New Labour and the European Union

Blair and Brown’s logic of history

Author: Oliver Daddow

New Labour came to power in 1997 promising to modernize Britain and make it fit for the twenty-first century. This book studies Tony Blair and Gordon Brown's combined attempt to sell the idea of a European future to the British people. It is about the art of rhetoric, persuasion and the techniques of modern political communication, and the 'Europe question' in British politics. It traces the progressivist elements of New Labour's discourse on British European policy with reference to the place perceptions of history occupied in Blair and Brown's speeches on foreign policy. The book explains the idea of 'norm entrepreneurship' and how it can be adapted to help us think through New Labour's handling of British European policy. It focuses on various aspects of the politics, language and decision-making style of New Labour. Theoretical approaches to Euroscepticism to help us understand, through the empirical data in the speeches, how Blair and Brown constructed their identity as 'Europeans' against their perceived 'sceptical' opponents. The method of discourse analysis used to study the strategies Blair and Brown put in place to realize their goals, is discussed. The book presents the evidence on the ways in which the Prime Minister and Chancellor discursively constructed the Europe question as a matter of protecting and/or advancing vital British national interests. Trapped between a broadly hostile media and an apathetic public, Blair and Brown failed to provide the necessary leadership to see Britain to a European future.

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