Socialist Worker

Rebranding is no cure for Labour’s blues

Simon Basketter takes issue with the idea that Labour can win by shifting further to the right

Issue No. 2250

Blue Labour is the latest wheeze to try to reinvigorate the fortunes of the Labour Party, and it is nonsense.

The idea has been around a couple of years, but it is getting some media attention as the alternative to the Tories’ “big society”.

The man who came up with it is Baron Maurice Glasman.

He argues that to regain lost working class votes Labour needs to come “together to forge a common good in their communities, workplaces and across the nation”.

There is a healthy rejection of New Labour’s love of the City and the markets and a return to some old fashioned Keynesian distaste for finance capital.

This is all well and good. But there is a poisonous sting in the tail from Blue Labour.

It is common sense for those at the top of the Labour Party to think that getting in touch with the “grassroots”, as they like to call it, means being hard on immigration and pandering to racism.

In Glasman’s vision this is overt with a reference to the racist English Defence League (EDL) group, which organises protests against Muslims.

He has said that Labour needs “to build a party that brokers a common good, that involves those people who support the EDL within our party.

“Not dominant in the party, not setting the tone of the party, but just a reconnection with those people that we can represent a better life for them, because that’s what they want.”

This is as patronising as it is disgusting.

This is above and beyond the fact that Glasman got a place in the House of Lords for his good deeds supporting migrants.

To be clear, immigrants are not to blame for low wages, unemployment and bad housing.

This should be the obvious position of the entire labour movement.

But Labour refuses to accept the real reason it lost the last election—that it abandoned its core working class vote by embracing the rich.

Now the rich have gone home to the Tories, Labour knows it needs the support of workers to fight and win elections.

But pandering to bigotry because you hold the stereotypical view that workers are a reactionary bloc won’t work as a political strategy.

Instead, as history has shown us many times, it will only encourage right wingers rather than challenging them.

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Tue 3 May 2011, 18:14 BST
Issue No. 2250
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