As the twenty--first century dawned, social democratic parties across Europe and beyond found themselves newly, and rather surprisingly, in the ascendant.
Britaina s New Labour was only the most spectacular in a whole series of political restorations.
For many, this renewal only became possible when a modernizinga social democratic parties jettisoned their old ideological and institutional baggage, setting off down a a third waya that rejected the outmoded ideas of both left and right.
The argument of Hard Choices is that this view is doubly misleading: it misrepresents the past and misunderstands the present.
The first half of the book restores some of the complexity to social democracya s past and shows that it was much more subtle, varied and intelligent than its latter--day critics suppose.
Turning to the present, the second half of the book shows how a few contemporary half--truths -- relating to globalization and demographic change -- have been used to justify the abandonment of the defining core of a social democratic politics.
The book does not argue that a nothing has really changeda . In fact, a great deal has changed and policy--makers have to adjust to a range of new circumstances, constraints (and opportunities).
But those who exhort us simply to abandon the a traditionala terrain of the centre--left are wrong.
Social democracy remains just what it always was -- a politics of messy compromises and hard choices.
This book will appeal to undergraduates, postgraduates and scholars in politics, social policy and political sociology, as well as the interested general reader.