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July 19 , 2009

Left Without a Future?

Social Justice in Anxious Times


The roots of the recent financial crisis can be found in the substantial changes which have affected British economy and society over the last three decades. In economic terms, the UK has transformed from a predominantly industrial to one led by services and creative industries, whilst society has also became less industrial with new class ‘networks’ emerging. Post-war Social Democracy in its original form – as advocated by Tony Crosland - relied heavily on an industrial economy and society. A central statist, ideal-oriented version of Social Democracy can only go so far in the post-crash economy and society, hence the ease with which many of New Labour’s reforms and resource allocation have since been reversed by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition. The centre-left has always been at its strongest when building new long?term institutions such as the NHS, expanding higher education, establishing the national minimum wage and increasing access to national parks. Anthony Painter here argues that this institution-building tradition is the one to which the left should return. He advocates new economic, social and cultural policies which provide a manifesto for the future development of Social Democracy – and centre-left institutions – in Britain.
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