The New Labour Experiment: Change and Reform under Blair and Brown

The New Labour Experiment: Change and Reform under Blair and Brown

The New Labour Experiment: Change and Reform under Blair and Brown

The New Labour Experiment: Change and Reform under Blair and Brown


The book provides a clear assessment of the New Labour public policies and their outcomes in Britain under the leadership of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown from 1997- 2009. Authors Florence Faucher-King and Patrick Le Galès argue that New Labour, in contrast to its European counterparts, developed a right-wing economic policy program based upon light financial regulation and strict macroeconomic management. Blair and Brown developed a large controlling bureaucracy, making Britain's government one of the most centralized in the world.

While some progressive policies were implemented, Faucher-King and Le Galès point to an overarching program of authoritative controls, massive surveillance, and illiberal social policies. Profound reforms were therefore linked to a new bureaucratic revolution that has subsequently been rejected by the British people. According to the authors, the financial crisis and the collapse of part of the banking system have signaled the end of the New Labour project.


Florence Faucher-King and Patrick Le Galès have crafted an incisive, readable analysis of the Blair-Brown years in Britain. The book is neither a detailed policy study nor a grand theoretical treatise. Rather, it is an analytical essay, theoretically informed, that paints the broad brushstrokes of New Labour’s decade in power, while grappling with its larger meaning. The book focuses primarily on domestic policy and governance; issues of foreign policy, such as Tony Blair’s relationship with George Bush and the decision to go to war in Iraq, figure less prominently. The book’s greatest strength lies in drawing out the implications for left-wing parties that are seeking to adapt to a world of neoliberal globalization—in particular, the implications for policy, governance, and party organization.

New Labour has pursued two main goals. The first is to improve social justice in what is essentially a neoliberal economic order without disturbing the mechanisms that allow that order to function. Alongside this economic objective, New Labour has pursued a second, more political or electoral objective. Here, the goal has been to transform the Labour Party into a cross-class party, able to appeal beyond its shrinking working-class ghetto to Britain’s middle class.

These goals are not all that different from those of the Democratic Party in the United States under Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. What is different, however, are the means deployed by New Labour. Faucher-King and Le Galès describe how Blair and Brown have made aggressive use of state . . .

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