With the arrival of the Blair government in Britain and the subsequent hype surrounding the ‘Third Way’, there has been much media debate and academic argument about the nature of New Labour and the fate of the economy and the welfare state in its hands. While the media have simultaneously been charmed by the novel amalgam of policies embraced by the Blair government and irritated by the ‘spin’ with which their presentation has been managed, academics can be divided between those who have picked their way through the policy detail so as to specify what is really new and those who seek to assess New Labour in terms of the social democratic tradition. The latter, in turn, can be divided between those who find a complex combination of neo-liberal continuity and social democratic change, 1 those who criticise New Labour for accommodating the preferences of ‘capital’ and repudiating its social democratic inheritance, 2 and others still who see New Labour in power as a party facing a genuine set of dilemmas created by globalisation, a fractured domestic production system and fragmented national identities. 3 All would argue that New Labour could push much further than it has with policies that revive the social democratic agenda, both in terms of enhancing competitiveness and reconnecting politics with the interests and collective aspirations that were marginalised under Thatcher and Major.