Socialist Roots Essay

Submitted By hedgehogwheen
Words: 570
Pages: 3

To what extent has Labour abandoned its socialist roots? Discuss.
Socialism is a political theory or system in which the means of production and distribution are controlled by the people and operated according to equity and fairness rather than market principles. Ever since Tony Blair has become leader of the Labour party in 1994 some critics have accused Blair and other Labour modernisers of abandoning socialist principles upon which the party was founded. Reasons why Blair, amongst others, received this criticism was because of New Labour policies such as, rejection of public/state ownership of major industries, more emphasis on individualism rather than collectivism, increased tolerance for economic inequalities in society and rejection of demands to restore trade union power. However, Blair did not entirely have none socialist policies as he still had support for the welfare state, emphasis on poverty relief, concern with social exclusion and emphasis on the need for equality and opportunity.
One of New Labour’s policies where there seemed to be some abandonment of socialist roots was that New Labour put more emphasis on individualism. Individualism is an ideology associated with Thatcherism and is the opposite of what socialists believe in. Socialists believe in collectivism and equality in society and would say that individualism is selfish and creates inequality. Blair did this as part of the process of triangulation, where the core Labour party principles were melded together with lessons learnt from Thatcherism. This demonstrates that Labour was moving away from the left of the political spectrum.
Conversely, evidence that Labour did not move away from its socialist roots is shown by its support for the welfare state. This shows that Labour still wanted to care for the most vulnerable in society. This is a more socialist ideology because socialists believe in redistribution of wealth by having high taxation for those who are deemed to be able to afford it and therefore support lower income citizens.
However, further evidence that Labour did abandon it socialist roots is when Labour rejected demands to restore trade union power. The Labour party were initially seen as the party of the working class and they receive most of their core vote from people living off the welfare state and…