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A UK Labour Split

Written By: - Date published: 7:58 am, August 16th, 2016 - 90 comments
Categories: International, uk politics - Tags:

Jeremy Corbyn

If there’s one lesson New Zealand Labour can give to UK Labour after another catastrophic loss, it’s this: look disunited and die.

So I think it’s time for Jeremy Corbyn to split. If Mr Corbyn sees off Owen Smith as leader of the Labour Party, Corbyn will be appointed as its grim reaper. All options other than splitting are worse.

172 of the MPs in parliament have no confidence in Mr Corbyn. The entire front bench has been purged. If one ever knew who the spokespeople were to form an effective opposition, no-one does now. Unlike NZ’s Cunliffe context, Corbyn has had more time to unite the party and had stronger support from the membership base, but has failed even worse.

Any major reforming party is going to have extremes of more conservative, moderate, and radical in them. But this party has stretched its ideological elastic well into breaking point. Under successive elections, the UK Labour party has proven far too left wing for Britain. Radicals always argue that the great majority who didn’t elect them were wrong, which is such a comfort.

The case against Mr Corbyn is not that he is hopeless and has no hope of Party leadership victory. He’s clearly popular. It’s that he would be a bad person to lead the country. He is a genuinely incompetent leader of people. The task of unity was no doubt hard, but that’s the job he chose, and he was no good at it. British Labour need to prepare for the good likelihood of a general election next year so they need a functioning Prime Minister in waiting. By no stretch is that Corbyn.

Prime Minister May will likely give herself enough time to form the EU exit plan, ram through some electorate boundary changes, and go to the polls in mid 2017. Labour in their state would be totally slaughtered. The existing Labour MPs cannot unite again with the full Labour Party, and the remaining MPs after a general election would be even less likely to do so. So those MPs should be separated now and form a new party.

Corbyn, his passionate 130,000 supporters disenfranchised from the leadership contest, the old radicals who will flock to him, and the unions that backed him through the leadership contest (Unison, Aslef and the TSSA) , would be a solid unit. But they would be fighting over not more than a bedrock of 20% of voters. Perhaps 70% of the nation will not vote U.K. Labour for a generation.

This split will either be chosen or it will be forced upon them. There’s no third tenable option. Make no mistake either this isn’t SDP redux. Voter loyalty is now very low. The remainder standing with Corbyn will have to do what New Zealand Labour have taken three elections to do: accept that they will never again be the power they once were, and convince Britain that diverse political interests can govern more effectively as a coalition than an overwhelming Conservative power. In New Zealand that has taken nearly a decade to accept, but it’s still more attractive than obliterating Labour and losing the country again.

The leadership ballot closes on September 21st, and the winner announced at a special conference on September 24th. It will be even uglier than it is now.

90 comments on “A UK Labour Split ”

  1. Sigh 1

    The fate of UK Labour under Corbyn should remind New Zealand Labour supporters of the great job Andrew Little has done to hold the party together while building coalitions on the left. It’s not glamorous work, and it doesn’t always keep everyone happy, but for all Corbyn’s progressive rhetoric, the UK Labour Party is utterly disunited and now faces oblivion. Leadership matters.

      • RedLogix 1.1.1

        Leadership matters.

        Leadership is a two-way street. If the people supposedly following you are determined not to, then you have only the choices of resigning yourself, sacking them or parting company.

        Not once in your post Ad do you make mention of the obvious; is that right from the very outset Corbyn was only nominated as a ‘make up numbers candidate’. The PLP never in a million years expected him to win, and have fought bitterly against the many hundreds of thousands of people who have joined the party to support him.

        At no point did the third-way Blairites give up undermining Corbyn. At no point did any of them lift a finger to help Corbyn or work towards a common good. All we’ve seen from them is treachery, back-stabbing and white-anting, and now they whine about the consequences.

        I agree with you on this one thing however; if Corbyn was more cast in the mold of your traditional authoritarian ‘leader’ he would have kicked the bastards out a year ago.

        • Conal

          Yes, it’s remarkable how the Blairite MPs opposed to Corbyn justify their opposition with a circular logic (reproduced here by Ad):

          “We can’t support Jeremy Corbyn because he’s a failure as a leader”

          What does his leadership failure consist of? It consists of the fact that he has failed to get his MPs to follow him. In other words, they won’t back him (they say) because he has failed to persuade them to back him. And that’s all his fault.

          The truth is that this is not about Corbyn’s “competence”; it’s fundamentally a political dispute. It’s about rolling back, or continuing Blair’s neoliberal project. It’s about a party with a mass base and parliamentary representatives that represent that base, vs a party dominated by a bunch of MPs who know what’s best for “their” voters.

      • Bill 1.1.2

        There are ‘strongmen’ leaders – the authoritarian bastards/wankers, and there are people who can politically encapsulate peoples ambitions, desires and hopes.

        The idiots in the PLP who have caused all the ructions will be gone or back on board around the time of the upcoming boundary changes. Of course, they and most of the media in the UK, will squeal at the sheer effrontery of Labour Party members exercising a bit of democratic right in choosing who they’d prefer to represent them at a constituency and parliamentary level.

