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Two years ago Ed Milibands conference speech stimulated the Labour party and began reshaping

the political consensus. By stating It is my rejection of New Labour nostalgia that makes me the
modernising candidate at this election Miliband epitomized what is distinctive about him as a
politician as well as his greatest challenge as Labour leader (Gray, 2011). With one nation, that
single striking phrase, Miliband was able to offer a critique of the existing social order under the
Conservative Party, while simultaneously offering the hope of a better one under Labour. Its great
achievement was to be both radical and conservative: it provided an alternative political economy
that spoke about contemporary concerns over the economic crisis, living standards and the nature of
change, without retreating into nostalgia (Hunt, 2013). The political position of the Labour party has
been discussed from a number of perspectives and the main purpose of this assignment is to assess
to what extent under Milibands leadership the party is still committed to its traditional principles.
After first giving a brief introduction of socialism and Labour Party core principles, next it will
compare traditional principles with the New Labours principles. Finally, it will asses the place the
Labour party stands now.
Socialism is known as an ideology that is defined by its antagonism to capitalism (Heywood, 2012:
97). The socialist movement has traditionally expressed the interests of the working class, that was
seen as consistently oppressed or structurally disadvantaged within the capitalist system (Heywood,
2000: 76). Socialism, however, contains a range of divisions and rival traditions. In Britain early
Socialist movements were evolutionary, a belief in the inevitability of gradualism where socialism
is reached through democratic means (Heywood, 2012: 112). The mainstream British version of
socialism is represented by the Labour Party, which was effectively formed at the begging of the
20th Century. The Fabian Society, the Social Democratic Federation, the Independent Labour Party
together with the Trade Union Congress, an affiliated member that sought parliamentary
representation, were involved in forming the Labour Representation Committee in 1900 in order to
represent the working class at a time when the political franchise had not been extended to such
groups (Leach and Coxall et al., 2011 :127; Lynch and Fairclough et al., 2013).
British socialism has traditionally been more moderate compared to the rest of Europe. To put it
differently, Labour has never been revolutionary, considering that its brand of socialism is
achievable through peaceful, parliamentary means (McNaughton, 2012a). It can be stated that
fundamental socialist principles described below have been adapted by British Labour and
represents its core values. One principle is the belief that people are entitled to equal rights and are
essentially of equal worth therefore unjustified privileges should not exist (Cordey, 2012:22).
However, McNaughton (2012a: 70) underlines that Labour Party never pursued absolute economic
equality provided that unequal rewards can provide incentives to hard work. A second principle is
about collectivism and universalism in which people are believed to be social animals that prefer
to achieve their goals collectively, rather than individually. There is an equally important
assumption that the collective provision of welfare must be equally distributed (McNaughton,
2012b). The control of capitalism is another principle that assumes that the capitalism must be
tolerated with the condition that workers are not exploited and private enterprises involved serve the
interests of the whole community (Cordey, 2012 :22). One other principle refers to common class

interest that must be reconciled by restoring some sort of balance of power between them
(McNaughton, 2012a: 69-70). A further principle is social justice. This concept accepts that fullscale equality is neither practical nor desirable, but the equality of opportunity must be provided to
everyone (Cordey, 2012 :22).
According to Leach and Coxall et al. (2011 : 118) the Labour party celebrated its commitment to a
socialist programme in 1918 by adopting Clause Four which implied common ownership of the
means of production and respectively a subscription to collectivism. However, McNaughton
(2012a: 72) states that Labour has never approached the full implications of the original Clause
Four. To clarify, the closest it came to was the nationalisation of several major industries. In this
context, when Labour achieved its first parliamentary majority in 1945, the Attlee government has
come to define the Labour's interpretation of socialism (Leach and Coxall et al., 2011 :128). As
Heywood (2011: 114) has put it, reforms enacted by the Attlee government created a revisionist
brand of socialism, best referred to as social democracy. Instead of trying to abolish capitalism,
which was accepted as the only reliable means of generating wealth, social democrats sought to
humanize it. Therefore, the Attlee government created a mixed economy by nationalizing what
they called commanding heights of the economy (Heywood, 2011: 114). The establishment of the
Welfare State and NHS has been regarded by Taylor and Steele (2011) as the most important
landmark in the development of a humane society. Important to realize, left-wing critics argued
that the method of nationalisation involved state capitalism rather than workers control.
Moreover, Labour operated a mixed, but essentially still a capitalist economy with a policy that
followed the principles of Keynesian demand management rather than detailed socialist planning of
a command economy (Leach and Coxall et al., 2011 :127).
Although the Labour Party was established to represent the working classes, changes in the class
and occupational structure of the nation since the 1960s, coupled with the general election defeats
of 1979,1983 and 1987. This fact made leaders such as Neil Kinnock, John Smith and Tony Blair to
understand that traditional policies were no longer appropriate (Lynch and Fairclough et al., 2013).
The ideological position Third Way referred to as the middle way implied that the New Labour
policies were to be distinct from the traditional socialism and the New Right at the same time
(McNaughton, 2012a: 73). It has been argued that the development of New Labour marked a
significant departure from the traditionalist socialist principles. For example, the boldly persuasion
of Blair to revise Clause Four lead Labour to accept that the market rather than the state should
regulate the economy (Heywood, 2011). McNaughton (2012b) claims that New Labour fully
supported the welfare state and increased state spending in that area. Different from Old Labour is
the fact that welfare in this case is targeted to those in most need rather than in a universal way.
Blair not only emphasised welfare-to-work but also sought to establish public-private
partnerships (Heywood, 2011: 120). With regards to the old Labour belief in the class system, Cody
(2011) points out that New Labour subscribes to communitarianism. To put it differently, a key
Blairite belief is that rights should always be balanced against responsibilities (Heywood, 2011:
120). Another key theme is an ethical foreign policy which assumed that the UK is responsible for
poorer parts of the world and that caring for a developing world is in Britain's self-interest (Cordey,

