Skip to content

123 Working Paper

Still Campaigning in Poetry, Governing in Prose

Dec 7, 2023 – David Coates


New Labour's performance in office – as an orchestrator of economic and social change – is situated against, and evaluated by reference to, two sets of legacies: legacies inherited from the years of Conservative political dominance after 1979; and legacies brought to power by New Labour. The paper argues that the first set of legacies was deep and enduring, and threw a long shadow forward. It argues that the second set of legacies were highly coherent and intellectually informed, but cumulatively involved a diminution in the capacity of the state. The result has been a two-term government that is sufficiently superficially successful to win a third term; but which has yet seriously to transform the legacies it inherited: to our misfortune, and ultimately – in electoral terms–also probably to its own. This paper is based on my study of New Labour's domestic policy–Prolonged Labour: The Slow Birth of New Labour Britain; I have also co-authored a study of New Labour's policy towards Iraq – Blair's War – which was published by Polity Press in 2004.