        I just quietly regret that no such thing can happen here, and that NZ Labour is still somewhat caged in (ie -caucus is protected) by undemocratic structures, meaning that managerialism is about all it can deliver. Owen Smith is the UK version of Andrew Little – safe, managerial, a player of numbers…

        • red-blooded

          And what undemocratic structures are those, then, Bill? NZ Labour Party members choose the laser through direct ballot. Is it in your view undemocratic to limit that vote to existing party members? Because to me it’s just common sense; the party is less likely to be high jacked by interests outside its own membership. It’s not like it’s difficult or expensive to join ($10 the last time I looked).

          If people who aren’t current members want a different outcome from a leadership contest they have every right to form their own party and elect their own leader.

          Corbin brings passion and conviction to his role. Those aren’t the only requirements or a good leader, though. Little brings team-building skills and political nous. I didn’t vote for him but I’m glad that so many people did.

      • spikeyboy 1.1.3

        It beggers belief that you can so casually write off the one prominent western leader that stands strongly against US imperialism. Of course he will be opposed at every turn by every lever at the dispossal of the empire. You think we should just write off all those Yemeni children? Give up because its all too hard? Your cowardice is not for me

    • Garibaldi 1.2

      Really? Give me Cunliffe any day. One great speech when he became leader was too much for the neolibs in Labour so he got shafted. Since then we have only seen what amounts to non- committal rubbish. Even the Housing policy doesn’t go far enough. If the success of a nation can be measured by how it treats its disadvantaged then Labour is still way behind what it should stand for. Maybe Labour has to split in two also – there’s too much deadwood in there. The party claims to be a “Broad Church” but in all honesty a lot of them should be in National or Act.

      • Sigh 1.2.1

        I rest my case.

        • adam

          Thanks for the new neoco/neolib assessment their Sigh, enlightening.

          • Sigh

            Garibaldi was suggesting deliberately splitting the NZ Labour Party in two. It’s utter madness. Change comes gradually in the real world, and anyone who suggests we should tear apart progressive institutions because they’re not perfect, rather than reform them, is either foolish or an armchair radical. There are real people who need Labour to win the next election. The course of action would have progressives out of power for a generation – and there’s no guarantee what form a reconstituted centre-left party would take.

            • Bill

              The course of action would have progressives out of power for a generation…

              Not wishing to comment on any alleged course of action, but just to point out that you’d have to include the last generation (plus about half a decade), meaning that your assertion should be two generations (plus about half a decade).

            • adam

              What centre left party are you talking about Sigh? You do know what the reserve bank act means for society? You do know that the labour party supports the retention of that statute? So let me ask again – what centre left and/or progressive party are you talking about?

  2. Hanswurst 2

    Under successive elections, the UK Labour party has proven far too left wing for Britain.

    What are you basing that on? To me it looked like their problem was more that they have had leaders who were more easily lampooned and dismissed than their opposition counterpart in the minds of a public that doesn’t think of politics chiefly along traditionally right or left-wing lines.

    • RedLogix 2.1

      Exactly. Whenever someone makes the claim that Corbyn is ‘too left-wing’ you’ll notice they never actually specify anything. They never point to any actual policy as ‘too radical’. Because they can’t. Corbyn’s socialism would have been considered middle of the road before the neoliberals came along and fucked everything up.

      Corbyn’s real problem is nothing to do with his politics. It’s old-fashioned snobbery. He’s not given to wearing flash suits, he still rides a crappy old bicycle to work, the home he lives in isn’t all that smart, he’s not into projecting managerial charisma and building a personality cult at the expense of those around him. And he rather prone to sticking to plain ethical principles and can point to decades of old-fashioned activism.

      Of course this shows up the Blairite careerists in the PLP as the hypocritical light-weights they really are, and they can’t stand him for this. If they fought the Tories with the same passion they’re trying to take down Corbyn with, they’d win elections alright.

      • Olwyn 2.1.1

        If they fought the Tories with the same passion they’re trying to take down Corbyn with, they’d win elections alright. In a nutshell RL. Nothing shows up someone’s values like whatever it is that brings their resourcefulness to the fore, and drives them to take action. The neo-liberal friendly version of Labour faces elections as if they were an exchange of papers at a conference, and the rise of the Corbynites as something to be fended off with urgency.

      • TC 2.1.2

        Long overdue sorting out required there and elsewhere to remove these self serving centrists banging on about a system thats proven to simply not work for the non powerful elite.

  3. Wayne 3


    I was in the UK in the 1980’s. Certainly Michael Foot was mocked, but Neil Kinnock wasn’t. He looked like an alternative Prime Minister. But even Neil Kinnock had too left wing a platform for Labour to be elected.

    Corbyn is widely seen as a latter day Michael Foot (it is pretty easy to make the analogy), so I am pretty sure he will never be the PM.

    • Hanswurst 3.1

      I think Ad was referring to the most recent two elections with his “successive elections”, so I’m not entirely sure exactly what relevance either Foot or Kinnock have. Even Corbyn isn’t really relevant to the question of whether the platforms of Labour going into the last two elections was seen as too left-wing.

