Who killed New Labour?

Terrific essay in the Economist.

New Labour is dying. It has lost the three vital qualities that kept it alive and vibrant. First, discipline. A shared purpose and scowling party apparatchiks once bound Labour MPs to a party line; now some are calling for Mr Brown to stand down—and he may yet have to, little more than a year after he moved into Number 10. The rumblings about his leadership already constitute a crisis, and a humiliation, for him and his party.

Second, intellectual confidence: the party that once defined the intellectual terrain of politics has been reduced to aping its opponents’ policies. Most important, New Labour has lost the habit of winning.

What has been one of the great election-winning forces in British political history has been routed in a run of parliamentary by-elections and local votes. Its poll ratings are so bad—a survey released on September 18th gave the Conservatives a 28-point lead—that recovery before the next general election, due by June 2010, looks almost impossible. On current form, the resulting defeat may be Labour’s worst since the second world war. In the aftermath of such a rout, some Labour supporters fear, the party may disintegrate, with a revived Old Labour faction, wedded to the ideals of punitive taxation and a monolithic state, reasserting its anachronistic grip…

Best analysis I’ve read.