How is the UK Labor Party financed
* [Revised version of my opening statement for the panel discussion. - An overview of the development of the Labor Party after the Second World War is provided by Duncan Tanner / Pat Thane / Nick Tiratsoo (eds.), Labor s First Century, Cambridge 2000; Keith Laybourn, A Century of Labor. A History of the Labor Party 1900-2000, Stroud 2000; Andrew Thorpe, A History of the British Labor Party, London 1997; Steven Fielding, The Labor Party: Socialism and Society since 1951, Manchester 1997; Eric Shaw, The Labor Party since 1945, London 1996; Henry Pelling, A Short History of the Labor Party, 11th edn, London 1996; Willie Thompson, The Labor Party Since 1945, Cambridge 1994; Kevin Jeffreys, The Labor Party since 1945, London 1993; Lewis Minkin, The Contentious Alliance: Trade Unions and the Labor Party, Edinburgh 1991; Kenneth O. Morgan, Labor People: Leaders and Lieutenants, Oxford 1987. For self-portrayal of New Labor see Peter Mandelson / Roger Liddle, The Blair Revolution: Can New Labor Deliver ?, London 1996; Anthony Giddens, The Third Way and its Critics, Cambridge 2000. See also the party's website at http://www.labour.org.uk/. For an assessment of New Labor see also the debate in the New Left Review, Nos. 2-4, 2000, in which Peter Mair, David Marquand, Anthony Barnett and Ross McKibbin participated, and the special edition of Marxism Today, Nov./Dec. 1998. For a comparative consideration of the history of the Labor Party after 1945, see above all Herbert Kitschelt, The Transformation of European Social Democracy, Cambridge 1994; Donald Sassoon, One Hundred Years of Socialism, London 1996; Frank Unger / Andreas Wehr / Karen Sch nw lder, New Democrats, New Labor, New Social Democrats, Berlin 1998; Ren Cuperus / Johannes Kandel (eds.), European Social Democracy: Transformation in Progress, Bonn 1998.]
In 1945 the British Labor Party enjoyed a degree of prestige and influence that it would not have achieved before and since in the 20th century. Great Britain had just successfully ended the war against Hitler's Germany. Both
Against all odds, the party achieved a landslide victory in the general election.
Over the next six years, she provided the government that was to set the course for the development of Great Britain in the post-war period. Domestically, Labor initiated an economic policy that nationalized the railways, coal, electricity and steel industries, as well as the Bank of England and the aircraft industry. The nationalized industries were given autonomous supervisory boards that had no direct influence of the government on the nationalized industries.
trien allowed. In addition, the decisive criterion for the nationalization was the inefficiency and crisis proneness of an industrial sector. With the exception of the steel industry, flourishing private sectors were generally not socialized. Here the government relied on state-supported social partnership. 80% of British industry thus remained in private hands, and those companies that were brought into common ownership usually had to be rehabilitated. The later criticism of the economic inefficiency of the nationalized companies often fails to take into account that the same companies were notoriously inefficient in private hands.
The nationalization program was carried out with the utmost care and consideration for the productivity of the British economy as a whole against the backdrop of a massive economic crisis in the country in the immediate post-war period. Great Britain's export capacities had shrunk by two thirds in 1945 compared to 1939. The US's vital financial war aid (lend-lease aid) came to an abrupt end. In 1946/47, an extremely harsh winter caused problems with the coal supply, which led to the closure of factories, production stoppages and a brief rise in unemployment to around two million. Despite a sixty percent increase in British export capacity since 1945, a serious balance of payments crisis broke out in 1949. In addition, a considerable amount of house
budget deficit and the British currency crisis creating the economic policy of the Labor Government. Nevertheless, the government managed to keep inflation under control, to increase industrial production in the country by around 30% compared to the pre-war period and, with the exception of the winter of 1946/47, to guarantee full employment. The excellent relations between the Labor government and the unions played an important role in the unions' astonishing willingness to show restraint in wage demands. In stark contrast to the situation after the end of the First World War, unemployment was not a serious problem after 1945.
For many Labor supporters, health care reform was and is considered the highlight of the Attlee government. An icon of the left wing of the party, Aneurin Bevan, created the National Health Service, which for the first time guaranteed comprehensive and universal health care for the entire population that was funded solely from taxes. In addition, a comprehensive national insurance ’was introduced in 1946, which offered employees unemployment, health, accident and pension insurance as well as a death benefit against compulsory contributions, which were not graded according to income and were therefore socially unjust. Considerably more money was made available in education to guarantee better quality schools. In addition, the school age has been increased to 15 years. The government also embarked on reforming the constitutional system. Even before 1945, various Labor Party programs had called for parliamentary reform, electoral law reform, cabinet reform, the abolition of the House of Lords and the creation of regional parliaments. After 1945, important reforms were implemented, primarily by Deputy Prime Minister Herbert Morrison: The House of Lords 'right of veto was further restricted, and MPs' salaries rose by two thirds. The parliamentary procedure was made more efficient,
Parliament transformed from a ‘talking shop’ to a ‘workshop’. Undemocratic anachronisms, such as the possibility of multiple voting and separate lower house seats for universities, have been abolished.
