4. New Dawn?


The Labour leftwing believed Blair committed himself to policies that made it impossible to achieve the party’s most important goal: making society more equal. Conservatives predicted the government would harm the economy through overspending. Looking back, many consider the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the 2008 financial crisis as defining the government’s record. However, if the evidence is varied, there are grounds for believing Labour did make Britain fairer while not crashing the economy. Even Blair’s trusted advisor Peter Hyman thought the Prime Minister had been too wary of alienating the new voters he had done so much to win over. This suggests the government did not argue strongly enough for a Britain radically different to the one it inherited from the Conservatives. But could Labour have done more while it was in power?

Collection Items

1. Private Eye Magazine
There were always satirists who joked that Blair had sold Labour’s soul in exchange for Conservative votes and that his government was influenced by former Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher. Every government misstep confirmed the satirists’…

2. ‘Blair’s babes’
The 1997 general election increased the number of female MPs to 121. 101 of these were Labour MPs. Women held major ministerial posts for the first time. They included Harriet Harman in the newly created role of Minster for Women, Margaret Beckett as…

3. John McDonnell thanks Labour members
Labour members remained in a daze as to their party’s achievement and celebrated it for weeks after. The future Labour Shadow Chancellor and stern left-wing critic of Tony Blair was just one MP to mark the occasion.

4. Labour’s Next Steps
The Labour government created a scheme to help children from poor backgrounds do better at school; launched initiatives to help the long term unemployed into work; and introduced a minimum wage. It is however leading New Labour figure Peter…

5. Economic Disaster
Once regarded as the party of economic incompetence, Labour’s management of public finances during its first term allowed the party to turn the tables on the Conservatives in the 2001 general election. Labour also made the Conservatives accept that…

7. Stop The War Coalition
Many who voted for Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader in 2015 did so because he opposed Britain joining the United States-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Blair was mistaken in thinking that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. For some, this…

8. An affordable and more equal society?
Britain became more unequal under the Conservatives during 1979-97. What happened after 1997 is less clear. Measuring the distance between those at the very top and bottom, the Gini Coefficient suggests inequality increased. The 90:10 Ratio assesses…
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