Date: Thu, 5 Sep 1996 16:51:54 CDT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: MichaelP <firstname.lastname@example.org>
debate about neo-liberalism
TONY BLAIR'S attempt to reposition Labour as the party of
social democracy was undermined yesterday when John Prescott
pointedly refused to accept the term.
The Labour leader made a deliberate attempt in a series of interviews
to redefine Labour as the new middle party positioned between
clapped out Tory party and old Labour. He argued that Labour's
traditional values of justice and compassion should be matched with
ambition and aspiration to bring it into the 21st century.
But he fuelled the current disquiet over his leadership by declaring
that he would regard himself as
a social democrat. Mr Prescott, the
deputy leader, who is known to be unhappy about some of the policy
changes being introduced by Mr Blair, deliberately chose not to
associate himself with the Labour leader's words, arguing instead that
he was a
In a wide-ranging interview on BBC 1's Breakfast with Frost, where he emphasised the need to redefine new Labour, Mr Blair also disclosed that Labour would reveal its full tax plans after the November Budget. He indicated that the top rate of tax would not be raised, even for the very rich but left open that possibility in case the economic position changed this autumn. He also denied that he intended to rule out a single currency in the next Parliament, making clear there had been no policy change.
During an interview on Sky's Sunday Programme half an hour later, Mr
I'm a democratic socialist .. our party, our new
constitution, fully endorsed at the conference, said that we were a
democratic socialist party. I'm proud to call myself a democratic
socialist who is concerned about the traditional values but putting
them into a modern setting.
Leadership sources pointed to a newspaper interview in which Mr Blair
had said that the two phrases were interchangeable. Asked by The
Sunday Times whether he believed he was a social democrat, Mr Blair
Sure. I would describe myself as that. I would describe myself
as a democratic socialist too. My belief is that those are
Mr Prescott's intervention follows growing tension between the deputy leader and Mr Blair. On Friday it emerged that he had sent a memo to Shadow Cabinet colleagues and their staff, insisting that he should be sent copies of all draft policy statements and documents. Earlier this summer he made clear that he was unhappy about spin-doctors briefing on policy and insisted that campaigning should be based on substance rather than soundbites.
Mr Blair's decision to underline Labour's move to the centre follows a
series of strategy meetings last week with senior party figures.
Yesterday he made clear that he would not be deflected from his
ambition to modernise the party. He conceded there would be
disagreement in the party about some changes.
But my passionate
belief, the conviction that drives me in politics, is that we
shouldn't have to choose between this type of Conservatism and
switching the clock back under Labour. There is a different, a new way