The Promise of the Third Way
At the mid-point of New Labour's first term, the Third Way has made scant progress, if any. There is little evidence of social exclusion having abated, of inroads having been made on inequality, of advances in education or indeed accelerated modes of modernization. Discussion regarding the Third Way is muted, the media having turned their attention to other considerations and what matters even more, the public at large remains sublimely indifferent. For many, the movement seems defunct. Proponents have stilled their advocacy, while antagonists have visibly ceased to advance refutations. Already in 1998, Marxism Today in its special issue on the Third Way printed the slogan ‘Wrong’ across Tony Blair's picture on its front page. Wrong in analysis, intellectually sterile, subversive in putting the onus for past mistakes more on the Left than the Right, blind to the destructive forces unleashed by globalization and wrong in deluding Labour followers with promises that New Labour in office had no mind to fulfil ( Hall, 1998). The previously referred to ‘pleasing all comers’ charter makes the Third Way both superficially attractive yet equally an unusable tool in promoting social change.
Significantly, in his May 2000 post-poll setback interview (coinciding with the Livingstone mayoral débâcle), Prime Minister Blair does not once refer to the Third Way. Though several times making reference to New Labour's mission and stressing specifically the priorities of full employment, strong public services and the reduction of inequality plus poverty as the focal points of continued radical reform, no mention whatever is made of it (The Times: ‘Blair Interview’, 8 May 2000). One may well come to the conclusion that New Labour has lost interest in championing the Third Way. Strategically, it appears that the momentum has shifted: that social democracy itself is undergoing