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Democracy vs efficiency

Written By: - Date published: 9:15 am, July 14th, 2016 - 116 comments
Categories: labour, leadership, national, uk politics - Tags: ,

Events in England really highlight the different processes of the two main parties. The Conservatives have completed their leadership transition in their elitist but efficient manner – closed rooms, long knives, blood on the floor, done. Labour have barely started the challenge process in their (largely) democratic but cumbersome manner – an open selection, with real input from the members.

I believe in the Labour model – both here and in the UK – as I think anyone who believes in democracy should. But there is no doubt that it is cumbersome, it paralysed (and will continue to paralyse) UK Labour at a time when it should have been moving decisively. Plenty of commentary has highlighted this contrast, and in effect praised the Tories for “getting on with it”.

There needs to be a counter-narrative. As the UK accepts the “democratic” Brexit vote, it should also accept and celebrate the democratic Labour process. Yes it’s cumbersome, but it involves we the people in politics, when it is obvious that the Tory “closed doors” model has been undermining democratic participation for decades.

116 comments on “Democracy vs efficiency”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    We know why the Tories launched a leadership event. Cameron was seen to have made a big political mistake in committing to a BREXIT referendum which finally went against what the Conservative Party powers that be (as opposed to simple Tory backbenchers) actually wanted.

    But why is it that UK Labour launched a leadership event? Scores of Blairite MPs who have had it in for their left wing leader since day dot planned a coup in advance and used the flimsiest of justifications around BREXIT to try and overthrow Corbyn.

    What would have been efficient would be Labour coming in behind their Leader and taking the game to the Tory front doorstep during Cameron’s ouster.

    • Ovid 1.1

      Could you articulate what you mean by Blairism? I agree, he is irrevocably tarnished by Iraq but that aside could you outline your criticisms of his administration?

      • Colonial Viper 1.1.1

        Selling arms to a human rights abusing nation like Saudi Arabia, culminating in him becoming a multi-millionaire consultant for the military industrial complex.

        Giving massive tax breaks to the City of London, culminating in him becoming a multi-millionaire consultant for investment bankers.

        Filled the Labour Party up with careerist corporate minded capitalist MPs and staffers. Who are now giving Corbyn hell.

        Entrenched within Labour the orthodox neoliberal view of assessing and managing the economy.

        Continued to increase GINI especially in terms of youth poverty and unemployment.

        But of course, Iraq is the big one. Nothing much beats an illegal war which has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians.

        • locus

          Best 6-line summary I’ve seen of Blairism

        • KJT

          “Efficient” in this case, would have meant the Neo-liberal wing of the UK’s Labour party accepting their democratically elected leader and moving on.

          If they couldn’t work with the public’s choice of representative, for leader. The decent thing to do would be to go back to their selection committee and allow for the nomination of someone who can, and/or then have a by election.

          The real mealy mouthed bit is the objection to more people joining the Labour party to “subvert Democracy”.

          Apparently even “Representative Democracy” is no longer allowed. Which shows the fallacy of the whole rotating Dictatorship idea of “Representative Democracy”, an oxymoron.
          It ends up, as here, with the “Representatives” selecting their fellow MP’s.

      • Colonial Viper 1.1.2

        29 April, 1995
        The Labour Party backs rewriting of Clause IV Labours historic commitment to nationalisation.
        The rewriting of this key tenet of the Labour constitution was part of Blair’s modernisation programme. He was determined to make New Labour as the party was now being called more receptive to the free market and the middle classes.

        Blair’s “modernisation programme” for the UK Labour Party. Meh.

        • miravox

          “Blair’s “modernisation programme” for the UK Labour Party.”

          I was listening the BBC yesterday when the PM change was going on. The talking heads were running out of things to say and got on to Labour and one mentioned in passing how the Blairites regularly meet up with the moderate tories, Yes, said the other they get on well, they have a lot in common.

          The only thing that surprised me about that was how casually it was mentioned.

          • Colonial Viper

            Their kids go to the same schools and they attend the same dinner functions and theatre performances. I suspect those MPs have far more in common with each other than with a panel beater in Sheffield (for instance).

    • KJT 1.2

      “Efficient” in this case, would have meant the Neo-liberal wing of the UK’s Labour party accepting their democratically elected leader and moving on.

      If they couldn’t work with the public’s choice of representative, for leader. The decent thing to do would be to go back to their selection committee and allow for the nomination of someone who can, and/or then have a by election.

      The real mealy mouthed bit is the objection to more people joining the Labour party to “subvert Democracy”.

      Apparently even “Representative Democracy” is no longer allowed. Which shows the fallacy of the whole rotating Dictatorship idea of “Representative Democracy”, an oxymoron.
      It ends up, as here, with the “Representatives” selecting their fellow MP’s.

  2. dukeofurl 2

    The pundits were surprised when the last 3 way contest in NZ labour led to a boost for interest in labour. Paddy was seen gagging on his own nonsense

    “Well I want to start with an apology for you, Michael, and all the viewers, ah for what a yawnfest ah the Labour Party leadership ah contest has been, and I want to [mumble] I know everyone is just getting up early and it is something people don’t want to talk about.
    But believe this, there has been, can you believe this, seventeen meetings for the Labour leadership contest already, they’ve gone around the country and had seventeen meetings.
    And I have to tell the Labour Party this, they are not a rock band. They’re not even the Waratahs. They do not warrant a seventeen centre tour of New Zealand.”

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      This UK Labour leadership event has led to a huge membership boost for UK Labour.

      Whom they have promptly disenfranchised.

      • dukeofurl 2.1.1

        They were only ‘supporters’ not members.

