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The Party is Over: The 'Modernization' of the British Labour Party


When Tony Blair assumed office as Labour leader in 1994, the party had lost four consecutive general elections. The last defeat was on a knife-edge and came as a surprise against an unpopular Conservative party facing a number of deep divisions over economic and European policies. When he stood down from the premiership in June 2007, Blair left the party transformed. Such changes were announced in his first conference speech in 1994: “parties that do not change die, and this party is a living movement not an historical monument … It requires a modern constitution that says what we are in terms the public cannot misunderstand and the Tories cannot misrepresent” (Blair, 1994). In the following years, his team set out to “modernise” the organization and adapt it to the new times of economic globalization and permanent campaign. Once seen as almost unelectable (Heath et al., 2001; Jowell et al., 1994), Labour has, under the leadership of Blair, won three consecutive general elections. Such a turn around in the fortunes of the party cannot be only explained by external pressure (the succession of defeats), or the personality and the talent of Tony Blair.
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hal-03415734 , version 1 (05-11-2021)



Florence Faucher. The Party is Over: The 'Modernization' of the British Labour Party. Terrence Casey. The Blair Legacy, Palgrave Macmillan; Palgrave Macmillan, pp.39 - 51, 2009, 9780230216624. ⟨hal-03415734⟩
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