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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Blair-Brown government, that was deleted or is being discussed for deletion, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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The Blair-Brown Labour government was the incarnation of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom from 1997-2010. The Labour Party was in power in the UK for over 13 years, first under Tony Blair as Prime Minister (1997–2007), and later under Gordon Brown (2007–2010).

Background

Labour was elected in a landslide victory over John Major's Conservative government, which had become deeply unpopular. Tony Blair had become leader of Labour in 1994, widely believed to have been a result of an agreement between Blair and Brown after the death of John Smith.

In government

One of the first acts of the 1997 Labour government was to give the Bank of England operational independence in its setting of interest rates. It also held to its pledges to keep to the spending plans set by the Conservatives and began introduction of an educational reform programme, in which Labour introduced new ways of teaching and later introduced new types of schools.

The Labour government also introduced Britain's first National Minimum Wage Act, followed by various programmes targeted at specific sections of the population: the target for reducing homelessness was achieved by 2000, for example. Chancellor Gordon Brown oversaw the 'SureStart' scheme intended for young families, a new system of tax credits for those working with below-average incomes and an energy allowance provided to pensioners during the winter. By most statistical measures, unemployment also fell from just over 1.5 million in 1997 to around one million.

In December 1997, 47 left-wing Labour MPs rebelled when the government carried through the previous administration's plans to cut the benefits paid to new single-parents. Tuition fees for university students were also introduced. The government also promoted wider use of public-private partnerships and the Private Finance Initiative, which were opposed particularly by trade unions as a form of privatisation.

Several Policy Taskforces in 1997 and 1998 included industrialists and business leaders such as Lord Simon, a former chairman of BP, Lord Sainsbury of the supermarket dynasty, and Alec Reed of Reed Employment. There have been various reports regarding the effect of such close links, in policies such as the public-private partnerships, the deregulation of utilities, privatisation, and the tendency to outsource government services.

Labour's second term saw substantial increases in public spending, especially on the National Health Service, which the government insisted must be linked to the reforms it was proposing. Spending on education was likewise increased, with schools encouraged to adopt "specialisms". Teachers and their trade unions strongly criticised the Prime Minister's spokesman Alastair Campbell when he stated that this policy meant the end of "the bog-standard comprehensive".

In foreign policy Labour aspired to put Britain "at the heart of Europe" while attempting to maintain military and diplomatic links to the United States. Initially, Robin Cook, as Foreign Secretary of the first Blair Cabinet, attempted to instigate an "ethical foreign policy".

While the next Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, somewhat downplayed this, the party sought to put the promotion of human rights and democracy, and later the war against terrorism, at the core of British foreign policy. This was first evident when Blair and Cook initiated Operation Palliser, in which British troops intervened to stop massacres in Sierra Leone. This led to an emphasis on the Department for International Development, with ministers Clare Short and Hilary Benn holding influence within the administration. Tony Blair managed to persuade Bill Clinton to take a more active role in Kosovo in 1999, and British forces took part in the international coalition which attacked the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 2001 after the regime refused to hand over Osama bin Laden and expel al-Qaeda from the country in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

Blair decided to send British troops to fight alongside the United States and a number of forces in smaller numbers from around the world in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The Government's involvement in the invasion caused controversy in the UK and within the Labour party, with many calling Tony Blair's credibility into question when questions were raised as to the veracity of intelligence concerning Iraq and weapons of mass destruction which had been part of the justification for entry into the war. This loss of support contributed to the substantial reduction of Labour's majority in the 2005 general election.

New Labour in the media

Labour Party Victoria Street 3

The Labour Party Headquarters at 39 Victoria Street, London

New Labour (as a series of values) is often characterised as a belief in "no rights without responsibilities" – that a citizen should recognise that one possesses responsibilities linked with any legal rights they hold. The concept of a "stakeholder society" is quite prominent in New Labour thinking.

The name "New Labour" has been widely satirised. Critics associate the new name with an unprecedented use of spin doctoring in the party's relationship with media. The Conservative Party attempted to tarnish the new Labour tag during the 1997 election campaign using the slogan "New Labour, New Danger". After Gordon Brown's budgets became more and more Keynesian, Private Eye magazine began to call the party "New" Labour.

Criticism

In some circles, the name "New Labour" or Neo Labour is used pejoratively to refer to the perceived domination of the Labour Party by its right-wing. Indeed, some argue that Labour has become so fond of neo-liberal policies that it is Thatcherite rather than democratic socialist or even social-democratic (cf. "Blatcherism").

Questions also emerged regarding the centralised and highly personalised style of Tony Blair's leadership, with some critics seeing this as a sign of creeping presidentialism.[1]

Labour's third successive term from 2005

The party's popularity and membership have steadily declined since 2003.[2] Labour won the 2005 general election with 35.3% of the total vote and a majority of 66. Their majority fell to 62 following a by-election loss to the Liberal Democrats and Clare Short's decision to sit as an independent MP.

