Glasman's new old pantomime

Blogger Steve Hanson critiques Maurice Glasman's take on Labour, race and class

Last week Lord Maurice Glasman criticised Ed Miliband’s leadership. Biting the hand that feeds him, maybe, as Miliband gave Glasman his peerage.

What Glasman says usually troubles me though, particularly in relation to race and class. As this news emerged, I had just finished The Labour tradition and the politics of paradox, edited by Glasman and others. This ebook tries to re-orient the Labour Party and labour tradition.

Glasman had barely finished speaking when Diane Abbott’s tweet created a storm over the word ‘white’ so intense that it risked nullifying any debate. The discourse was being evaporated by rendering its very terms massively unspeakable. The close proximity of this event to the end of the Lawrence trial illuminated how ‘justice’ is not somehow equally distributed, in a finally solved present moment we have now arrived at, and I experienced a basic horror listening to white people scream ‘racism’. I don’t care about her gaffe, but I do care about the wider ramifications of this, for politics, language, and the media.

Miliband’s introduction to Politics of paradox states that he is for reining in capitalism’s worst side-effects, but then merely co-opts a Big Society-esque debate about belonging, families and friends. Glasman’s idea that Cameron has taken Labour’s ground from them with the Big Society has some truth, but the Big Society is one-dimensional. Glasman is a community activist and does understand the grassroots, but my problem with the Big Society is that we own ‘it’ already. ‘Community’ is being coopted by politics in much the same way that dating is being coopted by internet capitalism, as Slavoj