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The ‘third way’ may have worked for New Labour, but it is impossible now

Fighting for a new systemic vision

In moments of defeat, there is a tendency to look back at what has worked in the past and assume it could be repeated again in the future. The third-way approach of New Labour under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown was a political and economic strategy that brought remarkable electoral success over 20 years ago. It rested on a strategy of “triangulation” – the deliberate distancing of centre-left parties from their leftwing base and politics, and the creation of a new centrist synthesis of left and right that sought to transcend both categories. But far from representing the immutable truths of some enduring strategic playbook, the third way was peculiar to a particular moment in history, and it is fundamentally ill-suited to the world of the 2020s.

Publication date: 2021-05-13
Publisher location: London
Parent publication: The Guardian
Publication URL:

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