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The Rise of New Labour (Pocket essentials: Politics) Paperback – 10 Jan 2002


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Paperback, 10 Jan 2002
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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Essentials (10 Jan 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903047838
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903047835
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 11 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 723,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Peter Ward on 29 Jun 2003
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Speaking as a lifelong Labour Party member to have just resigned over the illegal invasion of Iraq, this little book should be compulsory reading for that dwindling band of Labour activists.
The summary puts Ramsay's case very well, so I need not add much here. It may though be added that the problem is a broader one. If, for instance, Neil Kinnock got more votes than Tony Blair then what we have now surely must be a failure of British democracy. Our 'first past the post' system should really be thrown into the dustbin of history, and why we Brits are always so darned reluctant to learn from our European neighbours (including how to manage a National Health Service, get the trains running on time and so on) should be a reason for national shame.
Speaking also as a barrister, I would like to add one theory to the question of why Blair joined the Labour Party in the first place (page 68, note 6). One explanation suggested by older colleagues is, whilst studying for his Bar Finals, young Blair fancied the star student of his year - Cherie Booth. The only snag was her ardent 'old' socialist ideals; especially with her brains she was doubtless a future MP and more. A (sham) conversion to her cause was thus essential, otherwise he'd no chance of wooing his way into her affections. And then, once hitched and practising, they agreed that whoever perchance stood first for Parliament would maintain that role with the other pursuing a legal career/looking after the kids etc. History had it that Blair was selected for the Beaconsfield by-election in, I think, 1981. Doubtless he was the man for that particular job, but, alas alack, if only the lady was chosen first ....
Finally a couple of gripes that otherwise would have lead to maximum star rating.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Penguin Egg on 30 Dec 2002
One of the most remarkable events in post-war Britain is not the advent of Thatcherism, although that was remarkable enough; but the transformation of the Labour Party from a social democrat party with its roots in the urban working class and trade union movement to a conservative party in thrall to big business. ‘The Rise of New Labour’ tracks this transformation from Ted Heath’s government of the 70s through to the present day.
This booklet (pamphlet really) covers a lot of ground in its 94 pages, but Ramsay’s arguments are compelling and intriguing. According to Ramsay, Competition and Credit Control introduced under Heath abolished controls on borrowing. The interest rate alone would control credit in the economy. Heath hoped that this would create a credit boom that would finance industry. What happened instead were a consumer boom, a rise in property values, a flood of imports, and a trade deficit. Because Heath would not allow interest rates to rise high enough to suppress borrowing, he got roaring inflation. Trade Unions campaigned to increase the wages of their members in order to keep up with inflation. (As Ramsey points out, trade union militancy was not the cause of inflation, as was often stated, but the result of inflation. If unions were chasing after wage rises lower than inflation, they were effectively asking for a cut in wages. Therefore, to say that wage rises were responsible for inflation in the 70s is to mistake effect for cause. A myth that has become established as fact.) In 1973, Heath suspended Competition and Credit Control.
When Labour came back into power, inheriting Heath’s inflation, James Callaghan went to the IMF and borrowed money to defend the value of the pound, which by this time had taken a hammering. This they did.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jm Leven on 4 Feb 2009
This is a very interesting look at Britain's economic and political history since the fall of the Heath government. Whether or not it is the 'absolute truth', it is certainly a take on events which is a welcome break from received and by-and-large unchallenged wisdom.

Robin Ramsay is the editor and substantial writer of 'Lobster' magazine, the 'journal of parapolitics' - that may sound far-fetched, but the journal (plain paper, no ads, hard to find except as subscription) has gained a solid reputation over its run since the early 80s - much praised by John Pilger, called 'the UK's most informative and prestigious journal' by Greg Palast. 'Parapolitics' pretty much covers the things that are going on that are not supposed to be going on, the 'secret state', if you like - he has a particular interest in what can be known about the undemocratic activities of the secret security services - what is commonly 'disparaged' as 'conspiracy theories'. But Ramsay is 'serious' - he marshals evidence, and makes it plain when he is conjecturing more than can be proved. He is also an engaging, urbane and courteous writer.
