Friday, June 13
A new way for British government?
Anthony Barnett, Open Democracy, June 12, 2003

In advance of a global summit of centre-left leaders in London, Geoff Mulgan has mapped a vital cultural shift in the inner life of British governance – from ‘we know best’ to ‘we learn best’. The openness and practicality of his argument make it both welcome and deceptively radical, says Anthony Barnett; but does it, like Tony Blair's 'Third Way' itself, also carry some Old Britain paternalism into the new media age?

On 11 July 2003, heads of government from Brazil’s President Lula to Germany’s Chancellor Schröder will gather in London for a ‘progressive summit’. The summit’s aim – according to the host, British prime minister Tony Blair – is to set out the policies needed for ‘centre-left parties to win, use and retain power’, which, he asserts is the ‘ultimate test of a progressive political project’.

The summit is a continuation of meetings in New York, Florence, Berlin and Stockholm, which date back to the time when Bill Clinton was in the White House, France had a socialist prime minister and ‘The Third Way’ was the phrase of the moment.

As openDemocracy’s opening contribution to a discussion that coincides with the summit, we publish an essay by Geoff Mulgan on how governments can learn. LINK.

It is a more deeply radical document than it appears. Behind its calm survey of the way better policies can be developed is a step-change in the role and character of the public sphere. What appears as a mere description is a new direction chosen and advocated. [...]
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