I don’t have a lot of lords in my little black book but I have in recent weeks added one. He is Lord Maurice Glasman who the popular media would have it is one of Ed Miliband’s gurus if not indeed guru-in-chief.
By trade he is a reader in political theory at the Metropolitan University and was the driving force behind London Citizens. However he was recently unexpectedly elevated from Maurice Glasman to Lord Glasman of Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill.
I met him outside the Hard Day’s Night Hotel in Liverpool where he is stationed for the Labour Party Conference. We sat sipping coffee opposite the entrance to the street that housed the famous Cavern Club, a venue where many of my teenage idols performed as well of course The Beatles.
As we talked his mobile buzzed and Maurice ignored the link with a curious outside world. It was the media anxious for an interview or a quote which could perhaps be misquoted or twisted. The good lord was adamant he was saying nothing that could be misinterpreted before his political master, or perhaps pupil, Ed Miliband gave his speech on Tuesday afternoon - so the calls went unanswered.
Maurice Glasman is Jewish and talks of the role strong women played in his upbringing such as his mother and teachers. Here we come to the first link with Gibraltar for one of those women teachers was the daughter of Sir Joshua Hassan who left the imprint of a firm hand on the young lord.
Glasman is most associated with the Blue Labour movement. This is the creed of faith, flag and family which others have described as history, hearth and heritage along with roots, reciprocity and relationships. Blue Labour has been described as a blend of patriotism, conservatism and aversion to worship of the market – a critique of New Labour and its arid modernism.
However there is much in the Blue Labour manifesto that would resonate with socialists in Gibraltar. One of the key areas is migration where Glasman accused New Labour about lying over the extent of immigration. He has sympathy for Iain Duncan Smith’s controversial demand for British jobs for British workers which Gibraltarians both with jobs and unemployed might well grasp. He has stated: “The people who live here are the highest priority. We’ve got to listen and be with them.”
Interestingly Lord Glasman is very supportive of Gibraltar and is working on a number of projects that could have a positive impact on the Rock. One involves Spain and a campaign against that country’s fishing practices which are very much of interest to Gibraltarians who see illegal nets destroying the local sea beds, stripping them of fish stocks and killing dolphins.
It remains to be seen what final influence Lord Glasman and Blue Labour will have on Ed Miliband and the wider Labour Party as it seeks a new philosophy for opposition and government. However Gibraltar could well benefit from this shift in Labour Party policy which would bring it a staunch ally in its wish to remain British, ensure the right of Gibraltarians to self-determine their own future and offer a strong alliance against the claims of Spain. Most importantly Lord Glasman understands the rift that occurred between socialists in Gibraltar and Labour in Britain over the joint sovereignty issue and believes this boil needs to be lanced as a matter of priority.