UK Labour goes for free vote on Syria

December 1st, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Labour MPs are to get a free vote on whether airstrikes should be extended to Syria, with Jeremy Corbyn and Hilary Benn expected to adopt opposing positions in any Commons debate on the issue.

At a heated meeting of the shadow cabinet on Monday afternoon Corbyn agreed to a free vote – a decision that emerged just before the meeting started. It followed a weekend of discussion with Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson.

However, a proposal that the shadow cabinet should agree that it was party policy to oppose airstrikes, and to assert this was in line with a conference motion passed in September, was thrown out.

Shadow cabinet members said the offer of a free vote for Labour MPs would be severely diluted if there was also a statement saying party policy opposed airstrikes.

This shows how bad things are in UK Labour.

There are some things you don’t expect a party to have a view on – minor stuff such as the Standards and Measures Harmonisation Act.

But whether or not to go to war, and to approve the use of force is as important as it gets. And UK Labour are saying we have no policy at all on this, because our leader is against all use of force by western countries.

This is probably the lesser evil for UK Labour. If they had tried to force Labour MPs to vote in line with Corbyn, he may have had half his front bench resign.

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Quoting Mao

November 28th, 2015 at 8:59 am by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

George Osborne’s Autumn Statement took a bizarre twist when John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, threw a copy of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book at him across the Despatch Box.

The Labour shadow chancellor mocked the Chancellor – who he dubbed “Comrade Osborne” – for encouraging China to invest in British infrastructure projects.

He is thought to be first frontbencher ever to reveal a copy and quote directly from the communist book.

After joking about the sale of public assets to the Chinese government, Mr McDonnell said: “To assist Comrade Osborne about dealing with his new found comrades, I have brought him along Mao’s Little Red Book.”

Mr McDonnell continued: “Let me quote from Mao, rarely done in this chamber, ‘We must learn to do economic work from all who know how. No matter who they are, we must esteem them as teachers, learning from them respectfully and conscientiously. But we must not pretend to know what we do not know’.

“I thought it would come in handy for you in your new relationship.”

Tory MPs roared “more, more, more” at Mr McDonnell.

They really can’t believe their luck.


UK Labour in open warfare

November 23rd, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Ken Livingstone has backtracked on his apology for suggesting shadow defence minister Kevan Jones “might need psychiatric help”, after he was accused of being forced by the Labour leadership to say sorry.

The former London mayor re-ignited a row just hours after tweeting that he “unreservedly apologised” to Jones for telling the Mirror: “I think he might need some psychiatric help. He’s obviously very depressed and disturbed … He should pop off and see his GP before he makes these offensive comments.”

Livingstone made the remarks after Jones, who experienced depression in 1996, questioned his appointment as co-chair of Labour’s review of Trident.

The veteran Labour politician initially refused to retract his comments, accusing Jones of “wimping around”, telling him to “get over it” and blaming his own south London background for the fact he is rude back when someone is rude to him. But after speaking on the phone to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Livingstone publicly apologised, saying the comments should “not have been made at all, let alone in that context.

“I also make this apology because Jeremy is right to insist on a more civil politics and as a party we should take this seriously,” he added.

Corbyn, a long-time campaigner against stigmatisation of those with mental health problems, is said to be angry and upset about the comments but believed Livingstone’s remorse was “sincere”. But before long, Livingstone was back on the television air waves for a fresh confrontation with Jones on Channel 4 News.

Appearing from his home, he said the apology was made because Corbyn had told him that Jones was “actually quite a decent guy and reminded me that Jeremy’s strategy is that we don’t do all the offensive backstabbing and rows and I just got on board with that”.

He then watered down his apology by saying: “If I’ve upset anyone, I’m really sorry. But this row isn’t something I started. It’s because I was attacked as not fit for this job.”