The post-war government also set standards in terms of foreign policy: Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin is rightly considered the foster father of the North Atlantic Defense Pact (NATO), and the decolonization of the British Empire began under the Labor Administration. In 1947 India was given independence. Overall, between 1945 and 1951, the British Labor government was the most successful British reform government during the entire 20th century. The most important political controversies in the country were to ignite in the period that followed through the concrete reform measures taken by the Labor government. This time was also of outstanding importance for the formation of myths within the party. With her, the long years of political powerlessness finally seemed to be over. In terms of its internal self-image, the party had fought a heroic struggle against the ignorance and paucity of voters for decades. According to the party myth, the Labor minority governments of 1924 and 1929 failed miserably because of the insidiousness of their political opponents and because of the "betrayal" of party leader Ramsay MacDonald. But in 1945 they knew they had reached the goal of a significant stage victory, which at the same time became the self-assurance of the long march to final victory (‘the forward march of labor’).
From the 1950s to the 1970s, a broad ideological consensus developed between the Labor Party and the Conservative Party. The Conservative Party accepted the reforms carried out by Labor after the war and partly heavily attacked by the Tories (Butskellism): the welfare state remained untouched, as did the nationalizations, and the fight against unemployment was just as much a part of the conservative governments of those years their Labor opponents. It was not until the 1980s that it came under
Margaret Thatcher launched a massive attack on the "achievements" of the post-war Labor government, which now largely served as the real cause of the country's economic misery and its loss of prestige in the second half of the 20th century. The Labor Party was also no longer in step with its European sister parties by the late 1970s. It had moved further and further to the left in the 1970s. In 1981 a right wing split off and, under the leadership of Michael Foot, the party suffered its most severe electoral defeat in 1983. It was only under Neil Kinnock that the party reoriented itself politically. It now began to revise parts of the old self-image that had been so massively discredited in the 1980s, but at the same time, even under Tony Blair, it stuck to the party's social democratic traditions.
The Labor Party was able to increase the number of votes cast for it in the elections of 1950 compared to 1945, but the equally bizarre and undemocratic British electoral law meant that it still lost 78 parliamentary seats. Their majority shrank to 5 seats. Inner-party quarrels (the political differences between the left and the right, but also personal animosities such as that between Attlee and Morrison) strengthened the view that the government was in crisis within another year. Labor fled to the front, and elections were held again in October 1951. The party received 48.8% of all votes cast, a result that was unsurpassed by either of the major parties until 1992, but only received 295 seats, while the Conservatives won 321 seats with 48% of the vote. After only six years there was Labor
returned to the opposition. Particularly worrying for a workers 'party was the fact that in 1951 the Conservatives won 44% of all workers' votes. Workers' conservatism that had long been established in Great Britain became noticeable here, which certainly had something to do with reference behavior, but overall much more to do with specific policy offers from the conservatives, which were attractive to many, especially skilled workers. In the longue durée only the miners and the urban workers remained loyal to the Labor Party.
Numerous historians have identified certain signs of fatigue in the party towards the end of the post-war Labor government. She no longer seemed sure what remained to be done: Should the socialization of important industries be pushed further, or should one consolidate what had already been achieved. After the radical reform policy of the first five post-war years, leading Labor politicians asked themselves: what now? This also raised the problem of what form of socialism the Labor Party was ready to advocate. Like most socialist parties in Western Europe, the Labor Party was social democratized in the 1950s. Under the terms of the Cold War and the Pax Americana, she made her peace with capitalism. The strength of social democratic revisionism in the party was underlined in 1955 by the fact that one of its main representatives, Hugh Gaitskell, was elected as Attlee's successor. After two further electoral defeats (1955 and 1959), Gaitskell came under increasing domestic political pressure. Under the conditions of the ongoing post-war economic boom, the Conservative Party was able to present itself as a party of economic prosperity that met the consumer needs of broad sections of the population. The increasing feminization of the labor markets, the crisis of heavy industries (which were also labor strongholds) and the much-discussed 'farewell to proletarity' (Josef Moo-
ser) caused some political observers to question whether Labor could still hold a majority. In addition, the party obviously had problems winning over women and young voters. All of these developments only seemed to make it even more necessary to modernize the Labor Party. In this situation, the party leadership around Gaitskell seemed to say goodbye to the Clause Four, which symbolized the old Labor Party (which, since 1918, had made the socialization of the economy the central demand of British socialism) to be the only correct sign of building a new, socially inclusive Labor Party. The middle-class economist Gaitskell, who was educated in Oxford, underestimated the emotional ties of many in the party to Clause Four. His consciously displayed jet set socialism was just as little helpful as his open sympathy for the arch-revisionist ideas of his party friend Douglas Jay, who suggested breaking ties with the unions, abandoning the name 'Labor Party' and a historic alliance with the Liberal Close party. After a sharp debate at the party conference in 1959, the motion to abolish Clause Four was rejected. The symbolically significant burial of this demand, which after 1945 seemed increasingly anachronistic, was almost forty years away.
