So what about nostalgia? Tony Blair has criticised Blue Labour in stinging terms, warning that echoing the Baldwin and Major idyll of old maids cycling to communion would ruin Labour’s chances. “I don’t think Tony Blair has read or seriously engaged with [our arguments]… Nostalgia is a wicked thing because it sanitises the past – as wicked as a certain kind of cruel modernism that sees no benefit in the past. The question is what kind of country we want to leave to our children.”
In his view, New Labour was “almost Maoist” in its approach to modernisation. “On managerialism, modernity and the market, Blair ultimately served the interests of the rich and the status quo.” ~Mary Riddell interviewing Lord Glasman, leading advocate of “Blue Labour”
It is a given that Blair never seriously engaged with Blue Labour arguments. They represent everything he and his allies oppose, and he would prefer that they didn’t exist, except perhaps as a useful, easily dismissed foil. Glasman’s dissent from the obsession with “freedom of movement” is refreshing, and his criticism of the distorting effects of nostalgia is very welcome. He is far from the only one to recognize that New Labour was Britain’s answer to our own bankrupt “centrist” corporatism, but it is encouraging that this is taking place among influential figures in the post-Brown Labour Party. Blue Labour could represent a healthy and necessary counterpart to Red Toryism, and it might force Tories to pay more attention to the demands of their constituents.
Update: Alex Massie’s line about a “neo-Poujadist” shift is unfair.