New labour, new discourse

  • Ruth Levitas

Abstract

The new discourse consolidated in 1995 and 1996 drew on the rhetoric of both stakeholding and communitarianism. It defined the politics of New Labour as a third way between the New Right and the ‘old left’ or ‘old Labour’, committed to economic efficiency and social justice. The new Clause IV, ratified at a special conference in April 1995 after intense conflict in the Party, removed the phrase ‘common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange’. It encapsulated a different set of political priorities, and a different underpinning model of society, cast in a different language. Gone were questions of equity of distribution; of political, social and economic emancipation; a higher standard of social and economic life; and improvement in conditions of work. Gone too was the primary commitment to work with the trade union movement. In their place were some of the phrases which echoed like mantras through the 1997 election campaign: ‘the many not the few’; ‘the rights we enjoy reflect the duties that we owe’; and the words enterprise, partnership, opportunity, community, security, and trust. (See Appendix).

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Copyright information

© Ruth Levitas 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruth Levitas
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BristolEngland

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