In promoting ‘the big society’, David Cameron has defiantly marched into traditional Labour territory – this is the supposition at the heart of Blue Labour thinking. For Maurice Glasman and others associated with the Blue Labour tag, the labour movement emerged out of a groundswell of civic action and a desire for self-determination by individuals, families, communities and workforces, whose political horizons were not fixated simply on the state. As such, Labour needs to recapture these traditions in order to reconnect with the lives actually lived, and the things about life actually valued, by the party’s traditional supporters.
The campaign so far has been a welcome moment of reawakening for the Labour Party. The party is finally talking about ideas, and Blue Labour is leading an overdue post-mortem – something that the leadership election failed to deliver – on exactly what went wrong with New Labour. Yet it is based fundamentally on a misappropriation of conservatism. In basing their perspective on a simplistic version of both conservatism, and working class conservatism, Blue Labour thinkers are suggesting that the big society does in fact belong to the Conservatives, therefore rendering Labour the squatter.
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Image: Anthony McKeown