This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on WordPress
The rise of Tony Blair I at least believe has to do with how he reformed the British Labour Party as Leader of the Opposition in the 1990s before becoming Prime Minister. When the Labour Party lost power in 1979 to the Conservative Party, the British economy was in bad shape. Because it was over-centralized, the economy was over-centralized and was too socialist with the U.K. Government owning so much of the economy and trying to run British industries themselves. The U.K. Government by 1979 owned something like seventy-percent of the economy.
When Tony Blair became Prime Minister in 1997 and the Labour Party which was New Labour took over they didn’t move to renationalize industries and perhaps nationalize British industries that weren’t under government control and ownership before. They didn’t reform the British welfare state by saying that people who were physically and mentally able to take care of themselves and work, no longer had to do that if they even if they were uneducated. He kept in place a lot of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s economic polices in place instead. And perhaps offended a lot of people in party who were much further to the left of him by doing that.
New Labour is Tony Blair and Tony Blair’s creation. They were out of power for eighteen-years from 79-97 because the British people remembered the state of the economy when Labour left power in 1979. And they also remember how the British economy finally took off and became the economic power that it is today in the late 1980s and early 1990s. And didn’t want to put Socialists in power that try to take the country back to where it was in the late 1970s. So Tony Blair’s challenge when he became Leader of the Labour Party in 1994 was to change the perception of the Labour Party. So it was no longer seen as Marxist, so socialist and central government oriented.
Tony Blair is a student of Bill Clinton and the New Democrats in America. Someone who didn’t want to transform his party into a conservative party. But someone who wanted his party to be a center-left party and not a far-left party. Someone who wanted to use government to empower people to be able to take control over their own lives and live in freedom. And not have to live off the welfare state or be forced to live off of the welfare state indefinitely. Blair wanted his party to be seen as a party that would defend the country and protect everyone’s freedom. And was very successful in doing that.