- Date published:
8:11 am, February 17th, 2013 - 49 comments
Categories: david shearer, labour, leadership, uk politics - Tags: david shearer, ed miliband
There are many similarities between the political situations in Britain and NZ. In both cases we are well in to a tory government that came to power with a popular new leader, facing an ongoing world economic crisis. In both cases the governments adopted the policies of economic austerity, cutting spending and squeezing everyone but the rich (who continued to do very nicely thank you). In both cases these policies have largely failed, leaving economies stagnant, and an ever widening gap between rich an poor.
One important difference between Britain and NZ is the response of we the people. In NZ opinion is shifting slowly, with aggregated polls suggesting that the political left in our MMP system is inching ahead of the Nats. In Britain it’s a rout, with Labour’s opinion poll leads at a 12 year high! There are differences between the two cases too of course, but surely there must be lessons that we can learn from the success of Britain’s Labour.
In these “presidential” times a lot of attention and commentary is going to focus on individual leaders. British Labour’s Ed Miliband wasn’t an instant success:
For the last two years he [Miliband] has been dogged by the claim that he doesn’t have any policies, or that he does not stand for anything positive (see David Cameron at PMQs, passim.) In some respects these charges have been unfair. Labour do have policy proposals, and Miliband has a “One Nation” doctrine (although Lord Ashcroft’s research found hardly anyone knew what this meant). But, until now, Miliband did not have a simple, attractive policy he could sell to people on the doorstep.
Labour took the lead in the polls anyway. And now it seems that Miliband is growing into his leadership role. His latest speech has created a political tsunami in Britain:
Ed Miliband pledges to bring back 10p tax band
Labour leader says abolition of rate in 2007 was a mistake and reintroduction would be funded by new mansion tax
Ed Miliband has promised to undo one of Gordon Brown’s greatest mistakes by announcing that Labour intends to reintroduce a 10p tax band funded by a new mansion tax on properties valued at more than £2m.
Brown abolished the 10p rate in 2007, prompting a revolt of Labour MPs and the low-paid. On Thursday Miliband described it as a mistake and the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, said the abolition meant “people understandably thought Labour was no longer on the side of the hard-working people we have always sought to help”.
The move, announced in a speech in Bedford, was denounced by the Conservatives as “a stunning admission of economic incompetence”.
I suspect that Miliband is going to extend Labour’s lead even further. He’s certainly got the political left talking:
Ed Miliband is a man with the makings of a brave and visionary leader
Bagging mansion tax and the 10p rate for Labour was good politics, but the scale of his economic ambition was better still
Ed Miliband: next election will be fought on living standards
Labour leader says the Conservative squeeze on middle incomes has contributed to economic failure and no growth
Ed Miliband promises to make the 2015 general election a “living standards election” as he claims that the coalition’s squeeze on middle-income Britain has deepened the recession and created the “chilling prospect” of a further decade of pressure on most families’ living standards.
In a Guardian interview before a major speech on the economy, he also accuses David Cameron of deliberately squeezing the living standards of middle Britain in his determination to cut the deficit.
Bidding to set the frame for the next election, and drawing on some of the strategy that helped re-elect Barack Obama, the Labour leader says: “I am offering a choice between an economic recovery made by the many, not just a few at the top, and a Conservative strategy that consists of trickle-down from the top, a squeeze on the middle and a race to the bottom.”
Ed Miliband aims to right a wrong with restoration of 10p tax rate
Promise by Labour leader was not just about restoring a tax band, but restoring a relationship between Labour and its base
And so on and so on.
I wasn’t initially impressed with Ed Miliband, but I am impressed with his success, and with these latest moves he’s re-establishing Labour’s credentials on the left. There are many differences with our situation in NZ of course, but surely there are lessons that we can learn from the success of British Labour. Some of them, to my mind, are to acknowledge past mistakes, to be clear about your principles and true to your roots, and to be bold. With capital gains tax, KiwiBuild, and child-centered policy I think NZ Labour has some of these elements already – but there is clearly more work to do…
I was just going to post this open mike, but you beat me to it.