    • Bill 3.2

      Foot was mocked in very much the same way as Corbyn is being mocked. Same culprits, but with the difference this time being that they can’t control the whole of the narrative – +1 to social media on that front 😉

  4. Ovid 4

    There’s a very real chance that within a few election cycles, the Liberal Democrats will become a larger parliamentary party than Labour as centrist Labour support migrates to them. Of course, in a FPP system, the Conservatives will enjoy significant gains as the vote is split on the left.

  5. s y d 5

    look disunited and die….it’s time for Jeremy Corbyn to split….The entire front bench has been purged….he would be a bad person to lead the country.

    The task of unity was no doubt hard, but that’s the job he chose…There’s no third tenable option…Voter loyalty is now very low.

    A Glorious Grab Bag of Guardian Gobbledegook. Look north of the border to see what could happen with a political organisation that actually represented the interests of it’s members.

    You hale, well met fellows harking back to the 80’s – that was the best part of 40 fucking years ago…the third way is ending.

  6. Gosman 6

    You can’t say you weren’t warned. The right loves that the activist base in left wing parties think they know better.

  7. Siobhan 7

    You are all here, so-called Lefties and ‘reasonable’ Righties, day after day complaining about or picking at certain aspects of the status quo…but when someone, like Corbyn or Bernie, actually proposes REAL change and presents a consistent moral compass..you all scream blue murder.

    Why shouldn’t the Neo liberals and Centrists actually stand by their political beliefs and form their own Political Party. Leave Labour to be what it was designed for…which, until the 80’s, sure as hell wasn’t centrist neocons, Free Trade policies, housing “markets” and the destruction of social services etc etc.

    • Olwyn 7.1

      +100 Siobhan – well said.

    • rhinocrates 7.2

      Indeed. The definition of a Guardian reading liberal is someone who wants change at dinner parties but will destroy “their” party the moment it might actually happen.

    • maninthemiddle 7.3

      The problem is one of electability. Either you stand on a socialist platform and damn the electoral consequences, or you adapt policy that is as near as you can to that objective while still electable.

      There simple fat is there is not sufficient appetite in NZ for Corbynesque leftism to win an election, just as there isn’t in the UK. And so the left blames all and sundry for Corbyn’s failures, just as it did for Cunliffe’s failures, but the reality is the problem is policy. Most voters see that Socialism has failed, and so are consigning it to the dustbin of electoral history.

      • siobhan 7.3.1

        …I’m not blaming anyone for Corbyns so called ‘failures’…because, to me, and maybe I’m not so hot on maths, but to me winning 285 constituency Labour parties (CLPs), with his rival, Owen Smith, taking just 53 nominations, in other words Jeremy Corbyn has won the backing of 84% of local Labour parties….well that seems just fine and dandy.

        • maninthemiddle

          Not really, because it isn’t CLP’s that win elections, it is the wider public. Corbyn is unelectable, and that was my point. If you are prepared to stay with a platform that will never win an election, that’s fine…Corbyn (and Little) are for you.

    • Peter 7.4

      I do not know who wrote this but I think it says it all about here and the UK.

      The Labour party is no longer fit for purpose. It no longer fulfills the roll it was given by its founders and has become part of the establishment it was meant to oppose and change. The working class of the 19th century strived for improved conditions for themselves and their descendants. They formed the Labour party as the political wing of that dream and the unions as the industrial side.

  8. Bill 8

    The NEC elections have just been held. Big changes there.

    At the time of the upcoming boundary changes, members will select Labour Party nominees – I’d expect some big changes there too.

    The rise of socialism within the Labour Party (as far as that makes sense within a parliamentary party) is what all the bullshit and nonsense has been about.

    Kinnock was responsible for shifting Labour away from its roots back in 1983. That’s 30 odd years of ‘ever more right’ shift to reverse. It wasn’t going to happen without tears and it wasn’t going to happen instantly.

    Corbyn is absolutely the one to steer that change through. Many, if not most of those who resigned, will get back on board soon enough.

  9. Bill 9

    From The Guardian Jeremy Corbyn has won local party nominations by a landslide in the Labour leadership contest, with 84% of constituency nominations at the final count. The Labour leader won the support of 285 constituency Labour parties (CLPs), with his rival, Owen Smith, taking just 53 nominations.

    More like a slice or a sliver than a split then? Thinking shaved ham as opposed to pumpkin if you know what I mean.


  10. Adrian 10

    I am absolutely appalled that a contributor on a left wing news site/forum is calling Corbyn the ‘grim reaper’, and accusing him of not being able to lead people, a very strange conclusion when he has lead the UK Labour Party to being probably the most popular Socialist Party in the Western world, with actual socialist policies, and not this bullshit cenertist rubbish we keep hearing from NZ Labour ($500.000 affordable housing, come on!).
    This is exactly the kind of response we got when Sanders was running in the US, undermined at every stage by the liberal establishment/media, and now look where we are, Clinton, the democratic Nixon, poised to take control.

