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We live in an age of isms and Blairism is a newish British example. It refers to the policies and intellectual approach of Tony Blair, leader of the Labour Party, who sometime before 22 May 1997 is expected by most people to become prime minister. British leaders now all seem fated to be so tagged: Thatcherism has long been a common term, though Majorism (relating to the policies of the present prime minister) is rather less so, perhaps because the concept it describes is harder to categorise. The policies of Mr Blair and the party he leads are clear in outline — Christian Socialism, moral purpose, communitarianism, a stakeholder approach to business and society in which everyone concerned has a say — but he has been close-mouthed about many detailed policies up to now. These policies are substantially different to the traditional standpoint of the party, which is now commonly called New Labour after its 1995 conference slogan to indicate the substantial changes which he and his immediate predecessors have brought about. The adjective is sometimes Blairist but more commonly Blairite, which can also be a noun identifying one of his supporters.

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Page created 12 Dec 1996