In January 2009, Maurice Glasman was an unknown academic mourning the death of his mother, a lifelong Labour supporter.
Disillusioned with the party he was raised to love, Glasman had an epiphany. Chain smoking in an over-crowded flat, he coined the term Blue Labour: a conservative form of socialism targeting the right-thinking working classes. This transformed Glasman's life. After capturing the interest of Ed Miliband he prospered, receiving national recognition and a peerage.
By summer 2011, speculation mounted that the concept was dead. However, reports of its end were premature. Tangled up in Blue emphasises that Blue Labour, far from being a rotting carcass, could still be the answer to Labour's post-election identity crisis. Glasman maintains strong relationships with senior staff in Miliband's office, and "still contributes his speech writing skills". It is clear that he remains influential.
Balancing traditional storytelling with insightful political analysis and interviews, the journalist and Labour councillor Rowenna Davis provides a comprehensive discussion of the genesis of the Blue Labour brand, associated problems, and its potential role in the party's development. She exposes the friendships that led to Glasman's rapid ascension. Significantly, at no point does Ed Miliband criticise Glasman's controversial views (such as his proposed immigration ban), maintaining that Blue Labour is "ahead of its time."
While Blue Labour believes that "some features of our society are worth preserving", it often appears contradictory. Though Glasman centralises the importance of "community" and the living wage, he despises the Welfare State and argues that the NHS precipitated "massive erosion of solidarity". While Davis says that championing family life is not a covert way of curbing female ambition, Glasman does not support the establishment of more Sure Start centres. Instead, he wants the state to encourage neighbours to look after each other's children, which, while a romantic notion, is probably impractical.
Tangled up in Blue is an excellent, clearly written guide to a misunderstood term. It is the story of how one man, plucked from obscurity, was fast-tracked to a position of considerable influence over the country's political future. In just one volume, Davis has rectified the confusion caused by insufficient reporting, and paved the way for informed debate.