Posts Tagged ‘George Bevis’

Blue Labour is a red herring

11/07/2011, 11:30:06 AM

by George Bevis

Maurice Glasman’s work on the increasingly popular Blue Labour concept is a feat of brilliance; it echoes even the cleverness of Keynes.   I think it’s correct, but I also think it’s a distraction.

The problem with Blue Labour isn’t what it says, but what it is.  It is another political philosophy based primarily on growing social capital, reminiscent of the big society, stakeholder capitalism and many other more-or-less communitarian philosophies before them.

Such social capital approaches have proved problematic in that they can be too slow to solve many major socialist concerns: building enough hospitals; paying enough teachers and bringing enough people out of poverty. Although it may seem vulgar, Labour proved in government that the only kind of capital able to achieve those things quickly is financial capital.

Labour’s defining philosophy for government must therefore start with economic growth.  Growing social capital is very important, but it won’t achieve enough without a buoyant economic foundation.  And in the current period of austerity we cannot expect Britons to be enthusiastic about any philosophy which doesn’t primarily promise to alleviate the squeeze they feel.

Labour should be the natural party of growth economics.  Under Harold Wilson it was just that; the political champion of innovation and industry.  Labour’s argument back then remains valid today: we recognise and address the externalities that our extremist free-marketeering opponents refuse to acknowledge. (more…)

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