        In Australia its called branch stacking, could it have been the same in UK with many names just pulled from thin air.
        The national party has a nomenklatura who it relys on for some electorates to stack the result for choosing its electorate candidate, indeed was how John key replaced a sitting member.
        if you cant stack the LEC , there is always putting life into a long dead branch as a method of trying to get outsize influence, as you well know!

        • Colonial Viper

          In Australia its called branch stacking, could it have been the same in UK with many names just pulled from thin air.

          it’s branch stacking when party insiders call their mates and family in to join to throw a vote.

          It’s called grassroots support when a hundred thousand join out of the blue to oppose the party insiders and their BS.

          can’t you tell the difference?

          • swordfish

            No, CV, the official Blairite/Establishment media line is that they’re all extremist, fringe-dwelling “Trots”.

            Who would have thought that Britain’s Socialist Workers Party (generally thought to number in the hundreds) had 100,000 + members to spare ? *

            * Probably close to 200,000 membership increase since Corbyn elected in Sep last year.

            • Colonial Viper

              It is puzzling isn’t it. Maybe there really were ‘reds under the beds?’

        • Colonial Viper

          if you cant stack the LEC , there is always putting life into a long dead branch as a method of trying to get outsize influence, as you well know!

          The head office regime in Wellington decided to support Clare Curran as the mostly useless and generally disliked Dunedin South MP. So be it. She’s squandered Benson Pope’s 2005 10,640 electorate majority down to just 3,858 in 2014.

          And it will fall further in 2017 when NZ First runs a candidate in the seat again.

          All National need to do now to win the seat is put in a long time local with name recognition and local govt or business roots, and she’s gone anyway.

          • te reo putake

            Get over it, CV. She’s simply better at politics than you are. You lost to her, repeatedly. And if she’s so hopeless, what does that say about your political nous and ability to organise?

            Well, it says you haven’t got what it takes.

            Move on. Clare Curran certainly has.

            • Kevin

              Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Clare Curran though TRP.

              Saying she played the game better, does not make her a better MP than the alternatives.

              • Not my job to endorse her, Kevin, she’s not my MP. But clearly, CV is bitter and twisted because he keeps getting rejected in favour of someone he reckons is useless. It’s one man’s warped opinion versus the views of the rest of the party down there, and, importantly, versus the rest of the electorate who keep voting her into Parliament.

                • Colonial Viper

                  TRP, the regime in Wellington, and her personally controlled LEC have decided to keep her on.

                  Despite the fact that she has taken a near 11,000 electorate majority and reduced it by almost 2/3 to under 4,000.

                  Electorate MPs are supposed to get more popular as they get better known in the community. Nope, not Clare Curran, she bleeds popularity the longer that she has been in that office.

                  If Curran had started in an electorate with only a 7,000 Labour majority she would have used it all up and been gone by last time around.

                  And in 2017, her electorate majority is going to dive south even further.

                  Also interesting how you are defending a multi-term MP with no prospects for promotion and who is about to lose for Labour what used to be one of its safest seats.

                  By saying that Curran played the game better you omitted what game – hanging on to a seat for dear life even as every election tells you that you need to move on.

                  • Richardrawshark

                    Your stuck in your formed opinion CV, look at all the possibilities, she may be losing support but why? Is it all down to her or more a climate of displeasure at representatives of all flavours due to the bad handling of ChCh by Jerry.

                    AFAIAC it’s hard to get things done when your from the opposition parties due to political spanner flinging by national government.

                    Not saying anyones perfect but Clare seems to be doing what she can where she can?>

                  • And yet she’s still there and you aren’t. As I said, there’s a lesson there.

                    • Hanswurst

                      I don’t see why this is about CV. Regardless of whether he’s bitter about anything or not, he’s pointed to some fairly convincing numbers to back up his point, to which your response has just been a convoluted version of, “You’re a dick.”.

                  • McFlock

                    TRP, the regime in Wellington, and her personally controlled LEC have decided to keep her on.

                    Despite the fact that she has taken a near 11,000 electorate majority and reduced it by almost 2/3 to under 4,000.

                    She managed to keep local and parliamentary support after all that?

                    Whereas you apparently showed Labour the path to electoral success and good policy, yet couldn’t get electorate, regional or caucus support.

                    As TRP said: ” She’s simply better at politics than you are”.

                    • Kevin

                      I grew up in the Wallace electorate in Southland. About as blue as it gets. Dad always said you could put a monkey on a bike on the ticket for National there and it would get elected.

                      You don’t think the same rings true in long held Labour seats?

                      Now, I am not calling Clare Curran a monkey on a bike, but I think one would probably have more prospects than what she does in a future Labour government.

                      If she does not realise it, then she is just a trougher like all those on the Government benches we like to get stuck into on here.

                      At least National have a bit of a cull now-and-again.

                    • McFlock

                      Wasn’t talking about her vote so much as being able to work both locally and nationally within the party, despite apparently being a troughing loser etc.

                      Now, from what I gather Labour head office owes dunedin south money because dunedin south labour owns properties, but even so she was chosen by the dunedin south LEC that is chosen by the branch.

                      Which is more than CV could manage. Which was TRP’s point.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Yep I found it impossible to work with the Labour Party apparatus, entrenched hierarchies, self appointed gate keepers, committees stacked with MPs friends and family, passive aggressive internal culture, etc. and bailed ASAP.

                    • McFlock

                      Working with others is an essential political skill.

                    • Kevin

                      If it is just BAU, then I am wasting my time voting Labour.

                    • McFlock

                      It gives you guys something to whine about, maybe?

