Friday, May 06, 2005

Labour Wins Third Term

Prime Minister Blair and his Labour Party won a historic third term in power. This success is in large part a result of Mr. Blair’s enduring effort to move his party to the center of British politics prior to the 1997 election.

In the years preceding the 1997 election, Mr. Blair created a ‘New Labour’ party distinct from ‘old’ Labour. Gone from ‘New Labour’ rhetoric were calls for unilateral disarmament, withdrawal from the then EC and increased taxation and spending that had dominated the platform of ‘old’ Labour. The signature defeat of the liberal wing of Labour was the repeal of Clause IV of the Labour Party constitution, which called for the nationalization of key industries. In short, Mr. Blair and moderates in the Labour Party abandoned the liberal elements of the party to created ‘New Labour’ as a centrist party that represents the views of a majority of British citizens.

America needs this type of leadership. We need a dynamic leader who is willing to step away from the traditional base of his/her party in an effort to move the party to the middle. Centrist columnist John Avlon today wrote of the role of Lord Roy Jenkins in launching the Social Democrats into the middle of the British political spectrum – the place the Labour Party now holds. Avlon’s story clearly demonstrates the influence that a strong centrist leader can have on party politics.


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