Blue Labour – Building a politics that champions the cause of the working class – Nottingham, Saturday 4 March 2017

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Building a politics that champions the cause of the working class

This event will explore the relationship between class and tradition in politics at the beginning of 21st century. Blue Labour is one of the few parts of the current Labour party that respects working class tradition. The party’s current approach of washing away anything that stands in the way of narrow progressive politics is driving a wedge between it and the communities that set it up. This breach must be repaired if Labour has any hope of forming a future government. More information is below.

Free admission

12.45 – 3.45pm

Venue

Nottingham Trent University (NTU) (City Centre Campus), Rooms 307 and 308, Third Floor, Boots Library, Goldsmiths Street, Nottingham, NG1 5LS

Confirmed speakers:

Rafael Behr – political columnist for the Guardian

Rowenna Davis – teacher, journalist, author, and political commentator

Ruth Davis – writer, campaigner, political analyst

Lord Maurice Glasman – academic, Labour peer and Blue Labour founder

Gloria De Piero – Labour MP for Ashfield

Revd Canon Barbara Holbrook – Priest in charge, Kimberley & Nuthall, Nottingham

Dr Neil Turnbull – Principal Lecturer in Philosophy, Nottingham Trent University

Paul Embery – firefighter and the regional secretary of the Fire Brigades Union in London.

Chair – Cllr Richard Robinson, Labour Cllr Broxtowe Borough Council & Senior Parliamentary Assistant to Gavin Shuker MP

Please register for the event by following this link – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/how-do-we-champion-the-cause-of-the-working-class-tickets-31827575134

Building a politics that champions the cause of the working class

After its defeat in the 2010 general election many in the Labour Party believed that there was an easy route back to power.  Quick ideological fixes were sought – and as exploratory first move, in 2010-11 the idea of ‘Blue Labour’ emerged in order to contest what was then perceived to be the new ‘Red Tory’ centrism of the first Cameron administration.  However, in Labour policy circles Blue Labour quickly ran into difficulties.  Its nationalism, its social Catholicism and its self-conscious anti-liberal posturing led to it being seen as reactionary fifth column lurking on the margins of the political culture of the party.  Although its arguments were in many ways much more intellectually significant (and radical) than many in the party initially appreciated, it was resisted by strong counter-ideological headwinds that wanted to defend the social-democratic status quo.  Although the Miliband era was kept alive in many ways by a Blue Labour ethos, in the end Blue Labour exerted little influence over the party’s manifesto in 2015.  Instead the party struggled in vain with what then seemed to be the real issue of the day, the relationship between the state and ‘austerity’ – that was not in any way the central concern of Blue Labour thinkers.

 

Now many are questioning Blue Labour’s relevance to a world that looks very different to the one that preoccupied Blue Labour thinkers in 2010. However although the attempt to use Blue Labour as an ideological fix that would quickly beat a neat and tidy path for the party back to power was clearly misguided, there is much that remains highly relevant to the current times in the Blue Labour position – even if today the project needs to be reconceived within much longer timeframes.   After the UK’s historic vote to leave the European Union, Blue Labour concerns with the politics of identity and its relation to virtue, class and vocation have come to fore with something of a vengeance.   Labour now finds itself presented the problem of how to manage a core vote that has emerged as a radically Eurosceptic, conservative, insurgency and is forced for the first time to take seriously the tradition-orientated ideals, habits and orientations of the people who have supported it over generations.  This is forcing the party to reconsider its knee-jerk commitment to a social-democratic cosmopolitanism and consider ways in which the living traditions of really existing communities in real places can be mobilised in order to empower themselves.  The election of Donald Trump, after riding a similar class-based populist wave in the US, also suggests that one of the key mistakes made by established left parties in last 30 years was their neglect not only of the very idea of class but what also might be termed the living reality of ‘class traditionalism’.