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The Politics of Social Inclusion

  • David Coates

Abstract

These two faces of the New Labour government — the reforming and the conserving — are not restricted to its education policy. They crop up everywhere, for there seems to be a genuine, and indeed quite legitimate, tension in what New Labour is about. To a far greater degree than in Labour governments in the past, the key figures in this government — and certainly its leader — are in one sense profoundly conservative, particularly in social terms. This is not a libertarian government, afraid of order or hostile to traditional institutions like the family. Far from it: this is a government committed to the view that ‘families are the core of our society. They should teach right from wrong’: one whose initial critique of their predecessors’ crime policy was precisely that ‘the Conservatives have forgotten the “order” part of “law and order”’.1 No, this is a government whose leading figures repeatedly insist that, if their policies are new, their values are not, and yet it is also a government that sees itself as engaged in a long-term and wide-ranging programme of fundamental reform. It is a government that perennially seeks to conserve the best of the past only by persistently changing many of the key institutions and practices that have come down to it from that past. Being a reforming conservative is never an easy endeavour, and it certainly has not been easy since 1997.

Keywords

Prime Minister Social Exclusion Social Inclusion Child Poverty Labour Government 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Labour Party, New Labour: Because Britain Deserves Better, London, Labour Party, 1997, pp. 19–20.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Tony Blair’s introduction to an essay collection by Giles Radice, reproduced in P. Richards (ed.), Tony Blair in His Own Words, London, Politico’s, 2004, pp. 147–8.Google Scholar
  3. 18.
    Gordon Brown, The Social Justice Priorities of Labour’s Second Term, London, Bevan Society, 2002, p. 9.Google Scholar
  4. 24.
    Gender and politics in the New Labour project is a vital issue in its own right, inadequately covered here. See Sarah Childs, New Labour’s Women MPs: Women Representing Women, London, Frank Cass, 2004; andGoogle Scholar
  5. J. Squires and M. Wickham-Jones, ‘New Labour, gender mainstreaming and the Women and Equality Unit’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, vol. 6(1), 2004, pp. 81–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 26.
    S. Machin, ‘Wage inequality since 1975’, in R. Dickens, P. Gregg and J. Wadsworth (eds), The Labour Market Under New Labour: The State of Working Britain, Basingstoke, Palgrave, 2003, p. 193. The Gini coefficient for female wage inequality moved in the other direction, from .403 in 1997 to .391 in 2001.Google Scholar
  7. 30.
    It is perhaps significant here that, in the free vote on the various options — from a fully appointed House of Lords to a fully elected one — the Prime Minister should have voted for the fully appointed one. So much for the ‘redistribution of power…to the many, not the few’. For a full evaluation of the ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ quality of the constitutional changes and governing style adopted by the New Labour government, see D. Beetham et al., Democracy under Blair: A Democratic Audit of the UK, London, Politico’s, 2002; and the earlierGoogle Scholar
  8. S. Weir and D. Beetham, Political Power and Democratic Control in Britain, London, Routledge, 1999.Google Scholar
  9. 39.
    P. Toynbee and D. Walker, Did Things Get Better? London, Penguin, 2001, pp. 170–1.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Coates 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Coates
    • 1
  1. 1.Wake Forest UniversityUSA

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