Progress | Centre-left Labour politics
Keir Hardie

Hardie’s inheritor

Liz Kendall offers the New and blue that Labour needs

One of the missed opportunities of the ancien regime was an alliance between New Labour and blue Labour. The potential was there. Maurice Glasman, the blue Labour godfather, wrote an e-book called Labour’s Radical Tradition which included contributions from New Labour luminaries such as James Purnell, Tessa Jowell, Philip Collins, Hazel Blears and David Miliband. The Purple Book was endorsed by Glasman who singled out Tristram Hunt and Liz Kendall for praise. Both New and blue are descendants of Labour’s ethical socialist and revisionist tradition and therefore share more in common than most people commenting on Labour’s future. There is still hope, and Kendall ‘gets it’.

Kendall understands the need and the importance both for ideas and why they should be central to Labour’s renewal. On the economy, Kendall marries the best of blue and the best of New as shown by her speech to Reuters: worker representation on company boards, an expansion of the living wage, a local banking system akin to Germany’s, an expansion of employee share-ownership in companies, a strong focus on vocational training, fiscal devolution from Westminster and Whitehall. This brave, and somewhat blue, agenda for economic reform is underpinned by a clear understanding of the need for fiscal discipline and wealth creation.

However, this is not the only example of Kendall’s radicalism. It was a pleasure to watch her speech at Brixton Livity where, once again, she demonstrated her ability to unite the two estranged traditions. Her Labour party would be one that abandons its debilitating proclivity towards ‘regulating, restricting, fixing or banning’ and instead returns to its early traditions of co-operation, community action and popular power. Those who question whether this is a true Labour vision should bear in mind the words of Keir Hardie: ‘Socialism is not help from the outside in the form of state help. It is the people themselves acting through their organisations, regulating their own affairs.’ By invoking the spirit of Labour’s first leader in her campaign to be its next, Kendall paid respect to our nation’s radical heritage and the importance of English cultural and national identity. With her support for Jon Cruddas’ call for an English Labour party, as part of a wider British party, she proved that she is the only candidate who can speak to England – the nation that New Labour won but Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband lost. While Kendall rightly embraces the opportunities of global and digital change, she also recognises that Labour cannot be cavalier about globalisation and needs to ensure that everyone prospers in our brave new world.

Kendall offers a genuinely radical, but electable, patriotic Labour party, one that speaks to all of Britain, one that reforms both the market but also public services in order to disperse power to the people. She offers a party that believes people’s sense of fairness is ‘give and take’, not just need. Hers would be a party that is just as pro-business as it is pro-worker, that is fiscally disciplined, and which believes in both aspiration and the common good.

The embryonic alliance between New and blue was never born because Miliband was forever trying to split the difference between the party’s left and right and, unfortunately, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper have given little sign that they will be different. Kendall can offer Labour what it needs: something New and something blue.


Renie Anjeh is a member of Progress

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Renie Anjeh


  • In her speech yesterday, Liz talked about the Rochdale pioneers highlighted this idea of people being empowered and building their own institutions. That idea is at the heart of blue Labour too. Her answer too during questions focused on Labour being the party for the self-employed and recognizing that the numbers of self employed are growing and that we need to address ourselves to and be the party not just of the public sector, or permanent employees but all workers. I was impressed, she gets the need for change, sees that world is changing and that we need a modernised agenda.

  • Blue Labour has already repositioned itself as the Right-in-Waiting of the Corbyn Labour Party, since there will be no other, by the free choice both of the Blairites and of Luke Akehurst’s lot.

  • There is little that is either new or blue about:-
    – worker representation on company boards,
    – an expansion of the living wage,
    – a local banking system akin to Germany’s,
    – an expansion of employee share-ownership in companies,
    – a strong focus on vocational training,
    – fiscal devolution from Westminster and Whitehall.
    Why you call this “brave, and somewhat blue” I cannot think. Maybe there’s some devil in the detail I don’t know about, but these are policies which are not only quite acceptable to me, they are also acceptable to the Liberals who were dismayed by the Victorian economic liberalism espoused by the troika of Clegg, Danny Alexander and David Laws with such gusto as to make Milton Freidman look like a socialist.
    Had Liz Kendall opened her campaign on these lines she might not have frightened off a good many Labour members and might still be presenting a serious challenge to Yvette Cooper who seems to have got off ot a very slow start and kept her head down in the hope bullets will steer clear of her..
    It’s when she – Liz – gets onto “a clear understanding of the need for fiscal discipline and wealth creation” that her problems begin, because I am far from clear that she understands Keynes, Stiglitz, Krugman and the rest of the band. She exudes a kind of acceptance of austerity which may not be her intention but it is curiously expenditure-cut heavy and tax-rise-light. And in embracing wealth creation, is it as an end in itself or to finance enterprise capitalism (with which I have little problem when its in the enterprise stage, and under a regulatory system that ensures level playing field competition rather than oligopoly). And neither she, nor Andy, nor Yvette have grasped that it’s not high incomes that this country suffers from, because most of us don’t have them, but unequal wealth distribution. I would happily accept a top income tax rate* of 40%, never mind 45% or 50%, if there were in conjunction with that an effective system of taxing wealth, of which the mansion tax would have been a very good start … had it started,

    What is odd about this election is the absence of self-awareness of the candidates about the effect they are having on their electorate. It’s very clear there is a hostility to Westminster, to SpAds, to Oxbridge, to politics-speak, and the rest, the love of PFI, Trident, TTIP, etc. Yet whilst Corbyn goes on doing what Corbyn always does – you have to give it to him for being consistent – the other candidates have wobbled to be acceptable to as many as possibly and have not ceased speaking in terms to which the British public has become allergic. Very odd.

    * There are many on the tapers of tax credits who suffer an effective marginal rate of 73% who must laugh hollowly when Tories talk of making work pay; how does work pay when you lose 73p of every extra pound you earn in your none too brilliantly paid job?

  • Akehursts lot are more a organist body for canvassing rather than a, policy for social conservatism, and define Blairite neo liberalism, as being right wing, ,when it’s the opposite of blue labour

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