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Looking for criticism on my essay as I am a private candidate

I would greatly appreciate any advice/criticism of my essay as I am a private candidate who has nobody to compare and mark with. (I do Edexcel A level Politics)


Evaluate the view that the current Labour Party has moved away from Old Labour (30 marks)

The Labour Party was founded in 1900 and was based on socialist principles, dedicated to supporting and uplifting the working class. Old Labour refers to the Labour Party between its first major government in 1945 and up until Tony Blair's era began leading up to the 1997 election. They were a Social Democrat party at their core, a socialist, political philosophy, with key ideas and values such as nationalisation, progressive taxation, redistribution of wealth, regulation and management of capitalism, the welfare state, and workers' rights. Current Labour leader, Keir Starmer, has consistently claimed that he has changed the Labour Party, drawing attention to how much truth there is in that statement. It can be argued that the current Labour Party has not moved away from Old Labour because of the further left-wing factions within the current Labour Party that share ideas with Old Labour. Despite this, the more compelling argument is that the current Labour party has a significantly different stance on welfare, they have changed their approach to the economy, and their law and order policies are much more reminiscent of New Labour. Thus, this essay will argue that the current Labour Party has moved away from Old Labour.

Firstly, the most convincing reason why the current Labour Party has moved away from Old Labour is because of its welfare policy. The modern Labour Party makes it clear that they want to restructure the NHS and fix its current problems through the help of private companies, whereas Old Labour firmly wanted to keep privatisation away from the NHS. For example in the 2024 run-up to the General Election, Shadow Health Secretary, Wes Streeting, has talked about his plans to introduce private healthcare firms into the NHS to cut the huge backlog, reduce A&E waiting times, and improve the quality of care provided. In an interview with the Financial Times in March 2024, he said that "competition in public services necessarily drives up standards", clearly indicating a more free-market-like attitude towards public services, drastically different to the immovable, socialist principles of Old Labour. However, it could be argued that the Shadow Health Minister does not differ much at all in the long run from Old Labour healthcare principles, as he has discussed that this utilisation of the private sector is to only enhance the NHS as a publicly owned service. In the same interview with the Financial Times, he also said that the "private sector fell off a cliff under the last Labour government because the NHS was so good that people didn't feel the need to go private". This highlights that his goal is not to privatise the NHS but to rather expand and enhance it as a public service, through the help of private healthcare companies, similar to Old Labour who were firmly against the privatisation of the NHS. Despite this, this is a weak argument because Streeting's stance is very clearly a reflection of New Labour, which he explicitly references. He is attempting to clearly convey that Labour has changed from its old, stubborn ways regarding the NHS, describing his own ideas as "unfashionably ambiguous" and therefore different from Old Labour, rejecting their modern-day supporter's criticisms of his policies, disregarding ideological purity.

Additionally, another strong argument is that the current Labour Party has moved away from Old Labour through its economic policy. Labour's recent centrist shift has changed its economic policy drastically in comparison to Old Labour's socialist stance, as they are currently promising to not increase taxation. For example, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rachel Reeves, has been actively attending major corporation conferences in the 2024 election build-up, reassuring them that Labour wants them to flourish. She has promised to cap corporation tax at the current Conservative government's rate of 25%, and said that she "didn't come into politics to raise taxes on working people". This highlights her rejection of the Old Labour idea that further progressive taxation, paired with high corporation tax was necessary to serve the working class, now referred to as 'working people'. The party's economic policies have been relatively vague aside from taxation, and have only seemed to mirror the Conservative government's policies and approach, indicating that Labour have truly shifted further to the right, and closer to the centre of the political spectrum regarding their economic stance. Alternatively, some may argue that the Chancellor's attitude towards the economy is not at all a widely held opinion within the party. Factions within the party that are further to the left, do not approve of Reeves's more modern liberal, Keynesian approach. For example, previous Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters are much further left wing, and shared Old Labour ideas that the party needs to be more economically socialist, prioritising the redistribution of wealth through high corporation tax, and further progressive taxation on upper brackets. This suggests that there is still plenty of support within the party for Old Labour's economic policy and that this will put pressure on the Shadow Cabinet to propose more left-wing policies. However, this is a weaker argument because Keir Starmer removed Corbyn from the party once he was made leader, and throughout his leadership he has removed many of Corbyn's supporters from the party, gutting Labour of its Old Labour 'infection'.

A final, strong argument is that the current Labour Party has moved away from Old Labour because they have adopted a 'hard on crime' perspective on law and order. Keir Starmer previously worked for the Crown Prosecution Service, and with his Shadow Cabinet, he is making it clear that a firm law and order direction is vital for this coming election. For example, Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, has said that "Tony Blair said our party would be 'tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime'" and "it's what we'll do again". Cooper's mentioning of the New Labour leader clearly highlights the party's efforts to distance themselves from Old Labour and appear to be a modernised party, avoiding playing into traditional stereotypes and ideas that Labour is 'soft on crime'. This hardline attitude is creating an undeniable separation from Labour's old ways, potentially in the hopes of winning back the once red, 'red wall' seats, as they are going to be crucial in the coming election. On the other hand, some could argue that modern Labour leaders lean more towards a rehabilitative focus on law and order. For example, ex-Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said in 2019 that there needed to be a focus on rehabilitating people convicted of terrorism and that they should not necessarily serve a full sentence. The prioritising of reforming the justice system to have rehabilitation be the primary focus, is not just an idea held by Corbyn, but by many Labour ministers, and supporters. Ignoring this highly popular idea could damage Starmer's success in the election, and removing every party member who speaks out in favour of this will only hurt his chances even further. This idea is reminiscent of Old Labour who also made it clear that rehabilitation is key to having an effective, democratic justice system, it is likely that Starmer will not be able to ignore this forever, and may eventually cave to the pressure he is under to reflect the party's true attitude regarding law and order. Although some may argue that this is a popular belief within the party, introducing rehabilitation policies as well as being tough on the causes of crime, would be much more similar to New Labour's approach, "tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime", as opposed to Old Labour who did not regard law and order as a top priority, or core value. Therefore the Labour Party has moved away from Old Labour.

To conclude, the repeated mention of New Labour's Tony Blair, and Starmer's claims that he has changed the Labour Party has brought speculation as to whether the current Labour party has truly moved on from its old ideas. The most convincing argument is that the promised introduction of private healthcare companies into the NHS would be unthinkable for Old Labour, leading to the conclusion that it is clear that the current Labour Party has moved away from Old Labour. The extent to which the party has changed will be reflected in the General Election by how convinced the electorate is of their alleged transformation.
Excellent work
Reply 2
Original post by simgill_3
Excellent work

thankyou so much

any criticism whatsoever would be appreciated

what band level would this reach / how many marks out of 30? (estimate)

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