    I am very pleased this battle has finally happened in the UK , I believe it will be, in the long run, the best thing to happen to the Labour movement in decades, Finally the UK Labour party can rid itself of all the frightened cowering centrists who fear real change, and despise the thought of working people actually having a voice, and get back to it’s core objective, defending the rights of the working. the poor and disenfranchised, which no one can accuse many Labour Party’s of doing much of over the last three decades.

    Hopefully when Corbyn win’s, which he will, the ripples will eventually result in the same purge here.

    [lprent: You can get as appalled as much as you like. It will make absolutely no difference to us. We’re here to reflect the range of opinions around the broad labour movement – no just that of whatever silo you grew up in (and got fed news slops from some bunghole).

    Since on average you seem to get “appalled” at something one of our authors writes at least once a week, I’d have to ask if you have a Mrs Grundy in your background somewhere? In any case, I’d have to say that while we have you around we don’t need as many stats on how effective we are being at doing our basic task of formenting discussion on the left. You are quite a canary. ]

    • Alan 10.1

      As a “RWNJ”, I hope you get your wish Adrian

    • Aian 10.2

      Well if we had a few more canary’s around in 1984 maybe we wouldn’t have ended up with Rodger Douglas, so I will take that as a compliment thanks.

    • Adrian 10.3

      Well if we had a few more canary’s around in 1984 maybe we wouldn’t have ended up with Rodger Douglas, so I will take that as a compliment thanks.

    • Ad 10.4

      Have you seen any of the Purge films?
      I swear I’d walked into the Labour national conference 1987.

      More purging! Blood perpetual! And cupping, that always works.

  11. Conal 11

    It does seem very likely to me that there will be a split.

    It seemed to me that the Blairite parliamentary rump of the party might have played nice and accommodated themselves to the leftward shift in the party which is catalyzed and exemplified by Corbyn’s election to leader. They could have gritted their teeth and rowed back from the neoliberal policies they had built their careers on. Not easy, but doable.

    Instead, the right-wing MPs saw the Brexit vote as their best chance to knock Corbyn out. By pinning all the blame for Brexit on him, voting no confidence, sniping at him in the media, and resigning en bloc from the shadow cabinet, they hoped to demoralize him and get him to “do the honorable thing” by resigning. But Corbyn’s idea of honour was a bit different; his loyalty is to the political project which he heads up, and to the hundreds of thousands (!) of new recruits who back him. If they hadn’t been so damned full of themselves they’d have seen their bluff wouldn’t work. So now that they’ve burned their bridges they have to keep going; heading towards a new leadership election which (despite that they’ve desperately chosen the most left-wing candidate they can muster within their ranks) is almost certain to lead to Corbyn’s re-election by the membership.

    It’s a disaster for the Labour right. Worse than losing power, they now face the prospect of an angry membership deselecting them. To retain their independence from the membership, the MPs will need to split from the party soon (well before the next general election) in order to be able to make use of the assets that remain to them: their parliamentary offices and salaries and expenses. I suspect that a big bloc of them will split off and form a new centrist parliamentary party without a mass base (like the “United Future NZ” phenomenon here); possibly some may try to go it alone as independents, which can work, in a FPP system, in the right electorate.

    For the Labour Party, the sooner the MPs split, the sooner the party can consolidate around its new left-wing tendency, select new parliamentary candidates, etc, and get on with business.

    • Tiger Mountain 11.1

      well put Conal, Rogernomes here and Blairites there are more trouble than they are worth really, more so given that their holy grail–“trickle down”–has been disowned even by the IMF and World Bank, tory lite has not worked for Labour so why not try a membership driven more principled left approach

      the UK is well ready for an MMP type system it seems

    • Ad 11.2

      It’s a disaster for Labour full stop.

      • Bill 11.2.1

        It might wind up a complete disaster for some peeps within the PLP. But so what?

        If the MPs don’t reflect the will of the members, then the members have the democratic right to change their representatives. Now, if only NZ Labour had the same level of democracy…but I digress.

        500 000 members might be more towards the front of the wave than the general electorate. And that’s good – it means that politics moves!

        I’m mentioning that in reference to the tosh we hear about how party members (or even some leftish blog writers) are “too radical” or on the tip of the wave and how that means they ain’t “in touch”…as though we should all just swill and bob around in the trough.

        A Labour Party that better reflects the will of people is a good thing. Even better, is a Labour Party that encourages people to lift their horizons – and I’m not talking about that individual, market based, home owner, count your dollars and clutch your happy cock nonsense.

        • red-blooded

          A couple of comments:
          “I’m mentioning that in reference to the tosh we hear about how party members (or even some leftish blog writers) are “too radical” or on the tip of the wave and how that means they ain’t “in touch”…as though we should all just swill and bob around in the trough.”

          Swilling around in the trough, eh, Bill? So much for respecting and serving the will of the people (who are, of course, swirling in that trough – nice imagery! What a respectful attitude…).

