A couple of months ago I noted that Chris Bertram had concluded that it was time for "the left" to abandon social democracy--which Bertram characterized as:
keep[ing] the masses happy by improving their living standards... prone to [t]witter[ing] self-regardingly about “grown-up” politics. Fixated on... with winning elections... have achieved very little... haven’t done much to stem the rise of inequality, to protect working-class communities from the winds of globalisation, to end poverty, or, for that matter, to protect the environment...
and rely instead on a combination of:
populist nationalism[:] culturally conservative, worried by immigration (and willing to indulge popular anxieties), anxious about the effects of markets on working-class community...
and zero-growth greenism.
I said at the time that I disagree with Bertram. I think that unless it is yoked to social democracy greenism tends to turn into nostalgic agrarian conservatism. I think that unless it is yoked to social democracy culturally conservative populist nationalism tends to turn into fascism.
Now Chris Bertram is face-to-face with the culturally conservative populist nationalism he wished for in the face of Maurice Glasman.
He is horrified:
Out of the blue, into the black: I’ve been willing to give Glasman the benefit of the doubt up to now, despite feeling somewhat uncomfortable at some of the things he’s had to say on immigration. After all, Labour lost the last election and we do need some proper discussions about how to connect with a somewhat alienated working-class base. Glasman, with his talk of community and his Polanyi-inspired scepticism about the capacity of the market to ensure genuine well-being seemed a voice worth hearing. Well the mask hasn’t just slipped, it has fallen off, and I think the “blue Labour” project has come to a halt with his latest pronouncements. Intra-left polemics have been marked by too much moralizing denunciation in the past, at the expense of genuine dialogue and understanding. But there is a time for denunciation, and it is now. Today’s Daily Express front page (Headline “Britain Must Ban Migrants”):
Lord Glasman, Ed Miliband’s chief policy guru, wants a temporary halt to immigration to ensure British people are first in the queue for jobs. The Labour peer also urged the Government to renegotiate EU rules allowing the free movement of migrant workers in a decisive break with the open door policy of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. “The people who live here are the highest priority. We’ve got to listen and be with them. They’re in the right place – it’s us who are not,” he said.
I would note that headlines in the Daily Express are rarely accurate. I would like to see the full interview with Glasman before proclaiming the full anathema.
But perhaps it is time for Bertram to rethink his casual jettisoning of social democracy and the politics of prosperity?