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Contents

  1. Anthony Crosland - Oxford Reference
  2. Tony's legacy to Tony
  3. Bibliographic Information

A former parliamentary aide to Crosland in the s, Dick Leonard, has written that, within his revisionist belief system, Crosland attached central importance to the principle of equality, but he also recognised the complexity of translating it into practical policies. On the central questions of taxation and public expenditure, Crosland was never in favour of penal levels of taxation for higher incomes, at which their disincentive effects would be in danger of outweighing the revenue- raising and redistributive benefits: there is little doubt that he would have regarded a higher rate of 50 per cent as both reasonable and desirable, though as a practical politician he would have appreciated the enormous pressure on Leonard suggests that Crosland: would Exactly how the money is raised Lipsey believes that it is problematic to speculate about what Crosland might have thought of the ambitions and strategy of the present Labour government.

It is To claim that the current Labour party leadership has abandoned the principles of revisionism is to miss the point. Secondly, Crosland drew a clear distinction between the means and ends of democratic socialist policy: there was nothing intrinsically superior about one policy over another public ownership over private ownership as long as it was able to deliver or advance democratic socialist objec- tives. These were the wider shared objectives of economic growth and national prosperity and particular ideological objectives of greater equality.

Brown explains that the context of political economy has changed irrevocably, and that the globalisation of capital and the competition of goods have induced a shift in national economic policy away from traditional demand management to the supply-side measures necessary to promote competitiveness through investment, knowledge and skills. Within the changing socioeconomic context, the most impor- tant development has been an end to the assumption of the sort of full employment familiar to Crosland, combined with a shift away from the previously dominant single employment model to a more diverse and flexible Labour market.

The core value and cause of equality endures, but he would have appreciated the need to develop appropriate strategies of greater equality in the particular economic and social context Brown , 35—39; see also Crosland and Both Crosland and New Labour further reject a narrow conception of equality of oppor- tunity: the old idea of equality of opportunity as a single narrow chance, of a one-off opportunity for the fortunate few.

It appears to be the message of successive generations of ethical and revisionist social democrats from Tawney to Crosland to New Labour that a narrow view of equality of opportunity fails to offer life chances beyond the narrow confines of class, privilege or limited identification of excep- tional and narrowly defined ability. Whether constituted on the basis of birth or academic ability, the inequality that needs to be addressed is that of the denial of opportunity to the many to realise their potential by the entrenchment of the privilege of the few.

It represented a more demanding view of equality of opportunity, but something other than equality of outcome. It was premised on a wider, inclusive form of equality and the prevention of entrenched privilege from whatever source it came.

In current circumstances, it must include employment opportunity for all as the basis of both individual fulfilment and national economic prosperity. Brown believes that pro- ponents of democratic equality today must begin by tackling unemployment as the main source of poverty and inequality. It represents a wide-ranging, inclusive and contemporary conception and radical agenda of equal opportunity: it tackles inequality at its root, addressing the causes of poverty and inequality—unemployment and low skills—as well as the consequences Brown , 46—47; see also Diamond , Crosland wrote briefly about the opportunity of all to enjoy wider cultural pursuits as part of his broader prospectus of equality see Crosland , — This reconceptualisation of the relationship between the indi- vidual and the state in the cause of democratic equality requires political reform and a more general distribution of property across the population.

The former offers people the opportunity to participate in the decisions that affect them and gives them access to power in a democratic society. The latter helps to break down unjustified inequalities of social status and wealth, as the basis of enormous eco- nomic and social advantage, and allows people greater control of their lives. He again refers to the wider economic disadvantages of a situation in which a significant proportion of the population cannot pursue education and employment opportunities to fulfil their potential.

The Labour government has established the first national programme of opportunities for work for lone parents, making employment opportunities available not just to the registered unemployed but also to the partners of the unemployed, mainly women, and has invested substantial extra resources in after-school childcare and started to address the affordability of childcare more generally.

On this reading, Labour leadership has, in practice, always been a revisionist, pragmatic and adaptive political project: the related ends of greater equality, the alleviation of poverty and high quality public services remain the objectives, but the appropriate means of achieving them change according to social and economic developments and conditions as they always have.

Brown states that the pursuit of greater equality remains the central objective of the present Labour government. He claims that the gov- ernment remains committed to the Croslandite notion of democratic equality, but both its contemporary expression and the means of achieving it have to be revised and adapted to meet changed circumstances Brown , 37—38, 47—48; Diamond , — The core value and end of greater equality remains; but what constitutes that end as well as the means to that end has necessarily been revised in the application of equality to present circumstances.