10p tax rate, taken from the rich. Come on Dave, what have you got for us?
Key introduced a lower tax band, albeit that progressive higher tax is now paid by some on benefits, it does give Labour the ability to easily alter the amount before the tax bands change. And the argument is actually quite easy, why should those earning less than a living wage be paying tax in the higher second or third band of taxation before their kids get school meals, shoes, etc.
We all know the rebalancing must come, since the banks cannot print money anymore and so activity, and thus growth, when the fuel energy inputs are stagnate or retreating. Stands to reason when we consider how must wealth activity was available with cheap oil inputs (and so cheap money availability), we cannot afford the financial class of the 80s,90,00s, trickle down has declined and gone into reverse.
I’ll repeat what I wrote on open mike a week or so ago, re- the implied comparison between Miliband and Shearer:
On the limits of Miliband’s break with neoliberalism: what’s with his focus on “middle Britain”? What about the working and unemployed poor that is traditionally the focus of Labour parties?
Ed Milliband begins his new years address talking about a food bank, praising the work of the organisers.
His “One Nation” theme, which he launched a few months ago, insists that no one in the UK be written off.
Interesting post…Two questions which may relate to why UK Labour are up.
1 – Was Miliband considered within Labour and throughout the Left as the best leader available? Obviously there could never be complete agreement – but did the Labour core view him as their best option?
2 – When Miliband shuffled his MPs, did he get rid of the Blair / Brown hangers on, and present a fresh image?
UK Labour went through an extended leadership selection process with members and affiliates voting eg the following debate between several leadership candidates:
Ed Milliband finally won ahead of his brother, thanks to a slight union swing towards him.
” By 9 June, the deadline for entry into the Labour leadership contest, Miliband had been nominated by just over 24% of the Parliamentary Labour Party, double the amount required. By September, Miliband had received the support of six trade unions, including both Unite and UNISON, 151 of the Constituency Labour Parties, three affiliated socialist societies, and half of the Labour MEPs.
Ed Miliband won the election, the result of which was announced on 25 September 2010, after second, third and fourth preferences votes were counted, with the support of 50.654% of the electoral college, defeating his brother by 1.3%. In the fourth and final stage of the redistribution of votes after three candidates had been eliminated, Ed Miliband led in the trade unions and affiliated organisations third of the electoral college (19.93% of the total to David’s 13.40%), but in both the MPs and MEPs section (15.52% to 17.81%), and Constituency Labour Party section (15.20% to 18.14%), came second. In the final round, Ed Miliband won with a total of 175,519 votes to David’s 147,220 votes.”
Ahhh thanks for the detail. I believe the UK Labour leadership process gave it a platform to address its members and core supporters throughout the country in a way which grabbed both left wing attention and imagination.
I was hesitant to paste a chunk from wiki, but they’re good numbers.
Wonder what numbers DS would get in a party wide vote.
One way or another, I believe now that we’ll never know.
Not until the obit memoirs start rolling out in 2014
Looking forward to – How I nearly became pm and other fantastic tales
And – How I made the pm, but not for my party.
I was in the UK at the tail end of the process – it also got huuuuuuuuge mainstream coverage and discussion about what direction each of the Milibands would take Labour in, what kind of Labour party each would lead, how the decision would frame Labour’s values and focus … it was kind of epic.
unfortunately, not something that us colonials deserve.
Clearly, UK Labour were in a crisis of identity and direction and in great need of defining themselves both to themselves and the general public, who still perceived them in terms of a few iconic recent-past leaders and some who-dat successors. Completely different situation.
My God!…… that sounds familiar (from the point of view of a lifetime supporter of NZ’s Labour Party – but who can no longer possibly give them ANY support) – Beep Bop Aloolah, Not Nohow, Not Noway!.