                    • Kevin

                      Not really.

                      Just surprised that mediocrity is tolerated in what was a solid-as-a-rock Labour seat.

                      When will it finally be questioned? When she has lost it?

                    • McFlock

                      Assuming she’s as bad as cv suggests, of course. She might just be an average mp doing an average job.

                      oh, and knows how to work with people whose opinions differ slightly from hers, of course.

  3. Pat 3

    “Labour process. Yes it’s cumbersome, but it involves we the people in politics, when it is obvious that the Tory “closed doors” model has been undermining democratic participation for decades.”

    We may have to wait and see how democratic it ends up being

    • aerobubble 3.1

      Key attacks Labour for being disunited, while his own side run for the dark rather than dissent openly. I know who i trust better.

  4. Paul 4

    What is happening in the UK Labour Party is the very antithesis of democracy.

    1. Banning meetings to discuss the issue.

    Amid the growing outrage surrounding the rules that the Labour party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) has put in place regarding voting in the leadership election, it appears to have finally given up on democracy altogether. This time, by cancelling all constituency Labour party (CLP) meetings while the election is taking place.

    In an announcement issued to the press and all CLP branches, Labour HQ would appear to be trying to silence dissent within its grassroots organisations.

    Effectively saying that local organisations are not allowed to meet, at all, until after the leadership election is over – the blanket ban also covers branch Labour parties (BLPs), local campaign forums (LCFs) and even annual general meetings that would have been scheduled for months.


    2. Removing people’s right to vote.

    Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) has voted in a secret ballot to allow Jeremy Corbyn to stand in the leadership contest. However, in a separate decision, and a massive blow to anyone on a low income, not only has the NEC decided to increase the £3 registered supporters membership to £25, but it has decided that anyone joining the labour party in the last six months will not be eligible to vote.

    Furthermore, according to ITV’s political editor, Robert Peston, the decision to exclude members who had not been with the party for more than six months was not on the agenda, and was passed after Corbyn had left the meeting. Peston was scathing about the decision:

    “Even by Labour’s recent history of giving shambles a good name, today’s meeting of the ruling NEC takes the biscuit.
    Because at the end of the meeting, after a couple of pro-Corbyn members had left, and Corbyn himself had gone, a vote was taken on a motion not on the agenda, to exclude from the leadership vote anyone who joined the party in the past six months.”

    However, Peston went even further, slamming the decision in no uncertain terms:

    “Now whatever you think of Corbyn, this looks and smells like gerrymandering by his opponents.”

    Peston is right.


    • Peter Swift 4.1

      UK labour’s new three quid sign up members are buying themselves a vote.
      That sounds like a candidate for definition of ‘antithesis of democracy’.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1.1


        Obviously the solution is to pass motions that aren’t on the agenda and ban meetings.

      • Adrian 4.1.2

        As a matter of interest, how much does it cost to join the National party?
        From what I last recall its bugger all.

        • Peter Swift

          I wouldn’t have a clue without googling it, but I’m sure a hefty donation in a brown envelope fits in somewhere.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Probably doesn’t cost much to join the National Party but it’s $5000 a shot for influence at the Cabinet Club.

        • mac1

          Annual Subscription
          11. (a) The Party shall set a minimum membership fee.This fee shall be fixed at five (5) dollars per member per annum.
          (b) Electorates are recommended to establish a range of membership donations commencing at twenty (20) dollars through planned giving, regular donations or automatic payment.

          According to 2013 Constitution………..

  5. One Anonymous Bloke 5

    As measured by quality of outcome, democracy is far more “efficient” than the various alternatives.

    • AmaKiwi 5.1

      “As measured by quality of outcome, democracy is far more “efficient” than the various alternatives.”

      My next comment is NOT based on politics:

      Studies repeatedly demonstrate that shared decision making produces better outcomes in science, business, and all types of questions. Shared decision making brings in more information, more alternatives, a broader perspective, and more enthusiasm for implementing the group’s final decision.

      There is NO evidence this is less so in politics and social policy.

      • Bill 5.1.1

        Better watch out, or next we know you’ll be calling yourself an anarchist and calling for decent expressions of democracy to be fostered by society. 😉

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.2


        Plenty of evidence showing dictatorships and back-room deals bring about worse outcomes.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1.3

        Amakiwi those studies are exactly what I had in mind when I made the statement. Not to mention history.

      • KJT 5.1.4

        Ship’s officers, and airline pilots, do courses, on how to listen to as many of their crew as possible before making decisions, especially in emergencies, where possible. (Cockpit resource management. A horrible term, but it is about making the best use of the combined experience available)

        Politicians, on the other hand, do things because they “think it might be a good idea”.

        Real world evidence shows that the more people you can involve in thinking about a decision the better it is likely to be.

        I have several examples of “change management” on my CV. In all cases the best changes are when they are driven within the company from below, widely discussed, and bought in by consensus..

  6. Tautoko Mangō Mata 6


    Bernie Banter ‏@bernieforkin 5h5 hours ago

    Democracy = Disenfranchisement

    Criticism = Abuse

    Unity = Sabotage

    Respect = Contempt


    Sorry but I don’t classify the process carried out by the Labour Party as democratic. Why cancel all CLP meetings?
    Before the Labour HQ ban on members meeting kicked in, 100 CLPs had a chance to meet. Here was their verdict: 84% had full confidence in Jeremy Corbin.

  7. Ad 7

    Anthony this is beginning to sound like another peppy defence of perpetual leftie losing, cloaked in participatory virtue.

