I like Maurice Glasman’s approach to Labour history which is not all ‘cloth caps’ and ‘pubs’ but a plea for connectivity to other people and to a history of were practical organising. Without any direct experience of social organising and of
practicel many of use remain sceptical of alternatives and overly critical of those who gets their hands dirty in everyday life.
In his article in the Observer on 24th April Maurice challenges the press’s
account of his perspective – now known as Blue Labour and denigrated as Labour Conservatism – in fact he is merely stating the obvious that connectedness matters to people. In fact he is critical of both old and new labour, the former for its statist stranglehold and the latter for its confidence that the markets will solve all our ills through efficient managerial systems. The reason I like Maurice’s perspective is because he acknowledges the significance of practical experience and their relationships in politics – something most policy-makers lack.
Arm-chair politics can be very moralist and unforgiving, by contrast real life organising results in none of us quite living up to all our principles and having to recognise that people do not fall neatly into demons or angels. Parts of the Labour appear too often to dislike voters and patronise them. Brown was dead when he called a Rochdale woman a bigot.
The most interesting for me about Obama was his experience of local community politics and organising
and his reflections on both people’s capacities and frailities. Public sector reforms depends not just on new models of social organisation (co-production etc) but also on people engaging in egalitarian relationships. I have noticed in various discussions how too many advisors hate the word egalitarian precisely because it conveys the necessity of a change in power relationships; whereas collaboration and collectivity have become sanitised as a matter of personal choice and connection.
There is something about the lived experience in politics that is important, sometimes it is not ownership that matters but local connectivity and a scale that people can relate to – history, scale and connectedness are important to any new Labour Narrative – this is not just about ‘community or conservatism but a recognition that we are all human, need each other and effective local governance.
It is in cities, towns and small countries where you can observe alternatives emerging, whether in
Transition Towns, London’s Citizens Forum or Iceland. I am exploring locality governance systems where people are finding mechanisms to sustain healthy social environments as well as business.
Interested in where you think these are…..