His focus here, however, is on the overt face of politics, and on the received wisdom about some aspects of modern British history. The centre of his focus is the 'winter of discontent' in 1979, when Jim Callaghan's Labour government asked the International Monetary Fund for assistance, and 'had to' accept terms which put them on a collision course with Labour's support base; not only the event, but the propaganda use that has been made of a particular interpretation of it - Old Labour's 'financial incompetence'.
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Amazon.com: 1 review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The strange suicide of the British Labour Party 30 Dec 2002
By Penguin Egg - Published on Amazon.com
One of the most remarkable events in post-war Britain is not the advent of Thatcherism, although that was remarkable enough; but the transformation of the British Labour Party from a social democrat party with its roots in the urban working class and trade union movement to a conservative party in thrall to big business. 'The Rise of New Labour' tracks this transformation from Prime Minister Heath's government of the 70s through to the present day.
This booklet (pamphlet really) covers a lot of ground in its 94 pages, but Ramsay's arguments are compelling and intriguing. According to Ramsay, Competition and Credit Control introduced under Heath abolished controls on borrowing. The interest rate alone would control credit in the economy. Heath hoped that this would create a credit boom that would finance industry. What happened instead were a consumer boom, a rise in property values, a flood of imports, and a trade deficit. Because Heath would not allow interest rates to rise high enough to suppress borrowing, he got roaring inflation. Trade Unions campaigned to increase the wages of their members in order to keep up with inflation. (As Ramsey points out, trade union militancy was not the cause of inflation, as was often stated, but the result of inflation. If unions were chasing after wage rises lower than inflation, they were effectively asking for a cut in wages. Therefore, to say that wage rises were responsible for inflation in the 70s is to mistake effect for cause. A myth that has become established as fact.) In 1973, Heath suspended Competition and Credit Control.
When Labour came back into power, inheriting Heath's inflation, Prime Minister James Callaghan went to the IMF and borrowed money to defend the value of the pound, which by this time had taken a hammering. In this, the Callaghan government was successful. They were also attempting to bring down inflation without causing a recession. The electorate thanked the Callaghan government by turfing them out of office and putting Thatcher into No. 10.
The nightmare began. Thatcher came in to power with the intention of bringing down inflation through controlling the money supply. Raising interest rates would do this. This would create a recession, but the long-term benefits would out-weigh the short-term cost, and if the manufacturing industry would bear the brunt of the recession, so be it. She didn't care. Manufacturing was old hat. Manufacturing was also the base for the craft unions and where support for Labour lay. Who cared about them? Emphasis shifted away from manufacturing and towards finance, a shift that was to be financed by North Sea Oil. The City of London (the financial centre of Britain) captured the imagination of the Conservative Party, and in time, the Labour Party as well. As a result, Britain's manufacturing base was reduced to almost nothing. Northern England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland wallow in depression while the economy in the South East of England, where the financial industry resides, continually overheats.
This is the gist of Robin Ramsay's argument, I think. Like most people, I'm no economist and in order to follow Ramsey's argument, you need to keep your wits about you. There is more. He goes on at length to explain how after losing four elections in a row the Labour Party embraced Thatcherism in order to get elected; how the present incumbent of No. 10 recreated the Labour Party to resemble that of the American Democrat Party - always a paper tiger; and how the institutions of Britain (especially the Treasury) undermined Britain's true interest. There is also an interesting look at the relationship between certain sections of British society, including the Labour Movement, and the United States. There is a lot to mull over here, but for those confused as to the direction of the British Labour Party under Tony Blair, then Ramsey explains what happened, why it happened, and why it need never have happened. For those who refuse to accept the present consensus of neo-liberal doctrines, then this book should be a welcome addition to your armoury. Ramsey knows his stuff. He has done his homework. Read this booklet and you will see UK history in a different light.
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