It may soon be time ‘to draw the line’ on Glasman

Blue Labour told us many valuable things - but Maurice Glasman is now straying onto dangerous territory, writes Left Foot Forward's Daniel Elton.

Maurice Glasman has added much to the intellectual debate of the Left. The now Lord Glassman asserted that the Labour party’s mission is about people, not the gini coefficient or policy wonkery. First and foremost, he reminded Labour that it must always answer the question “which side are you on?”; to which the correct answer is “working people and their families”.

Unfortunately, his particular answer to that question is becoming sinister.

This morning’s Daily Telegraph reported that:

Lord Glasman, the leading policy adviser to the Labour leader, said the country should “draw the line” on immigration and even renegotiate EU rules that allow free movement for migrant workers…

He told The Daily Telegraph that Britain is “not an outpost of the UN” and the needs of the British people must be put first

In an interview with this newspaper, he said: “We’ve got to reinterrogate our relationship with the EU on the movement of labour. The EU has gone from being a sort of pig farm subsidised bloc to the free movement of labour and capital.”

This is dog-whistle stuff, pure and simple, and is one step away from “Powell was right’.

It follows a recent Progress interview from Glasman where he said that Labour needs:

“To build a party that brokers a common good, that involves those people who support the EDL within our party.”

This seems to ignore the fact that the EDL, whatever worrying potential it has, still represents a small minority. Furthermore, the previous generations of Labour leaders that Glasman wants to emulate, always had to contend with an electorate where up to two-fifths of the working class voted for the Conservatives, often built on the back of right-wing populism that traces its lineage through Enoch Powell to Joe Chamberlain.

The Labour Party didn’t win the great national arguments by appeasing those elements but confronting them.

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43 Responses to “It may soon be time ‘to draw the line’ on Glasman”

  1. Mat M

    This bit of nasty right wing tosh from the man behind Blue pissing Labour doesn't surprise me at all

  2. soisthesun

    Blue Labour: Two steps to the Right:

  3. Dominic

    This bit of nasty right wing tosh from the man behind Blue pissing Labour doesn't surprise me at all

  4. John West

    Time 'to draw the line' on Glasman: writes @DanielElton

  5. Prateek Buch

    @DanielElton and @CJFDillow expose Blue Labour's nasty, populist, dogwhistle take on immigration

  6. Richard Murphy

    It may soon be time 'to draw the line' on Glasman |Left Foot Forward There are issues here but Maurice has got this wrong

  7. Ferret Dave

    It may soon be time 'to draw the line' on Glasman |Left Foot Forward There are issues here but Maurice has got this wrong

  8. Michael

    It may soon be time ‘to draw the line’ on Glasman l Left Foot Forward –

  9. peasant

    It may soon be time 'to draw the line' on Glasman |Left Foot Forward There are issues here but Maurice has got this wrong

  10. Len Arthur

    It may soon be time 'to draw the line' on Glasman |Left Foot Forward There are issues here but Maurice has got this wrong

  11. Michelle Graham

    It may soon be time 'to draw the line' on Glasman |Left Foot Forward There are issues here but Maurice has got this wrong

  12. Black Guardian

    Tell me, whose influence was it that ensured the speech Ed Miliband gave today equated the poorest claiming benefits under the Welfare State to the bankers wrecking the economy, MPs fiddling their expenses and corrupt collusion between the press, government and Metropolitan Police?

  13. Bedd Gelert

    “This is dog-whistle stuff, pure and simple, and is one step away from “Powell was right’.”

    More hyperbolex from the left. Did you actually read the article ??

  14. Martin J

    The problem for the left is that your policies are leading to a very violent and quick balkanisation of this country, and you’re too settled into your ridiculous narcissistic comfort zone to even talk about it.

    You’d rather just sit smugly in the corner and say “racist” and “nasty” in some pathetic delusional attempt to lend yourself moral authority.

    Really pathetic, just wake up. Complete idiots.

  15. Northern Worker

    When I saw Glasman on Newsnight he came across as incredibly boring so this outburst is surprising. But setting aside all the rhetoric about Knocker Powell (yes, I’m pretty old!), could Glasman be right? It’s all very well talking about ignoring elements of the electorate, but isn’t it the job of politicians to represent the views of the electorate?

