London academic Lord Glasman is one of those leading Labour’s latest attempt at re-invention. He’s calling it ‘Blue Labour’, an appeal to small-c conservatives and to all who grasp the point about democratic collective action, to defend the places and traditions we cherish, to resist the rapacious appetites of global market forces. It sounds like a value-set that we ourselves might endorse. Apart from certain significant details found lacking. Notably the one called consistency.
These are values that we have proclaimed for decades, while Labour has been all over the shop. We protested when Labour wanted to concrete-over tens of thousands of Wessex acres to house a new working class of cut-price immigrants and the crashing waves of London overspill they generate, a policy it now considers a mistake. (Indeed it was, but a shamelessly deliberate one.) We spoke out against the agenda of unprecedented growth, with its maniacal excesses of road-building and airport expansion. We challenged Labour’s fawning acceptance of whatever deregulation and privatisation the City’s financiers demanded. We did what we could to slow the destruction of what few democratic checks and balances our feudal constitution offers us. We warned that there would be tears before bedtime.
Blair had no time for tradition, nor purpose for perspective: “New, new, new, everything is NEW.” So ran the people’s premier’s demented mantra. New, for better or for worse. Why should any of that lot have cared which? The trappings of power were all they craved. And what’s changed since? Labour is still out on loan, borrowed as the front door key to Number 10 by yet another generation of centralist control-freaks pretending to be what they never can be.
Sometimes Old. Sometimes New. Sometimes Borrowed. Sometimes Blue. That’s Labour. As changeable as a chameleon. And as trustworthy as a rattlesnake.