Posts Tagged ‘prosperity’

Labour, like Britain, must look to the future

14/07/2011, 11:30:09 AM

by Ian Austin

I’ve been really worried these past few months. People kept asking me what I thought of “all this Blue Labour stuff”.

I wasn’t sure what to say, but I knew it must be significant because it was creating such a buzz.

You can imagine my relief when they put together an “e-book” setting out the details.

It explained that a series of seminars had been held in London and Oxford to “open up the Labour tradition to new syntheses of meaning, and so to originality and transformation.”

The introduction said it would discuss the “relationship with tradition and modernity, nation and class, labour and capital, community and the individual, society and the market, the state and mutualism, and between belief and empiricism, romanticism and rationality, obligation and entitlement.”

Fortunately, help was at hand in the form of an interview a week or so ago with Lord Glasman, the leading figure behind our new approach.

“There are three poles,” he said, when asked to explain Blue Labour. ‘”First: a conception of the common good. That comes from Aristotle. Second: an impulse to organise labour. That comes from Minsky and Alinsky. And third: decommodification. That means stopping things that were not produced for sale being sold. That comes from Polanyi.”’

Of course we need seminars as well as conversations on doorsteps, but it’s where the theory takes us that worries me, not the inaccessibility of the language.

Elsewhere we’ve been told the new big idea is based on the insight that New Labour’s response to globalisation failed to value and protect local and community services like post offices and pubs and the traditional high street, or failed to recognise the value of the human relationships that underpin our communities.

The danger, as Mary Riddell pointed out recently, “lies in a neverland inhabited by superannuated pigeon-fanciers who like Woodbines and Watneys and don’t think much of foreigners.” She was absolutely right to warn that “Britain is not a museum of nostalgia but a forward-looking country.” (more…)

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