          Plus, who remembers New Labour? Yeah, that’s sort of my point. I voted New Labour, then Alliance, for years. It was always too left to really grow. The role it ended up playing was acting as a pressure to pull Labour away from the extremes of Rogernomics. Anderton pretty much ended up back with Labour once that happened (Deputy PM to Clarke). This party had plenty of committed activists, but it needed some pragmatism too.

      • Conal 11.2.2

        More a disaster for the Blairite faction though: their future post-split is written here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_New_Zealand

        Whereas the main part of the Labour Party will recover from the damaging effects of the Blairite split, because at the end of the day the Labour Party is also the main political organisation of the British working class, which is not going away.

      • pete 11.2.3

        It’s as simple as that: a change is happening!

        It doesn’t matter what neoliberal labour MP’s think of Corbyn. It doesn’t matter if Corbyn becomes the next Labour PM or not. What matters is that he has created a grassroots movement for change. He has massively increase the Labour party membership and this new membership isn’t neoliberal and it is this membership which will remove the Tory light labour MP’s and redirect labours course away from the destructive and hopeless path they were on for so long.

        In the face of attacks from all corners (particularly his own fellow MP’s) Corbyn has done a fabulous job. It’s a truly remarkable achievement. When the seesaw is so heavily weight down on the right it takes some heavy weight on the left to get back into balance.

        I long for NZ’s version of Corbyn. Someone who isn’t afraid to offend big party donors. Someone raises the issues that really matter like environment, sustainability, equality, moderation, education, quality of life not only meassured in $ terms, consideration for long term impact of policies, future for the kids, etc. An excellent example of what I’m talking about is right here: Chris Cresswell: Economic growth not the right path. If Little made such noises, he might well have offended some big party donors, but this may well be offset by a big rise in popularity and grassroots support.

        As is, the current NZ neighbour party is just as unappealing as laltional.

  12. Observer Tokoroa 12

    . Jeremy in the Uk. Bernie in the USA

    . These are two decent men. They have been despised by the ” let’s do nothing ” status quo of their respective parties.

    (Although of course Bernie is an Independent, but supportive of The Democrats.) Unfortunately, the Democrats have failed to roll the gross nonsense of the Republican “greed is good” mantra.

    . The Uk Labour Party is made up of people who simply have achieved nothing whilst drawing their parliamentary salaries. The are locked into ” nothing is broken so we won’t fix it” mentality.

    Can I repeat that?. They have achieved nothing!

    Jeremy Corbyn will go down as one of the greatest leaders of the Labour Party ever. He has changed the game. He has established that the wealthy will not override the Common Man. The Labour Party hates him for that. So, I disagree with AD.

    I wish we had a Jeremy Corbyn here.


  13. adam 13

    Thanks Ad, you confirmed for me what I have suspected about the NZ labour party for some time. It got a new paint job, but it is still in bed with the neocon/neolib program.

    Spying, houses for the middle class, opposition to improving rental stock, failure to address cannabis in any meaningful manner, never mentioning the poor, nothing ever said to help those on benefits, a woeful and disgusting policy on disability — And this is just the tip of the neocon/neolib iceberg which is nz labour.

    And they wonder why they can’t get above 30%. Neo-con/neo-lib lickspitttle that is why.

    I’m guessing most on the left don’t want a big state, or a massive increase of state powers. What they do want is a state by the people, for the people – representing the interests of the people. But instead we get the nz labour party, who time and time again tell people what is best for them, who time and time again fail to listen, and time and time again fall back to their beloved neocon/neolib agenda.

    Thank goodness for someone like Corbyn who has a moral compass. A understanding of the neocon/neolib ideological mindset, and most of all a real understanding of what it means to represent the interest and desires of working people – in the face of this neocon/neolib nightmare.

    • Wayne 13.1


      It seems a bit of a stretch to call Andrew Little a neocon/neoliberal. If he is, how do you define National?

      While Andrew Little is obviously not as left as you would like, he does seem to be firmly in the tradition of Labour social democracy. He is always taking about housing, more social housing and inequality. Not as left as Corbyn, but also not a rogernome. Perhaps in policy terms a bit like Norman Kirk, though without the flair. I imagine Peter Fraser or Walter Nash might be more his models. Obviously updated for the 21st century.

      Social democracy is not, and never has been, the nationalization of just about everything in sight, and a retreat to neutralism.

      • weka 13.1.1

        Adam didn’t say Little was neoliberal, he said the NZLP is, and he is naming something that goes far beyond Little in both time and culture. Nice red herring though.

        We need one of those charts that puts policy into two or three columns: left wing, centrist, neoliberal, something like that. I think it would be more obvious then. You can pull out all the centre left stuff you like but it doesn’t eradicated the neoliberal policies or actions from Labour.

        That National are to the right of Labour doesn’t eradicate them either.

      • Don't worry. Be happy 13.1.2

        That’s too easy Wayne. How to define National? Spies and lies.

      • adam 13.1.3


        Economics has generally been the crux of what is left, and what is right. You would agree?

        Don’t think I’m one of those people who thinks national are way out on the far right, I don’t. I think on the whole they are classical Tories, so right wing. Actually I know quite a few liberals who vote national, national is a broader church than most on the left give them credit for.