The social democratic reformism, which was coming to terms with capitalism, was not, however, put on the defensive. Anthony Crosland rose in the 1950s to become a prophet of social democracy, known far beyond the borders of the island kingdom. His book ‘The Future of Socialism’, published in 1956, became the bible of the revisionists in the Labor Party. Crosland argued explicitly against further nationalization. Instead, he favored a Keynesian economic policy that defined the macroeconomic framework without directly interfering with the private constitution of the economy. In addition, Cros-
In addition to the traditional pillars of party politics, such as the expansion of the welfare state and equal opportunities, it was important to focus on a more radical educational policy and to take workers seriously not only as producers, but also as consumers. The prosperity of the 1950s contrasted sharply with the rationing and austerity programs of the 1940s with which Attlee's Labor governments remained largely associated. The conservatives presented themselves as a party of economic boom, promising broad sections of the population quick access to the coveted new consumer goods. Labor, according to Crosland, cannot simply ignore these needs, which are widespread in the working class. The party left (Keep Left in the 1940s and then the Bevanites in the 1950s), which largely adhered to nationalization and the workers' ethos, had its counter-manifest in the 1952 'In Place of Fear', which was written by Bevan in 1952, which was mainly the larger one urged industrial democracy and wanted to subject the supervisory boards of nationalized industries to greater political control. Nevertheless, overall one can speak of a victory for the revisionists in the 1950s. The ‘Signposts for the Sixties’ passed at the party congress in 1961 are rightly regarded as the British equivalent of Bad Godesberg.
Like in no other post-war decade, social democratic politicians dominated the 1960s in Western Europe: Olof Palme, Willy Brandt and, for Great Britain, Harold Wilson stood for the hopeless optimism of progress of a social democratic future vision in which technological progress was combined with ideas of a partnership between capital and labor sustained economic growth and an omnipotent welfare and
Intervention state, which by means of social engineering ’should produce a socially just and equal opportunity society. The triumphant advance of social democracy seemed unstoppable, and numerous political commentators foresaw social democratic majorities that would last for years, perhaps decades, as they had functioned in the model social democratic country of Sweden since the 1930s. In Great Britain, after 1945, the Labor Party again achieved a substantial parliamentary majority for the first time in 1966, after having had the government since 1964, after a narrow electoral victory.
Gaitskell died in 1963. His successor was Harold Wilson, who was politically further left and had stronger roots in the labor movement than Gaitskell. Gaitskell's admirers soon despised him as a common little man, but his image, pipe smoker, brown sauce lover and Huddersfield Town Football Club supporter, made him popular among traditional Labor Party supporters. In the 1964 and 1966 elections, Labor could count on workers' votes. The Wilson government came into office in 1964 with the promise of a technological revolution that would finally reverse the country's long economic decline in the 20th century. Wilson explicitly saw the state as a "useful workhorse" and admired the state planning of the Soviet economy as well as the French state planning bureaucracy. Under Wilson, the party supported highly interventionist strategies for central economic planning. A Department of Economic Affairs was set up: it was responsible for drawing up a national plan for faster economic growth. A new technology ministry was created, which was primarily intended to promote the research and development of new technologies.The well-known saying of one of the economic masterminds shows that planning was often done from the top down and disregarded the interests of broad groups of the electorate
Party after 1945, Douglas Jay: ‘the gentleman from Whitehall really does know better what is good for the people.’
Under Richard Crossmann, the Labor government also initiated important administrative and parliamentary reforms. The recruitment practice of civil servants and the structure of the municipal administration were modernized. The welfare state was further expanded with the conscious continuation of Attleean reforms, although the government was exposed to massive economic crises and at the same time resisted a devaluation of the pound for a long time (many critics said in retrospect: too long) (which was nevertheless enforced in 1967): The pensions were increased, social housing intensified, the education system was democratized and expanded, the school age increased to 16 years. A distance-learning university that also set international standards was founded, the death penalty abolished, abortion legalized and homosexuality decriminalized. The voting age has been lowered from 21 to 18, and new divorce and equality laws are being passed, particularly aimed at improving the position of women in British society.
Leading Labor politicians have consistently advocated equal rights for women since the party was founded. Women made up a good half of all party members in the interwar period, and they were often among the most active in the local branches. In a largely male-dominated party, however, it was not made easy for them to combine socialism and feminism. Feminism was decried as bourgeois, and politically active women were often relegated to so-called female policy areas: birth control, family policy, social and educational policy were at the top of the list. Margaret Bondfield became the first female Labor Minister in 1929; after 1945 only one woman, Ellen Wilkinson, was represented in the Attlee cabinet. In the party, ideas of the heroic working class Mam ’prevailed, at best as passive
Victim of a malevolent capitalism was imagined, but could in no way displace the central importance of a male-occupied production and work ethic in the party's self-image. It is therefore hardly surprising that even in the 1960s leading Labor women, such as Barbara Castle or Shirley Williams, explicitly rejected the term feminist ’for themselves. It was not until after 1968, under the impression of 'second wave feminism', that feminist activists penetrated numerous local sections of the party, often leading to massive conflicts with traditional Labor women who did not give up the party's old, male-dominated self-image were ready.
