Gordon Brown and the continuation of the “Third Route”

By Alfredo Crespo Alcázar(for Safe Democracy)

Party member Gordon Brown has officially taken over for Tony Blair as the party leader and as Britain’s Prime Minister after taking the lead of the left party movement; since confirming the future of the third route.

Alfredo Crespo is finishing his doctorate in the Department of International and Public Law and International Relations at the Complutense University of Madrid where he teaches a course on International Information and Southern Countries. He is a specialist in the study of relations between the United Kingdom and the European Union, peripheral British nationalism (Scotland and Wales), and Australian foreign politics (with special attention to anti-terrorism policies).

THE LABOUR PARTY CELEBRATED their extraordinary conference in Manchester a few days after Gordon Brown took the place of Tony Blair.

A lot is being written about the future prime minister — his economic strictness, his lack of charisma in comparison to Blair, his scepticism of Europe–, but the most essential thing there to be presented, is that his politics will be a continuation of the Third Route, just as both protagonists conceived the Third Route in their years of opposition to the government of John Major.

The labour movement has been conscious not only of the electoral interests that have given the Third Route, but that whatever direction their politics’ with the prevalence of a predominant postulate of the left wing–, there will be a double and ill-fated consequence: a descent of their social base and permanent and active opposition.

This thesis has demonstrated the inability of the left party to present an alternative to Gordon Brown, since neither Meacher, first, nor McDonnell, after, were able to gather the minimum support (45 signatures) in order for the Labour Party to celebrate primary elections, making this an argument for the democratization of the party.

In fact, if the Labour Movement is aware of one thing, it’s that with the arrival of Smith as their leader (1992-1994) and later Blair, made an enormous effort to finish with the demagogy and the practice of the leaders using the media to inform the public before (Michael Foot, 1979-1983 and Neil Kinnock, 1983-1992); the result was an invalid electoral success that relegated the Labour Movement to the party category with a profile of one-sided voters and was unable to increase their social bases.

With Smith and also with Blair, this situation changed radically to encompass some economic, social and political ideas that began to be admired not only by the ideological parties, but also by the right- wing parties that looked to adapt their language and speech to the demands of the 21st century.

That said, from 1997, the New Labour changed the way in which the left and the right began to look at each other with an aim to improve and, above all, to modernize themselves; let’s not forget the epithet that characterizes the Third Route: modernization.

Blair has been conscious of that, and in the last months of his term in office he has left a challenge/task for his party, in line with their speeches: the radicalization of the reforms, an important obligation as we have said, the Conservative Party has taken on neo-labour party members arguments. For example, the topic of the environment or climate change, in order to stand before the electorate like a potentially winning formation and to put an end to the desert-crossing that it has done since 1997.

In short, the future leadership of Brown is not going to mean a direction in the way of doing politics, but continuing the third route, which we should judge as a whole, without running the risk of merely analyzing and exclusively individual aspects.

Nevertheless, we should lend attention to how some negotiate the topics that have collected over the last years of Blair’s term in office, and how they relate with their foreign policy: the relation with the Bush administration until the process of Europe’s integration, the question of climate change or the eradication of poverty in Africa; all fundamental matters in order to determine if the United Kingdom will go on to be a key player in the international scene.