Maurice Glasman really needs help with his grenade-throwing addiction. It is not a good sign when you are so desperate to do it that you casually lob one into your own home. His interview in the Daily Telegraph in which he aligned himself with the immigration policy of the British National Party and UKIP has destroyed Blue Labour in less than the wink of an eye. This is probably something of a blow for Ed Miliband whose ‘responsibility’ skit seems to have been lifted right of the Blue Labour playbook but that is a story for another day perhaps (incidentally, Ed was going all dog-whistle on immigration before Blue Labour was born, but as I said, a story for another day). What concerns me is to see leftists actually mourning the demise of Blue Labour. Sunny Hundal puts it thus:
Sunder Katwala is right nevertheless – consigning the ideas behind ‘Blue Labour’ to history would be a shame.
His point that Blue Labour had some vaguely good economic ideas is not untrue but all of them were packaged together with sexism, misogynist and racial bigatory in the ‘Faith, Family and Flag‘. It seems good ol’ fashioned internationalism is dead in the water because the leading lights of the left are, again as Sunny puts it, wanting to talk about;
a language of patriotism, pride and national identity. More diverse societies need a social glue and a progressive patriotism can offer that. But we must start shaping that debate about what Englishness (and/or Britishness) means, rather than letting the right define it.
The problem for Sunny is that these concepts are not ones the left can ever fully claim, own or even ‘define’ without transgressing some pretty basic lines in the sand, like those of solidarity and internationalism. His ‘good society’ will always in some way define itself the external other and is logically an exclusionary (as opposed to an inclusive) concept at some point. History is littered with examples of attempts at nationalist adaptations to socialist and progressive thought and none, and here I definitively mean none, have had plea sent conclusions. They make even less sense in a world which is being ruthlessly globalised by capitalism and turning the clock back on these is probably likely to lead to even more disasterous and ruinious consequences than previous efforts. The thing is, you cannot externalise Glasman’s ideas and prejudices from the entire Blue Labour project. In fact, they form an integral part of it, underpin it, and permeate it to the core. This is why it is good Blue Labour is gone, and it is best forgotten.