Livingstone, who got Jones’s name wrong three times by calling him “Jeremy”, added: “You provoked this row. You questioned my ability to do this job. Why didn’t you just pick up the phone and ask me what I knew and understood about it? I’ve been debating military and defence issues for 45 years both in our party and in the media.”

Jones, who was in the Channel 4 studio, responded by accusing Livingstone of having been forced into an apology after causing offence.

“You were somehow excusing it because of your background, when other people had posh educations, which I did not, can I remind you. That does not excuse what you’ve done … You were not going to unless Jeremy told you to,” he said.

The shadow defence minister also revealed that neither he nor shadow defence secretary Maria Eagle had been told that Livingstone, an opponent of Trident, was to co-chair Labour’s defence review.

“Why announce it on Twitter and use grossly offensive language to myself and millions of other sufferers of mental health [problems] to get over your point?”

This would be a rather sad episode if it was between a Conservative and a Labour MP. But what is startling is this is between a Labour MP and former Labour Mayor. And between the shadow defence minister and the person heading up the defence policy review for Labour.

I’m trying to think what could the Conservatives do to make Labour led by Jeremy Corbyn electable. Short of genocide, I can’t think of anything.

Having said that it is highly likely Corbyn will be gone within two years.


Labour MPs cheer Cameron not Corbyn

November 22nd, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Jeremy Corbyn may have misgivings about shoot to kill, but few of his own MPs seem to share them. Sitting next to the leader of the opposition for the prime minister’s statement on the G20 summit and the Paris attacks was Hilary Benn. The normally mild-mannered shadow foreign secretary gave every impression he was trying to eliminate his boss with mind control and a rictus smile. Disappointed to find Jezza still breathing, he left without saying goodbye after 45 minutes.

Other Labour MPs chose to kill their leader by vocalising their whole-hearted support for the prime minister’s tougher stance on terrorism. One by one they rose. Pat McFadden. Mike Gapes. David Hanson. Chris Leslie. Emma Reynolds.Chuka Umunna. Anne Coffey. Ian Leslie. Even the usually on-message Sarah Champion. Et tu, Sarah? There would have been more, had not the Speaker curtailed the debate. Not even in Iain Duncan Smith’s darkest hours had a leader been turned on so openly by his own party in parliament.

Gravitas isn’t something that comes easily to David Cameron but, just this once, he was allowed the chance to feel what it might be like to be a statesman. A father not just to the Conservatives but also to a Labour party keen to distance itself from a leader whose pacifism has failed to capture the public mood. A father to the nation.

Corbyn has an intellectual problem in that he sees terrorism as the fault of the West, not the terrorists.

After his remarks to the BBC on Monday, Jezza is finding it hard to shake the impression that he is the kind of leader who would politely request a terrorist to sit down for a nice cup of tea and talk through his anger issues, even as he was reloading his AK-47 to gun down some more civilians having a quiet night out.

Worth pointing out this is a column in The Guardian, not the Daily Mail.

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Could this apply to NZ Labour?

November 4th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Lord Ashcroft looks at the four major UK parties in the wake of the election. I found his comments on UK Labour most interesting:

A parallel exercise involving party members and Labour-supporting members of affiliated trade unions revealed that the Labour movement itself saw things rather differently. They thought they had lost because people did not appreciate what Labour had achieved; that voters had been influenced by the right-wing media; and that while Labour’s policies had been right, they had not been well communicated. More than three quarters thought their party had not deserved to lose, and most rejected the idea that the Labour government had been largely to blame for the economic situation. They thought the swing voters they had lost (and needed to win back) were ignorant, credulous and selfish.

This resonates with me as it seems to apply to many NZ Labour activists also.

All most people had heard from Labour was that it was against whatever the coalition happened to be doing. This included welfare reform, one government policy people spontaneously praised. In focus groups before the 2010 election, participants who were asked to choose an image to represent Labour would very often select a picture of a slob lying on a sofa to symbolise what they saw as the party’s indulgence of people living on benefits when they could be at work.

Would be fascinating to do here.

