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New Left Review 2, March-April 2000


New Labour’s rule in the UK is often held to offer a paradox: devolution of power to regions and cities, concentration of power in the central executive and support structures. Peter Mair suggests there is no contradiction—Blair’s project is a ‘consensual’ system above politics, gutted of traditional parties.

PETER MAIR

PARTYLESS DEMOCRACY

Solving the Paradox of New Labour?

A certain tension lies at the heart of New Labour’s style of government. On the one hand, the Blair government has been engaged, almost from its first day in office, in what amounts to a constitutional revolution, dispersing power across a variety of new institutions, and confounding the traditional reliance on single-party government by a new emphasis on cross-party alliances. On the other, the Labour leadership seems set on establishing a degree of control within its own party without precedent in modern British political history. At the institutional level, pluralism holds sway. Within the party itself, only one voice may be heard.

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