Adieu social democracy

The centre-left has had its day, but that does not mean the rightists are triumphant, argues Denis MacShane.

The World Today Updated 28 September 2020 Published 12 February 2020 2 minute READ

Denis MacShane

Former Minister of State for Europe, United Kingdom

The humiliating defeat for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party in December 2019 was the latest in a sequence of power losses for the once mighty European family of social democratic, socialist and Labour parties.

Labour Party MPs, activists and those who write on Labour seek to blame Labour’s loss on Corbyn’s personality, on his mishandling of anti-Semitism in his party or failing to take a clear stand on Brexit. His supporters blame media attacks on him or the yearning of Blair generation MPs for the glory years of New Labour after 1997.

Both are missing the point. There is something bigger happening to European and indeed global social democracy which looks like an irreversible historical trend. One hundred years ago social democrats were entering government in Germany, in France and in Nordic countries, and Ramsay MacDonald was edging towards the first Labour administration of 1924.

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