It’s slightly less than a week since my piece on Maurice Glasman and Blue Labour went to the printers, but slightly less than a week is a long time in the crazy circus that currently passes for British politics. Ed Miliband has won a victory of sorts by getting David Cameron to admit that he should never have hired Andy Coulson, but now he has the problem of knowing what to do about Tom Baldwin: if he gets rid of him, he rather diminishes the victory; if he keeps him, he allows the Tories to taunt Labour with being the party that hangs on to its News International insiders. Miliband’s riposte to questions about Baldwin in parliament today – that Baldwin’s line manager when he worked at the Times was Cameron’s education secretary, Michael Gove – is ingenious, but only adds to the sense that the story is descending into farce.
Meanwhile, in recent days Glasman has made some ill-advised comments about immigration (i.e. suggesting that it should stop) that appear to spell the early demise of Blue Labour – according to reports in the New Statesman Miliband is planning to pull the plug and letting it be known that Glasman’s influence with him was never as great as some people have supposed. Maybe so, since nothing Glasman has been reported as saying (including that his agenda is influenced by Aristotle, Miles Davis, Lionel Messi and the pope) would come as a revelation to anyone who had actually read the essay in The Labour Tradition and the Politics of Paradox. That Tom Baldwin and Maurice Glasman should both turn out to be capable of embarrassing Miliband is hardly a surprise. Nor is it a great surprise that Glasman is the one being ditched first. As I said in my piece, the movement does tend to get sacrificed on the altar of electoral expediency.