Full text: Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft - 2004 Heft 1 (1)

30. Jahrgang (2004), Heft 1 Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft 
New Labour-A Survey 
Wolfgang Brassloff 
This article is a-necessarily selective-overview of recent political ac­
tivities in which New Labour has been involved either as pro-active prota­
gonist or as party affected by ,events, dear boy, events' as a former Con­
servative Prime Minister, Harold MacMillan once said. lt also focuses on 
the sea-change that has occurred over the last year. Another former Pri­
me Minister, Labour's Harold Wilson, found that ,a week in politics is a long 
time'; Tony Blair may weil have found the last twelve months an eternity. 
The current parliamentary term does not end until mid-2006, yet the next 
general election in Britain is expected to be held much earlier. The parties 
have therefore begun to position or re-position themselves for a national 
contest in 2005, fol lowing European and local elections in June of this ye­
ar. Accord ing ly, and consequent on the controversies of the last twelve 
months or so, a certain feverishness is affecting the political atmosphere. 
Not so long ago the electoral outcome would not have been in doubt: the 
Labour government, led by Tony Blair would repeat its 1 997 and 2001 per­
formances and walk  away with the third Iandsiide victory in a row. Now 
however, things are less clear-cut. Labour's success is sti l l  what the ana­
lysts describe as a , racing certainty' , but it wil l have to be fought for, and 
the Prime Minister is no Ionger quite the electoral asset he had been. His 
judgement and his pol icies are not Ionger unquestioned and his leader­
ship style, the way he manages the party and the government, no Ionger 
beyond reproach .  Above al l ,  public trust is ebbing. As to the official oppo­
sition , the Conservatives have taken a modest step towards political cre­
dibil ity and under a new experienced Ieader appear to have overcome their 
fractiousness, just as rifts are coming to the fore in the Labour Party. 
1 .  Labour in Power 
Over recent years Labour has dominated the political scene in Brita in .  
After Iandsiide victories in May 1 997 and June 2001 , i t  has enjoyed mas­
sive absolute majorities in the House of Commons of the Westminster Par-
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