    You are definitely on to the right question, but I don’t think you have the answer yet.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      And you seem to be going down your right-wing pathways.

      The only reason why UKLabour are having problems is because of the sense of entitlement and disrespect the pratts at the top have for the general UKLabour membership.

      • Ad 7.1.1

        Over precisely the same period of time, the Conservatives had even bigger internal divisions, and managed a nation-wide referendum and a fully democratic leadership change as smooth and as graceful as a Queen’s coronation.

        Whereas UK Labor can’t stabilize a process to save itself.

        So obviously it’s not a matter of left of right.

        It’s simply poor leadership and organizational control within UK Labor.

        And you’re probably about to ask me whether NZ Labour’s leadership voting change process was worth it, when compared to National’s.

        Answer: No.

        May have felt good to the luvvies, but the public impression was incoherence which went a long way to Labour getting its ass kicked, for the third straight term in a row.

        • Draco T Bastard

          fully democratic leadership change

          [citation needed]

          Conservative parties generally don’t have leadership elections – they have back-room deals amongst the caucus members.

          • Ad

            You just need to follow any British news outlet. There were 5 candidates, each voted on, lowest-polling dropped out until there were two, and one conceed

            • Draco T Bastard

              Conservative Party (UK) leadership election, 2016

              Conservative MPs voted initially in a series of ballots to determine which two candidates’ names would go forward to a nationwide ballot of Conservative Party members, who would make the final decision. Five Conservative members of Parliament (MPs) put themselves forward as candidates: Justice Secretary Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Stephen Crabb, former Defence Secretary Liam Fox, Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change Andrea Leadsom, and Home Secretary Theresa May.

              In the first-round ballot, May placed first, gaining the support of exactly half of Conservative MPs, with Leadsom coming in second place. The last-place finisher, Fox, was eliminated on the first ballot and later that day, Crabb withdrew from the contest. Gove was eliminated in the next round of voting. However, with ballots due to be cast by Conservative Party members, Leadsom withdrew from the leadership race. This led to May being appointed party leader and hence, Prime Minister, on 13 July, after Cameron’s official resignation to the Queen. Former Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who had been widely tipped as the favourite to succeed Cameron prior to July but subsequently chose not to run, was appointed the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs by May.

              That is not democracy but a oligarchy. Now to help you with this concept we have Democracy:

              Democracy, or democratic government, is “a system of government in which all the people of a state or polity … are involved in making decisions about its affairs, typically by voting to elect representatives to a parliament or similar assembly”,

              Which has no relation to what the Tories did as the leader was not voted by the whole party.

              • Ad

                Voting by the elected representatives is what most democracies have. Including us here.

                Your problem is you can’t see that excessive democracy only delivers political churn. Great for the media and the activist groupies. Fuck all use otherwise. And before you go all Godwin on me, apply what I’ve said to any group activity you can name. The office. The local garage. Any bureaucracy. Your family. Your LEC. Any NGO you’re involved in.

                Pop the political bubble, wave some smelling salts under your nose, and then you’ll figure out why the Conservatives are locked and loaded, freshly renewed throughout their Cabinet and Leadership, ready for an election.

                Labour still mired in process.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  You’re confusing expediency for a better outcome.

                  And the other point is that the electoral process that put Corbyn in place in the first place was fine. The problems only occurred after the ‘elected representatives’ in UKLabour purposefully attacked the will of the membership.

                  What they did cannot be considered democratic under any circumstances.

                  • Ad

                    And here’s where we get to it.

                    The electoral process that put Corbyn there in the first place has been largely responsible for putting UK Labour where they are right now.

                    The People got the chance to elect the apotheosis of their ideals.

                    And so they did. They got him.

                    And it spectacularly didn’t work.

                    I don’t blame them. And it’s hard to blame as weak a politician as Corbyn.

                    I blame the process that put him there.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      And so they did. They got him.

                      And it spectacularly didn’t work.

                      But that’s just it – it is working.

                      You’re just too impatient and your impatience causes you to think that dictatorship is the better option.

        • Colonial Viper

          May have felt good to the luvvies, but the public impression was incoherence which went a long way to Labour getting its ass kicked, for the third straight term in a row.

          The public thought that all those public shows of unity and pictures of MPs getting behind the labour leader were just a facade.

          Which was proven true within a few hours of the election result.

          • Ad

            Democratic participation in the Party leadership selection had nothing to do with that.

    • Nic the NZer 7.2

      If winning means electing more blairite candidates then there is no significant difference between winning and losing. The next positive outcome will be when the backstabbers are deselected.

      • Ad 7.2.1

        As you well know, there’s a real skill to losing, no matter what your political inclination.

        But here’s a further lesson for you, since you clearly couldn’t figure tout the comparison of Labour’s leadership change with the Conservatives.

        Corbyn v Blairites

        Clinton v Sanders

        First, Corbyn.
        Corbyn went full populist, as hard left as any moistie could want. He and his team knew they were going to have to root-and-branch the whole thing. LIke the Huguenot slaughter, or Game of Thrones wipe-them-out material. But it’s ridiculously evident he doesn’t have the stones or the skill to carry his revolution out, now that it’s in his face. He’s simply being swept along with the tide.

        Now, Sanders.
        Far, far too late to do him or his supporters any good, he finally, grudgingly, sat down and got the policy gains from the Democratic Platform that he was going to get, opened wide, swallowed the dead rat and endorsed Hillary. He will fade back into his Senate sinecure with something of his dignity intact, leaving the real politics to the real players.
        And Hillary, like a real politician, listened, learnt, absorbed, co-opted, and took him in close.
        The Democratic Party is stronger for both of them .

