REVISITING THE BLAIR PARADOX
Peter mair has put all New Labour watchers in his debt. His contribution to the continuing debate on the ‘Blair paradox’ is illuminating and thought-provoking, and I have learned a lot from it.  Peter Mair, ‘Partyless Democracy’, NLR 2, March–April 2000. In essence, he argues that the so-called paradox is not a paradox at all. In seeking to concentrate power within the Labour party while at the same time devolving power within the state, Blair and his associates are being perfectly consistent. Their aim is to eviscerate—or at least to by-pass—party altogether. The Prussian discipline they have imposed on their own followers represents one path to the ultimate goal of a ‘partyless democracy’; their experiments in constitutional pluralism represent a parallel and complementary path. When I accused them of failing to understand what they were doing, I was not just mistaken; I had grasped precisely the wrong end of the stick. They know perfectly well what they are doing. They are trying to dismantle the structure of majoritarian democracy which has been fundamental to British politics for more than a century, in order to de-politicize the whole process of government.
Subscribe for just £40 and get free access to the archive
Please login on the left to read more or buy the article for £3
- Peter Mair: Partyless Democracy 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.