Blue Labour is political poison…

Blue Labour is increasingly the ideological inspiration for this leadership. On the surface, I could see why it would be attractive to left-leaning people and I can see the appeal to the leadership which wants to avoid at all costs a commitment to even real  social democratic transformation of society.  However,  in essence, the politics espoused by Blue Labour are a total perversion of true Labour values.

Blue Labour, for example, totally buys into the false dichotomy between the state and the people;

When I listen to people defending central state intervention, I hear an argument against trusting people to manage the services that make a difference to their lives. 

I am sure this line is borrowed from a David Cameron speech. Setting the state up against the people is to be blind to the fact that the real issue is how the state can be dissolved ,as it were into the people and how the state can be made, democratically, to serve the people. The reality is simple; in all cases provision by the state is always better and preferable than the alternative which is submission to the markets law-of-the-jungle. In practice, this dichotomy is a Torjan Horse for right-wing politics and this is exactly what underneath all the froth about ‘communitarianism’ is the beating heart of Blue Labour politics.

The communities that Blue Labour aspires to reconnect with and create  also have quite clearly defined limits and are exclusionary in practice, where, for example is the place for single-parents, singletons or anybody else in its efforts to put families “back at the heart of progressive policy”. Woe betide you if you happen to be an immigrant as well – Maurice Glasman is rather too keen on bringing English Defence League supporters into the Labour ‘family’.

Sadly, whether it be on it’s mistaken view of the state or on its exclusionary community constructs, the left is ill-prepared for the Blue Labour challenge basically because its culturally and programmatically undemocratic in so many ways. Glasman’s Blue Labour is ideological poison within the Labour body politic and it therefore needs to be ideologically defeated but that will only happen with robustly socialist and democratic politics.


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9 responses to “Blue Labour is political poison…”

  1. oldpolitics says :

    This is why the left will lose. The right of the party sees Blue Labour, and takes the bits it likes, building a majority. The left sees Blue Labour (or any new and original idea) and works out how to define it as betrayal in order to maintain the ideological purity of the sect. Keeping the sect small, stale, and powerless.


  2. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Well if you want to play that game there are some things that Blue Labour says which I could say I “like” but this is about the essence of a thing and the essence of Blue Labour’s politics are in my eyes reactionary. It has nothing to do with ideological purity as such as ideological essence.


  3. oldpolitics says :

    The opportunity to grab it for the left has probably been and gone. You can describe the essence “in your eyes”, but the essence in its founder’s eyes was simple and clear;

    “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.”

    If the left is going to reject such obvious allies because of a narcissism of small differences about support for families (what is a ‘singleton’? someone with no partner, no parents, and no children? How many of these people actually exist?) and co-operative models of public service delivery, then the left is, to use a technical term, fucked.


  4. John p reid says :

    Surely its reactionary for Blue laobur to saythat new Laobur ignored the working class,Helen goodman saying wrongly that labour is sexist is reactionary, I think Oldpolitics is right,Blue labour at least has a few ideas that are worth listening too


  5. Dave K says :

    Glasman says his inspiration is the Labour Party and ILP of the 1890s/ 1900s and the German SPD in the same period. He talks about the way these parties were part of the fabric of working class life. They ran cycling clubs, social centre’s.

    What Glasman seems to miss is how and why these parties were able to develop like this. It cannot be seperated from the politics. The Pre first world war SPD and LP for all their faults were mass workers parties based on a united front of marxists and reformists. These parties represented and stood up for workers interests and were (at least in theory) implacably opposed to capitalism and hence the parties felt they needed their own independent working class press, instituions and culture. You cannot build this on the shifting sands of new labour triagulation and support for big business. .


  6. darrellgoodliffe says :


    You mean the essence in the eyes of a probably misogynist bigot? You know there are far more issues than that at stake here. I am, for example, glad that EDL supporters want nothing to do with this Party, Glasman isn’t. The notion that Blue Labour is in any way democratic while being so socially conservative is pure and utter nonsense and needs to be exposed as such.


    On that level so does David Cameron. Labour has ignored the working class but to engage with it in such an atomised and alienated way is to keep it there – an atomised and alienated slave class, bound just as much by the chains of its own prejudice as much as the real chains that do so.


  7. John p reid says :

    Darrell, I never new you were A Blairite, saying the working class are right to become middle class and read the Daily mail


  8. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Now I know your putting words into my mouth…


  9. John p reid says :

    it was a joke


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