Tony Blair was in the Sun today, which was nice for him. The interview was all that we’ve come to expect. How you react to that depends largely on whether you agree with him or not. I’m a bit over all that. This is not another post about Blair.
What did interest me was the amount of people referring to Blair as Blue Labour. Which struck me as wrong. Blue Labour seems to be about a combination of taming the power of capital and reclaiming traditionalism. Blairism was about a sense of ultra-modernity and riding the tide of capitalism to try to lift all the boats.
Similarly, I found myself arguing with someone at least as intelligent as me (and probably twice so) about the Blue Labour focus on “Family Faith and Flag”. His contention was that these concepts in and of themselves belong natural and solely on the right and that we should not be focused on them. My argument, and from what I have read, I think Blue Labour’s (though I’m happy to be disabused as some of it is impenetrable), is that there are excellent leftist arguments for redefining what we mean by family values, i.e. valuing families of all shapes and sizes and supporting them, rather than the narrow right wing focus of defining families in a traditional way and only supporting those who fit the definition. Equally as I have said before, we should not let the right own the concept of patriotism, and let it become conflated with nationalism. We have to have a positive vision for Britain, and be patriotic enough to want to see it enacted. I’m less comfortable with the concept of religion and politics mixing, but equally, as someone with a great deal of interaction with the Christian Socialist Movement, I deny utterly that faith (of any denomination) is a right wing concept.
For now, it doesn’t really matter to the Blue Labour gang – while they have Ed Miliband’s ear – that people don’t really understand who they are and what they want. The leader will set the direction of travel and they will help him, whether the rest of us understand what they’re talking about or not.
But if they want thier ideas to become part of the longer term canon of Labourism, they need to democratise their presentation. They need someone who can translate their academicese to real people, real Labour Party members who, might be surprised by how much they find they support.