The publication is 47 pages long and very interesting.

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The blind leading the blind?

October 30th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

This would seem to be a case of the blind leading the blind?

Is Andrew Little hoping to find out how to get your party wiped out, losing every seat in Parliament bar one?

Or is Scottish Labour hoping to learn what it is like to get your lowest vote in 110 years?

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The challenge for Corbyn

September 29th, 2015 at 11:05 am by David Farrar


This poll from the New Statesman shows very well the difference between appealing to the base, appealing to your own voters and appealing to potential voters for your party.

Corbyn supporters are very left wing. Only 20% think competition is good, 67% want more taxes, 65% want private schools abolished and 65% want to abolish the monarchy.

Now even among firm Labour voters, their views are quite different. 38% support markets, only 38% support higher taxes, and 42% want private schools abolished.

But go out to the potential voters UK Labour needs to win, and there 58% support competition, only 19% want higher taxes and only 25% want private schools gone.

So how can Corbyn’s policies win Labour an election? Stuffed if I know.

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UK Labour Shadow Minister wants to campaign against eating meat!

September 25th, 2015 at 1:35 pm by David Farrar

Just as you think they can’t get more lunatic, they do.

The Guardian reports:

The new shadow environment secretary believes meat should be treated in the same way as tobacco, with public campaigns to stop people eating it, according to an interview she gave to a vegan magazine. …

“I really believe that meat should be treated in exactly the same way as tobacco with public campaigns to stop people eating it.”

This is not some obscure backbench MP. This is their shadow environment secretary. Absolutely bonkers.


Corbyn appoints a convicted arsonist as his shadow education secretary

September 22nd, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Spectator reports:

Given that Jeremy Corbyn is a Hamas sympathiser with an IRA sympathiser as his Shadow Chancellor, I imagine he didn’t think too much about promoting a little-known Scot named Mike Watson. He is a Labour peer, who now takes a place in Corbyn’s frontbench as education spokesman. He is also a convicted arsonist, who quit the Scottish Parliament in disgrace after being caught drunkenly setting fire to a set of curtains during the Scottish Politician of the Year ceremony 2004. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison, whichhe served in HMP Edinburgh.


So if UK Labour win the election the PM will be someone who calls Hamas and Hezbollah friends, the Chancellor will be someone who has praised the bravery of the IRA and the Education Secretary will be a convicted arsonist.

At what point does David Cameron step out of the shower and say he’s just had the most strange dream, like an episode of Dallas?


Meet the new UK Shadow Chancellor

September 17th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Jeremy Corbyn has chosen as Shadow Chancellor possibly the only MP to the left of him.

Here are some quotes from John McDonnell:

It’s about time we started honouring those people involved in the armed struggle. It was the bombs and bullets and sacrifice made by the likes of Bobby Sands that brought Britain to the negotiating table. The peace we have now is due to the action of the IRA.”

Go the IRA!

Because of the bravery of the IRA and people like Bobby Sands we now have a peace process.

The brave Bobby Sands who blew up the Balmoral Furniture Company in Dunmurry. And the brave IRA who killed 500 to 600 civilians, including some young children.

he wished he could “go back to the 1980s and assassinate Thatcher”

A real democrat.

“In the first week of a Labour government, democratic control of the major economic decisions would be restored by ending the Bank of England’s control over interest rates and bringing the nationalised and subsidised banks under direct control to force them to lend and invest their resources to modernise our economy and put people back to work.”

No more independent reserve bank.

“I was up in Liverpool a fortnight ago, where Alec McFadden, one of our [union] organisers, launched the Sack Esther McVey Day on her birthday.

“I spoke at a packed public meeting … there was a whole group in the audience that completely kicked off quite critical of the whole concept, because they were arguing: ‘Why are [we] sacking her? Why aren’t we lynching the bastard?”’

He seems to often advocate violence against women he disagrees with. A charming man.

