Towards the end of 1994 a volume of essays appeared on the future of the left (D. Miliband 1994). That in itself was not remarkable. Several such volumes appeared each year, with various titles and authors, discussing the underlying principles and purposes of radical politics, assessing recent successes and failures in achieving, pursuing or catching sight of goals, and considering the sorts of policies most likely to achieve them in the future. The right may not have been the stupid party, but compared with the left it had always been the reticent one. And especially in the years after the emergence of the New Left, the left had been the party of publication. Journals and publishing houses multiplied, there were years books, anthologies, series and collections. The Socialist Register, published annually, institutionalized the process, but it was by no means the only contributor to the debate. The left, as reformists, were more inclined regularly to look to the future—their own and the country’s—than were the right. They were after all seeking to improve the condition of the country and of its institutions in the light of either principles or example. The right, at least up until the demise of conservatism, were only trying to keep things more or less as they were. The appearance of volumes of articles and essays, by one, two or a collection of authors, was part of the annual round of political discussion. To that extent, there was nothing unusual about Reinventing the Left. What distinguished the volume edited in 1994 by David Miliband was the almost complete absence from its pages of the word ‘socialism’.
The contributors to Reinventing the Left covered the principal topics which socialists would have covered, but did so from the perspective of values and rhetoric which presented a case both wider than the old socialist one, and more eclectic in its frame of ethical reference. The