        Now I’d argue Muldoon was centre right, Winston sits about the old spot where Muldoon did. He is social conservative, but he is no fan of neocon/neolib economics.

        The labour party may be to the left of NZfirst on some social issues. But, in the realm of economics they are to the right. By this and I said it above, they don’t and won’t change the reserve bank act, which in the NZ context is the rock on which neocon/neolib economics is firmly tethered. So labour in economic terms is centre right. Another good example of this, are Grant Robertson’s speeches. Which are just a rehash of “we will be better economic managers” from the Cullen days.

        As for Andrew Little, he can do what he likes. I’m not a person who does the whole cult of personality, or worship the leader thing, utterly pointless.

    • Ad 13.2

      I’m a sucker for a strong and smart state myself.

      • adam 13.2.1

        A nice haircut and a good jam samwidge as well?

        Me I’d love a whole lot less state, but what you get of it – directed towards social services and protecting the weak. As a good first step.

  14. Anno1701 14

    IMO the failures of Sanders and Corbyn just prove the time for talking is nearly over

    The working classes in the UK spoke pretty loudly with Brexit, gotta make you wonder if next time it will be just words…

  15. McFlock 15

    The thing is that the longer Corbyn remains in charge, the more he looks like a leader.

    Cunliffe couldn’t get his caucus in line in time for the election. Corbyn has four years, more than long enough for the dust to settle. I also suspect that Corbyn has far more popular support from the party and affiliates than Cunliffe had, but that’s for the leadership election to determine.

    The real problem England Labour face is an FPP system.

    • TC 15.1

      Cunliffe was hobbled on the first leadership bout and shafted by elements that still remain in labour which pumped in the useless shearer.

      A cancer surgeon wouldn’t leave troublesome areas in a patient yet here we are a year out from another election with the disloyal operators still in place.

      • McFlock 15.1.1

        And yet Little managed to get them to largely STFU.
        Cunliffe couldn’t.

        That’s the funny thing about wanting to lead a [arliamentary democracy – first you need to be able to lead a party.

        I reckon Corbyn has the popular support, backbone, and political skillset to dominate caucus dissent so that they either fall into place or find work elsewhere. Cunliffe didn’t have the skillset.

        • Tiger Mountain

          the essential “skills” are simply class consciousness and empathy for the exploited and oppressed, and knowing how to community organise–rare commodities indeed among most parliamentarians

          • McFlock

            Your list is incomplete.

            You forgot to include “gaining the cooperation of a bunch of people who think that they can do a better job than you”, and “the ability to recognise the best way individuals can contribute to the team and persuading them to do so”.

            Class consciousness and empathy are required, otherwise we end up with tories in charge.

            But one issue that has crippled the left time and time again is that those who see themselves as the leadership cadre have lots of vision, but no practical bureaucratic, analytical, leadership or teamworking skills. They think their way is not just the best way, but the only way – anyone who disagrees with their vision is a neolib splitter and anyone who is a better administrator is a threat. Meanwhile their own skill shortages slowly rust away at the organisation.

            Two examples come to mind: nobody in Lab4 had the economic wherewithal to counter the Treasury/Douglas bureaucratic capture, and apparently Stalin was something like the sixth person offered the position of General Secretary of the party and was the first one to not turn it down in favour of more glamourous roles (big mistake).

            • Conal

              “gaining the cooperation of a bunch of people who think that they can do a better job than you”

              … and would rather die in a ditch than cooperate with you.

              “the ability to recognise the best way individuals can contribute to the team and persuading them to do so”

              … when they would prefer to die in a ditch.

              This is the “leadership problem” that Corbyn faces in parliament: his so-called “colleagues” hate and fear him. Nothing he can do (short of rolling over and playing dead) will placate them, and it’s clear he would regard that as a betrayal of the overwhelming mandate for change which the membership has given him.

              • McFlock

                So what if they “hate and fear” him? Even if they do, that doesn’t mean he can’t lead them. Party politics tend towards schoolyard/prison rules. The Greens are the only exception to that rule that I can think of, and even then that could just be because they put more effort into dispute reolution behind closed doors than many other parties do.

                Knowing when to placate and when to stand up and be strong is part of being a party leader. Looking weak vs dictating intolerable policies.

                The longer Corbyn stays, the easier it will be for him to remain, and the options for dissenters will be reduced to toe the line or leave.

                • Conal

                  Yeah I totally agree Corbyn just has to hang in there and the dissenters will find themselves forced to shut up or ship out. I just think the “shut up” option isn’t really a practical one since it would only get them as far as 2018, when the new electoral boundaries are announced and Labour candidates are selected (or deselected as the case may be). So that leaves them shipping out some between 24th of September when Corbyn’s re-election as Labour leader would be announced, and before the new electorate boundaries are set in 2018, or at least before the Labour candidates are re-selected in all those electorates. They will want to organise their faction into a new party and try to take as much of their constituency Labour party membership and activists and assets with them as they can, so it will take a while yet I think. It won’t be pretty.

