Core ideas include-
  1. New Labour tended to emphasis social justice, rather than social equality.
  2. The equal worth of citizens,
  3. The equal rights to be able to meet their basic needs,
  4. The requirement to spread opportunities as much as possible,
  5. To end unjustified inequalities.
  6. The Croydon Tramlink.
  7. The Scottish Asembaly
  8. To give citizens equal political and economic liberty and also as the need for social citizenship.
  9. Supporting closer EU integration.
  10. Supporting the poor, needy and minority groups.
  11. The equal distribution of opportunity, with the caveat that things should not be taken from successful people to give to the unsuccessful.
  12. New Labour accepted the economic efficiency of free markets and believed that they could be detached from capitalism to achieve the aims of socialism, while maintaining the efficiency of capitalism as a "dynamic market economy".
  13. Markets were also useful for giving minor-corporate power to consumers and allowing citizens to make their own fiscal decisions and act responsibly.
  14. The party did not believe that public ownership was efficient or desirable and opposed centralised public ownership was important to the party.
  15. The public-private partnerships and private finance initiatives.
  16. Welfare reforms like the Working Families Tax Credit, the National Childcare Strategy, New Deal (I was on it in 2001) and the National Minimum Wage.
  17. Morefree market economic growth.
  18. Parts of New Labour's political philosophy linked crime with social exclusion and pursued policies to encourage partnerships between social and police authorities to lower crime rates. Other areas of New Labour's policy maintained a traditional approach to crime; the prison population in 2005 rose to over 76,000, mostly owing to the increasing length of sentences.
  19. Following the September 11 attacks, the Labour government attempted to emphasis counter-terrorism measures. From 2002, the government followed policies aimed at reducing anti-social behavior; in the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, Labour introduced Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs).
  20. The heavy use of "Spin doctors", especially over the 1998-2002 Millennium Dome construction experiences and usage fiasco.

Relationship to other administrationsEdit

The Daily Telegraph stated in April 2008 that Blair's programme, with its emphasis on 'New Labour', accepted the free-market ideology of Thatcherism. The article cited deregulation, privatisation of key national industries, maintaining a flexible labour market, marginalising the trade unions, and devolving government decision making to local authorities, as evidence.

In the BBC Four documentary film Tory! Tory! Tory!, Blair is described as personally admiring Thatcher deeply and making the decision that she would be the first outside person he formally invited to visit him in 10 Downing Street.

Previous Prime Minister John Major was one of the original figures behind the Northern Ireland peace process that Blair continued, and both of them campaigned in support of the Good Friday Agreement. However, Blair later snubbed Major by declining to invite him to a 2007 joint address to the House of Lords and House of Commons on the peace process.

Blair privately called Thatcher "unhinged", a description that later became public knowledge. Blair criticised the Thatcher government's record on poverty and made that a key issue for Labour economic policy. He made the goal to eradicate child poverty in Britain within 20 years based on the fact that one-third of British children were in poverty post-Thatcher compared to the 9% rate in 1979 (although these statistics are disputed, it is noted there was at least a small drop in child polity).

Blair also abolished Section 28, and he created lot more pro-European initiatives compared to Thatcher. Blair was criticised by various Thatcherites such as John Redwood, Norman Tebbit and William Hague.

  • In his autobiography published in 2010, titled A Journey, Blair remarked:
"In what caused much jarring and tutting within the party, I even decided to own up to supporting changes Margaret Thatcher had made. I knew the credibility of the whole New Labour project rested on accepting that much of what she wanted to do in the 1980s was inevitable, a consequence not of ideology but of social and economic change. The way she did it was often very ideological, sometimes unnecessarily so, but that didn't alter the basic fact: Britain needed the industrial and economic reforms of the Thatcher period."

Gordon BrownEdit

Gordon Brown official

Gordon Brown.

Gordon Brown followed Blair as Prime Minister, after Brown's long tenure as the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Although viewed in the media as somewhat personally close, Blair later wrote in his autobiography A Journey that a "maddening" Brown effectively blackmailed him while he was in 10 Downing Street. Blair accused Brown of orchestrating the investigation into the cash-for-honours scandal and stated that the personal animosity was so strong that it led him to frequent drinking, a big change for Blair. Blair also has told journalist Andrew Marr that as their years working together went on, co-operation become "hard going on impossible".

As stated before, both men had similar positions on actual issues and government policies. To the extent that they felt divided, it came mostly from differences in personality, background, and managing style.

Also seeEdit

  1. EU
  2. USSR
  3. Spin doctor
  4. Manifesto
  5. Spin
  6. Buzwords
  7. Sound bites
  8. Political Bureau (Politburo)
  9. Czechoslovakian leaders
  10. Russian and Soviet Leaders since 1917
  11. American Presidents since 1913
  12. London's political 'Loony Left'
  13. IG Metall strikes between 1955 and 1985
  14. A political diorama
  15. Communist Party of Canada (CPC)
  16. Communist Party of Quebec
  17. Communist Party of Czechoslovakia
  18. Communist International
  19. Communist old guard
  20. Communist parties
  21. Negative campaigning
  22. David Cameron's "Big Society"
  23. London's political 'Loony Left'

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