Terrorism

Tony Blair's third term was dominated further than the second by the issue of terrorism, fuelled by the continuing controversy over the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Shortly after the General Election, in the 7 July 2005 London bombings, a number of bombs were detonated on buses and tube trains in London, constituting the largest and deadliest terrorist attack on London's transit system in history. The Blair government attempted to crack down on the perceived threat of terrorism since the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States, but the Labour government were defeated in a House of Commons vote over the length of time suspected terrorists could be detained without trial: although most of the Terrorism Bill passed into law, the 90-day limit the government wanted was rejected when 48 Labour MPs rebelled, with a compromise limit of 28 days agreed by the House of Commons, receiving Royal Assent on 30 March 2006 passing into law.

This bill, along with the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 and the defeated Identity Cards Act 2006 led to allegations of a decline in civil liberties in favour of increased security measures coming from both opposition parties and numerous media outlets[3][4][5][6] during this term of government.


Resignation of Tony Blair

In the 4 May 2006 local elections, the Labour Party lost over 300 councillors across England. The gains went largely to the Conservative Party, who saw their best results since 1992.[7] The election followed the release by the Home Office of 1,043 foreign prisoners who had been slated for deportation, nurses being made redundant due to deficits within the National Health Service resulting in the Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, being heckled at the annual conference of the Royal College of Nursing, and revelations about a two-year extramarital affair of Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and his assistant private secretary Tracey Temple.

Following the poor election results, Tony Blair planned a cabinet reshuffle, and speculation about the date of his departure as leader and Prime Minister intensified. Blair had announced in 2004 that he would not fight a fourth general election as Labour leader but stated that he would serve a full third term. However as his term progressed, dissent within the party increased and Blair's refusal to call for an Israeli ceasefire during the 2006 Lebanon War increased his unpopularity within the party. Following an apparent attempted coup to force him out, in which a number of junior government members resigned in protest at his continued leadership, he announced that the September 2006 TUC and Labour Party Conferences would be his last as leader and Prime Minister.

On 10 May 2007, he announced that he would stand down as Prime Minister on 27 June 2007. Gordon Brown, the long-serving Chancellor of the Exchequer, had long been widely expected to succeed Blair. He duly launched his campaign on 11 May 2007, and a few days later was the only candidate with sufficient nominations to stand. He therefore became Labour leader on 24 June 2007 and as Prime Minister on 27 June 2007.

Hilary Benn,[8] Hazel Blears,[9] Jon Cruddas,[10][11] Peter Hain,[12] Harriet Harman[13] and Alan Johnson[14] all stood for the Deputy Leadership and obtained the necessary 45 nominations from Labour MPs. Harriet Harman won the deputy leadership, narrowly defeating Alan Johnson with 50.43% of the final redistributed vote.

Government difficulties with public opinion

Many Labour supporters remain unhappy with the Labour government's policies regarding Iraq and an identity card database, while others have been critical of increased taxation, and issues such as the 2007 Labour party donation scandal (Donorgate) have led to the erosion of public trust.

Labour suffered significant defeats in devolved elections in Scotland and Wales and in local elections in England on 3 May 2007.[15] In the Scottish Parliament, Labour was reduced to the second-largest party after the Scottish National Party (SNP). In Wales, although still the largest party, it lost its majority in the National Assembly for Wales. In England, the party was reduced from second to third place in local government in terms of the overall number of councillors, being overtaken by the Liberal Democrats.

See also

References

  1. For instance Blair's leadership a core issue BBC website accessed 7 April 2007
  2. Wintour, Patrick; Sarah Hall (2004-08-03). "Labour membership halved". The Guardian (London: Guardian News and Media Ltd). http://politics.guardian.co.uk/labour/story/0,9061,1274855,00.html. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. Wintour, Patrick; Stratton, Allegra (13 April 2010). "Nick Clegg goes to war with Labour over civil liberties". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/apr/13/nick-clegg-liberal-democrats-manifesto. 
  4. Rozenberg, Joshua; Jones, George (29 June 2006). "Human rights ruling leaves anti-terror law in tatters". The Daily Telegraph (London). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1522610/Human-rights-ruling-leaves-anti-terror-law-in-tatters.html. 
  5. "'Big Brother' ID cards cost taxpayers £230,000 each day". Daily Mail (London). http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1228143/ID-cards-cost-taxpayers-230-000-day.html. 
  6. "Q&A: Loss of freedoms?". BBC News. 12 June 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7451552.stm. 
  7. "BBC NEWS, Election 2006, UK - National". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/vote2006/locals/html/region_99999.stm. Retrieved 26 April 2010. 
  8. Benn to run for deputy position BBC News
  9. Blears to run for Labour deputy and admits party 'disengaged' The Guardian, Friday 23 February 2007
  10. Ex-No 10 aide Cruddas will stand BBC News
  11. Leftwinger launches deputy leadership campaign The Guardian
  12. Labour deputy race gathers pace BBC News
  13. Harman intends Labour deputy bid BBC News
  14. "UK's Johnson Abandons Labour Party Leadership Race (Update2)". Bloomberg. 9 November 2006. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601085&sid=aFavvAbQK8gc&refer=europe. Retrieved 2007-06-25. 
  15. Labour bracing for defeat Peter Goodspeed, 'Labour bracing for defeat'

External links


Labour Party</span>
Leadership

Internal elections
Leadership elections

Deputy Leadership elections

Shadow Cabinet elections

Other
Constitution and structure

Related organisations

History and related topics
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