Recent clashes over European tax harmonisation have underlined the significant differences between Tony Blair's New Labour and Gerhard Schröder's New Centre in Germany. The gulf in political culture is also evident in recent books by advisers to the respective leaders - Philip Gould and Bodo Hombachby Anne McElvoy / January 20, 1999 / Leave a comment
Published in January 1999 issue of Prospect Magazine
New Britain: new Germany. The two countries which often seem to represent opposite poles in European political and economic life are showing a remarkable level of interest in each other’s fin-de-si?le realignments. This goes beyond the polite curiosity we might expect to show one another on the eve of the euro’s arrival and the next step of European integration. It entails a kind of intimate narrative intrigue-a fascination in Germany with what will happen next to Tony, and characteristic British headshaking about whether Gerhard and Oskar can really get along together.
The German hunger for news of the latest Blairite bright idea is still a shock for those of us who remember insistent hopes that the Labour party of the late 1980s and early 1990s would remodel itself on the social democratic parties of continental Europe in general, and the German Social Democrats (SPD) in particular. When Neil Kinnock lost in 1992, I was working for The Times in Germany. London called to request an article on how Labour had to change to become more like the SPD. The day after the 1997 election, a German paper called to ask for an article on how the SPD could become more like New Labour.