        The lesson in the comparison between the two is stark.

        This is not a failure of democracy. Or smoky rooms. Or another (groan) conspiracy in The Guardian or something equally ludicrous.

        It’s a stark comparison in leadership, in teams that really know how to play at the highest level, and political wisdom. Corbyn simply deserves to lose, and will lose if he wins.

        Sanders, in losing, has won. As has Clinton.

        • Nic the NZer

          I think your particular rhetorical style needs to be known as stream of nonsequitur. Anyway if the plp does not respect the wishes of the labour party members they need to be deselected. Especially so as they (blairites) have failed to advance the interests of the Labour constituants. Thats the only take home here.

        • Colonial Viper

          Ad, all you’ve done is describe how you think the game of thrones should be cleverly played amongst the elites.

          The smart moves, the clever maneuvers.

          You’ve said zero about how the end result of all this political cunning is, once again, the continuing disenfranchisement and disowning of the bottom 2/3 of society.

          Which of course, doesn’t matter in the game of the elites.

          • Ad

            Of course: Anthony’s was a post about process.

            And at the moment, process is most of what the left has.

            • Nic the NZer

              All right, discussion over, AD has spoken. Bring out the political guillotine its been sanctioned as a humane way of the party dispatching with its leadership. The procedural issue is all sorted out now. /sarc

  8. weka 8

    The UKLP’s democractic process of choosing a leader hasn’t paralysed the party. The MPs who think they own the party have done that. Any democratic process is going to be able to meddled with, it’s down to the integrity of the people using it.

    • Bill 8.1

      Thankyou for saving me having to make that self same and very obvious point – which I’ll go ahead and make anyway, but using different words. 😉

      The attempts to undermine the existing degree of democracy is what is “cumbersome, ….(and will continue to paralyse) UK Labour at a time when…”

  9. Tautoko Mangō Mata 9

    Contrast this with Democracy in USA
    “Ahead of GOP Convention, Cleveland Officials Affirm Protesters May Carry Guns
    But water guns, toy guns, knives, aerosol cans, rope, tennis balls are barred”


  10. RJL 10

    The difference is more that Cameron resigned and (presumably) has co-operated with the process to replace him (to the extent that he has anything to do with it).

    Whereas UK Labour’s leadership contest against Corbyn is against a standing (and seemingly publically popular) leader, who hasn’t resigned and is not cooperating with a process to replace him. This has complicated the Labour process.

  11. RedLogix 11

    The NEC’s contemptuous bans will achieve nothing but fling petrol on the fire. We’re only hearing about the crazy-making antics of the PLP and NEC, but I’d wager that at a local level there is one hell of a lot going on under the radar.

    • Bill 11.1

      What I’ve been wondering is how these Blairite mugs expect this to end?

      Assuming they’ve worked out the numbers correctly and that they ‘get their man’ by virtue of debarring newer members and throwing huge financial barriers in front of the process…

      …given the more democratic nature of the UKLP as compared to say the NZLP, all the hundreds of thousands who would have voted for Corbyn have to do is hang on to their membership and de-select MPs at the branch level. When he can get the 50 or so signatures he needs to challenge, he challenges.

      And so after a year or two of Blairites flushing the UKLP down the toilet, everything washes up as a Corbyn leadership that’s much stronger and more entrenched than at present.

      Or have I missed something?

      • Nic the NZer 11.1.1

        The breakup of Labour party Neo-liberalism requires the break appart of the Labour party. The Neo-Liberal representatives want to carry the working class members and voters without representing their interests. The break appart will be a good thing with the voters getting to choose which faction they want with less threat they will be backstabbed. This is a good thing if disruptive.

        • Draco T Bastard

          The Neo-Liberal representatives want to carry the working class members and voters without representing their interests.

          You seem to have got that backwards. The neo-liberal PLP want the working class members to support them without them having to represent, listen to or even respect the the working class.

        • Pat

          “The breakup of Labour party Neo-liberalism requires the break appart of the Labour party.”

          somewhat like the NZ experience with Jim Anderton’s New Labour you mean?…..probably the most honest, capable and trustworthy Labour MP in recent history and even he couldn’t stop the neolib influence.

    • Draco T Bastard 11.2

      That’s pretty much what I’m thinking.

      The NEC may ‘banned’ meeting but you can be sure that they’re still taking place – they’re just not visible to the NEC or the anti-Corbyn PLP all of which, at a guess, will be deselected and otherwise removed from their positions in the near future.

      • te reo putake 11.2.1

        It would only be in the ‘near future’ if there’s an early election. If there is a leftist purge, there could end up being 2/3/4 or 5 Labour groupings in the Parliament for four years. And as I suggested in a discussion with Bill, there is a possibility that the SNP would be the single largest party and therefore, I presume, the official opposition.

        • Kevin

          Assuming, of course, that those deselected will retain the votes of their local constituency.

          After seeing the absolute shambles of an attempted coup since the vote, I doubt that many, if any, of those MP’s will retain Labour supporters support come election time.

          • te reo putake

            Being deselected doesn’t remove a person from Parliament. It just means they won’t be the candidate at the next election (which could be over four years away). And if deselected MP’s with big personal followings in safe Labour seats stand again, a split vote could be a gift for the Tories.

            • Bill

              Seeing as how they’d be deselected by the party members within the relevant electorate, I can’t see where these “big personal followings” would be coming from.

              If they existed (the followings), then deselection would be unlikely.

              • The big personal following comes from the voters, Bill. Think Hone Harawira, Peter Dunne, Winston Peters etc. All left their previous parties and went out on their own and won electorates. There’s been plenty who have tried and failed too. John A Lee being an example, as I recall.

