Forum looks at Labour ideology

June 8, 2001

The Labour Party's ideology is much more complex than many academics suggest, according to an Edinburgh University expert.

Lindsay Paterson, professor of educational policy, said analysts focused on the new Labour ideology. This included an emphasis on rights and responsibilities in return for welfare, and a "standards, not structure" approach to education and health.

But Professor Paterson, speaking at an "Election Special" conference organised by Edinburgh's Governance of Scotland Forum, said there were two other strands in Labour's ideology.

The first was what was sometimes called "developmentalism", where the government took a lead in trying to reform society, but not in a way that divested the state of responsibility. This was very different from the interventionism of the Thatcher years, he said.

Professor Paterson said the other strand was that of social democracy on European lines. This promoted equality of opportunity and was particularly evident in the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales.

"This is emerging as an important strand in Labour Party thinking, particularly in the Scottish Labour Party. There is absolutely no reason why we should take English policy as the more typical policy of the Labour Party," Professor Paterson said.

He said the Westminster election was in many ways a "midterm election" for the Scottish Parliament.

While Labour's main political rival in England was the Tory party, it was the Scottish National Party north of the border and there was also a threat from the Scottish Socialist Party.

  Election 2001 index page

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