The Labour Leadership: 'Crusader' rejects chains of tradition: Nicholas Timmins looks at how Tony Blair as leader is aiming to take his party on a drive for social justice.

THE Labour Party 'is a crusade for social justice or it is nothing', Tony Blair, the new party leader, declared during his leadership campaign. But it is a crusade which Mr Blair, by careful positioning in speeches throughout the campaign, has freed himself to pursue by methods that may prove very different from those used by Labour in the 1960s and 1970s.

He hopes to have done so in a way that will circumvent the traditional Labour charge of 'betrayal'. His key philosophical statement came early in the campaign when he defined left thinking as having been dominated by two strands - the 'ethical socialism' of European social democracy and the class-based economic determinism of Marxist thought. He came, he made clear, from the former - 'the only serious view of the left's future that can remain'.

He argued that once socialism is defined that way - as a set of principles and beliefs - 'then it can liberate itself, learning from its history rather than being chained to it. It then no longer confuses means, for example wholesale nationalisation, with ends - for example a fairer society and more productive economy. It can move beyond the battle between public and private sector and see the two as working in partnership. It can open itself up to a greater pluralism of ideas and thought'.

In terms of policy, what that has translated into during the campaign is chiefly positioning rather than much in the way of hard and fast commitments beyond those already in Labour's programme.

Mr Blair has acknowledged firm limits on the ability of national macro-economic policy to alter the economy's potential for long-term growth. However, supply side measures such as education and training, tax changes to support research and development, and a tax regime on share ownership aimed at encouraging long-term investment rather than short-termism, can all strengthen its underlying performance, he argued.

A more radical change than the Government has so far agreed on the rules allowing private finance into public sector projects should also be examined, he has said.

On jobs, Mr Blair has backed the 1944 White Paper definition of 'high and stable' employment, stating that 'the goal of full employment' is 'the objective of any decent society'. He has rejected targets or timetables, the approach John Prescott initially advocated, declaring: 'I am not going to make promises I can't keep.'

Like Mr Prescott, however, he has focused both on youth unemployment and on the long-term unemployed, saying the eradication of that should be 'a central goal'. He wants to 'build on' Labour's plans for a year's National Insurance rebate for employers who recruit the long-term unemployed, for the phased release of councils' capital receipts, and for a new environmental task force combining work experience and training for the young.

He has backed a minimum wage - but again as a principle. And he has promised to change a tax system which is 'a haven of scams', allowing those with accountants to pay little or no tax while others pay more than their fair share.

Education and training 'hold the key, not just to personal fulfillment and advancement, but also to economic prosperity and a good society'. He has argued 'the more we put into education, the more we shall get back'. That meant universal pre-school education with a continued national curriculum, better forms of testing and assessment, and comprehensive schools that offer education for all the talents. He also supports teacher associates - people from business, industry and the professions bringing outside expertise into schools to help teachers - while promoting 'personalised skills accounts' for adults.

On welfare, Mr Blair has attempted to redefine for Labour, ahead of the report of its Social Justice Commission, what social security should be about, seeking a system that 'provides a springboard to success and not a road to dependency'. That meant moves to remove disincentives to paid work, easing the transition between in work and out of work benefits, and attempting to end a situation where when a man loses his job there is no point in the woman continuing to work.

On Europe, he has said it is 'both time to stand up for Europe and to re-think its progress' - indicating firm support for a single currency provided the conditions are right. The message was strong that a Blair-led Labour Party would be a pro-Europe party. That, however, was coupled with a warning that 'the next stage of European progress will come through persuasion or not at all.'

And he has made the constitution a centre-piece of his platform, arguing that constitutional reform is not 'a subject elevated from the daily experiences of British citizens' because 'it matters who's got their hands on power.'

(Photograph omitted)

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Graduate Pricing Analyst - 6 months / 1 year analytical experience

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Senior Management Accountant

£40000 - £46000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Global publishing and digital bu...

Year 2 Teachers needed for day to day supply

£110 - £130 per day + Competitve rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Yea...

Year 4 Teachers needed for day to day supply across the region

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits