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Welfare’s fallow Field

Frank Field is one of parliament's most popular and respected mavericks. For this reason the Tory minister, his plans for reforming the welfare state have not received critical scrutiny

By David Willetts   April 1996

Frank field is many Conservatives’ favourite Labour politician. He thinks freely about the future of welfare. For that reason he has never been embraced by the Labour front bench, but has been reduced instead to a lone voice in the wilderness of left wing social policy. This may be changing. He has more access to Tony Blair than to previous leaders. His latest book Making Welfare Work (Institute of Community Studies) advocated what he calls “stakeholder welfare” and influenced Blair’s flirtation with the language of stakeholding.

Because of Field’s reputation, the reaction to his ideas in Making Welfare Work has…

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