  16. DJC

    Hopefully it may soon be time to draw the line on Lord Glasman right wing nationalist appeasing 'Blue Labour' nonsense

  17. Andy Hicks

    Hopefully it may soon be time to draw the line on Lord Glasman right wing nationalist appeasing 'Blue Labour' nonsense

  18. Jill Hayward

    Hopefully it may soon be time to draw the line on Lord Glasman right wing nationalist appeasing 'Blue Labour' nonsense

  19. James Davies

    RT @leftfootfwd: It may soon be time 'to draw the line' on Glasman

  20. PHIL

    Like it or not these views are very popular with white working class voters
    (Core Labour Voters) Who feel marginalised from the movement.
    The Left must stop putting its collective head in the sand, address Core Voters issues & try to win them back to the movement, Constantly calling them
    Racist & Insular only pushes them towards the EDL / BNP / UKIP

  21. Kevin leonard

    I have always been a Labour voter but the fact that they as a party are wiling to follow like sheep as the sovereign rights of this once great nation are handed over to unelected corrupt parasites in Brussels annoys me. So too the ability of the left wing to remove itself from the fact that only 33% of the UK voters would vote to stay within the EU if there was a referendum. Whatever happened to the democratic belief that the majority should rule?

  22. Dave Citizen

    The debate on immigration is, in a crowded world rapidly running into various limits, one that all serious politicians need to open their eyes to. Old tribal positions are simply not the order of the day.

    If those on the left fail to engage with reality on the ground and close their minds to difficult questions they are simply handing over agenda setting to the nasty narrow minded bunch who use divide and rule as a tactic of choice.

  23. Ed's Talking Balls

    This is pathetic stuff.

    I thought that the election of Ed Miliband as leader and the talk about Blue Labour was supposed to signal a debate within Labour. Some debate, when certain voices who speak uncomfortable truths are shut out and ostracised.

    As Dave alludes to above, shutting your eyes and putting your fingers in your ears isn’t an option.

  24. InternationalUNCUT

    It may soon be time 'to draw the line' on Glasman | Left Foot Forward

  25. Leon Wolfson

    Dave – Limits? Oh, you mean the Tory immigration policy which is limiting the influx of *skilled* workers and costing the UK economy growth and jobs.

    Again, even the Office of Budgetry Fiddling agrees that immigration is economically a net positive, what needs to happen is a percentage of that increase is set aside for a fund to tackle the social issues of that immigration.

    Being exclusionary on these issues, copying the right, alienates those of us who consider ourselves British, but are not part of the white small-c christian majority (I’m white and look “the part”, certainly, but Jewish – and some of the nonsense I hear from even those on the left who should know better…).

    Also, given the entire point of the EU was free movement of capital, labour and services, it’s just another call to pull out from the EU. I don’t see it as necessarily a step from Powell, although it’s certainly a step *towards* Powell.

  26. Robert

    Should Labour be on the side of working class people, or is it working people. I suspect your right Labour should be the party of the hard working people, it chased the bankers long enough. Labour is the party of the middle class but only if your working.

    As a disabled person boy I find it dam hard these days to find any party that does not want me dead or dying.

  27. Zaki Dogliani Good article. Could Lord Glasman just get lost? He'll always just be the guy who thought of the awful name #bluelabour

  28. Lisa Ansell

    RT @leftfootfwd: It may soon be time 'to draw the line' on Glasman

  29. Roger

    a) Glasman can’t adlib without putting both feet in it and should never give interviews

    b) In any case nobody in Labour should ever talk to the Torygraph (or any organ of the bourgeois press) without being fully conscious that anything they say will be twisted and used as evidence against us.

    c) If this is part of a hand grenade strategy of provoking a much needed real debate on the EU and migration, somebody (perhaps one of his Jihadist friends at London Citizens could e-mail him a Hamas or Hezbollah training video?) should point out that grenades are not designed as suicide weapons and are meant to be thrown at real enemies that you want to kill.

    d) Ed Miiliband really needs to pick up the phone and say exactly to Glasman what Attlee said to Laski: ‘I can assure you there is widespread resentment in the Party at your activities and a period of silence on your part would be welcome’.

  30. Roger

    final two sentences are also historically rather dubious.

    Joseph Chamberlain was a populist – but that was when he was leader of the Liberal party’s radical left.

    Having switched to the Tories over Home Rule (although initially maintaining a Clegg-like fiction of a separate Liberal Unionist party) his former populism was kept suppressed for nearly twenty years until he pushed the Tories into their disastrous last fling with protectionism.

