The Labour Party has gravitated towards “student union” politics under Jeremy Corbyn and must stop “demonising” Tony Blair, the architect of Blue Labour has said.
Maurice Glassman, a former advisor to Ed Miliband, told a fringe meeting at the Labour conference that the party did not understand New Labour.
“This conference has a very weird atmosphere – it’s a different atmosphere. It’s an atmosphere of a superannuated student union. They’ve just stayed in the student union through a lifetime,” he told the Demos think-tank event.
The academic accused Labour of having “criminalised” Tony Blair and claimed Jeremy Corbyn had a patronising, knows-best attitude to the public concerns about issues like immigration.
“Until we have the maturity and generosity to have a genuine understanding of New Labour our growth will be stunted,” he said.
“The present criminalisation and demonisation of Blair doesn’t help us get to that place.”
Mr Blair is known to be hostile to Mr Corbyn’s leadership, having warned that he was “the Tory preference” for party leader and having recommended that anyone who supported his politics in their heart “get a transplant”.
Mr Glassman has also previously been critical of New Labour. He told the event, with regards to both Mr Blair and Mr Corbyn’s ideologies:
“There was an element in false consciousness in this analysis that was quite deeply rooted. There are real connections between Blair and Corbyn in terms of that the people need to be educated, persuaded into a better form of understanding.”
In policy terms the academic recommended Labour reform institutions like companies to include more worker participation on their boards and pay more attention to public opinion on issues like immigration.
Mr Glassman was seen as close to Mr Miliband in the early years of his leadership but appeared to leave his inner circle near the end of the last parliament. In July 2014 he warned that Labour lacked a “sense of direction”.
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