Tony Crosland, The Future of Socialism and New Labour

Kevin Jefferys examines a publication of seminal influence on the postwar Labour party.

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Anthony Crosland’s The Future of Socialism (1956). The power of Crosland’s book – a mixture of economics, political theory and policy proposals – was such that it continues to resonate. In February 1997, almost 20 years to the day after his death, leading figures on the left – including former Prime Minister Jim Callaghan and shadow Chancellor Gordon Brown – gathered in London to celebrate Crosland’s life and work, and to consider the relevance of his ideas to New Labour’s ‘project’. Gordon Brown addressed the assembled company and outlined a programme of reforms, soon to be embarked upon as Blair swept to power at the 1997 election, which he hoped did ‘justice to Tony Crosland’s intellectual and political memory’. So what is the enduring appeal of Crosland, and how does his legacy relate to the problems faced by New Labour? 

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