2011). Heywood (2011) remarks that a major difference brought by the New Labour is the
enthusiasm for reforming the constitution. A good example of this is the approval of the Human
Rights Act in 1998.
The rejection of old Labour involved not only the rejection of left-wing socialism but also
labourism. This can be seen in the symbolic change of the old logo with its manual workers tools
for the red rose. (Leach and Coxall et al., 2011: 130). According to Cordey (2011) New Labour is
different from the old core principles of the Labour Party because it stresses individualism, it places
individual interests ahead of class interests and it accepts a free market. Also the role of the state is
seen as non-effective in enabling individuals to prosper and inequality is perceived as natural and
tolerable as long as opportunities are enhanced. On the other hand, McNaughton (2012b) claims
that there are more similarities such as a fundamental belief in social justice, no artificial
discrimination against any sections of society, the fact that there should be a widespread equality of
opportunity and ultimately, the prevention of private enterprises to act against the public interest. In
fact, as Blair put it, Labours values were unchanged, but needed reinterpretation in the modern
world (Leach and Coxall et al., 2011: 130).
Following the defeat of the Labour government in the 2010 general election, Ed Miliband was
elected its new leader. The challenge that Ed Miliband faces is to create an alternative to the
coalitions budged reduction programme without allowing the Labour to be attacked as deficit
deniers in relation to the failed policies in the past (Heywood, 2011: 130). Milibands idea of
predistribution seeks to reduce the gap between the highest and lowest paid jobs through fairer and
more equal wages so that welfare services are less needed (York, 2012). From this point of view,
Miliband rejects the socialist approach to reduce inequality by nationalising more industries and
also discourages welfare system. At the same time, he improves the New Labours view of free
market capitalism where winner-takes-all with the addition that there are predators and
producers that must be subject to different regulations (York, 2012). As McNaughton (2012a) has
put it, Miliband accepts inequality as long as it is deserved. With this is mind, it can be stated that
the view of equality is different from the traditional principles. Correspondingly, the Labour largely
distanced itself from the traditional socialist aim that is the redistribution of income in order to
create more economic equality. In comparison, they adopted an attack on child poverty
(McNaughton, 2012: 75). In terms of economic management Miliband is slightly to the left of the
New Labour, however, he still subscribes to reduced regulation in order to promote growth
(Fairclough and McNaughton et al., 2012).
During his speeches Miliband depicted a clearer picture of his own ideology. A key point is that
Milliband placed the values of the NHS at the centre of his belief system. According to him the
original principles will be restored and commercial interests will be denied (Fairclough and
McNaughton et al., 2012). It is equally important that even though tuition fees for higher education
will be accepted, there will also be better measures to help low income students (McNaughton,
2012). Miliband also emphasized that there is a cost of living crisis, therefore, he seeks to freeze
the energy prices until 2017 (James Kirkup, 2013). Given into account these points, it can be stated
that the Labour is approaching to some extent to the principles of the old Labour in the sense that

there is more state intervention. On the other hand, Fairclough and McNaughton et al. (2012: 25-6)
comment that the Labour Party remains fundamentally part of the New Labour because it supports
free-market capitalism as the best way of creating wealth; it accepts that the state does not create
wealth; there is a commitment to individualism whereas collectivism lies only in the health,
education and benefits systems and most importantly, he does not seek to restore the traditional
power to trade unions. It is important to realize that there are five tendencies that seek to influence
the partys new leadership. One less known is the Black Labour that sought to re-build party
shattered reputation for economic competence (Kelly, 2013) The three main factions are given by
the New Labour traditionalists who support the third way, the left which supports radical
redistribution of income and restoration of the trade union power, and the right who opposes high
level of immigration and more local control of health and education (McNaughton, 2012b).
However the debate is between the modification and continuation of the New Labour, in this case
between the Blue Labour and the Purple Labour (Heppell, 2012).
To summarize, Labour party under Ed Miliband emphasises education as the principal driver of
social justice. Secondly, there are more state interventions in several sectors of the economy. As a
result, there are likely to be more public investment in industry and new company tax polices.
Thirdly, the party favours more active state intervention to promote economic growth. In the light of
all the arguments stated above it is clear that Miliband has filtered with the Blue Labour agenda, he
wants to transcend the New Labour but he has not yet identified an alternative. There are not radical
changes compared to the New Labour, however, there is a change in the emphasis that seeks to
bring the Labour to power. A conclusion can be drawn that there is a big distinction between the
policies adopted by the Labour nowadays and the ones that existed under the old Labour.


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