Experiences from Around the World
Edited by Philip Arestis and Malcolm Sawyer
CHAPTER 4 13/7/01 3:44 pm Page 1 4. Economics of the British New Labour: an assessment Philip Arestis and Malcolm Sawyer INTRODUCTION The Labour Party returned to office in May 1997 after 18 years in opposition (since May 1979) to the Conservative government, first of Margaret Thatcher (for 11 years) and then of John Major (for 7 years). This was the second time since World War II that the Labour Party had been in opposition for a long period of time. The years 1951 to 1964 had been years of opposition before returning to office in 1964 and being in government for much of the succeeding 15 years. But the changes in policies, especially economic policies, which took place during the most recent period of opposition (and particularly after 1990) have been much greater than any previous changes. On this occasion, the Labour Party sought to distance itself from the experience of the Labour government of 1974-79 and of its own policy proposals of the 1980s. It is not accidental that many in the leadership and elsewhere use the term New Labour to signify the changes in policy outlook. We proceed by an attempt to draw out the macroeconomic policy implications of the analysis. Subsequent sections comment on taxation and social security, poverty and redistribution, employment and industrial policies before we summarise and conclude. MACROECONOMIC POLICY The macroeconomic policy appears to have been influenced by the requirements of the Maastricht Treaty and of the Stability and Growth Pact for...
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