In the 1960s, the relationship between the Labor governments, which were striving for centralized economic control, and the unions, which insisted on their collective bargaining autonomy, also became problematic. Leading government officials could only look back with envy at the unproblematic relationship between the Attlee government and union leaders. The basic attitude of the union leaders towards the party had actually not changed. The strong formal power of the trade unions within the party (they had a clear majority in the party executive since 1918 and could easily outvote all other party sections at party conferences) was inversely proportional to the willingness of the trade unions to interfere in the politics of the Labor Party. Political affairs were left to the party with great pragmatism and concentrated on the industrial concerns of the union members. Although one can assume a strong left wing of the trade union in the party since 1945 (approx. 30% of the trade unions were constantly on the left), the clear majority of the trade unions regularly supported the moderate party leadership. Only in those policy areas that directly affected the industrial interests of the trade unions did the trade union leaders grant themselves a veto right in party matters.
units. This had already become clear in 1931 and was activated in 1969 in the discussions about Barbara Castle's controversial working paper ‘In Place of Strife’, in order to reject a state-dominated social partnership regulation of British industrial relations. Even after the failure of the social contracts in 1979, the unions felt that their very own concerns were overtaxed by the Labor politicians. The main reason for the strong tensions between the trade unions and the party was probably the absence of important integration figures who could mediate between trade union and party or government interests, especially in view of the close formal ties. Arthur Henderson was such a figure in the interwar period, and Ernest Bevin played a similar role after 1945. They had no counterpart in the 1960s and 1970s.
In addition to the women and the unions, it was the Labor government's stance on immigration policy that was to give the party a headache in the 1960s. Official labor policy advocated the right to immigration of all Commonwealth citizens and racial equality. Its white working-class clientele, however, showed strong racist tendencies: Openly speaking racists in the Conservative Party, such as Enoch Powell, were appealing to workers in Great Britain. On the one hand, the Wilson administration responded to the growing racism in the country with laws that made racial discrimination a criminal offense (Race Relations Act, 1965). On the other hand, she announced immigration restrictions in the same year. Three years later, in 1968, the government broke its own legislation when it openly favored white over black immigrants in the Commonwealth Immigrants Act.
Although the Wilson administration had numerous successes in difficult economic conditions, public perception was not positive: it was mainly accused of failing in economic policy. Even the painful devaluation of the British pound in 1967 had not been able to resolve the economic crisis in the long term. The government was also accused of not having sufficient control over the trade unions. After the 1970 elections, the Labor Party found itself again in opposition. Within the party, the Wilson years were soon stylized as the opposite of the Attlee years: while the latter appeared in a glory of triumph, the Labor governments of the 1960s (undeservedly) soon stood for broken promises and shattered hopes. The economic crisis phenomena that set in in the wake of the oil crises in the first half of the 1970s continued to shake the social democratic frenzy for the future. Although the party leadership remained in moderate hands, the party base began to radicalize. At the same time, under the impression of stagflationary tendencies in the 1970s, many unions turned away from the Keynesian consensus, which had cemented the ties of the unions to the moderate party leadership for many years. Some unions became more militant and began to support the left wing of the party. The Industrial Relations Act of 1971 passed by the Conservative government, which severely curtailed the autonomy of the unions, aroused bitter resistance and provoked a renewed rapprochement between the unions and the Labor Party, which culminated in 1973 in the formulation of a common economic policy: a Labor government would become one Sign a 'social contract' with the unions, which involved union moderation in wage demands
the promise of the trade unions influencing macroeconomic framework policy and the further expansion of the welfare state. In addition, the party undertook to repeal the Industrial Relations Act.
The Conservatives narrowly lost their majority in the February 1974 elections. Since these elections did not produce a majority capable of governing, but the Liberals rejected an alliance with the Conservatives, there were again elections in October 1974, which brought Labor back to government after only four years of opposition. The UK economy appeared to be falling rapidly. A galloping inflation rate, rising public spending and a huge gap in the budget led to balance of payments deficits and another severe crisis in the British currency. In the end, the government had no choice but to fall back on short-term aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In 1975 unemployment almost doubled within a year: from 678,000 to 1,129,000 jobseekers. Guaranteeing full employment now seemed almost impossible, and the Labor Government focused on maintaining the international competitiveness of the UK economy. Combating inflation was given priority over job creation programs. Keynesianism received a first class burial. The ‘Social Contract’ has now been used unilaterally to urge the unions to moderate wage demands. The government was extremely successful: Average wage increases fell from 26% in 1975 to 10% in 1977. However, the promised influence of the trade unions on macroeconomic political decision-making processes hardly materialized. Under pressure from their own grassroots, the unions became dissatisfied and then unreliable allies of the Labor government, which was chaired by James Callaghan since Wilson's resignation in 1976. Nowhere was this more obvious than in the ‘winter of discontent’
of 1979. Treasury Secretary Dennis Healey had negotiated unrealistic 5% wage demands with union leaders under the Social Contract, at a time when double-digit wage increases were common in private industry. At the trade union base and in many individual unions, this measure had broken the barrel. The National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) called for a forty percent pay increase for its members in January 1979. Soon a massive wave of strikes rolled through the country and threatened to bring it to a standstill, in the perception of many Britons. When the piles of rubbish piled up in the streets of the cities and numerous hospitals had to switch to emergency operation, the question put by the conservatives back in 1973 about who ruled this country: democratically elected representatives of the people or the trade unions, seemed plausible to many Brits. British economic historians have now made it clear that the country was by no means plunged into a sustained political or even economic crisis by the unions in 1979. However, the 1979 myth had far-reaching implications for the support of large sections of the population for the consistent anti-union stance of the Thatcher government in the 1980s. Since 1979 the British trade unions have had a massive legitimation problem.