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Corbyn wins

September 13th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Jeremy Corbyn has been elected leader of the British Labour party, in a stunning first-round victory that dwarfed even the mandate for Tony Blair in 1994.

He won with nearly 59.5% of first-preference votes, beating rivals Andy Burnham, who trailed on 19%, and Yvette Cooper who received 17%. The “Blairite” candidate Liz Kendall came last on 4.5%.

A huge victory. Also a huge turnout with 76% of members and supporters voting.

Corbyn will have an initial honeymoon. He may do well initially in the polls on the back of his win. Also the public may like a politician who says exactly what he thinks, rather than one who considers what is politically safe to say.

However it will not last. Not only are his economic policies akin to Syriza, his foreign policy is further to the left of even say Keith Locke.

He will either have to moderate his beliefs in order to be electable, or go into an election promising to scrap NATO, embrace Hamas, print unlimited money to fund everything and tax the rich until they leave.

But if he starts to divert from his true beliefs, then his appeal as a straight talking politician will suffer.

You can not say for sure he will never be Prime Minister, as events can interfere. Cameron’s Government might implode. But it is fair to say he is the most unlikely candidate for Prime Minister in recent British history.

What might assist him somewhat is that there is no credible third party for people who are against the Conservatives to go to, if in England. If the Lib Dems had not almost been wiped out in the election, they could have done massively well from Corbyn’s leadership. But they are just a sliver of what they were.

Corbyn is to the left of even the Greens, so maybe they could gain a bit of support from moderate Labour supporters, but unlikely. More likely is Corbyn is given a couple of years to look credible, and if he isn’t then he gets rolled. But by then the damage may be done.

Again the polls in the next three months won’t matter much. The polls in around six to nine months will.

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Corbyn now 32% ahead

August 11th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Independent reports:

Jeremy Corbyn will win the Labour leadership contest in a first-round landslide victory with 53 per cent, according to a new poll from YouGov.

Corbyn has been polling way ahead of his competition for weeks, but this result gives him the largest lead so far, putting him 32 points ahead of Andy Burnham, who came in second place.

The poll revealed that Yvette Cooper would get 18 per cent of the vote, and Liz Kendall would trail with only eight per cent.

So Corbyn 53%, Burnham 21%, Cooper 18%, Kendall 8%.

The Guardian reports:

Labour could be finished if Jeremy Corbyn wins the leadership, Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former chief spin doctor, has said.

In a lengthy blogpost, the former Downing Street head of communications and strategy urges the party to choose “anyone but Corbyn”, despite having previously said he would not intervene in the contest.

He says he changed his mind about weighing in because he believes the party would head for a “car crash, and more” under the Islington MP’s leadership.

Not sure if anything can stop Corbyn.

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Did UK Labour lose due to social media?

August 5th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Helen Lewis writes at the New Statesman:

Here’s my melodramatic theory: social media lost Labour the last election and it’s going to lose Labour the next one, too.

It sounds bonkers, doesn’t it? But look at it like this: “political Twitter”, the small subset of the social network that isn’t tweeting about One Direction or surfers being ­attacked by sharks, is undeniably skewed to the left. Twitter probably evolved into lefty heaven as a reaction to the right-wing dominance of the printed press, and because of the many arts and comedy bigwigs who imported their existing followings on to the platform. Most progressive commentators and columnists are on there, tweeting away several times a day, while their right-wing equivalents avoid the service altogether, or venture on very occasionally to share a link to their piece.

Then there’s Facebook, a much bigger fish, which ought to be more reflective of the wider population because it’s made of networks of schoolfriends, former colleagues, and parents and children. But news on Facebook travels through “Likes” and shares, and people won’t Like a crackdown on benefits, even if they secretly support it. A lot of what happens on Facebook, as with Twitter, is “virtue signalling” – showing off to your friends about how right on you are.

It was this “Tyranny of the Like” that had many social media users convinced that Ed Miliband could squeak the election; after all, their friends seemed to be lapping up the mansion tax and the action against non-doms. No one seemed enthused about taking £12bn off the benefit bill, or reducing the help given to disabled people.

