Great expectations and the moment of truth : New Labour, national identity, religion and war

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February, 2008

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British identity British identity and foreign policy British identity and religion Britishness Clare Short ethics New Labour patriotism Robin Cook Tony Blair war


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Serge Auffret, « Great expectations and the moment of truth : New Labour, national identity, religion and war », Hyper Article en Ligne - Sciences de l'Homme et de la Société, ID : 10.4000/osb.674


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In times of crisis, rumours of war and war, the issues associated with national identity necessarily take on added urgency, particularly when the religious dimension is also involved. As it assumed its status as a party of government New Labour simultaneously proclaimed major ethical aspirations in the field of international relations, defence policy and the promotion of democracy. The revisiting and revitalising of patriotism would bear the hallmarks of humanitarianism and religious and cultural pluralism. This would provide foundations for a new social contract and a new British way of engaging the world. As the government began to operate in increasingly centralised fashion, the version of British identity initially premised on becoming again a “force for good” on the international scene underwent the acid test of several humanitarian aid military interventions, of the aftermath of 9/11, and of unilateral war in Iraq.Clare Short and Robin Cook are privileged witnesses whose critical analyses provide insights into how Tony Blair’s time in office came to run the risk of seeing New Labour’s policy assessed mainly by the yardstick of the great expectations aroused as a result of placing ethical and identity questions at the forefront of the political debate.

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