The Labour Party and the Egalitarian Project

Inequalities in the UK

ISBN: 978-1-78714-480-4, eISBN: 978-1-78714-479-8

Publication date: 8 November 2017


Labour emerged as a political party with an egalitarian mission, pledged to tackle the stark inequalities that disfigured British society. But since the advent of New Labour this mission has been radically redefined, signalled by a shift from egalitarianism to meritocracy. This chapter is divided into three sections, each exploring themes on the party’s orientation to inequality, dealing, respectively, with the New Labour government (1997–2010), the period of the Miliband leadership (2010–2015) and, finally Labour under the Corbyn leadership (2015 to the present). It investigates, during the first two phases, the conceptual and ideological shifts in attitudes to equality, what has prompted them and how they have been articulated in policy forms. In the third period – Labour under Corbyn – where progress on policy development has been slow, it changes focus to concentrate on one of the most formidable barriers to the egalitarian project, mounting popular resistance, and the party’s response to this.



Shaw, E. (2017), "The Labour Party and the Egalitarian Project", Fée, D. and Kober-Smith, A. (Ed.) Inequalities in the UK, Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 149-165.

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