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What’s Left? The state of global social democracy and lessons for UK Labour

Pabst, Adrian and Lawson, Neal (2018) What’s Left? The state of global social democracy and lessons for UK Labour. Other. Compass, Kent, UK


Across much of the world the centre-left is in crisis. In Britain, where the Labour Party has fared better than most, the left still grapples with how to respond to future challenges and is struggling to understand its place in a world where class politics has been turned on its head. In the 2017 and 2018 elections affluent voters turned left, while those hardest hit by years of austerity were increasingly willing to turn right. This fascinating new pamphlet shows how, across the world, decades of neoliberalism have left their mark. It tells a story of a movement that more often than not has lost its way, searching for answers to the new challenges of automation, climate change and identity politics, but lacking a wider sense of purpose. The near total control of corporations, extending beyond business to the economy, politics and society, has left social democrats who traditionally looked to the state for answers searching for new ways to restore power to people who increasingly feel its absence. It’s no surprise then that in the last decade many social democratic parties have found their support squeezed by a new and emerging radical left on the one hand, and liberals and conservatives on the other. While in some countries short-term tactical decisions have helped to stem the tide, none have escaped the waves. This is the age of anger, where the far right is on the ascendency and growing division in society has had major political consequences. In particular the cleavage, laid bare by Brexit, between the urban, young liberals and the older, working-classes in towns and villages, has created severe challenges for the centre-left across the world. Traditionally social democrats have won by uniting those groups. But in trying to pick a side, many have lost large sections of their traditional support base and some have been virtually wiped out altogether. Despite the severity of the age, this pamphlet also contains clues to the future. While most social democratic parties are still looking backwards for answers, clinging to old solutions and arguing over competing versions of the past, political pioneers in Denmark and Australia have rejected this approach and been rewarded for their courage. The picture painted by the authors is of a movement that is at its best when it is open to new ideas and willing to not merely acknowledge, but to embrace and confront the difficult questions.

Item Type: Monograph (Other)
Uncontrolled keywords: social democracy; crisis; renewal; austerity; neo-liberalism;
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Adrian Pabst
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2018 12:36 UTC
Last Modified: 30 May 2019 08:37 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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