Anthony Giddens' The Third Way
had a far-reaching impact upon the evolution of New Labour in the UK, and upon left of centre policies in many other countries too. Today, nearly a decade later, Labour stands again at a decisive point in its history. A change of leadership can help reinvigorate the party, but winning a fourth term of government will be impossible without reinvigorating Labour's ideological position and policy outlook.
What form should these innovations take? The author argues that the core emphases that have sustained Labour's hold over power for three successive terms must be maintained. For instance, it would be electoral suicide to abandon the political centre-ground, which is where the large majority of voters locate themselves. However, Labour's policies should be radically reshaped in areas where they have been unsuccessful, and where new problems have come to the fore. The biggest barrier to securing a fourth term is not Tory renewal, but public disaffection, which at the moment extends to all politicians.
Labour should present itself as a party of substance, the only one capable of leading the country through a time of far-reaching change. The party should adopt what the author calls a Contract with the Future – a policy programme that puts the country in a strong position to face the new challenges that are all around us. Written in an accessible way for the general reader, the author's account of how this aim might be achieved will be of interest to everyone concerned to map out a future for Labour politics.