In the 1970s, the Labor Party seemed to be on a course to the left that not only alienated it from its continental sister parties, but also subjected it to what was perhaps the most difficult ordeal within the party. The government experience of the 1960s and 1970s seemed to the party left proof that a massive socialization program and stronger controls over the economy were the prerequisites for a successful left economic policy. This led to the development of the Alternative Econonomic Strategy (AES), used by the party's political opponents as a recipe
for an economic order of Eastern European communist style was attacked. Protectionist and anti-European sentiments seemed to be gaining the upper hand in the Labor Party. In 1980, the party congress decided that the parliamentary group should no longer elect the party leader alone, but that an election committee consisting of the parliamentary group, local associations and trade unions should take over this task: a clear sign that the party base and the union leadership were dissatisfied with the group. For the first time in 1980, the party left also provided the party chairman, Michael Foot, who was still elected according to the old voting method. Parts of the right wing of the party split off from the party in 1981 under the leadership of a so-called 'gang of four' (Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams) and founded the Social Democrat Party (SDP), which was part of the alliance in the 1983 elections the small Liberal Party won almost as many votes as the Labor Party. The SDP was pro-European, pro-American, against unilateral disarmament measures and for a mixed economy. Another part of the right wing of the party stayed in the Labor Party, probably mainly because of a feeling of deep connection to ‘their’ party. Under the leadership of Roy Hattersley, Dennis Healey, Gerald Kaufman, John Smith and others sought to rally the party's reformist forces in the Labor Solidarity Campaign.
In 1983 Labor was at the lowest point in its post-war history in terms of voter popularity: 27.6% of the votes cast, the worst result since 1918, and 209 seats in parliament, the lowest number since 1935. Only 40% of all trade unionists voted for Labor agreed. Important parts of Labour's core electorate threatened to emigrate. The party increasingly resembled a party of the less privileged and socially excluded, which was marginalized in terms of electoral politics. Their strongholds, such as Merseyside, Mid and West Glamorgan, Tyne and Wear and Cleveland, were
regions of industrial decline, long-term unemployment and general hopelessness.
Michael Foot, who embodied the party's left-wing movement like no other, resigned from the position of party chairman immediately after the 1983 election. His desired successor, the Welshman Neil Kinnock, also came from the left wing of the party, but under his aegis the party began the long march back to a moderate social democracy of Western European style. The most important milestone was the policy review adopted by the party in 1989.
The conservative government under Margaret Thatcher meanwhile made Great Britain a country that, viewed from the continent, seemed to be further and further removed from its pan-European social-democratic roots. As a self-proclaimed apostle of the free market, Thatcher hated everything that even remotely smelled of socialism: welfare state, economic governance, high government spending, taxation, social redistribution, social housing and job creation programs. With verve she approached the privatization of the industries socialized by Labor after 1945. In particular, the complete destruction of a European model of social partnership between capital and labor, which is also well anchored in Great Britain, caused a sensation. The unions have been declared the number one enemy within the party. Little by little, union rights were curtailed by seven Employment Acts between 1980 and 1990. The right to picket has been restricted. Automatic union membership (closed shop) associated with employment was banned. The unions could now be held liable for damage that occurred during a strike
become. Overall, the legal position of the trade unions became more and more precarious in the course of the 1980s and worker protection was further undermined. Workers and employees left the unions in droves (1979: 13.5 million members, 1991: 9.5 million). It was certainly no coincidence that a special example was set in the Labor Party's most loyal trade union allies, the miners. In the almost twelve-month miners' strike from 1984-85, in which bitter, almost civil war-like clashes occurred again and again in the various coal fields of Great Britain, the conservative government not only destroyed the domestic British coal mining industry and its unions, but it was also always about that the unions as a whole should lose their hard-won social and political position in the country. They were no longer regarded as partners, but as the most important obstacle to an economic course prescribed by the conservatives, which combined state abstinence in economic management with social dumping and financial incentives for foreign investors.
Labor condemned the anti-union policies of the conservative governments, but faced a dilemma in 1984 in view of the miners' strike, which was hugely popular within the party: on the one hand, the party was unable to abandon its most loyal allies, on the other hand, the party leadership condemned the attitude of the extreme left Associated President of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Arthur Scargill, who called the strike without having members voted on it. When the miners in Nottinghamshire did not respond to the union's call to strike and the union leadership used flying pickets from other parts of the country to enforce the strike in Nottinghamshire, the first violent clashes of the conflict broke out. Select
During the entire duration of the strike, the party leadership avoided clearly taking Scargill's side.
