How Blair killed the co-ops

Reclaiming social enterprise from its neoliberal turn

By Leslie Huckfield

How Blair killed the co-ops


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4972-5
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: December 2021
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Politics & government, Ownership & Organization Of Enterprises, Economics, finance, business & management / Political economy, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Comparative Politics, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Economy, BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Free Enterprise, British and Irish Politics


Social enterprise and third sector activity have expanded into a prolific area of academic research and discourses over the past twenty years, with many claiming their origins rooted in Blair, New Labour and Giddens' "Third Way". But many academic contributions lack the experience of policy implementation and do not access the wealth of grey, legacy and public policy literature from earlier periods that support different interpretations. Since most make few references to developments during the 1970s and 1980s, their narrow focus on New Labour from 1997 onwards not only neglects real antecedents, but miscasts the role of social enterprise.

During a key political period from 1998 to 2002, Blair's New Labour Governments forced through a major conceptual shift for social enterprise, co-operative and third sector activity. Many structures, formed as community responses to massive deindustrialisation in the 1970s and 1980s, were repositioned to bid against the private sector to obtain contracts for delivery of low cost public services. Based on previously unseen archival materials and interviews with key players between 1998 and 2002, when major social enterprise and third sector policy changes occurred, Huckfield offers an alternative narrative of social enterprise in the UK, showing how local communities have been denied the restoration of local economic and social democracy.


1 Introduction
2 Background
3 Theoretical foundations and conceptual interpretations for the third sector
4 1960s-1980s regeneration
5 New Labour, co-ops and social enterprise
6 Explanations
7 Conclusions
Appendix 1: Timeline of main literature contributions and events in the UK, North America and mainland Europe
Appendix 2: Co-operatives and social enterprises



Leslie Huckfield is a Lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University

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