In this context, the degree of redistribution favoured by Crosland and Hattersley has necessarily been restricted and there appears to be an ideological shift away from the one size fits all comprehensive principle in education. However, the Labour government has utilised its economic prudence for an egalitarian purpose in a modern and inclusive conception and radical programme of equal opportunity, which attempts to address the root causes of inequality in unemployment and low skills.

A revisionist perspec- tive suggests that the means to a particular end are revised according to changing circumstances. It also remains uncertain that Crosland favoured a more contextually demanding conception of equality than New Labour and, after all, strict redistribution of income and comprehensive education are merely the accepted means to an end of their time see Plant , 20—28, 30, 32—33; The Guardian, 5 April In this wider process, Crosland continues to offer both an intellectual and practical reference point.

Testing Milton Friedman: Equality of Opportunity - Full Video

His clear, comprehensive statement of revisionist social democracy provides both the end of the root or base value to effect in its appropriate contextual form and the strategy of the flexible means to achieve the end in particular circumstances. Lipsey suggests that this is an inevitable consequence of the process of revisionism: it is a terrible mistake to adhere to a set of policies and views that applied Revisionists revise and they go on revising The old values, basically The Swedish Social-Democratic Party has been phenomenally successful electorally Retrospectively, however, his ideas have received much more attention as left-wing benchmarks Francis , 61—62; Goodman , 29— During the IMF crisis, Crosland fought a rearguard action to protect the levels of public expenditure necessary to give his philosophical doctrine some practical significance but, given the various pres- sures, he eventually withdrew to support the leadership position Marquand , —; Rodgers ; see also Hattersley , — Show all.

Crosland and Marx Pages Reisman, David. Equality of Opportunity Pages Reisman, David. Equality of Outcome Pages Reisman, David. Growth into Socialism Pages Reisman, David.

Anthony Crosland - Oxford Reference

Conclusion Pages Reisman, David. Show next xx. Services for this book Download High-Resolution Cover. Healey later acknowledged that much of Crosland's case was correct but added that the government had no option but to toe the IMF's line if it was to regain credibility in the financial markets.

Tony's legacy to Tony

In Crosland had proclaimed that "political authority has emerged as the final arbiter of economic life: the brief, and historically exceptional, era of unfettered market relations is over. He had been right to argue that the cornerstone of the postwar settlement was a redistribution of power in favour of Labour and the democratic state, but wrong to assume it would be permanent. Indeed in his last years the bright hopefulness of his earlier work evaporated as he felt mounting dismay at the revival of right-wing ideas and "the breeding of an illiterate and reactionary attitude to public expenditure".

The Mixed Economy. Few who have doubts about the relevance of studying Crosland would retain them after reading Reisman's detailed and insightful analysis. Whether two volumes are required is not so clear. There are strange omissions: Reisman appears not to have conducted any interviews nor made use of diaries Crossman, Benn and Castle and private papers.

The discipline of compressing all into a single volume would have given the style an incisiveness in presentation and judgement it sometimes lacks. And it is odd that in so extensive a study that there is no systematic analysis of Crosland's influence on the Labour party. Notwithstanding, given their breadth of coverage and sureness of understanding, both books are of considerable value to the students of both the Labour party and political ideas.

Crosland inevitably also figures in Political Economy and the Labour Party which, though brought up to , is primarily a study of "Old Labour". In fact it demonstrates that this concept, while useful for public relations purposes is empirically and heuristically without value.


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The study charts in a thoughtful, perceptive and dispassionate manner the main currents of economic thought within the Labour party since its inception. But if "Old Labour" is a figment of the spin doctor's skill, the same is not true of "New Labour". Thompson rightly refers to the "magnitude of the shift in policy emphasis that has occurred in recent years".

The change is not incremental, for a "new economic discourse dominates There are indeed continuities, for example the respect which successive Labour chancellors perhaps with exceptions for the postwar government displayed for the Treasury and economic orthodoxy and the preferment they generally gave to the priorities of the City the maintenance of sterling as an international currency in the s, for example.

Yet reading these three volumes, one senses that, beyond all the distinctions in policy, priorities and objectives there is another, less tangible element that distinguishes new from old. This can be summed up in a rare passage cited in The Mixed Economy, where Crosland describes why he became a socialist: "I came to hate and loathe social injustice, because I disliked the class structure of our society, because I could not tolerate the indefensible differences of status and income that disfigure our society.

Bibliographic Information

Eric Shaw is senior lecturer in politics, University of Stirling. Get a month's unlimited access to THE content online. Just register and complete your career summary.

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