Guy Lodge and Jessica Asato looked ahead ten years, ten years ago.
Imagine it’s 2013 and the pendulum of the electoral cycle has finally swept the Labour Party out of office. What might be the legacies of three terms of a New Labour government and what would be the direction of the Labour Party in opposition?
Contrary to expectations, Labour’s record on public services will be quite good. In health, waiting lists will be practically non-existent, patients will be able to choose when to see their GP and where to go to hospital, and towards the end of the third term the recruitment drives of the early 2000s will pay off as shortages of key medical staff begin to ease.
It will be widely thought that the Labour Government missed a key opportunity to totally reshape the life opportunities of children by failing to introduce universal childcare and early years education, despite the obvious success of SureStart.
The main achievement in foreign policy for Labour will be membership of the Euro; narrowly won after holding a referendum on the back of a third term win. The EU will also agree to reform the Common Agricultural Policy after successful campaigning by an ever-growing trade justice movement supported by the UK government. Disparities between economic growth in developing and rich countries will continue to widen, however, and peacekeeping and conflict resolution will become more important as global insecurity escalates. Global warming and sustainability will also begin to make more of an impact on the public’s consciousness forcing Labour to rediscover its environmental soul.
The Labour Party will still be going strong in 2013, though radically altered in outlook and shape. With EU enlargement transnational political parties might be established, sharing ideals in common at the European level, but acting independently at home. If Labour were to eventually split with the unions over public service modernisation, state funding of political parties would become necessary and the character of the party would change.
That last line might yet prove to be a quite good prediction.
In 2003 Guy Lodge was Chair of the Young Fabians and Jessica Asato was a researcher at the Social Market Foundation. Nowadays Guy Lodge is Associate Director for Politics and Power at the IPPR thinktank and Jessica Asato is prospective Parliamentary candidate for Norwich North and political adviser to Tessa Jowell MP.