.. not until, AT LEAST there is an complete and utter admission that neo-liberal/3rd-way/4th Reich crap just does not work. Christ! – we’ve had more than a 1/4 century of it! What does it take?
Probably a revolution!
1: No, Eds brother David was considered the number 1 choice for leader, and Eds rise was unexpected. Ed may have been 3/4th in the betting stakes to have become leader, rank outsider would not have been an overstatement
2: Tony Blair was long gone, Brown remains on the back benches, but if you pick through the pack, you will find all the hangers on still where they have always been.
There has been no clear out, there will be no change, how can there be, the controllers of the private BoE etc are still in charge!
The fact NZ LP has a blatant turncoat as its leader, compared to Ed Miliband, who can at least smile and speak somewhat, serves only to show what a piss take NZ now is!
During the selection contest, Ed Milliband reinforced a message that it was time for the party to move on from the mistakes of ‘New Labour’. He holds to that today.
Yeah, doesn’t really carry much weight does it, but it ceartainly seems to have the desperate fooled yet again! Old Labour, New Labour, Labour – Same people, different salesman!
Opposition is a pretty straight forward set of SOPs to follow, which then go out the window with the policies which were spun while in opposition.
Nah, never brought it, still don’t!
I had a go at this very same comparison recently (http://waitakerenews.blogspot.co.nz/2013/02/conviction-politics.html).
My thoughts are that successful leaders have to show conviction. Shearer is not there yet. We are all hoping that he can get there soon, develop some fire in his belly and stake out a real alternative view to how Aotearoa should be run, in the same way that Miliband is doing in the UK.
Good points. I believe that caucus chose Shearer in part because he was an affable, easy going, “every man” who could mimic Key’s success in that vein.
The only problem is – when the electorate tires of one style of PM, they frequently want a replacement who can provide a strong contrast in personality, style and substance. Clark’s intensity and intellectualism compared to Key’s…well, you know.
There is another narrative .. that Shearer, having been researcher for Goff,
was Goff’s choice as successor. In other words he was foisted on the Labour
Party ahead of others with hard-won intellectual, organisational, and street-level cred
which Shearer painfully lacks.
If they are still there when Key returns, there might be some unexpected blowback.
People seen the tv1 poll tonight?
National up 5. Got the mo’, and rising it.
Ah Shearer. Sigh.
Where’s TRP when you need him? 😉
People seen the tv1 poll tonight?
National up 5. Got the mo’, and riding it.
Ah Shearer. Sigh.
Where’s TRP when you need him? 😉
Do you remember the NAT, LAB, GR numbers?
Nats on 49 per cent again, if I am right, Labour down on 33 per cent, and Greens on 11 percent, that is the One News Colmar Brunton poll.
NZ First is on 4 per cent, and other parties are around 1 per cent or less, margin of error around 3.5 per cent.
Shearer is most preferred PM for only 15 per cent of polled, while Key is high enough on over 40 per cent.
Now, that “decisive” or “convincing” vote Shearer got in caucus a while ago, it seems to pay off, does it not? It pays off for Nats and Key, sadly!
“…One important difference between Britain and NZ is the response of we the people…”
I wonder though what the politics of the UK would be like if they were able to export 700,000 people per annum to Australia.
PS I spotted the term “Red Ed” being thrown around as a smear on the right. I am not sure if the smug apologists for the banksters have any real idea of how public opinion is shifting….
So the British Labour Party is saying some good things while in opposition.
I seem to remember Tony Blair doing that as well.
The challenge for Labour and other Social Democrat parties throughout the developed world is to be brave enough to side with the working class while in government as well as while they are in opposition.
Ed Miliband is an idiot and a denialist.
However, he is an opportunist and will go reasonably well in a society of idiots and denialists who have soon forgotten the reason they voted Labour out -Tony B Liar and the Clown, who sold Britain’s gold at the rock bottom price.
