Social Antecedents: Communitarianism, Stakeholder Society and Social Exclusion
‘A successful nation will develop new bonds of connection, of community. Even though today's world is individualised, the age of mass production over, diversity in lifestyle much more prevalent, people need communities. People need to feel a sense of belonging.’
Tony Blair, Trimdon Colliery Community Centre, Co. Durham, 29 December 1999.
In his New Year speech addressing his Sedgefield constituency, Tony Blair advanced the notion of Britain becoming ‘a beacon for the world’ in the twenty-first century by harnessing its genius for innovation, liberty, enterprise and tolerance. Future success would depend on utilizing e-commerce; developing educational excellence; strong bonds of community; a global outlook and multiracial tolerance. In outlining his vision, achievement would be a central value, creating the sort of society that ‘take(s) those values that have made us great in the past and put(s) them to work making Britain succeed in the future’. One measure of ensuring achievement and pivotal to New Labour's policy has been the creation of their flagship New Deal, including the Social Exclusion Unit set up in the Cabinet Office. This combines the departmental interests of several government agencies by focusing on that most intractable of problems – the limited opportunities available for those who leave school without qualifications, in a world where new knowledge-based industries require specialized skills. The unit's initial aim of getting some 260 000 unemployed 18 to 24-year-olds off benefits and into work through the Welfare to Work scheme was warmly welcomed, and now extends to older unemployed workers.