New Labour was a transformative government with a legacy that remains instructive for politicians and policymakers on both sides of the political spectrum. This module sees students learn and debate the breadth of New Labour years – the personal history of the key protagonists, the role of media spin, the power of the Treasury under Brown, the development of transformative public service reform, the role of special advisers, foreign policy and the Iraq War.
The course is co-taught by Dr Michelle Clement; Professor Jon Davis and John Rentoul, Chief Political Commentator for The Independent, biographer of Blair and King’s Visiting Professor. The course was founded in 2008 and has been a pioneering learning environment for the study of the New Labour years. The first book of the course, Heroes or Villains?: The Blair Government Reconsidered, was written by Rentoul and Davis.
The seminars see a wide range of prominent participants from government and the Civil Service invited to speak and to field questions. In the past guests have included Ed Balls, Lord Blunkett, Alastair Campbell, Anji Hunter, Baroness Jay, Lord Mandelson, Alan Milburn, Baroness Morgan, Lord O’Donnell, Sir Kevin Tebbit, and Tony Blair himself.
- Identify the key actors in the British policy process and the formal role of the prime minister, Cabinet ministers, special advisers and senior civil servants during the New Labour years;
- Evaluate the role of the Prime Minister Tony Blair in a select number of high profile cases of policy-making;
- Analyse the factors contributing to successful and unsuccessful policy management by the Blair and Brown governments;
- Engage with debates surrounding the conduct and record of the Blair and Brown premierships;
- Scrutinise primary and secondary sources as a means of analysing the New Labour governments
- Interact directly with those involved with policymakers, interrogating their primary sources first hand, building valuable analytical and communication skills
- Complete a detailed investigation of at least one particular theme associated with this topic, using secondary and primary sources, to produce a finished piece of analysis
Dr Michelle Clement
Professor Jon Davis
*Plus, special guest practitioners