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Wanted: an old, new left

The centre-left must reinvent itself again by raising the stalled living standards of ordinary workers—and look beyond economics to shape a new social patriotism

By Gavin Kelly   September 2010

Whoever wins the Labour leadership will need to decide what a 21st-century social democracy looks like. The contest has, so far, shed little light on it. Shaped by the need to appeal to the party’s electoral college, it has been dominated by tactical admissions about policy mistakes and, perhaps inevitably given the scale of the spending cuts, a retreat to the comfortable terrain of opposition politics.

How should the argument be advanced? Historically, social democracy has succeeded when it has achieved two things: first, when it has raised the living standards of the broad mass of the population; and second,…

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