    But in a Tory context protectionism was not then a vote winner amongst the working class (who went Liberal and Labour by a landslide in 1906) as there was still folk memory of the corn laws when working people starved to keep the price of grain high.

    The real Tory embrace of populism – indeed Edward Pearce argued in his Lines of Most Resistance even briefly a form of proto-fascism – came in the final Home Rule controversy which happened after Chamberlain’s stroke ended his political career and this was when for the Tories began to use xenophobia (and in religiously divided cities like Glasgow and Liverpool sectarianism) as an effective national weapon.

    More locally the Tories also did very well from the 1867 reform act onwards in some cities as the Brewers Party – they knew that what was then called the nonconformist and we’d now call the protestant fundamentalist vote in the cities was locked up by the Liberals who gave them prohibitionist local licensing laws in exchange so they appealed to every drunk with a vote – and arguably this is a truer historical basis for working class Toryism than all the tosh that’s been talked about nationalism, aspirationalism and deference.

    As for Powell despite his having written an admiring (and actually rather good) popular biography of Joseph Chamberlain and occupying his old seat in Birmingham he was for the first two decades of his political life the Highest and Driest of Tories.

    Even his early adoption of Chicago and Austrian school free market economics had a strongly elitist and anti-populist taste to it.

    And whatever motivated his racist outbursts from 1968 onwards it certainly wasn’t a considered strategy of maximising Tory votes – quite the opposite as he knew full well that he would be disowned by Heath.

    And in fact his first real national electoral impact was in 1974 when he ended up expressing a preference for voting Labour purely on the basis of EU policy and arguably may have actually won us the October 1974 election.

    And after that in his second political life as an Ulster Unionist he set his face very firmly against the sort of populist Orangeism exemplified by Ian Paisley and was in favour of a strict integrationism of the six counties into the UK that gave no special privileges whatsoever to anyone.

    So yes there is a working class right wing populism which the Sun et al did not invent out of thin air but just exploits commercially and politically – but Chamberlain and Powell are not its main begetters.

    And as for Labour its pure bollocks to say that we confronted ‘those elements’.

    Which government was it again which brought in the first UK Immigration Act and which when last in power dedicated itself for a decade to the systematic demonisation of ‘asylum seekers’.

    Labour has as far from clean hands on this as it is possible to imagine.

  31. Stephen Tunstall

    Appease EDL?? Talking sense on Glasman & #immigration RT @leftfootfwd It may soon be time 'to draw the line' on Glasman

  32. John

    labour list and next lefts comments diagree here,

    the EDL may represent a small minority of the Whole of the U.K but that 3-4 % that they attract is a huge amount of workingclass people in tradiitional labour areas, that labour have lsot the vote in (like the East end of london,)

  33. Leon Wolfson

    Fine. Cut them loose. The EDL need cracking down on, trying to appeal to voters so lost to civilisation that they’d support that kind of extremism is an exercise in futility. Worse, it can only lose Labour far greater numbers of voters.

    It’s not coincidence that the EDL came out of football hooliganism groups.

  34. Ed's Talking Balls

    Let’s all shut our ears to opinions we don’t like. What a healthy approach to debate.

    Funny how Glasman was in vogue a while back. I recall a few articles about Blue Labour on LFF and I asked what the hell it was all about. Sounded like a lot of wonkish rubbish to me, but others seemed interested.

    Now, as soon as Glasman says something vaguely comprehensible, something that people who don’t read The Guardian might agree with, Labour bloggers don’t want to know. The race card has been played with grim predictability and, in one fell swoop, the hands are once again over the eyes and the fingers are in the ears.

  35. Leon Wolfson

    That’s because Blue Labour is indistinguishable in most respects from the Tory party. If they’re allowed to continue, then Labour lose much of their voting core to “nobody represents us”, which in many cases tends to be permanent.

    Of course you want them to continue, and lose Labour voters. No surprise there.

  36. Ed's Talking Balls

    That’s actually not the reason I’d like a debate to take place.

    I’m not thinking tactically, I’m just fed up with people shutting down debate at the first mention of immigration. To the extent that discussion is permitted, it must only consist of the odd graph and remarks that immigration is ‘economically positive’.