Yes, social media has allowed people to create echo chambers where they only hear from people who agree with them.

Labour’s attention should turn to the next election and picking a leader who can beat him.

Instead, a large number of constituency parties are nominating Jeremy Corbyn, even though he doesn’t want to be leader, has never held a leadership position in the party and could never find two dozen fellow-travellers to form a shadow cabinet. Clearly, these CLPs don’t think that Corbyn is their best shot at beating Osborne, overturning his unjust policies and enacting Labour ones instead. They are doing it to signal that they are on the side of right and good.

The American writer Matt Bruenig calls this “purity leftism”. As he wrote in 2012, “When purity leftists do actions and organising, their interest is not in reducing oppression as much as it is in reducing their own participation in it. Above all else, they want to be able to say that they are not oppressing, not that oppression has ended.”

Remarkably, it looks like he may win.

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August 4th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Lynn at The Telegraph reports:

Start to look at Mr Corbyn’s proposals in detail, however, and they make Ed Miliband seem like Margaret Thatcher. He inhabits a make-believe world, where money can be conjured out of thin air and every problem can be fixed with more state control.

Such as? Well, for starters Mr Corbyn wants to scrap university tuition fees. How will that be paid for? Apparently through a 7pc rise in National Insurance for anyone earning more than £50,000 a year or a 2pc rise in corporation tax. Among Corbynites, people earning £50,000 are considered the “rich”, or perhaps even the “super-rich”. And, in fairness, it is significantly more than the national average. But by anything other than the standards of the hair-shirt, vegetarian Left, it is a fairly modest wage – few people trying to support a family on £50,000 a year in the South East will feel they can spare 7pc of their income to subsidise students who will later go on to well-paid jobs.

So an extra 7% tax just to pay for one promise!

As for raising corporation tax, a constantly recurring theme of all Mr Corbyn’s economic proposals, it overlooks a couple of inconvenient facts. The first is that globally competitive corporate tax rates have helped to attract a lot of inward investment – pretty helpful for a country that runs one of the world’s biggest trade deficits, and needs lots of foreign money coming in to pay its bills.

The second is that as corporation tax has been lowered, receipts have been booming. In July, for example, corporation tax receipts rose 13pc, far ahead of economic growth, and with a faster rate of growth than any other single tax. If you put the rate up again, the revenues collected will go down – leaving a nasty black hole in the funding of those free university places.

Capital is now mobile. Hike up company tax too much, and the capital will happily move elsewhere.

Then there is his idea of a “People’s QE”. It sounds a bit like The X Factor – perhaps we could get Simon Cowell to chair the MPC live on TV and we could all text in to say how much cash we want the Bank of England to print this month. It turns out, however, that the idea is for the Bank to “be given a new mandate to upgrade our economy to invest in new large-scale housing, energy, transport and digital projects”.

Mark Carney might well feel he has enough to do already, what withcontrolling interest rates, inflation and regulating the City. But, heck, in a few spare hours on a Friday afternoon, he could just print a couple of hundred extra billion, and use the money to start building publicly-owned housing estates.

Never mind the inflation!

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Corbyn now 17% ahead!

July 24th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar


The Telegraph reports:

Left-winger Jeremy Corbyn is on track to top the ballot in the Labourleadership contest, according to a poll.

Research by YouGov for The Times has found the backbench MP is the first preference for 43 per cent of party supporters – way ahead of bookies’ favourite Andy Burnham on 26 per cent.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper was on 20 per cent and Liz Kendall just 11 per cent.

The wisdom of having the members elect the leader!

This will replace Michael Foot’s manifesto as the longest suicide note in history.

The problem UK Labour has is that it has lost so many members, that those remaining are hard core activists who are in no way representative of the actual people who vote Labour.


Corbyn now leading!