Alongside the miners' strike, the infiltration of the party by Trotskyist groups, the Militant Tendency, was the Labor Party's second major problem in the first half of the 1980s. In 1983, two open sympathizers of Militant for the party were elected to parliament for the first time. In some prominent Constituency Labor Parties, particularly in Liverpool under Derek Hatton, Militant dominated the party's local politics. Support for Militant was officially incompatible with Labor Party membership since December 1982. In 1983, the party executive had expelled the five editors of the magazine ‘Militant’ from the party, which also prompted some local party associations to initiate proceedings against Militant sympathizers. But the party leadership shied away from major actions. It was not until 1985 that Kinnock took action against the hard left in the party when the Labor-dominated Liverpool city council sent notice of termination to its 31,000 employees. This was planned as a spectacular protest against the austerity policies of the conservative government, but within the Labor Party such hazardist strategies met with overwhelming rejection on the left, too.
Kinnock tried hard to overcome the faction within the Labor Party and especially to push the hard left out of the party. In the first years of his party leadership, he also introduced considerable changes in the various political fields: The decidedly anti-European stance was abandoned, rehabilitation was explicitly given no priority, and further expansion of the welfare state was made dependent on the financial feasibility of further reforms. However, some of the ideas remained very incoherent. Especially on the issues of taxation, where the party did not want to commit, and defense, where demands for unilateral disarmament
were retained, Labor remained vulnerable. As far as the party organization is concerned, after 1985 Kinnock expanded the party leader’s office into the party's most important decision-making center. The powers of the party conference, however, were restricted. The Labor Party now watched its media presentation under the watchful eye of Party Communication Director, Peter Mandelson, and launched several glittering and attention-grabbing advertising campaigns of its own.
The renewed electoral defeat in 1987 only accelerated the party's organizational and programmatic reorientation. A comprehensive policy review was announced, under the imprint of which a coherently moderate labor policy began to emerge. Socialization strategies, Keynesianism, state economic planning, full employment and the further expansion of the welfare state were buried. The Thatcherist reforms of industrial relations were now widely accepted. In foreign policy, one said goodbye to unilateral disarmament and instead sought an explicit rapprochement with Europe. At the time of the 1992 elections, all “holy cows” of the left party had been slaughtered. At the same time, the professionalisation and hierarchisation of the party apparatus continued to advance. Nevertheless, for many, the party unexpectedly failed in 1992. A whole package of reasons can be used to explain this: In 1990 the Conservatives got rid of the Thatchers, who are increasingly hated in the country, and their probably most unpopular measure, the poll tax, through a Replaced council tax based on the value of the house. Thatcher's successor, John Major, cultivated the image of a moderate conservative. The country's economic situation was not bad, and many voters still distrusted the Labor Party's new image. The party chairman in particular was often criticized, as he himself had a left-wing past in which he had stood against everything for which he was now responsible.
was ready to step. The reproach of opportunism was obvious. It didn't help that Kinnock was Welsh either, which allowed the Conservatives to mobilize English prejudice against "Welsh windbags". Finally, the attitude of the influential Murdoch press may also have played a certain role in the outcome of the elections. The high-circulation 'Sun' came up with the headline on election day: 'in the event of a Labor victory will the last person to leave the UK please switch off the light.' The next day, she was the first to claim: '[it was] the Sun who won it. ”For Kinnock, the outcome of the election was a serious disappointment and defeat, also personally. He resigned the party leadership and made way for a more believable reformist: John Smith. In particular, the internal party reforms were consistently pursued under him. In 1992 the union bloc vote at party congresses was abolished, and a year later the principle of one member, one vote ’was introduced for elections to party chairman and vice chairman.
After the unexpected death of John Smith in 1994, arch reformer Tony Blair, armed with an overdose of youthful charm, took over the office of party chairman. He succeeded in what Gaitskell failed in 1959: Clause Four, which was committed to socialization, was replaced in 1995 by a commitment to ethically founded democratic socialism: “The Labor Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavor we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realize our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few. Where the rights we enjoy re-
flect the duties we owe. And where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect. "The close formal relations with the unions were loosened without the unions withdrawing their support from the party. Ultimately, they had no choice but to move on trust that a Labor government will at least put an end to the most important forms of discrimination and give the unions new freedom of movement. Overall, these expectations have been met by Blair, although it is clear that the Prime Minister's habit is miles away from that of the trade unionist (Blair's father was a conservative councilor. Blair describes himself as a Christian socialist.) Blair is rather aloof from the unions, and it is not surprising that there are few ministers in the cabinet with union experience. This is especially true of Blair's influential political advisors Law.
According to the ideas of inner-party reformers, the party should finally be transformed from a trade union to a member party. Elaborate advertising campaigns actually resulted in an increase in membership from 266,000 in 1988 to 405,238 in 1999. But in 1999 the number of members fell for the first time in ten years to 387,776. The democratization of intra-party decision-making processes was continued with the aim of further limiting the influence of left party groups on party politics. At the same time, the party leadership should be less tied to interests organized within the party. In 1997 the party conference lost power by adopting the organizational reform package (Bla Partnership into Power ’) supported by Blair. Since then, the basic pillars of party politics are no longer determined by the party conference, but by a 175-member National Policy Forum. The composition of the party executive committee was also changed in such a way that the position of the party chairman was further strengthened. With a view to strengthening
For gender equality, the party first introduced quotas for elections to the board of directors and the shadow cabinet in 1989. In 1996, a labor court in Leeds ironically banned the quotation of internal party offices and parliamentary candidates in violation of the Sex Discrimination Act. The party did not appeal this decision, but found a new modus vivendi with the ‘pairing arrangement’ in the 1999 elections to the Welsh Parliament, which stipulated that every second parliamentary candidate in the party had to be a woman.
