• Will Leggett


New Labour has swept all before it. The old left and the Conservatives appear to have no answer to its Third Way brand of modernising social democracy. Even in the face of a deeply unpopular war in Iraq and mounting disputes over his domestic agenda, Tony Blair comfortably won a historic third term with an ‘unremittingly New Labour’ manifesto. But New Labour is not loved. It has no depth of support. We cannot identify a Blairite or Third Way voter in the way we could spot a supporter of, say, Mrs Thatcher. The enduring question asked of New Labour may well be: how could a social democratic party dominate British politics so comprehensively, for so long, but fail to entrench a progressive cultural shift in British society? Only at the end of its second term did New Labour wake up to the need to forge, in Gordon Brown’s words, a ‘progressive consensus’ to secure its legacy. But does it have the intellectual resources to do it? This book argues that the framework of the Third Way does offer the basis for an enduring centre-left narrative. But for this to be genuinely progressive, Third Way thinking needs to re-engage with some of the insights provided by its many critics on the left.


Social Change Social Democracy Political Strategy Political Agency Political Space 
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  1. 16.
    Blair The Third Way (1998). Blair brought the Third Way to a wider audience by, for example, referring to it in his 1999 Leader’s Speech.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Will Leggett 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Will Leggett
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BirminghamUK

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