Sacred Cows and Common Sense: The Symbolic Statecraft and Political Culture of the British Labour Party

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Using Labour's postwar welfare policy, it shows that we need to break down distinctions between the "symbolic" and the "substantial" in politics, that "cultural theory" has potential as a way of understanding party political culture, and that welfare policy has played a crucial but self-defeating role in Labour's efforts to manage itself, win hearts and minds and govern competently. It concludes by arguing that New Labour's attempts to rethink welfare is largely rhetorical if one recalls what Labour did in office rather than promised in opposition. Rather than a serious attempt to confront social realities, the rethink represents a continuation of past practice and a way of signalling the government's "soundnesss" to the market.

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