                • Bill

                  Different kettle of fish. Those people (as far as I recall) resigned and set out on their own.

                  I think that’s what the Blairites should do btw, instead of trying to assert a dominance on a party that’s left them behind – as evinced by the fact they have to game the leadership contest to the extent that they are.

                  And I can’t see how they reckon this current course of action can end well for them. Even if Corbyn is ousted, all those members – hundreds of thousands – just need to keep their membership and use existing democratic mechanisms to bring the PLP back into alignment with their wishes.

                  • I wasn’t really speaking to the circumstances, Bill, just pointing out that deselection doesn’t guarantee the problem is solved. In the UK in the 80’s, as you probably recall, Labour went through a similar set of shenanigans with the MP’s who went on to form the SDP, which eventually folded into the Liberals. I think that if the local branches tell their MP’s do do one after Corbyn is re-elected, those MP’s could outnumber the ‘real’ Labour MP’s for 4 years, which would be a nightmare scenario for Corbyn.

        • Bill

          How in the hell do you envisage Labour breaking into “2/3/4 or 5” groupings?

          All the Blairites and their fellow travelers might leave the Labour Party, but given they’d lose all that brand recognition and tradition, they won’t. So they’ll keep on ‘tearing down the house’ hoping to appoint themselves as ‘King of the castle’

          Meanwhile, as patiently pointed out to a resident ‘right wing’ authoritarian here on ‘ts’, “purges” are directed from ‘on-high’ and have nothing in common with ordinary members, more or less democratically de-selecting the Party candidate for their electorate.

          And the SNP, led by Angus Robertson, have (I think) 49 MPs in Westminster after a near clean sweep in Scotland, so the chances of it ever becoming the Official Opposition is remote to say the least.

          • te reo putake

            The SNP have 54 seats, I believe. It’s a long shot that the 230 Labour MP’s would splinter so much that no potential grouping would have more than 54, but it is possible. What is also possible is that Corbyn finds himself leading a much reduced ‘official’ Labour party caucus, outnumbered by purged MP’s running under some other banner. In other words, Corbyn could win the Party leadership election and then find himself no longer the leader of the opposition.

            • Bill

              What’s with this notion of a “purge” trp? People democratically deciding to choose different people with different priorities or mind sets doesn’t amount to a purge.

              Current Labour MPs might resign and join another party (the SDP?). I guess that could mean that the SDP would become the second largest party in Westminster…right up until all those former Labour MPs lost their seats at the next general election.

              I’ve no idea what would happen if Labour MPs resigned and formed a new party (or even if that’s possible). There would definitely be huge questions around parliamentary funding, places on select committees and what not. But anyway, it’ll never happen because, as I already said, the Labour brand and the tradition attached to it, isn’t something the Blairites have a mind to give up.

              • Ad

                Remember how many MPs left to form the United Party?

                Do you recall what happened to candidates who couldn’t bring themselves to support Lange/Douglas in 1987?

                If you haven’t experienced a purge, you haven’t worked in the public service in Wellington after a change of government.

  12. Bob 12

    “closed rooms, long knives, blood on the floor, done”
    Isn’t this just describing the manner Labour attempts to oust a democratically elected leader? Not just in the UK I might add…
    So Anthony, do you think it is okay to oust a leader this way, just not to choose a leader this way? I don’t quite get the point of your post.

    On the plus side, UK Labour do use a one person – one vote version of democracy, where everyone is treated equal, unlike NZ Labour who use the “one Union Delegates vote is worth about 55 members votes, and one caucus vote is worth around twice as much again” elitist style of democracy.

  13. Nic the NZer 13

    Funny and here was me thinking the present Labour paralysis was due to a faction of the party choosing opportunistically to start a leadership coup over a leader they never liked. Guess thats me educated. Maybe they were even hoping for a more ‘efficient’ process to dispatch the disliked leader rather than the need for all the messy rule bending and smear campaigns which are now ‘required’. Democracy certainly doesn’t work for a party where the dominant clique is not wanted by the membership.

  14. b waghorn 14

    The problem with having us rank and file members voting is , really how the hell are we going to who’s the best person for the role of leader.
    I didn’t vote in the last election for labour leader but i paid attention to the process, but really all i would of had as a basis for voting on was my gut feeling.
    ie i thought Shane Jones was a in love with him self shallow man.
    Grant Robinson I didn’t like because he can talk for ages and say bugger all similar to how Clarke was. (i’m starting to think that might be a good thing in a front man/woman)
    Which left me with Little who seems likably and I’d heard of a few times as a possible future leader.
    As you can see that’s not really much to base a vote on.

    • Draco T Bastard 14.1

      The problem with having us rank and file members voting is , really how the hell are we going to who’s the best person for the role of leader.

      And this is why leaders are simply a bad idea and thus why we need to be deciding policy democratically.

      • b waghorn 14.1.1

        I cant see how you could achieve anything if you had to take everything to masses for approval. ?
        Really a leader should be more of a chairman as opposed to the one choosing the direction the party takes.
        Or under mmp the leadership could be more of a council of leaders

        But as far as selecting the leader i think being just a paid up member isn’t enough,
        maybe one should have to attend x amount of party functions per year before they get voting rights.

        • Draco T Bastard

          I cant see how you could achieve anything if you had to take everything to masses for approval. ?

          It’s called discussing things and coming to a consensus on ideas and policy. The representatives would then implement those ideas and policies.

          We don’t need leaders, we need good administrators that can see the ideas that we come up with through to completion.

