`Running out of road? Dilemmas and issues for the British Labour Party and the Swedish Social Democrats in their search for a "modern" welfare state narrative

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Following significant electoral defeats in 2010, both the British Labour Party and the Swedish Social Democratic Party (SAP) have been re-considering their approach to the welfare state. This article outlines some of the key themes of social democracy and social democratic social policy before discussing the evolution of the latter in both Sweden and Britain. The paper explores the cumulative effect of the revisionist approaches adopted by both parties over time which has resulted in a distancing from a welfare state strategy based on equality, universalism and publicly provided services. It is concluded that both parties now have little road left to construct a modern welfare state narrative that reflects “core” social democratic principles.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-126
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of International and Comparative Social Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • British Labour Party, Swedish Social Democrats, Social Democracy, Welfare State