    At least Glasman has said something of interest to many voters. That’s more than can be said of the vast majority of politicians, particularly on this issue. But lo and behold, no sooner has he opened his mouth than people are calling for it to be stapled shut.

    And lastly, the words “nobody represents us” can be attributed to a great many voters, not just those alienated by the Labour leadership, I can assure you.

  37. Ed's Talking Balls

    P.S. Surely Labour’s already lost much of its voting core, since Blair’s modernisation and Brown’s watered-down, less successful continuation of the project?

    I have to laugh when I hear Labour criticisms of the “Cabinet of millionaires” when the Shadow Cabinet looks broadly similar to me; I can’t imagine that the wool is being pulled over traditional Labour voters’ eyes and they must realise that convergence has left us with parties which, in many respects, are indistinguishable.

  38. Children of Abraham


    Dear Mr Miliband

    We are writing as British Jews and Muslims, rabbis and imams and community leaders, in an open letter which we are forwarding to the media of both our communities.

    We share a commitment to fighting racism, antisemitism and Islamophobia wherever they are found – including within our own communities. This position is informed by Jewish and Muslim ethical teaching on equality and human dignity.

    We wish to express our concern at some of the statements on English national identity, immigration and the English Defence League, made by your close advisor, Lord Maurice Glasman, Labour peer and founder of “Blue Labour”.

    He has spoken of his vision for Labour “to build a party that brokers a common good, that involves those people who support the EDL [English Defence League] within our party”. He has said that it is not the case that “everyone who comes is equal and has an equal status with people who are here”. And he has also called for a complete halt to immigration, and implied that he is against asylum (“Britain is not an outpost of the UN…”).

    These comments have caused such offence and concern with the Muslim community that some mosques have announced a prohibition against Lord Glasman entering their premises.

    We are extremely worried by Lord Glasman’s pronouncements and use of language. Whatever his intentions, these sentiments and soundbites on such an emotive topic as immigration just give fodder to extremism.

    We feel that it is important for you to dissociate yourself from these comments, and we call on the Labour Party to reaffirm its best traditions of anti-racism, equality and compassion for all people in our country.

    Yours sincerely

    Sheikh Dr Muhammad Al-Hussaini, Lecturer in Abrahamic Religions at Al-Azhar College, Al-Azhar Al-Sharif

    Sheikh Professor Mohamed Elsharkawy, Secretary of Scriptural Reasoning Imams Council

    Dr Edie Friedman, Executive Director of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality

    Imam Shahid Hussain, Head of the Interfaith Department, Regent’s Park Mosque London

    Rabbi Reuben Livingstone, Chair of Children of Abraham, Jewish Chaplain to H M Armed Forces

    Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid, Chairman of the Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony UK

    Rabbi Jackie Tabick, Chair of the World Congress of Faiths

    Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah, Rabbi of Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue

    ENQUIRIES TO: enquiries AT childrenofabraham DOT org DOT uk

    (Children of Abraham is the national charity for rabbis and imams, the Jewish Council for Racial Equality is the national body in the Jewish community on asylum and immigrant rights, the World Congress of Faiths is an international interfaith organisation, Al-Azhar Al-Sharif founded in 960 is the oldest centre of Islamic learning in the world, Scriptural Reasoning is the practice of Jews, Christians and Muslims meeting to study their sacred texts in order to foster understanding and respect for religious differences. Maurice Glasman has been a leading exponent of Scriptural Reasoning, and used this as the “Faith” justification in Blue Labour’s “Faith, Family and Flag”)

  39. More trouble for Miliband – Labour’s left and right are both gearing up for a fight | Catch21 Productions

    […] A few months ago, Blue Labour seemed to have been discredited by Glasman’s controversial remarks on immigration, and by his idiotic suggestion that Labour should open a dialogue with the far right English […]

  40. Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of 2010/11: Maurice Glasman | Left Foot Forward

    […] But that is to miss the point of Glasman. His intellectual history is economical in certain areas. Away from the intellectual seminar, what his conservatism actually means is either unclear (there is a lasting mystery over what Blue Labour says on gender) or becomes offensive (referring to a present immigration policy as turning the UK into “an outpost of the UN”). […]

  41. One-club Osborne drives economy further into the rough | Left Foot Forward

    […] It may soon be time ‘to draw the line’ on Glasman – Daniel Elton, July 18th 2011 Share | Permalink | Comments: 11 Comments […]

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