          • Johan

            The selection process for leadership of the National Party here or the Conservative Party is pretty well done behind close doors. I am certain there is plenty of back stabbing among the Tory leadership, however we do not get to hear about it, therefore, the claim of efficiency and “we are all one big team” is erroneous. I favour a more open forum in the selection process, a sign of true democracy.
            There must have been plenty of heated arguments before Theresa May was selected before several good male candidates. The dire need to soften the image of the Conservative Party before voters in Britain comes to mind. Much has been made in Britain of the Tories’ disregard for its middle class people, and even the actual name, Conservative Party being regarded by many as the Nazi-party. (Theresa May’s own words)

        • Colonial Viper

          But as far as selecting the leader i think being just a paid up member isn’t enough,

          More importantly, how is it that run of the mill ignoramuses right off the street have a say in choosing the nation’s government? I mean FFS, what does the average Joe Blow know about macroeconomics and monetary policy?

          In my view, only properly informed people should be allowed near a ballot box, and mostly they should be male, white, God-fearing and land owning just to make doubly sure.

          • b waghorn

            I would be more inclined to ban people that vote for the same party because that’s what they always do.
            But a get what you mean,.

            • Colonial Viper

              Sorry about the overcooked sarcasm b waghorn…

              • b waghorn

                No offence taken. I love a bit sarcasm,its like a joke if you have to explain it didn’t work

        • KJT

          Worked for the Swiss for two centuries.

          Having the chance of referenda has politicians making sure policies are well worked out and logically unassailable before they press the button.

    • gsays 14.2

      Well said wags, while not a member of any party, I have followed the nz labour leader elections with interest.

      I reckon I am better informed about UK squabbles than this here at home.
      Maybe something to do with forest and trees.

      While I am at it, the Tories here do seem to be better at appointing a leader.
      Someone who suits their needs is shoulder tapped and voila! new leader.
      All dirty laundry kept in house and less blood spilled.

  15. maninthemiddle 15

    The implication that the Conservative Party’s leadership selection system is undemocratic is sheer nonsense. The process entail the top two candidates going before the party membership for election. The Tory’s process has been sped up by the withdrawal of one of the two candidates. Frankly I find Labour’s process here and in the UK to be stupid. The caucus (who are elected) should choose the leader. Unelected individuals (aka Unions) should have no say whatsoever.

  16. swordfish 16

    Corbyn’s allies in the PLP remain supremely confident that he’ll win

    Stephen Bush in the New Statesman

    “Corbyn’s supporters in the grassroots are furious, and they blame Corbyn’s enemies on the NEC. But at Westminster, the leadership’s allies are intensely relaxed about the whole thing. “I’d be happy to fight on either terms,” said one senior loyalist. Another reflected that it will likely reduce the margin of Corbyn’s victory and be a blow to “Jeremy’s vanity” but it will not change the contest.”

    • Colonial Viper 16.1

      I’d be fine with that easygoing public face as long as his PLP supporters are actually working the levers damn hard behind the scenes. Complacency in this kind of Labour internal shit fight will not do and lets bastards like Blair and Douglas slide in.

      • swordfish 16.1.1

        Yeah, the word complacency did cross my mind on reading that article.

        The question is: How will the loss in voting rights of:
        (1) newer (post-2015) members
        (2) poorer Supporter Sign-Ups
        affect the leadership result.

        Here’s YouGov’s Final Leadership poll of Labour Party members and supporter sign-ups (the Labour Selectorate) in August last year – shortly before Corbyn’s win.

        YouGov (August 2015)
        Final Round …………..Corbyn……………Cooper

        Socio-Economic Group
        ABC1 ……………………….59%………………….41%
        C2DE ……………………….68%………………….32%

        Members ………………….57%…………………43%
        3 Pound Sign-Ups ……..66%…………………34%
        TU Sign-Ups ………………76%…………………24%

        Membership Length
        Pre-Miliband ……………..48%…………………52%
        After Miliband
        became Leader …………59%…………………41%
        Post-2015 GE …………….74%…………………26%

        Lower Income, Sign-Ups and more Recent Members = Strongly Corbyn

        More importantly, the recent post-Brexit (late June 2016) YouGov of Labour Party members highlights the massive contrast between:
        Recent vs Longer-Standing members
        and between
        Blairite/Brownite Former Members vs Current Supporters who haven’t joined.

        A big chunk of those of those Recents who have joined the Party since the 2015 General Election will have become members this year (and are, therefore, disenfranchised)

        Corbyn doing Well or Badly ?

        Membership Length
        After 2015 GE
        (including many joining in
        last 6 months) …………………65%……………32%
        Before 2015 ……………………38%……………60%

        Non Members
        Members who have left the Party
        (mainly Blairites
        and Brownites) …………………15%………….84%
        Supporters who haven’t
        yet joined …………………………55%………….42%

        If Corbyn is replaced as Leader – how likely Labour wins next Election ?

        Membership Length
        After 2015 GE
        (including many in
        last 6 months) …………………61%……………26%
        Before 2015 ……………………40%…………….48%

        Non Members
        Members who have left
        (mainly Blairites
        and Brownites) …………………34%…………..56%
        Supporters who haven’t
        yet joined ………………………….59%…………..23%

        Should Corbyn continue as Leader or Step Down now ?
        ………………………………..CONTINUE………STEP DOWN

        Membership Length
        After 2015 GE
        (including many in
        last 6 months) …………………65%………………29%
        Before 2015 …………………….38%………………58%

        Non Members
        Members who have left
        (mainly Blairites
        and Brownites) …………………13%………………85%
        Supporters who haven’t
        yet joined ………………………….61%……………..33%

        Were the Shadow Cabinet members who resigned en masse to force Corbyn to stand down – Right or Wrong to do so ?

