Labour Conference: Mayoral rivals find direction for 'Third Way'

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TWO OF the most prominent rivals for the post of the London mayor found themselves in agreement last night over the direction of the "Third Way".

Veteran left-winger Ken Livingstone and the television presenter Trevor Phillips - who is also an Independent columnist - pledged that moving decisions closer to a local level would lead to a more inclusive society in which individuals found that they were part of a safe community.

Speaking at a fringe meeting, sponsored by The Independent, at the Labour Party conference in Blackpool, Mr Livingstone warned that the redistribution of wealth was still the most essential principle in achieving "fairer, co-operative and environmentally friendly society". He said: "If we carry on like we have done we will pollute ourselves to death."

But Mr Phillips said "a new big idea" for society would have to address that inequality was not merely rooted in economic problems. There are many complex reasons why people feel excluded from society and these cannot necessarily be solved by redistribution of wealth ... that is why we need a new way of looking at society ... we need to move on from a one-dimensional to a three-dimensional approach," he said.

They agreed that the change of the balance of power after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union has led to a need to redefine the needs of society. The Home Affairs minister, Alun Michael said that the Government's view of the "Third Way" was the key to ensure social cohesion, order and inclusion in a market economy.

Mr Michael pointed to the recently passed Criminal Justice Act, saying it showed how a balance between punishment and welfare could be struck. "The 'Third Way' is about how you deliver stronger opportunities to people living in a safe community," he said.

Pressed by delegates on how the middle classes were likely to view the Government's commitment to finding a "Third Way", he added: "They will be convinced if they see that we have created an inclusive society."