July 17th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

David Cameron must now be seriously thinking of reneging on his vow not to seek a third term. The Telegraph reports:

Jeremy Corbyn, the hard left Labour leadership candidate, is ahead in the race to succeed Ed Miliband by more than 15 points, private polling by his rivals suggests.

Mr Corbyn, who was a last minute entry into the contest, now looks set for victory and has taken a “commanding position” ahead of his rivals Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall.

Mr Corbyn, 66, is a veteran socialist who has called for an anti-austerity economic policy and struggled earlier this week to explain during a Channel 4 News appearance why he previously described the Islamist militant organisations Hamas and Hezbollah as ‘friends’.

This guy makes Michael Foot look moderate

His campaign has been boosted by Unite, Britain’s biggest union, which has backed his campaign and has already signed up 50,000 people to take part in the vote.

The latest polling, seen by the New Statesman, puts Mr Corbyn ahead once second preference votes have been taken into account.

On first preferences Mr Burnham is said to be winning with 39 per cent of the vote. Mr Corbyn is second on 33 per cent, Ms Cooper third with 25 per cent and Ms Kendall trailing in a distant fourth with just 4 per cent.

God bless the Unite union.


UK Labour backs welfare reform

July 15th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The  Guardian reports:

Labour will not vote against the government’s welfare bill and should not oppose limiting child tax credits to two children, the party’s interim leader, Harriet Harman, has said, provoking a storm of criticism including from some its leadership candidates.

She said Labour should also not oppose certain conditions in the planned cap on household welfare benefits.

The party simply could not tell the public they were wrong after two general election defeats in a row, she said, adding it had been defeated because it had not been trusted on the economy or benefits.

Will NZ Labour likewise listen to the public? They’re still vowing to repeal the three strikes law.


The hard core socialist is coming 2nd in the UK Labour leadership race

July 14th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

A left-wing Labour MP has surged into second place as the activist’s choice for party leader.

Jeremy Corbyn, who is backed by the unions, is increasingly seen as a major player after pulling into second behind Andy Burnham.

The increasing support for Mr Corbyn will fuel speculation that he will have to be offered a shadow cabinet role by whoever wins.

The latest returns from constituency Labour Party branches show that Mr Corbyn has the support of 28 constituencies, just behind Mr Burnham who has the support of 33.

He is now ahead of Yvette Cooper, the shadow health secretary, while Liz Kendall, the Blairite shadow health minister, has the support of just four branches.

Mr Corbyn, whose priorities include the introduction of a Soviet-style “planned economy”, was only included in the race at he last minute after MPs decided there should be a “broad debate”.

Even a third of the MPs who nominated him made clear that they did not support him, with most assuming that he would finish last.

However his popularity among activists could now prove decisive in the contest to succeed Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader.

Labour MPs said privately that his surprise success was a “disaster” for the party which will “now be stuck with him”.

David Cameron can’t believe his luck.

Mr Corbyn is calling for an end to all cuts, unilateral nuclear disarmament, open door imigration and the formation of a united Ireland.

He is an ardent republican and once petitioned Tony Blair, the former Labour leader, to evict he Royal Family from Buckingham Palace.

Unilateral disarmament, forcing Northern Ireland to leave the UK, and evicting the 90 year old Queen from her house – yes Labour is onto a winner here.


A UK Labour analysis that could apply to NZ Labour

July 10th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

John Reid, a former Labour Home Secretary writes:

There are those in the party who have argued that Labour simply needs a different leader, but that the politics, plans and policies of the past five years will be enough to get us over the line in 2020 – with a little tweaking, of course.

Others have argued that moving to the left, in response to a Tory government that managed to achieve the difficult feat of gaining an overall majority, is the right response. That the “false consciousness” of modern working people will somehow disappear as the scales fall from their eyes.

Neither of these approaches will work. Neither recognises the sheer scale of the challenge Labour faces. Both have been tried, and tried, and failed and failed.