I hate rain in on you Ed parade, but I fear that celebrating the U.K. Election 2 years early is foolish. In the early 90s Niel Kinnock was ahead of Major and early 80s Michael Foot was polling ahead of Maggie. Ed may have a basket full of eggs, but he doesn’t have any chickens yet.
I forgot William Hague was briefly ahead of Blair in the early 2000s, yet suffered a defeat almost equal to the 97 calamity.
Ed Miliband is a typical social democratic leader, timid and prevaricating. The idea that he is to the left of Shearer is risible. It is nothing to do with their personal beliefs, it’s where the party they lead happens to sit in the spectrum. The UK LP still supports many Blairite policies (eg PFI) while the NZLP is opposed. The UK LP is ahead in the polls because the Con-Dem coalition has made an awful mess while the Nats here are shielded by NZ’s slightly better economic position.
1) Ed Milliband announces a lower tax rate (10%) for the lowest earning workers. To be paid for by a ‘mansion tax’ (property capital tax) on multi-million pound residences.
(Imagine that, Labour UK releasing policy details now, even though their election is not until 2015).
2) UK 2012 budget response: Milliband takes it to the Tory government, including attacking them for their “Bankers Bonus” and dropping tax rates for the wealthiest in the UK. From around 8 mins is a pleasure to listen to.
3) Here, Ed Milliband tells the Fabian Society that the previous Labour Government made mistakes and did not do enough to take on vested interests, big banks and large corporates. He accepts that the previous Labour Government became too disconnected from ordinary people and their concerns.
Labour under Ed Milliband would take many steps to protect renters and sort out bad landlords.
Oh yeah, Ed Milliband was raised in a family steeped in socialist and marxist values. I’d say that he knows what being left wing is all about, and not just in terms of a watered down capitalist leaning social democracy.
1) Ed Milliband announces a lower tax rate (10%) for the lowest earning workers. ..
No. Lowering the bottom tax rate is of equal financial benefit to all earners (other than the mansion owners whose tax will pay for it). I get really fed up when a lower bottom tax rate is spun as being for the poor, when really the extra money is spread so thin that the savings are so small, that the poor are the only ones who even notice it. The comfy middle class get exactly the same amount extra in their wallets. Inequality is unaffected.
Sure, mansion owners will pay more tax, which a good thing, but this little bit more for all cannot be construed as being for the poor any more than any other general benefit is specifically for the poor. A higher minimum wage, increased benefits – now those would be a policies for the poor.
The return of the 10p tax rate has been criticised by some on the Left as…what xtasy referred to as left wing “window dressing”…while not making any real difference to the working poor.
“Oh yeah, Ed Milliband was raised in a family steeped in socialist and marxist values. I’d say that he knows what being left wing is all about, and not just in terms of a watered down capitalist leaning social democracy.”
He was raised in the family of an academic theorist ..
Yep. His father was one of the leading marxist political scientists and writers of the latter 20th century.
Anyone who thinks that UK Labour is that “hot” and a better example than NZ Labour, may need to take a break and read this:
The appalling, draconian and in many cases harmful and even fatal work capacity tests that have been used in the UK for years, to assess sick and disabled claiming benefits there, were introduced under Labour there!
The shadow “work and pensions secretary” – and therefore welfare spokesperson – in the Labour Party in the UK, Liam Byrne, has repeatedly been defending the introduction of the tests. Now at least he and his party colleagues appear to admit though, that a “review” is needed.
That test in use there now, just a year or so ago changed a bit under the conservative – liberal democrat government, has cost about 1,100 or more lives between early 2011 and Sept. 2011 alone.
For a “Labour” party there to defend a test, fancied very much by National and Paula Bennett here, that does not tell me that UK Labour is much different at all to the rather centre-right kind of NZ Labour Party we have now. In respect to welfare it even seems worse.