  16. Observer Tokoroa 16

    . Yes Yes Conal .

    . Jeremy Corbyn is not a lazy layabout. The Parliamentary Labour Party UK exist I am afraid, to collect their Parliamentary salaries and perks. They have shown themselves incapable of work.

    They are a disgrace to Parliament.

    Jeremy Corbyn is a Treasure.

  17. Xanthe 17

    My gawd the “discussion” foisted on us by “advantage” is unmitigated crap, what a sorry attempt to spin and misinform, from what rock did advantage crawl out from under hopefully the next rock will squash it

    • Ad 17.1

      We were very, very lucky in New Zealand the same thing happening in the UK didn’t happen here.

      In the UK, the right may well be venal, but the left are just a mess.

      I’d like the virtuous to win by virtue alone.
      But it’s not happening.

      If you have different facts to bring to bear, do go ahead and give them to us.

      • adam 17.1.1

        So you are discounting all the wins on Corbyns watch, Ad?

        I’d say the left in England may be a bit of a mess, but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their act together.

        Just look at the SNP they walked home. And in Wales the left did rather well. Local bodies all went left in the major cities. Mayor of London, – I’m pretty sure that went to a socialist on last check. Wins all for Corbyn.

        Seems they left message is a winner, so overall I’m confused by your statement Ad.

      • Olwyn 17.1.2

        We were very, very lucky in New Zealand the same thing happening in the UK didn’t happen here. Let’s not forget that one of the reasons for this “luck” was David Cunliffe’s hanging on, under great pressure, until there was no choice but to have an election involving the affiliates and the membership, after which he withdrew and gave his support to Andrew Little. Andrew Little is the LP leader largely because most of the people who had voted for Cunliffe followed suit. This does not mean that the left have entirely surrendered to “wiser heads”, it means that Little was the contender they were willing to take a chance on.

        Whether you want it to be so or not, the neoliberal right and left are now under pressure throughout the English-speaking world, and political allegiances are shifting. It has not turned out that everyone is now middle class, and it is hollow to say “we must get around to doing something for those who are left behind” while remaining committed to a project whose very intention is to leave them behind. Corbyn at least grasps this.

        • Ad

          I think the left generally are under pressure across a bunch of countries.
          There ain’t a whole lot to be uplifted by at the moment in terms of transformational governments who really take the people with them.

  18. Henry Filth 18

    Politics can be two things.

    It can be a career, or it can be a path to power.

  19. millsy 19

    Corbyn bent over backwards to accomodate the Blairites, to the point of offering them jobs in his shadow cabinet, some of which even accepted.

    They had the opputunity rally behind him and take the fight to the Tories, and left wing socialism combined with a dash of market forces and a little bit of pro-business acumen would have been a potent mixuture.

    Its not JC’s fault they threw it all in his face.

  20. swordfish 20

    Ad: ” Under successive elections, the UK Labour party has proven far too left wing for Britain. Radicals always argue that the great majority who didn’t elect them were wrong, which is such a comfort.”

    Well, let’s take the last UK Election (May 2015):

    BBC Headline: Ed Miliband did not lose election because he was too left wing – study

    Labour didn’t lose the general election because it was seen as too left wing, according to new research.

    Ed Miliband was unlikely to win in May no matter where he placed the party on the spectrum between left and right, say academics from the British Election Study.

    Their analysis suggests voters were just as likely to back Labour whether it was seen as a party on the far left, or just to the left of centre …

    … Take Labour left, it suggests, and the party will not suffer. Take it right, and it loses votes.

    This is why Jane Green of the British Election Study says there is very little to the argument that Labour was too left wing at the general election.

    Most polls I’ve seen that canvass this issue back up these BES conclusions. Voters immediately before and after the 2015 Election were generally pretty well evenly split between (1) those who felt Miliband had taken Labour too far to the Left, (2) those who felt the Party hadn’t moved Left enough, (3) those who believed Miliband had got the balance about right and (4) those who were Unsure. That’s the majority of polls on the topic – there were one or two exceptions.

    A key issue at the heart of Labour’s last 2 Election defeats (2010 and 2015) revolved around the fundamental valence issue of perceived economic competence. As BES suggested:

    Some events realign parties with crucial issues. The economic crash in 2007/08 appears to have done for Labour what the exchange rate mechanism crisis did for the Conservatives more than 20 years earlier: it fundamentally altered the public perception of which party could be trusted on the economy. Given how long it took the Conservatives to recover a lead, it must be questionable whether Labour could have undone this shock to its ratings between 2010 and 2015.

    Another valence issue also played a central role specifically in the last UK Election – Miliband wasn’t taken seriously as a future PM. This had nowt (if I play the role of grumpy Yorkshireman for a minute) to do with ideological direction, me lad.

    • swordfish 20.1


      And whenever pollsters (YouGov was the most prolific in this area) asked precisely how Left-wing the Labour Party under Miliband was – only very small minorities (usually less than 10%) of respondents (and hence, by implication, voters) said “Very Left-wing”.