Blair also endeavored to make the party no longer appear as a workers' party solely committed to productionist norms, but to address workers and middle classes together as consumers. Blair did not share the disdain, especially among socialist ideologues, for the alleged immaturity of voters and for the importance of electoral successes, which was repeatedly pronounced in the Labor Party. He relied on media-effective staged party PR, which not only promoted a moderate and uniform self-image, but also made extensive content-related offers that seemed able to appeal to broad groups of voters. In doing so, Blair explicitly distanced himself from what the old Labor Party had supposedly made up of: state interventionism, Keynesianism, a comprehensive welfare state, trade union party, the "tax and spend" party. Instead, he postulated the idea of a new, reborn party, 'New Labor', which, although committed to the old social democratic values, said goodbye to traditional political ideas in order to win 'suburban Middle England', the conservatives their status as' one nation party 'and to mobilize a left-wing patriotism, which found its expression not least in' cool Britannia 'and the model of' New Labor, New Britain '. Blair and his Treasury Secretary Gordon Brown explicitly described themselves as liberal socialists ’, committed to the old antagonisms of market and state, free-
to overcome equality and equality. They certainly stood in a party tradition, but it was not easy to defend openly, as they allied themselves with the best-hated 'traitors' in party history: Ramsay MacDonald, who left the party in 1931 and formed an alliance with the conservatives, and who' Gang of Four ', who founded the SDP in 1981. With such ancestors it was understandable that the label ‘New Labor’ was preferred.
This tactic was unquestionably successful. In 1997, Blair achieved the third convincing election victory in Labor history against the Conservatives: for the first time in 18 years, the Labor Party regained a government. What is the balance of the Blair administration after three years? The government is committed to maintaining a modern welfare state. As early as 1994, the Social Justice Commission set up by the party recommended a sustainable connection between community ideals and market society in order to be able to finance a modern welfare state. The Blair government certainly relied less on the state than the Attlee and Wilson governments. It is not about reviving the all-encompassing intervention state of the 1960s, but rather about building what Labor Party thought leaders call an 'enabling state' - a state that makes it easier for active citizens to express themselves politically and in their everyday life to get involved socially. After Thatcherism, for which, as is well known, there was only individuals but no society ("there is no such thing as society"), "New Labor" tries to revive ethically founded community ideas, such as those represented above all in modern communitarianism. However, it is precisely in the domestic politics of the Labor government that authoritarian solutions to social conflicts are often sought, which are related to traditional 'law and order' concepts of the conservatives as well as social democratic ideas of 'social engineering', which the 'common people' are often mere objects politics
degrade. Examples would be the night curfew for children, fines for parents whose children skip school permanently, or a planned advertising campaign to stop giving beggars alms, since these would only be converted into alcohol or drugs anyway.
The state (possibly also iron) will to enforce and maintain an ethically founded community is also clear in the plans of the Labor government for a working society: The central importance of the labor factor is emphasized here. Here, too, she is committed to the party's social democratic traditions, as the right to work is one of the Labor Party's earliest demands after 1900. For this work, the Labor government introduced minimum wages for the first time in 1998 in order to overcome the scandalous low-wage economy of the 1980s, and it also guaranteed the right to union representation in those establishments where the majority of the workforce is in favor of such representation. This reversed the treatment of trade unions as outlaws, which was common under Thatcher.
Education and training in particular are central components of the government's concept for greater competitiveness and economic prosperity. Schools and universities receive significantly more money to reduce class sizes and ensure higher educational standards. In partnership with the private sector, the government started a campaign for more training places for unemployed young people. Especially in the poor ghettos of the big cities, people should be cured of their ‘welfare dependency’ by making them sustainable job offers. In July 1997, a one-time tax of £ 5.2 million imposed on some of the industries privatized under Thatcher was used to fund a so-called welfare to work program aimed primarily at reducing youth and long-term unemployment. In January 1998, a ‘new deal’ was agreed especially for young jobseekers between 18 and 24 years of age.
announces that state subsidizes the provision of jobs by private companies. However, those who refuse to accept the ‘new deal’ will have their support withdrawn. Overall, however, Labor is still considered to be the great equalizer in the search for more social justice. If individual government measures, such as the reduction in social benefits for single parents, have met with massive criticism in the left-wing public, it should be noted that the budgets of the Labor government have so far been redistributive in the traditional sense, even if this was not exactly done by the Chancellor of the Exchequer the big bell was hung.
