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New Labour and Thatcherism: Political Change in Britain

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9780333949405: New Labour and Thatcherism: Political Change in Britain
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New Labour and Thatcherism: Political Change in Britain argues that any critical analysis of New Labour must take into account the profound
influence exerted on contemporary British politics by the politics of Thatcherism. In defining Thatcherism as a multidimensional political, ideological and economic project, the author argues that, subject to the interplay of opportunity and circumstance, chance and fortune, ambition and achievement, success and failure, the Thatcher and Major governments of 1979-97 did pursue and largely enact a coherent political agenda. In consequence, the much remarked transformation of the Labour Party in recent years reflects extensive political and public policy changes that were gradually enacted in the 1980s and 1990s.

Informed by its ideological doctrine, constrained by the dictates of statecraft and responsive to political realities and electoral pressures, Thatcherism as an agent of political change helped promote a dramatic shift in British politics in favour of right-reformist neo-liberal politics at the expense of left-reformist social-democratic politics, so helping recast the political environment in which New Labour is situated. This book is about Thatcherism and its contribution to the party Labour had become when it returned to government in 1997, after eighteen years of opposition. It explains why the socio-economic programme of the Blair government is structured within a neo-liberal paradigm and explores how, in rejecting its collectivist, Old Labour, past, New Labour has moved dramatically away from its social- democratic traditions.

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Review:

`In this arresting and cogent study, Richard Heffernan argues that Thatcherism inaugurated a new consensus in British politics and that the biggest demonstration of its success as a political and economic project is the transformation of the Labour Party into New Labour after 1983. In doing so he provides us with a powerful analytical framework for understanding and assessing processes of party and party system change. This book is certain to become a major reference point in the debate on the nature and significance of New Labour' - Andrew Gamble, Professor of Politics, University of Sheffield

'Richard Heffernan's book offers a comprehensive account of how a new centre-right consensus has become consolidated in contemporary British politics and about how this consensus has come to embrace New Labour. This is a valuable analysis of how political realignment can occur within a continuing party system'. - Peter Mair, Professor Comparative Politics, University of Leiden, The Netherlands

Synopsis:

Labour's 1997 victory was widely credited to the party's reinvention of itself as New Labour. Richard Heffernan argues that the transformation of the Labour Party is best understood as the product of Thatcherism, and marks the emergence of a new consensus in British politics. Despite Labour's claim to be reapplying traditional values, Tony Blair's politics owe more to neo-liberalism than any traditional social democratic perspective. This wide-ranging and controversial assessment of both Thatcherism and New Labour is used to illustrate a new theory as to how the process of political change takes place in practice.

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9780333738979: New Labour and Thatcherism: Political Change in Britain

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