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|God Save the Queen?|
New Labour was Tony Blair's rebrand of Britain's Labour Party, designed by Peter Mandelson. The rebrand involved abandoning much of the party's core principles such as nationalisation, and cutting back trade union influence on party decision-making. As New Labour (incidentally, never a formal title) the party swept back to power in May 1997 after 18 years of opposition. For a while there was great celebration among the country's left wing, but soon the rot started to set in, with ministers ordering private businesses about (the businesses said "we are private businesses and you can sod off") and silly edicts like banning T-bone steak on the off-chance someone might catch BSE from it. Blair's great idea, the Private Finance Initiative, was a way of getting funding for education, health and other services by bringing in big business, which proceeded to run things with a bad delivery but a decent profit.
With Ed Miliband, whose views are generally more "old left", now in charge of Labour, what serves to happen to the New Labour experiment remains to be seen.
 Erosion of civil liberties
In the first nine years of its tenure, New Labour with Tony "Bliar" Blair at the helm created more than 3,000 new criminal offences, "one for almost every day" it had been in power. Nick Clegg, then Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, commented: "This provides a devastating insight into the real legacy of ... New Labour... a frenzied approach to law-making, thousands of new offences, an illiberal belief in heavy-handed regulation, an obsession with controlling the minutiae of everyday life... a country less free than before, and a marked erosion of the trust which should exist between the Government and the governed."
 It gets worse
Another problem with New Labour was a strong tendency to indulge in groupthink, with any criticism of government style or policy being responded to not with counter-arguments but with personal attacks on the critics. Gradually the goodwill in the party and country bled away, and the cabinet came to be filled with Blair loyalists of debatable ability. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a monumental cock-up, and there were accusations of corruption relating to party donations in return for appointments to the House of Lords - it seemed that New Labour was indulging in the same sleaze that had got John Major thrown out.
 It wasn't all bad
Apart from getting mired in a long-running attempt to ban fox-hunting, New Labour achieved what no previous labour administration had done: reforming the House of Lords so that the (non-inheritable) Life Peers outnumbered the inherited Lords. There was also the Human Rights Act 1998, which brought the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. There was also a decade of prosperity in which everyone bought shiny new iPods and stuff, then realised they actually had to pay for them sometime.
 Local government
While nationally Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson transformed the parliamentary Labour Party into New Labour, this transformation did not extend to the level of local government, where Labour still operates in the old-fashioned political-machine style. Indeed, in some cities, Labour would have to modernise to become Old Labour, let alone New Labour.
 See also
- ↑ "Tony Blair? - Bliar? Britain's beleaguered prime minister. A moment of truth for Tony Blair." 7 June 2003. The Economist.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Morris, Nigel. Blair's 'frenzied law making' : a new offence for every day spent in office. 16 August 2006. The Independent. Accessed 1 November 2009.