The British Labour Party isn’t so dissimilar to the NZ Labour Party.
Both have embraced or accommodated neo-classical economic orthodoxy to various degrees at various junctures, these past 30 years . Both have had fairly extended periods in government pursuing ‘third way’ policies associated with neo-classicism. Consequently, both have uprooted their traditional socialist leanings, and both are in the electoral doldrums right now, in spite of being in opposition to governments that peddle unpopular policies.
Within both parties, a struggle between those who would seek to win over the so-called middle ground (that has drifted rightwards in recent decades), and those who would reconnect with traditional socialist tinted, social democratic values, is taking place.
And this is where the situation of the British Labour Party, in both Britain and Scotland, could prove instructive for the NZ Labour Party.
In Britain, it’s the same Labour Party that operates in two quite distinct political environments. In England and Wales (first past the post electoral system), it struggles to compete with a governing right wing Tory party (Con 36% Lab 34% as at 4th Oct 2014). And in Scotland (electoral system predicated on proportional representation) , it struggles to compete with a governing left wing SNP. (SNP 42% Lab 27% – Oct 2014).
I could waffle a bit, but in short, the British Labour Party, that has similar characteristics to those of the NZ Labour Party, struggles far more where governments enact more left wing and popular social democratic policies than it does where governments enact so-called centrist and unpopular policies.
Before drawing your conclusions on which direction the NZ Labour Party should take, it’s maybe worthwhile noting that the Tory presence in Scotland has been more or less obliterated, and that Scotland has hitherto been the traditional heartland of Labour Party support.