Architect of 'Third Way' attacks New Labour's policy 'failures'

Click to follow
Indy Politics

An architect of Tony Blair's "Third Way" strategy has criticised New Labour's "failures" in important policy areas and urged the Government to shelve its plans to raise taxes to boost health spending.

Professor Tony Giddens, the intellectual guru who has most influenced Mr Blair, issues a frank "checklist" of Labour's successes and failures since 1997 in a new book. Extracts are published in The Independent today and tomorrow.

Singling out "spin" as one of the Government's biggest failures, he says: "The whole approach not only rebounded, it severely damaged Labour's image in ways from which it has proved difficult to recover. New Labour became thought of as empty of content, as lacking in substantive policies – a perception far from the reality."

Professor Giddens, director of the London School of Economics, attacks "the dismal saga of the Dome" and Labour's failure to curb "irresponsible business activity or corporate profiteering". He urges Mr Blair to crack down on "fat cats" and calls for a law linking boardroom pay more closely to performance and halting "scandalous" pay-offs when a firm fails.

He lists Labour's successes as: marginalising the Tories; economic policy; welfare reform; redistributing wealth and some aspects of education policy. But he is less enthusiastic about what he calls "half-way houses" such as: the National Health Service; constitutional reform; and the environment.

Where Now for New Labour?, published jointly by the Fabian Society, Policy Network and Polity Press, will be seen as constructive criticism from within the New Labour family. Among those consulted by the author was Andrew Adonis, head of the Downing Street Policy Unit.

Professor Giddens admits there is "some validity" in the criticism that New Labour has no clear vision of the future and of what it stands for. He maps out what Mr Blair has called a "second phase" of his project at a time when some modernisers fear it is running out of steam. But he also hits back at New Labour's critics on the left, saying many of them have "blanked out the past".