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Changing of the Guard in Great Britain

John Gray, one of Britain's most interesting social thinkers these days, is a Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford, and author of Enlightenment's Wake: Politics and Culture at the Close of the Modern Age (Routledge, London, 1995) and After Social Democracy (Demos, 1996).

Oxford - A new social and political settlement, the historic successor of postwar social democracy, is under construction in Britain. On May 1 the British electorate dismissed the Conservatives as a party unfit to govern the United Kingdom. By inflicting on the Tories their worst humiliation since the Great Reform Act of 1832 the electorate has made Tony Blair's modernization of the Labor Party an unalterable fact of British political life. After such a vindication there can be no question of Blair's modernizing strategy being derailed in government by any reversion to old Labor thinking. Instead the question is what modernization means for the country that Blair's government has inherited. Which modernity has Britain embarked upon?

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