||The first aim of this study is to examine the foundation, the conditions and the development of European Social Democracy. Its development is understood as a function of electoral behaviour and its interest in being the party of Government. European Social Democracy has moved from a leftwing position towards the centre. The second aim of this study is to examine the ideological change of the British Labour Party. Labourism has been the ideological form of the Social Democratic ideas of the British Labour Party.
The division between Social Democracy and Social or Radical Liberalism is not always distinct and evident. Especially the British Labour party and its dominant think tank, the Fabian Society, have always represented a non-Marxist brand of Socialism very close to British radical Liberalism. European Social Democracy has influenced the British Labour Party and vice versa. The Fabian Society inspired the founder of Revisionism, Eduard Bernstein with his book Evolutionary Socialism. Keynesian management, mixed economy and the welfare state became the most important elements of Social Democratic policy after the Second World War.
The 1945 Labour Party electoral manifesto Let us face the future was a mixture of limited Socialist ideas and ambitions to create a welfare state. In 1945-51, the United Kingdom was the only major Western country to be governed by a Social Democratic one-party government.
In the 1960s, there was a leftwing surge and Social Democracy came to power in both Britain and Germany. With The New Britain, the manifesto of 1964, Harold Wilson represented a technocratic interpretation of Socialism and Social Democracy. Such ideas were common in several Social Democracies at the time.
In the 1970s, there was a deep rift between the Labour Right and the Labour Left about economic policy, defence policy and party democracy. The electoral manifesto The New Hope for Britain 1983 has been seen as the high tide of the Labour Left and the longest suicide note in the Labour Party history. In the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s, several other Northern Social Democratic parties were also in electoral crisis and opposition. This was partly compensated for by the victories and governments of the Southern European Socialist Parties.
The electoral manifesto of 1997, New Labour; because Britain deserves better, was followed by the greatest victory in Labours history since 1945. New Labour was the leading advocate of the Third way between traditional Social Democracy and neo-liberalism.
The conclusion of this study about European Social Democracy is that the history of Social Democracy is the history of adaptation and eclecticism. The conclusion about the British Labour Party is that its Labourism has from time to time taken different forms but with New Labour, the party perhaps stretches itself beyond Labourism.