Turning right away from Atlee and Blair

By Martin Bright, June 30, 2011

The politics of Maurice Glasman are a little difficult to pin down and intentionally so. The concept of "Blue Labour", which should be understood as the complement to the "Red Tory" philosophy of Phillip Blond, is a provocation to the conventional Labour Party thinking.

By suggesting that true Labour values are expressed in the pre-war politics of the party, his critics suggest that he is attempting to sweep aside the legacy of Labour's most iconic government (Attlee's) and its most successful (Blair's). He would argue that Labour lost its way when it became convinced by the technocratic merits of nationalisation rather than addressing the aspirations of individuals within communities.

Lord Glasman's self-conscious iconoclasm is also a challenge to Cameron's ownership of the concept of the Big Society. As a leading light of "community organising" via London Citizens and latterly Citizens UK, he can legitimately claim that he was pressing the claims of local grassroots politics long before the Prime Minister got the bug.

Despite his academic background, he is not averse to sound-bite politics. His catchy "family, faith and the flag" slogan is an attempt to root the Labour Party in common British values.

He was ridiculed for an article in an Italian magazine where he said: "There is a sense of bravery and tragedy in our position and that is one meaning of the word blue, that links Miles Davis with Picasso and Aristotle".

More controversial is his argument that Labour should involve English Defence League supporters to help it re-engage with working-class voters. This is consistent with the "common cause" politics that allows London Citizens to encourage the grassroots politics of Islamists and tolerate a Hamas supporter on its board of trustees.

Last updated: 12:11pm, June 30 2011