Registered On: September 7, 2015
Blue Labour has a specific meaning, and it most certainly isn’t what Starmer is advocating. In fact Blue Labour isn’t even ‘Blairite’ and were often critical of Blair and Brown for being to ad hoc to the state and market. Blue Labour commonly argues for ‘guild socialism’ with corporatism and are not particularly keen on what they see as neoliberalism. It is true that Blue Labour have a more socially conservative aspect with regards to things like immigration and are not keen on a welfare state. However, this doesn’t make anyone not in favour with Corbyn Blue Labour.
It certainly doesn’t make Starmer Blue Labour. This is the problem when one wing of the party presents themselves as ideologically pure and demeans any opposition as Blairite. Labour has always been a broad church and those who are more moderate than the kooks who pal around with Cuba and claim themselves as true socialists have ideological differences too. It’s too crude to label Starmer or anyone not fully in tune with Corbyn as some Blair reenactment.
Starmer hasn’t even made a manifesto yet. He has committed to keeping what he sees as a mostly good 2017 manifesto, which would make him more left than Ed Miliband, who most Corbynites don’t dismiss as some Blairite centrist. So I don’t see why this would make Starmer such, except for those who have an axe to grind because there has been opposition to their ideologically pure candidate. Opposition which was not really partaken in by Starmer at the time. but not being a devotee makes him the enemy to those who want to relive old lost battles.
I always think it really dismissive to label more moderate Labour gradualist reform as shades of purple. The actions of the last Labour government did far more than any other Tory government for welfare and the people. Minimum wage, human rights and tax credits for workers was far more beneficial for the people than anything the Tories have ever done. Yet the same socialists who dismiss this as no better than Tory will berate the Tories for destroying these aspects, which I just find ridiculous. You can’t demean a government for being no better than Tory and then just claim to be the defenders of its good aspects without acknowledging where they came from.
Sure, there were less savoury aspects of the last Labour government. There were aspects which heralded to conservative impulse. Law and order springs to mind here, and there is reason for argument against playing to the crowd when it goes against any kind of socially democratic principle. However, I would like a bit more nuance in the debate on what Labour values are and what is permissible than Blairites bad and did nothing to get support, while the hard left are pure and what Labour is really about.
Heck, there is even an argument that Corbyn and his crowd don’t fully represent ‘true Labour.’ Clem Attlee, widely and I think rightfully regarded as Labour’s best ever PM, came to Labour leader from ousting George Lansbury. A pitiful and pious character driven by his own misguided beliefs of pacifism and what he saw as social justice. He spent the 30s decrying warmongering against Germany and believing Hitler wanted peace, so much that he attended a meeting with Hitler alongside Oswald Mosely and genuinely believed Hitler’s claims that he wanted peace during this meeting and saw any negative reaction by Hitler as a reaction to British warmongering. This is somewhat reminiscent of how Corbyn, and many of his stalwart defenders, will take any position in favour of a hostile nation to the UK/USA/west and dismiss bad actions as a result of western provocation, and set themselves as the opponents of this, no matter how well meaning (I know that some aren’t well meaning). Attlee and Bevan successfully convinced the party and unions to usurp Lansbury after bringing in German union men to show how the situation was there for them and to let them know what was at stake for unions if Hitler had got his way. They didn’t go down this tunnel visioned outlook of only opposing the British state, even though they wouldn’t have been fond of Chamberlain’s government.
Alongside this, as PM, Attlee fully supported NATO, the Korean War and set the course for Trident. All from a Labour ticket, so to set Corbyn’s actions on this as the only possible Labour view is false in my opinion. Labour has always been a broad church for socially democratic views to mingle, and has not been about being a ticket for a more revolutionary socialism and everything else be damned. There are parties for that for those who want to join; these being the SWP and CPGB. I just want a return to the norm where to be Labour means to be socially democratic in some sense and claims to be true Labour go away, and only those who besmirch its name through racism, apologia for hostile forces and outright support for such (as what caused Galloway to be booted out) can be used to for a no true Labour call. As it is, such infighting solely because the leader isn’t pure enough just sets the stall back from trying to win an election and stop the Tory ills we’ve seen for the past decade, and I’d argue that a more moderate Labour is far much more palatable than the Conservatives, and the fact that socialists fight for the achievements of the last Labour government proves this.