Talk about re-introducing a tax on wealthy, doing a few other minor changes, holding nice speeches, and using catch phrases to catch votes, that does not convince me that Ed Miliband is really the “socialist” he may try to present himself as.
UK Labour is also just calling for a “delay” of further radical welfare reforms by the present UK government, not a stop to it.
That is the weak UK Labour position in view of this damning assessment by Black Triangle Campaign organisation, representing disabled there:
I fear that UK Labour is just doing a lot of “window dressing” to regain traditional voters, plus the ones in that much quoted “centre”, same as Labour here is under David Shearer. And while the ABCers are desperately working on other agendas to hype up the polls, they are also busy glancing over to the UK, to “learn” and “copy” more of what they do there.
No, I am not convinced that Miliband is that great and convincing, although he is of course much better at speaking and leading as hopeless NZ Labour’s “David”, what was his name again?
RSA blogs agrees with you that UK Labour and Conservatives have quite similar policy positions.
Much of politics involves the creation of “desired perceptions” amongst large enough parts of the public and therefore voters.
The bulk of society only have a rather superficial understanding of complex economic, social and other issues, and they rely on media and face to face exchanges, now also blogs of course, for developing “opinions” and electoral preferences.
With the traditionally more “managed”, socially more balanced economic and social policies having been largely abolished decades ago (1980s and 1990s) in almost all “developed” countries (mostly the traditional “western” countries in Europe, North America and Japan), with privatisation, out-sourcing and off-shoring having become the norm in a highly competitive world, and with the time factor coming into play also, only people aged over 40 may still have some proper awareness and understanding of what “traditional” Labour or other politics – from times before then – would look like.
Society changes, people age, and new generations replace older ones. So we have a fair share of populations in all these countries that have never learned about any “social democrat”, “socialist”, Labour – or other more inclusive, balanced and “social” policies – in the case of NZ from before the Roger Douglas era in the mid to late 1980s.
The younger generations, yes all generations, know little else but what they grew up with, and so it is not suprising that those calling for Labour to return to it’s roots, may not really cause waves of solidarity and enthusiasm amongst all the generations in NZ society.
Like in the UK, the NZ Labour Party is between a rock and a hard place, drawn between the younger “tradition” of the last 3 decades, or the truly older “tradition” from before 1984. The true strategic stake holders in society are the ones that own and control capital and the economy. They are represented by extremely powerful lobby groups, and they can and do certainly influence election results. The media, largely privatised, or as remnants of state media, that has largely fallen into line with that mostly poor standard, competing, hitting headline- and ad-return driven private media, play their role in this. Election winners are made or broken.
UK Labour changed during and after the neo liberal, right wing Thatcher era (where unions were smashed), so came Blair and his mellow New Labour stuff. People also even “get used” in a way to the right wing governments to at least some degree, when they slash and burn, and anything just a little more moderate is in the end welcome. The steady “hammering” with anything just forces people to give in and resign, at least to some degree.
Constant manipulation and applying the policies of division, creating perceptions that may not even represent reality, that is how societies are run now, more than ever. That is why parties like Labour, both in the UK and here, are so afraid to not make any “wrong” decisions and take any “risky” steps. They bear in mind the mood of public sentiment and also the power of the media, which is involved in reinforcing perceived trends and fads. The truth often becomes more of a secondary relevance.
The parties on the right are caught in similar dilemmas, but as they play along the private enterprise line of doing things, they always have the private media lean more towards them.
So I see both Shearer and his “team” in NZ Labour do the same kind of stuff as Miliband and his colleagues in the now so called “One Nation Labour” party in the UK. It is using slogans, catch phrases and often petty policies, that are not really that different from their opponents, but they work hard on creating perceptions, to make them appear very different and decisive on issues and topics.
In the end the public tends to fall too easily for this, as they lack time, knowledge and personal ability to dissect and digest information, and to study what really goes on. So politics is not improving in the fast moving modern society, it is constantly degenerating into competitions – based on creating kinds of perception rather than on substantial, more relevant matters in policy (and whatever comes with it).