The government also placed an important emphasis on the modernization of the British constitutional system, where Blair seamlessly tied in with the efforts of Morrison and Crossmann. On the one hand, it committed itself to regionalization. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland got their own parliaments, each with different government powers. In Northern Ireland, a peace process has also been set in motion which, despite numerous setbacks, has the prospect of pacifying Northern Ireland permanently and thus the Prevention of Terrorism Act introduced by another Labor government in 1974, which in principle resulted in a military engagement by the British in Northern Ireland, to make superfluous. On the other hand, the party embarked on a course of rapprochement with the liberals, who suggested new forms of coalition government. In Scotland and Wales there were formal coalition governments, and in Westminster the Liberals are partly involved in the planning phases of various legislative proposals of the Labor government. In Westminster this happens even though the majority situation would allow a single government. Such a practice feeds rumors that in the medium term Blair is also seeking electoral reform that would replace majority suffrage with proportional suffrage. Such a measure would change the political landscape in Great Britain permanently. The Conservative Party would have to
Approach more moderate, Christian Democratic positions in order to become capable of forming a coalition and thus a majority. A radical fundamentalist Conservative Party, as it is currently. William Hague represents would be condemned to permanent opposition under proportional representation. In addition, there was a reform of the House of Lords, which in the medium term will replace the hereditary lords entirely with appointed representatives. Another planned Freedom of Information Act, which should above all guarantee greater transparency of the political system, has so far not gone beyond the publication of a rather disappointing white paper.
For a long time, environmental policy was the stepchild of British labor policy. Socialism has been associated with ideas of greater modernity, greater morality, and greater efficiency. The organizational complexity of modernity will inevitably lead to socialism. In these visions of the future, the destructive power of this modernity was only marginally perceived, if at all. The absence of a strong green movement in Great Britain brought no party political pressure to change this attitude. It was not until the 1990s that a party-internal rethinking process led to environmental policy being given a central place in, for example, the latest policy review program debates. Under the energetic Environment Minister Michael Meacher, the Labor Government is also trying to set international standards, for example with regard to emissions laws.Overall, however, especially in comparison to Germany, the environmental problem plays a comparatively minor role in public policy discourse. Even at the beginning of the 21st century, environmental awareness is still largely a foreign word on the island.
In terms of foreign policy, Robin Cook announced an ‘ethical foreign policy’ for the Labor Government, which should be characterized by its commitment to the international maintenance of human rights and democratic principles. When exporting arms to countries of the so-called Third World, in war with ser-
In bien (where the British Labor Government was one of the agitators) and in the Zimbabwe conflict, it soon became apparent that the old tensions between realpolitik and ethically based principles persisted unabated in the 1990s. In the 1940s and 1960s, on the one hand, Labor governments stood for Eurocentric internationalism, a policy of peace, anti-imperialism and human rights; on the other hand, a Labor government produced the British atomic bomb, conceived NATO and was embroiled in bloody colonial wars.
The relationship between the Labor government and Europe also turned out to be rather disappointing. Here Blair's claim to pull Great Britain off the sidelines and make it the engine of European unification was largely not fulfilled. All in all, strong mood swings in the Labor Party's attitude towards the European Union (EU) after 1945 are characteristic. Ernest Bevin stood up for a Western European Union, but saw, like Winston Churchill, hardly any way that could combine the global interests of the British Empire with a European commitment. In addition, there was a pronounced domestically motivated rejection of the economic confederation plans by some Labor politicians: as it is shortened to the essentials in Morrison's well-known bon mot with regard to British participation in Western European union plans: 'the Durham miners won't wear it.' The Wilson governments in the 1960s advocated entry into what was then the European Economic Community, although Great Britain faced a stubborn veto by the French President at that time. In 1971, when accession took place under a conservative government, a majority of the party in parliament voted against accession. In 1974, however, it was a Labor government that successfully renegotiated the entry conditions in Brussels. The anti-European attitude of the dominant party left in 1980 was ultimately that
Immediate reason for the split in the party in 1981. Since 1989 at the latest, the party has been officially pro-European again. One of the first steps taken by the Blair administration was Britain's accession to the European Social Charter. In addition, the government implemented the European working time directive and has repeatedly spoken out in favor of the country joining the European monetary union, provided that the economic framework conditions are right and the majority of the population approves the abolition of the local pound in a referendum. But there can be no talk of an offensive advertising campaign for Europe, probably also in view of the strong divergences in one's own party.
Blair is often accused of cultivating a Napoleonic leadership style, making decisions in the midst of hand-picked and democratically illegitimate personal advisory bodies and then imposing the party on the party through skillful media manipulation. That Blair knows how to use the media skillfully is certainly correct. However, this line of argument lacks the hint that throughout the history of the party, leaders have often been of central importance for the development of the party and its policies. This applies to Ramsay MacDonald, Ernest Bevin, Clement Attlee, Harold Wilson as well as to Jim Callaghan, Dennis Healey, Neil Kinnock and even Tony Blair. This also finally points out once again that 'New Labor' is by no means the result of politics of the 'scorched ground', but that the new party is thoroughly committed to the social democratic traditions of 'Old Labor'. Although most of the Blair government's projects are still in their early stages, the results are quite impressive after three years. Blair appears to be well on the way to delivering on his 1997 promise that his government would become one of the great reforming governments in British history ’.
© Friedrich Ebert Foundation | technical support | net edition fes-library | April 2001
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