Our politics is about renewing the institutions of our nation so they nurture a sense of common endeavour and mutual obligation, allowing everyone to achieve a decent standard of living and create a meaningful life for themselves.
We are guided by Labour values of equality and social justice. But we think that, to be meaningful these must begin with our responsibility to those we are closest to, to our families, neighbours, communities, and colleagues.
The change we seek can’t be achieved by electing one leader who will solve all our problems. Blue Labour calls for a radical redistribution and power and responsibility, to people in our communities and workplaces so we can work together for the common good.
What does that mean in practice?
(Note: there is no Blue Labour manifesto. The following are ideas developed by some Blue Labour supporters, not a fixed and agreed set of plans)
Britain’s economy is stuck in a low-skill, low-wage trap. Unemployment is low but so is the quality of work, and so incomes are low. At the centre of Blue Labour’s vision is an economy with good well-paid work for all. That needs enterprise to flourish. But it also needs business to recognise that prosperity depends on its responsibility for its employees and neighbours. We believe the freedoms of the market economy offer the best basis for the wellbeing of people in Britain. But our market economy needs to be reformed so scope for managers, workers and consumers collectively shape the way businesses work, so they are guided by the long-term interests of the community not short-term value.
The family is the fundamental social institution. It nurtures us from the start of our lives. It is where we learn about love, relationships, and the give and take needed to live good lives. Inspired by the effort of feminism to broaden our idea of worthwhile work, Blue Labour recognises the struggle families face to combine work and care. Politics can’t guarantee the quality our emotional lives, but it can ensure our institutions support family life; and that a secure affordable home is within everyone’s grasp.
We want Britain to be a nation of energetic cities, towns and villages, each of which is free to develop its distinct identity. When people feel rooted they can achieve their potential; if power is dispersed, we have the freedom to take greater responsibility for our communities. Blue Labour supports an environmentalism driven by our desire to protect the places we love. It believes that, as far as possible, resources and services should be owned and run by the local community, so their value remains with those who nurture and use them.
A society where everyone takes responsibility needs everyone to have a role. It is our education system’s purpose to help find and develop what that is. We believe education should be built around the principle of vocation – even the most academic subjects prepare people for the world beyond the classroom. Education needs to tap into people’s enthusiasm, unlock their creativity, but also prepare people for work in Britain’s economy.
Britain, Europe and the World
Blue Labour contains those who supported working to reform the EU from inside, and those who campaigned to leave. We believe the views of the majority of voters need to be respected and that Britain should leave the EU. We should try to get the best deal; but we are optimistic about the future of the UK whatever the terms of leaving. What matters most is the we govern our own society and economy. The ownership of Britain’s economy is uniquely globalised, with large sectors owned by interests that have no stake in the UK. Despite the obvious costs, leaving the EU gives us the opportunity to rebuild British politics and Britain’s place in the world on a new basis.
Blue Labour recognises the contribution migrants from across the world have made to this country, and is fiercely supportive of the well-being of migrants who choose to settle here for good. We do, though, believe that a society in which people take responsibility needs people living in our towns and cities to get to know one another: the continual movement of people corrodes the sense of community the good society relies on.
Labour and the Nation
Our country’s renewal isn’t the responsibility of one man or woman, yet our politics is dangerously focused on the personality of party leaders. Blue labour believes that our politics needs to change so responsibility is shared amongst us all. The divided interests of our country – workers and businesses, leave and remain, city and country – need to be brought together, with more scope for debate and then agreement on a common way forward. That will take the development of new forms of representation and decision-making. The example of community organisations like London Citizens, as well as the history of our own movement show how that can be done.