An Introduction to Tangled Up In Blue
It was only after a summer of research that I came to appreciate the influence of Blue Labour. Very few senior party players would publicly subscribe to such a controversial label, but behind the scenes a number of Ed Miliband’s closest confidantes are actively pushing Blue Labour ideas. Well-placed sources describe how this influence extends beyond policy – touching everything from the tone of Ed Miliband’s speeches to the character and organisation of the party. Although Blue Labour is currently little known amongst ordinary Labour members – and indeed the parliamentary party – the evidence suggests this influence is likely to grow. Love it or hate it, Labour is “tangled up in blue”. If you’re interested in where the party is going under Ed Miliband’s leadership, you should read this book.
This is the first attempt to document Blue Labour and its call on the party to reconnect with working class voters, small c conservative values and community organising traditions. A journalistic account built on evidence, the narrative is grounded in over thirty exclusive interviews conducted over the summer of 2011. Amongst the interviewees are Ed Miliband, David Miliband and key members of the leadership office including Lord Stewart Wood. It also draws heavily on interviews with senior Blue Labour advocates including Lord Maurice Glasman, the Labour MP Jon Cruddas, the academic Marc Stears and the TUC economist Duncan Weldon. Insightful perspectives from outside Westminster are also offered, with a focus on the work of Citizens UK, the Movement for Change and grassroots campaigners. It’s worth reemphasising that the narrative is not intended to advocate or denigrate any agenda. It is an honest attempt to tell the story of an idea.
I sign off with a word of warning. Please do not expect a conventional politics book. The book is personal. It is grounded in place, people and the relationships between them. It deals with friendship and emotion as well as strategy and influence. One political writer I respect said he couldn’t put it down, but it was “quirky”. That’s fine with me. Blue Labour is unusual. How many political projects are sparked because one man is distraught by the death of his mother? How many political leaders are as likely to quote Bob Dylan as Tony Blair? If it’s odd, it is also appropriate. Ultimately you’ll have to order a copy and judge for yourself. I’d love to hear what you think.