Policy Press

Back to the Future of Socialism

By Peter Hain


Sep 16, 2015

Page count

360 pages




138 x 214 mm


Policy Press
Back to the Future of Socialism

What's gone wrong with capitalism and how should governments respond? What does the future hold for the Left in the UK in the face of the austerity straitjacket around our politics and media?

Anthony Crosland’s The Future of Socialism (1956) provided a creed for governments of the centre left until the global banking crisis. Now Peter Hain presents an evidence-based case for a radical alternative to the neo-liberal economic agenda. A substantial new Afterword outlines what the Labour Party needs to do following the 2015 UK General Election to win again by returning to its core values of decency, social justice, equality and prosperity for all.

A rousing alternative to the neoliberal, right-wing orthodoxy of our era, Hain’s book is now even more essential reading for everyone interested in the future of the left.

"The book is thoughtful, and well written and it provides a useful overview of recent developments, written from a positive but critical socialist perspective." Political Studies Review

"Indefatigably upbeat" Observer

"A clarion call for justice, equality and liberty to triumph" Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town and Nobel Peace Prize Winner

"This is a tour de force, and could hardly be more timely" William Keegan, Senior Economics Commentator, The Observer

"Fresh thinking to tackle rising inequality and environmental degradation which imperil human development today." Helen Clark, United Nations Development Programme and former Prime Minster of New Zealand

“A front-line politician's treatise that makes the case for democratic socialism over neo-liberalism, has to be welcome. Peter Hain makes clear why there can be no going back to New Labour, if the party is to be true to its soul." Baroness Ruth Lister

"A compelling Keynesian critique of market liberalism's failings." Times Literary Supplement

"Its strength is its pace and breadth: Hain argues for taxes on unused development land to encourage housebuilding; condemns New Labour for turning into “Nervous Labour” and leaving it until 2010 to raise the top rate of income tax to 50 per cent; and he reasons that UK banks are “anti-business”; “obsessed with the short-term” and quick profits, when small and medium-sized firms need years of support." The Independent

"Hain challenges us to think hard about the nature of our commitment to social democratic ideas." Progress

"The value of this book is that it sparks the sort of lively and nuanced debate that is too often drowned out in a public discussion so dominated by neoliberal values." Tribune

"A clarion call for justice, equality and liberty to triumph. Greed and selfishness, a widening chasm between the haves and the have nots, indifference to climate change and poverty, threaten the very future of humankind." Archbishop Desmond Tutu

"An exceptionally robust and terrific book...scrupulously well researched and timely" David Marx Book Reviews

"Taking up where Tawney and Crosland left off, Peter Hain shows practical ways in which sustained recovery of fairness,fulfilment and freedom can be achieved in this generation." Lord Neil Kinnock

"Peter Hain proves why reports of the death of socialism were greatly exaggerated. It just needed reviving." Kevin Maguire, Daily Mirror

Peter Hain was Labour MP for Neath from 1991 to 2015 and held a number of senior posts in Tony Blair and Gordon Brown's governments. After his South African family was forced into exile in 1966, he became a leader of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in Britain, also obtaining degrees at Queen Mary College, London, and Sussex University. Over nearly 50 years in UK politics Hain is known for favouring candour over caution, and plain speaking over political spin. He has published twenty books – including his memoirs Outside In (2012) – pamphlets and media articles, appearing widely on radio and television.


Introduction: Back to the future of socialism;

The Crosland agenda;

New Labour, Crosland and the crisis;

Finance and the new capitalism;

Growth not cuts;

Growth by active government;

Fraternity, cooperation, trade unionism;

But what sort of socialist state?;

A new internationalism;

Britain in Europe;

Refounding Labour;

Faster, sustainable growth;

A fairer, more equal society;

A future for Labour.