After 'New Britain'

By Hassan, Gerry | Renewal, Autumn-Winter 2010 | Go to article overview

After 'New Britain'


Hassan, Gerry, Renewal


  The question that hovers above the Iraq inquiry is--since the
  evidence on Saddam Hussein's weaponry was so flaky and the
  post-war planning so atrocious--why on earth Tony Blair did
  it. One theory, albeit not the one likely to be offered by Mr
  Blair himself, is that his militarism and messianism, the mix of
  responsibility and entitlement that he evinced, are part of the
  inheritance of all post-imperial British leaders ...

  If empire is the backdrop of Britain's foreign entanglements,
  it is also implicated in the country's exposure to another
  great debacle, the financial crash. The City and the empire
  grew up symbiotically. Imperial trade and investment made
  London a world financial centre; the City became vital to the
  British economy, while at the same time, preoccupied as it was
  with foreign deals, largely separate from the rest of it. The
  empire thus bequeathed commercial habits, and an overmighty
  financial sector, which British taxpayers now have cause to
  regret.
                      Bagehot, The Economist, 5 December 2009

We stand at a critical point in Labour's fortunes: sixteen years of New Labour; the exhaustion of a prescriptive, limiting way of understanding, enacting and doing politics, and the end of the line for the incantation of 'modernisation' and 'New Britain'.

The definitive story of New Labour has yet to be written. When it is, it will clearly be a lot more sophisticated and nuanced than the politics as personality of Andrew Rawnsley's interpretation (2010)--the dominant media account of the period--or those of the main players who have put pen to paper so far (Mandelson, 2010; Campbell, 2010; Blair, 2010). The experience of New Labour has to be put into a longer-term perspective which locates it in the evolution, crisis and ultimate demise of Labour Britain's once powerful story. This story gave the party a party a purpose and animating project which was its 'soul' and 'utopia' for much of its existence, and which now stands exhausted, humiliated and defeated (see Shaw, 2007).

The five Labour leadership candidates have much to contend with, including the shadow of New Labour, yet one area they have shown little understanding of is the need to address the terrain of the story of Labour Britain. The numerous leadership debates have shown no awareness of the need to explore the question of how Labour understands Britain as a country, state and set of nations. How does the British state and government act in a progressive manner which has an over-arching UK-wide purpose, while acknowledging its multinational character, wider geo-political context, and the territorial dimensions which inform it? To put it simply, how does Labour tell a story of a 'Labour nation' and state after New Labour?

The story of Labour Britain

  The march is not yet over. It is only just beginning. These fifty
  years and the years that went before them are but the prelude to
  the greater story. Now, as it makes ready for a new advance,
  Labour calls to its ranks as throughout its history a great
  company, the company of those of all ages and all classes who
  are not afraid to fight for the progress of mankind and to give
  their fidelity to the cause of the brotherhood of man.
  Francis Williams, Fifty Years' March: The Rise of the Labour
  Party (1950)

There was once was a powerful, resonant story of Labour Britain. It was a profoundly British story, about progress, the forward march of working people, interwoven with the claim of organised labour having its place recognised under the right, enlightened leadership. This story gave the Labour Party a sense of moral mission and purpose and carried an appeal well beyond its natural boundaries. It was a story of 'the Labour nation' which Labour had deep ambivalence about, in the main because of the powerful Tory association with the nation and from this with Empire, xenophobia and imperialism. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

After 'New Britain'
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.