Nothing “Labour” should have anything to do with the EDL
a party that brokers a common good, that involves those people who support the EDL within our party. Not dominant in the party, not setting the tone of the party, but just a reconnection with those people that we can represent a better life for them, because that’s what they want.
Firstly I can see what he means. During Labour’s Blairite years (as of yet not entirely shifted), the task was to capture the hearts and minds of Middle England, while taking support and votes from working class communities for granted (not expecting the far right fringe to cause as much fuss as they have).
The “family, faith, flag” mantra of Glasman’s has obviously had some traction with Ed Miliband. In the Sun today can be found an interview with the Labour leader where apparently he declared ‘Red Ed is dead’ “in a bid to dump his left-wing image and win back Sun readers”.
But Glasman’s words are purposefully ambiguous. Are Labour supposed to engage in a battle of rhetoric, repeatedly saying the things that an academic has supposed working class communities want to hear? Or should Labour’s main task be to drop the liberal elitism of old and concentrate on restoring community cohesion in parts of the UK forgotten by metropolitan politicians?
If it’s the latter, and I hope it is, then Labour should have nothing to do with debates set on the EDL’s terms. The party of the working class should be promoting those things which make communities better and safer; creating social spaces where families feel better connected with each other and where mutual trust between all groups be allowed to flourish.
At the moment the EDL is a force that undermines this work. At home it presents itself as a necessary part of the argument on religious extremism. On the streets, their conflation of the moderate, non-violent Islam – that most Muslims in the UK subscribe to – and radicalist elements preached by Anjem Choudary and his small clan of jihadis, cause the very ruptures to society that community cohesion tries to mend.
The Labour party did make a pact with the devil in neglecting its traditional support base, the price of which will be paid for quite some time. But the EDL are no representation of today’s working class communities either.
Some of what Glasman is talking about is rather interesting, but he is in that early stage of influence, trying to capture headlines with bombastic statements. We can ignore a lot of it, and this is one case in point.