After the Third Way: the return of the state

The intellectual influences of the modern left

Keynesian economics, de-growth, critiques of meritocracy, green industrial planning - the ideas informing left politics today are quite an amalgam. But one central thread seems to be connecting them all: state power has the solutions. As Labour’ conference comes to a close, former Tony Blair speechwriter Philip Collins reflects on the intellectual shifts on the left.

Has the left run out of ideas? Since the marriage of free market economics with social liberalism collapsed, first under the weight of governing and then in the 2008 crash, parties of the left have struggled. The share of the vote taken by social democratic parties fell from 30% in 2008 to just above 20% in 2023. There are some notable exceptions. Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in the United States’ 2020 presidential election. A year later, Olaf Scholz became Chancellor of Germany. In 2021, Anthony Albanese’s Labor Party triumphed in Australia. Next year, Keir Starmer

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