        Membership Length
        After 2015 GE
        (including many in
        last 6 months) …………………75%………………22%
        Before 2015 …………………….47%………………48%

        Non Members
        Members who have left
        (mainly Blairites
        and Brownites) …………………21%………………73%
        Supporters who haven’t
        yet joined ………………………….71%……………..26%

        Would you vote for Corbyn in a new Leadership Election ?

        Membership Length
        After 2015 GE
        (including many in
        last 6 months) …………………69%………………30%
        Before 2015 …………………….36%………………61%

        Non Members
        Members who have left
        (mainly Blairites
        and Brownites) …………………16%………………85%
        Supporters who haven’t
        yet joined ………………………….63%……………..35%

        Corbyn vs Eagle – Who would you vote for ?

        Membership Length
        After 2015 GE
        (including many in
        last 6 months) …………………67%………………25%
        Before 2015 …………………….36%………………53%

        Non Members
        Members who have left
        (mainly Blairites
        and Brownites) …………………15%………………56%
        Supporters who haven’t
        yet joined ………………………….62%……………..28%

        These detailed stats sit in the broader context of this (late June 2016) YouGov Poll’s overall findings:

        Namely, that opinion has shifted fairly quickly since the last poll of Party members in May. The Labour Party membership has clearly cooled on Corbyn’s leadership – although he still retains an edge.

        In May, Corbyn’s net approval rating among members was + 45 (79% Approve / 27% Disapprove), now it’s just + 3 (51% Approve / 48% Disapprove).

        In terms of a Corbyn-led Labour Party winning the next Election:
        May 2016 … Likely 53% / Unlikely 39%
        June 2016 … Likely 35% / Unlikely 57%

        Should Corbyn continue as leader of the Labour Party
        May 2016 … Yes 80% / No 15%
        June 2016 … Yes 51% / No 44%
        (small minorities of those who said yes he should continue also believed that he should still stand down before the next election)

        If there were another Labour leadership contest, how likely is it that you would vote Corbyn ?
        May 2016 … Likely 64% / Not 33%
        June 2016 … Likely 50% / Not 47%

        Haven’t done the calculations yet but I suspect that once you exclude the most recent post-2015 members, that 3 point advantage to Corbyn (50% / 47%) vanishes.

        The only saving grace: things aren’t so close when Party members are specifically asked about one-on-one contests …

        In a hypothetical head-to-head match-up between Corbyn and Eagle, Corbyn would win by 10 points, against Tom Watson by 11 points and against Dan Jarvis by 17 points. The exclusion of Recent members and poorer Sign-Ups is bound, of course, to cut these leads.

        Whether the Soft Left’s Owen Smith (now clearly favoured among plotters and pundits over Eagle) could do better remains an unknown at this point.

        • Ad

          Even Corbyn was entitled to a bump.

          That bumping sound you now hear ….

          is Prime Minister May running over him in her Ministerial limousine.

          • swordfish

            YouGov (July 2016)

            Do you think Theresa May will do well or badly as PM ?


            Even a plurality of Labour (and other Oppo) voters are giving her the benefit of the doubt.

            • Ad

              She has sweet words.
              I’m really really hoping that Labour can find some space around her.
              Her undoing I hope will be in her charmless clarity.
              Very smart sending Boris as far away from Parliament as possible.

              Much as I think he’s weak as an operator, Corbyn can still win the people and help them rise. She can’t.

    • Bill 16.2

      I wonder if the ‘being relaxed’ is anything to do with this?

      Opponents of Jeremy Corbyn accused Unite of an “attempted stitch-up” after the union offered a vote in the Labour leadership contest for as little as £2-a-month.

      The union said that affiliates, who would have full voting rights, could still sign up.
      Unite, which backs current leader Jeremy Corbyn, said those who wanted to vote could join for as little as £2-a-month for students and the unemployed until August 8.


      Can’t for the life of me understand why that wee bit of news isn’t being promulgated in banner headlines by the Guardian – can you?

      • miravox 16.2.1

        “Can’t for the life of me understand why that wee bit of news isn’t being promulgated in banner headlines by the Guardian “

        I thought the exact same thing after reading about Unite on The Independent. That, and negative items about Corbyn shows pretty much where The Guardian stands. The only thing not determined is whether it will back Eagle or Smith.

        • Colonial Viper

          Bet you they will make it a leadership race between Eagle and Smith.

      • swordfish 16.2.2

        Yep, Corbyn-supporting activists have been suggesting people join affiliated Unions, the Fabian Society or other affiliated groups with voting rights.
        (although, I think I’m right in saying the Fabians and one or two of the other non-Union affiliates have imposed a retrospective cut-off point as well. Looks like TUs like Unite are the way to go).

  17. mikes 17

    The following is an excellent live discussion on various things Europe between Noam Chomsky and Yanis Varoufakis (The Greek finance minister who resigned). Varoufakis in particular gives some real insights and facts about the EU and what really happened with Greece, from someone who was involved at a very high level.

    He also explains what neo liberalism is in a very easy to understand way as well as giving some jaw dropping quotes and info from senior EU politicians

    • gsays 17.1

      Thanks mikes, grateful for the link (also having the time to watch).
      Great to listen to two well informed, articulate communicators discussing Europe, economics an the PTB.

      Perhaps the ‘xenophobic English working class ants’ were spot on in voting to leave the European union.

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    6 days ago
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  • Speech to Labour Party Congress 2020
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