Since coming to power in May 1997, New Labour has been criticised by many Party traditionalists for failing to follow the democratic socialist path laid out by the Attlee, Wilson and Callaghan governments. However, New Labour believes that adherence to a doctrinaire political philosophy is ill suited to contemporary economic and social realities. Accordingly, they have opted to govern on a ‘non-ideological’ pragmatic basis. To this end, they have sought to ensure that the welfare state operates in a way that complements, rather than conflicts with, economic imperatives. While New Labour continues to maintain that the welfare state should be used to tackle opportunity barriers, it no longer believes that the task of the welfare state is to extend opportunities for selflessness, enhance social solidarity or deliver greater equality of outcome.
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