In short: Incessant dumbing down and manipulation is the “golden rule” now.
Well said, xtasy.
I instantly disliked the “One Nation” slogan. Reminds me too much of Miz Pauline of Oz.
So if you were voting in GB’s next general election, given the FPP electoral system, would Labour not
get your vote?
This is a difficult one. I always voted Labour while I lived in the UK (left when Major was PM, and before Blair became PM). Some friends in the UK see Ed Miliband as pandering to neoliberalism, with no real change from New Labour. The only choice in the past was the Lib Dems. Now they have little choice, but maybe to hold their noses and vote Labour. It also depends on who their local candidate is.
I think a lot of people were seriously let down by the end of Blair, and that was quite evident in the last vote.
A shame considering the real mood change that swept the tories away after so long, the cool Brittania, the classless society et al. Such a wasted opportunity.
I wouldn’t have voted for Brown, but would for Ed, so that’s progress.
Lucky we have the Greens here to push for the left.
Good point, but this incessant self justification as indeed a more kind of “lesser evil” kind of party that Labour has become both in the UK and in NZ, is making me damned sick.
I would possibly have no option but to vote for Labour in such a first past the post voting system, but at the same time, I would get involved with lobby or other (activist) groups, to put the damned pressure on MPs and the party voted for. Also I would use the media and social media wherever I could, to point out shortcomings, issues and contradictions.
At least in NZ we have MMP now, and for voters to consider present Labour as the only sensible alternative to National, that is a bit weak an excuse now.
I wanted to point out that there is a general kind of trend of “branding” party profiles and policies, of trying to get votes from whomsoever within a broad “centre” of the population, so that elections are won and governments can be formed. Principles, values and the likes are thrown over board increasingly in this kind of modern day political environment, and people forget, that as individuals that organise and take actions together, they can regain power.
Relying just on a vote every so many years, and relying even on a totally crappy media, which does not even inform anymore, that is NO option these days. Sadly most in the wider public do not get it, or are still too much in a comfort zone, or simply too scared to risk “security” to take any meaningful action.
Writing comments here is just one way to act, but it is definitely NOT enough!
Any government capable of this
needs to have its moral and intellectual faculties examined by certified professionals.
Previous generations of politicians had knowledge – and sometimes experience – of forced labour
in both pacific
and european theatres.
Unfortunately, a lot of that corporate knowledge is lost today – especially in this generation
Uh…but no one in that article was asking bankers to do hard labour…the title was a pun asking if it was time for bankers to undergo forced Labour (as in having the Labour Party forced on them)
btw bankers don’t need your protection, they have billions of pounds and floors of legal sharks doing that for them
CV, that’s a superficial reading of it. More substantially it was about two people successfully challenging compulsory unpaid work and “training” for the unemployed’ in the UK …
“Mark Hoban, has declared it is “ridiculous” to describe mandatory unpaid work and “training” for the unemployed as forced labour. Quite how this graduate of the London School of Economics can find a permutation involving “work”, “mandatory” and “unpaid” that allows for choice in the matter remains unclear.
Last week, for all that, Hoban managed a certain insouciance in interviews. Geology graduate Cait Reilly and HGV driver Jamieson Wilson had won their Court of Appeal cases over the regulations under which “back to work” schemes have been created, but for the minister this was a technicality. The Government had been found in breach of its own rules, but the rules had been rewritten instantly. Simple.”
More broadly, you are right. Key’s generation have no memory of recent history in this regard, and he spent most of his professional life working for BT (later bought by Deutschebank) and Merrill.
Ah yes, the Tory Tesco’s workfare programme, and the like. Another way to displace actual workers, pressure wages and make employees feel more insecure.
At least the UKLP has a leader. OTOH, does anyone really believe a word he says about anything, in light of the last government’s actions?