    • Ad 20.2

      Yes I put that line in there just to be annoying.
      I’ve read bunches of different explanations for their last electoral loss.

      • swordfish 20.2.1

        What ??? You mean you were just playing with us the whole time ??? Like a bored Tabby lazily pawing some overly-excited mice ???

        Ohhhh, Ad, it’s the fibbing that we find the most hurtful. Tears have been shed. Certainly in my house but also, I believe, in Standardista bed-sits and Student Halls of Residences throughout the Southern Hemisphere.

        You’ve let us all down, but far more importantly (and I want you to think seriously about this, young man) … you’ve let yourself down, haven’t you.

  21. Observer Tokoroa 21

    . To: Ad

    . You know what Ad, it’s got nothing to do with left or right. Politics is about being Human. It is about spreading Wealth. It is about Fairness and Opportunity.

    . It really is sad that you appear to have no idea why Jeremy Corbyn is such a great Leader.

    But then if you do not believe being Human, sharing wealth, fairness and opportunity – then you are not worthy of being in a community. Do you understand?

    • Ad 21.1

      I’ve never even met the guy. I’m going by the results. Which are pretty stark.

      Great rhetorical question at the end there; I’m clearly worthy of nothing except perpetual abasement.

      Seriously, try not to rise to every bait.

      • Colonial Viper 21.1.1

        geeezus Ad the stupid right wing of the Labour Party can’t even win the vote on an internal coup that they started, while Corbyn clearly has massive internal Labour Party support. Am amazed you are looking at Corbyn’s results so selectively when compared to the results of those Labour factions who oppose him.

        • Ad

          You’re probably right that Corbyn will come out of this with the better electoral machine.

          Kinda reminds me of the initial split-off of those United Future MPs so many years ago. They all thought they had a real shot and were strong parliamentary names. Politically dead all but one.

          • Colonial Viper

            The other big problem that UK Labour has is that without a large contingent of Scottish Labour MPs winning their seats, it’s never going to get power by itself again.

            • Ad

              That was the point in the last paragraph of the post:

              “The remainder standing with Corbyn will have to do what New Zealand Labour have taken three elections to do: accept that they will never again be the power they once were, and convince Britain that diverse political interests can govern more effectively as a coalition than an overwhelming Conservative power. In New Zealand that has taken nearly a decade to accept, but it’s still more attractive than obliterating Labour and losing the country again.”

  22. save nz 22

    Ad – you are such a Blairite!

    The brand of Labour is for the people who voted in Corbyn, not for the careerists MP’s who want Conservative Lite which people are increasingly voting against. Blairites chose third way Miliband last election, he did not get enough votes, it did not work!

    Many voters are now against Blairite Labour policy.

    Like NZ Labour who still think the Rogernomics was wonderful for all, now the full information and effects are being felt, people are rejecting it, and if NZ Labour can not reject it too, then they will not get the votes they need to win.

    As for in fighting the popular leader, look how that went down for NZ Labour last election. An election they should have won, but through wasting time on rubbish and infighting and going towards an austerity campaign while not tackling major topics like immigration and dirty politics aka political corruption they just looked like they were out of touch.

    In times of chaos people want stability or the appearance of stability or a vision that appeals.

    Working longer and harder under NZ Labour which seems to support Blairite vision of War, spying and neoliberalism – taking from the PAYE workers to try to prop up the poor while ignoring billionaires with tax haven status buying up the country and the importation of cheap labour to keep those wages low did not appeal to enough people.

    Even today in the Guardian about poverty in NZ, one of the campaigners blamed latte drinkers for the poor’s plight. Get real. If campaigners waste sound bytes on that, instead of attacking where the real issues are, government policy – then no wonder they get zero traction for poverty and people don’t vote for a change of government. They might as well be National, blaming Lattes on first home owners not being able to save for their first home.

    I don’t think coffee is the problem in NZ, but it is astonishing how often it is mentioned on both sides of the political debate!

    • Ad 22.1

      Your points are exactly the same as mine.
      Just a mild shift in terminology.
      Hopefully that doesn’t make you a Blairite in disguise! Ewww!

      • save nz 22.1.1

        I think the point should be Corbyn leads the labour party as elected, and those that don’t like that leave the Labour party, not the other way around which is how I read you put it.

  23. Sanctuary 23

    The idea that the UK PLP wants to split Labour if they don’t get there way is a nonsense founded in the mistaken belief the UK PLP is a rational actor. The nature of the right wing Blairist recruits in the PLP is nowadays that of a messianic cult. Their religion is their belief in their own infalliabilty, loathing and contempt of their opponents and that that Tony Blair is a demi-God. They are not open to reason nor will they see the greater good. Their aim, if they leave Labour, is not to split the party. It will be to try and destroy it. The Blairite core themselves are usually independently well off, and anyway they will all seamlessly mere into the UK establishment and be well rewarded with good jobs for getting rid of the “virus” of a proper, reformatory Labour party.

    Corbyn will win. He has control of the NEC. The Blairites won’t accept that. They are the fanatics – fanatically wedded to there careers and egos – not Corbyn.

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