What do you think determines the political agenda of contesting parties, politicians and those in public office?

I read the Anthony Gidden's The Third Way a long time ago and it was all about how the political landscape of the UK could be and was being refashioned and reframed one of the things which stands out in my memory was that he repeatedly talked about how the government would minimise risks, it didnt make much sense to me at the time and I decided it was technical political jargon.

Since then I've read a lot of sources, like Daniel Bell or Kolakowski, which have suggested there is a consensus and sophistication which has made it possible to have combined beliefs in liberalism, conservatism and socialism. In some sense I thought that the third way was an acknowledgement of that intellectual trend. That and I've always felt that politicians were increasingly in a role of public managers since seventies, if not earlier or even at the time of the second world war.

However, I listened lately to a couple of very good broadcasts on the BBC about economics, ironically from a Hayekian perspective (which I find interesting and quite compelling but nonetheless untrue). This broadcast described how free market analysts were suggesting it was the government's willingness to manage the consequences of risk taking by others. In turn, consequently resulting in greater or bad risk taking behaviour, causing the crisis.

The problem they suggested was that if a government chose to let the natural consequences of risk taking have their full impact upon those taking the risks, the necessary move to let markets generate accurate price signals, they would be unable to remain in office.

Putting aside for a moment the fact that I think its not unreasonable for voters to appeal to governments to act in a way to limit their personal costs for risks they did not sanction but which have consequences for them none the less.

Listening to this it made sense to me what Giddens was writing about in his Third Way book, it was a direct appeal to a particular constitutency, "The City" (the equivalent in US jargon would be Wall Street). So I felt that in retrospect the social policies, economic policies etc. were window dressing around this essential fact.

I'm inclined to be socialist in my perspective but I wouldnt want the unions to be able to exercise control which neutralised the decisions of voters during elections, I think its not a good thing that the financial sector has as much power to control proceedings either but its maybe just one of those things.