‘New Britain’ was built on James Bulger’s grave | spiked
In 1993, when John Major’s Tories were in power, Labour was starting to repose itself, not as the party of the working man, but as the party of social order and ‘community empowerment’. The defeat and hollowing-out of traditional Labour, which came to a head in the series of electoral debacles in the 1980s, left it an empty shell, a party in search of a purpose.
Between its defeat by Major’s Tories in 1992 and its eventual victory under Tony Blair’s leadership in 1997, Labour did not so much consciously reinvent itself or devise anything like a clear-cut political programme, as feel around for ideas, leap upon anything that seemed to create traction amongst the public, and intuitively redefine itself as the party that could stem the apparent social and moral decay and free-for-all individualism that had been unleashed by the Tories. And such a party, stuck in a kind of limbo between the Old and the New, welcomed high-profile events, scandals and tragedies as opportunities for defining and refining its outlook. The murder of James Bulger became a key formative event for New Labour.