UKIP has done us all a service in one key respect: it has forced the elites to confront the flaws in our democracy.
...I have come to the conclusion that Labour is in danger of losing England.
...the cohesive world which the [labour] movement helped to create has now fallen apart.
People are isolated and lonely, and feel both dispossessed of their inheritance and abandoned by their rulers.
It is no surprise, therefore, that so many core Labour voters – people who work and are members of a real village, not the global one, who love their country and their family – feel abandoned and neglected by the party that was established by their forebears.
That is why it is not just the Conservatives who are bleeding support to UKIP.
UKIP has benefited because people feel powerless.
The dispossession they feel is not an individual complaint, but a shared grievance.
I believe that this Government is incapable of responding. The Conservative party is nowhere near conservative enough. It is a liberal party that serves the interests of those who already have much.
Neither the Conservative nor Liberal parties are held in the hearts of people as the local election results show. They lost seats by the hundreds.
I'll go on to mention Lord Glasman's proposed solutions in a moment. It's worthwhile pausing first to consider what is important in Lord Glasman's observations.
First, he admits that diversity and globalism have undermined a sense of belonging to a cohesive world. So much for the "diversity is strength" mantra.
Second, he admits that people feel dispossessed and powerless. This raises the issue of agency. Much of what liberalism does was supposed to increase the sense of agency possessed by individuals. Agency means an ability to self-determine rather than to be constrained by aspects of the social structure:
In the social sciences, agency refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. By contrast, structure are those factors of influence (such as social class, religion, gender, ethnicity, customs, etc.) that determine or limit an agent and his or her decisions.
If people are feeling increasingly powerless and dispossessed then it can hardly be said that the liberal approach to agency has worked. I would suggest that two things have gone wrong. First, liberals have emphasised individual agency at the expense of collective agency (so that, for instance, a nation of people no longer feels that it has the capacity to determine its future). Second, the underlying assumptions of agency itself are mistaken: "structure" sometimes helps to enhance agency, as structure provides the framework and cultural support that provides the context for meaningful choice.
Third, it is interesting that Lord Glasman wishes that the Conservative Party really were conservative rather than liberal. He's not the first left-winger I've heard utter this thought. At some level, people do understand that you need a genuinely conservative force in society to hold things together and to represent a truly national interest.
So what does Lord Glasman propose the Labour Party do? Amongst his suggestions are the following:
Labour’s policy review is built around three themes: family, place and work.
That is what people care about.
Only through coming together for a common good can a decent human life, based on faithful relationships and an attachment to the people you live and work with, be forged. It is an active task not a passive policy.
Immigration and Europe, which are closely connected, have ruptured Labour’s relationship with its own supporters.
We need to heal that rift.
People feel powerless because we do not control our borders, we cannot shape our destiny and we have lost our sense of political community.
We need the Church and unions to find a common good between them to support people to fulfil their obligations to their loved ones and ensure normal dramas don’t turn into a catastrophe.
The future is based on skilled work and respecting work, and preserving our proud inheritance of shaping our own destiny together.
What's good in this? Well, he does state clearly that open borders makes people feel powerless and not in control of their national destiny. He believes that Labour lost support on the issues of immigration and Europe. (Note, though, that he doesn't offer a firm policy of limiting numbers in future.)
He also talks about the importance of faithful relationships and family, but again without any particular policy recommendations about how a culture of stable family life might be upheld.
In a more general sense, he also recognises that there is a problem within modern liberal societies of people losing particular attachments and a sense of togetherness.