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Blue Labour? No thanks

Let us start with one point of agreement with Maurice Glasman’s Blue Labour. He is right to focus on regaining Labour’s lost working class vote rather than, as with the Blairites, preposterously concentrating on the tipping points of the swing marginals. Labour lost 5 million votes since 1997, 4 million of them in the 8 Blair years to 2005. The great majority were working class votes, about 3 times more than the middle class votes lost. The need to target the potential working class vote is even more important when in successive general elections 4 out of 10 people on the election register (and perhaps 3.5 million not on it) do not vote, and overwhelmingly they are likely to be working class and potential Labour voters. The question then is: why did they desert Labour and what is necessary to win them back. Glasman’s approach on that seems unimpressive.

Glasman and his three musketeers seem to be keen on ‘Labour coming together to forge a common good in their communities, workplaces and across the nation’ – shades of former Labour-leaning commentator like the communitarian Etzion and third way Giddens. But in the absence of delivery mechanisms and without explaining how the huge institutional blockages of neo-liberal capitalism are to be tackled, this is little more than waffle.

Working class voters are fed up because they felt betrayed by a Blairite government continuing the Thatcherit agenda of unfettered markets, siding with Big Business, keeping trade unions marginalised, consolidating the power of City finance at the expense of industry, the explosion of inequality, and the punishment of ‘hard-working ordinary families’ because of the sins of the bankers, not to mention the Iraq War which was the last straw. ‘Getting together in communities’ as the answer? You cannot be serious.

The real, ugly truth is that Britain has been in long-term decline, almost irrespective of government, for a century. Britain’s GDP per capita was double that of our European competitors in 1913, just before the First World War; we are now behind several EU countries. The City of London is bloated and abusive (and has not been punished or reformed, only cosseted), our manufacturing base is seriously run down and uncompetitive, our educational standards are far below those of Germany and France, the sense of social solidarity has been seriouly depleted by Thatcher’s selfish individualism, private borrowing is ballooning (the OBR expects it to reach £2.13 trillion by 2015!), and there is a loss of national direction, vision and purpose.

Any recipe for Britain that doesn’t answer the depth and profundity of these problems is scarcely worth the paper it’s written on – Blue Labour please note.

7 Comments

  1. oldpolitics says:

    So, like most people condemning Blue Labour, your core point is that you agree with it?

    Left Futures: “Working class voters are fed up because they felt betrayed by a Blairite government continuing the Thatcherit agenda of unfettered markets, siding with Big Business, keeping trade unions marginalised, consolidating the power of City finance at the expense of industry, the explosion of inequality, and the punishment of ‘hard-working ordinary families’ because of the sins of the bankers”

    Glasman: “In everything I have ever written or done I have criticised the domination of capital and argued for the democratic renewal of the Labour movement to resist its power. That is all I stand for really. Resistance to commodification through democratic organisation. That’s the position. Labour as a radical tradition that pursues the common good. That is Blue Labour, and the rest is commentary.”

    Left Futures: “The real, ugly truth is that Britain has been in long-term decline, almost irrespective of government, for a century. Britain’s GDP per capita was double that of our European competitors in 1913, just before the First World War; we are now behind several EU countries. The City of London is bloated and abusive (and has not been punished or reformed, only cosseted), our manufacturing base is seriously run down and uncompetitive, our educational standards are far below those of Germany and France, the sense of social solidarity has been seriouly depleted by Thatcher’s selfish individualism, private borrowing is ballooning (the OBR expects it to reach £2.13 trillion by 2015!), and there is a loss of national direction, vision and purpose.”

    Glasman: “The control of the City of London in regional investment must be broken and local banks established that could enable people to have meaningful jobs and live closer to their parents. Modern economies require trust, institutions that uphold non-pecuniary values and strong constraints on capital. Again, this is not nostalgia but it does defy a view of modernisation defined by the unimpeded flow of money and people.”

  2. There is the most urgent need for a political movement open to everyone whose priorities include any or all of the Welfare State, workers’ rights, trade unionism, the co-operative movement and wider mutualism, consumer protection, strong communities, conservation rather than environmentalism, fair taxation, full employment, public ownership, proper local government, a powerful Parliament, the monarchy, the organic Constitution, national sovereignty, civil liberties, the Union, the Commonwealth, the countryside, traditional structures and methods of education, traditional moral and social values, economic patriotism, balanced migration, a realist foreign policy, an unhysterical approach to climate change, and a base of real property for every household to resist both over-mighty commercial interests and an over-mighty State.

    Precisely what form that will take will depend on the outcome of the AV referendum, and in the event of a No vote on the success or otherwise of Peter Hain’s proposal for affiliated consultees.

  3. Robertissimo says:

    What on earth is going on? Hello hello does the UK have its brain switched on??? how can this cheap trickery be entertained by the leadership of the Labour party? If I support neoliberal economic policies I vote Tory, the real mkcoy, I don’t need any gimmiky “bluelabour”. But as I don’t and am left of centre, and I mean the LEFT as in the state looks after civil society not the market, I now no longer have a party to represent me in parliament. Labour you are a turncoat disgrace, you need gutting out and rebuilding all over again. First task remove pseudo-left Tories who dress in left wing clothes that have infested the party.

  4. Dave Clarke says:

    I’ve got nothing against Ed, he just needs a voice – voice training off Bob Crow!

  5. Robert says:

    They just banned me from their site, the word was your not really labour the new path is not for people like me,

    poor things it’s new Labour all over again

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