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Advocate of ‘the Third Way’ Counters Criticism

Posted August. 15, 2002 22:24,   


”The Third Way still stands strong. If a nation wants to build a robust and dynamic economy, it must realize social justice first. David Milband, British home affairs minister who drafted the political doctrine of the moderate left, reiterated his faith in the political middle path that helped Tony Blair’s labor party snatch a landslide victory in the 1997 general election.

As public approval of the British Prime Minister continues to decline amid a string of mishaps, ‘the Third Way,’ once considered a trademark for Blair, is now under attack at home and abroad.

In response to growing criticism, however, the home affairs minister said that Blairism which has its root on the Third Way comes down to three values - an open society that places more focus on the ability than background of a person; a civic society where individual responsibilities go along with rights; and a leading European country that takes initiative in foreign relations.

He also countered the argument that the Third Way is nothing but Thatcherism under a guise of the leftist politics, by emphasizing, “While the conservative party in the 1980s placed priorities on economic efficiency, ‘the new labor party’ puts social justice ahead of anything else.”

His remarks will likely fail to revitalize the middle path political theory, however. The economic growth has ground to a halt under the Blair government, which has also been under fire for its too much cozying up with the Bush administration since the Sept. 11 incidents.

As things just get worse, his German and French counterparts Schroeder and Jospin also took a critical approach, saying they were also puzzled by the ‘Third Way’ doctrine. Even his peer in the labor party, Vice Prime Minister John Prescott, said half-jokingly that he found a book about ‘the Third Way’ in a mystery corner.

Hele Dale, deputy director at Heritage Foundation International Affairs Institute, recently wrote a column in the Washington Post, “The Blair government has been able to stay in power only because it steered the direction of the labor party platform towards the middle right.” He predicted, “Blair’s Third Way will likely wane as the European continent is tilting towards the right.”

Jung-Ahn Kim credo@donga.com