Monday 7 June 2010

Does New Labour have a history?

I will be speaking on a panel on that theme at the King's College London conference Uses of the Past next Monday 14th June, a day long conference looking at the uses of tradition in contemporary politics. More information

The conference aims to discuss "how do traditions shape present-day political behaviour; and how far are those traditions are invented and deployed to suit political needs today".

Dr Maurice Glasman is also speaking on the panel, which takes place in mid-morning (11.40-1pm) on Monday 14th.

The Fabian Society has made several attempts to provide some historical context to contemporary debates, particularly our recent major project on contemporary poverty and inequality, which looked marked the centenary of the 1909 poor law minority report and so asked what taking the long view of poverty prevention could tell us about poverty prevention strategies today.

New Labour had rather more history than it let on. It grew out of the party's revisionist tradition, and was very much rooted in an account of the party's history, even though it often presented itself as a 'year zero' project. So my interest is particularly in whether and how Labour traditions could or should inform the party's future as we move out of the New Labour period. How can parties and political traditions learn from their past without succumbing to the fear that they will be trapped in them?

The conference is free to attend and there are a few remaining places.

Please email Ian Barrett on if you are interested in attending the conference.


Robert said...

Not sure I care much anymore and the people I speak to will say ah well they are all the same whats the difference.

Labour wrote to me a few week ago, in fact a few days after you were kicked out to say come back fight the welfare reforms with labour.

They are your reforms.

I feel bitter and to a degree insulted by New labour, the Min wage set so low people from sixteen to twenty five getting a lower rate.

The 10p tax fiasco which we are told was a mistake my ass.

I'm not sure I care much anymore what happens to labour, you let me down, boy did you thump me in the teeth.

Being disabled I counted on you to be fair honest and treat me as I would have treated you, but nope I'm now a scrounger work shy.

I hope one day labour looks back and thinks you know it was wrong what we did, OK we could have done this better by removing the ones who cheat, but for god sake I'm living day to day, I already have had twelve medicals in my period of disability, my legs will not grow back my spine will not heal, yet in November I will be deemed able to work because you lot fixed the medical.

Newmania said...

I would be fascinated to hear what you had to say about that, what a shame I live in the sticks .
I`d locate New Labour`s history in 20th century totalitarianism , but more the right than the left really .Mussolini above all , a socialist who yoked populist media control to modernising and initially leftish changes.
In the Labour movement itself I have trouble seeing any John The Bapist figures partly because , like the fascists , its true father , there is no political creed discernible only a mania for media control and a brutal instinct for power . In the end it is Campbell and Mandelson who are its defining figures
A character like Gordon Brown is far more obviously traditional but I wonder how illusory this is . It was Brown who taught Blair the dark arts of spin and Brown who so devalued the Chancellors utterances that the IFS became the interpreter in chief . Nonetheless Brown is at least recognisably Labour , personally I rather liked him and thought he was a good PM. Sadly a catastrophic Chancellor

If I could pick one description of New Labour it would be feminine Fascism