The NZ Labour caucus should be reading this.

Of course, it can be comforting for party members to wrap themselves up in platitudes, to wax lyrical about our values, to regard the electorate as mistaken. Perhaps we should face reality and accept that it was the party rather than the people who got it wrong. In a democracy, to paraphrase Bertolt Brecht, it is the people who choose their government, not the other way around.

Will you ever see this sentiment on some on the left blogs?

Labour’s only chance of winning in 2020 is to do what we did in 1945, 1964 and 1997 – get back in touch with the electorate, rather than simply telling them they were wrong, and change to meet the challenges of the future.

And that change has never been more crucial than it is today. The challenge Labour faces for 2020 is epic in scale. There are only 24 seats with a Tory majority of less than 3,000. The party must gain 94 seats to win a majority of one.

That’s less of a challenge than NZ Labour has of going from 25% to 40%.

Liz Kendall, by contrast, is the candidate who has best understood the scale of the challenge, and gives Labour the best possible chance of getting back into government. She has shown that deeply held Labour values need not go hand in hand with an antagonistic approach to those who didn’t vote Labour last time. She has shown she understands that only by working with businesses to create good, well-paying jobs can we build a fairer, more prosperous society. And she knows that Labour won’t be trusted by the British people if they don’t trust us to run the economy.

If the next election is on whom do you trust more to manage the economy – Bill English or Grant Robertson, I’m pretty confident of the answer.


Will NZ Labour repeat UK Labour’s mistakes?

June 7th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A fascinating article in The Guardian which details what went wrong with UK Labour’s campaign, based on interviews with many insiders.

An extract:

The team that Miliband had assembled around him consisted of highly intelligent individuals, but the whole was less than the sum of its parts – it was, according to many of those advisers, like a court in which opposing voices cancelled one another out. Greg Beales, the campaign’s director of strategy – and the keeper of the party’s polling – was convinced that, above all, the party needed to address the distrust of Labour’s legacy on the economy and immigration. He insisted that they should confront these issues directly, or else the specific “retail” offers to the electorate that tested well in focus groups, such as the energy price freeze, would fall on deaf ears. By contrast, the more cerebral Stewart Wood, a former politics tutor at Magdalen College Oxford, pressed Miliband to make an ideological break with New Labour, and concentrate the campaign on a promise to make society more equal, through reforms to banking, markets, and post-crash capitalism.

Here we have NZ Labour focusing almost exclusively on “equality” and not confronting the elephant in the room that people don’t think Andrew Little and Grant Robertson can manage the economy as credibly as John Key and Bill English.

Axelrod was appalled by the low quality of the ideas being discussed, which he derisively characterised as “Vote Labour and win a microwave”

We may see that become policy here!

Miliband had first ruled out a coalition with the SNP on 16 March, but it was not until 26 April that he also ruled out a confidence and supply agreement between the two parties. Even then, the question refused to go away. Shadow ministers were being asked whether there would be implicit understandings between the two parties, or whether they would even speak to SNP MPs in the corridors of Westminster. The party’s focus groups also showed that voters did not believe Miliband’s denials, since they did not think he would ever spurn the chance to be prime minister.

Same here as Cunliffe ruled out coalition with Internet-Mana, and then confidence and supply but people didn’t believe him because he never ruled them out entirely, as in he would not form a Government if dependent on them for a majority.


Union insists Labour opposes all spending cuts

June 3rd, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Britain’s biggest trade union is threatening to withhold support for Andy Burnham’s Labour leadership bid unless he promises to oppose all spending cuts.

Senior figures in Unite are angered by the shadow health secretary’s failure to adopt an “anti-austerity” economic policy since announcing his bid.

They plan to approach Len McCluskey, Unite’s general secretary, to consider formally backing no candidate unless there is a clearer Left-wing option on the ticket.

The Telegraph has been told that if Mr Burnham wants to win the endorsement of his most influential potential backer he must change his economic policy.

Unions dictating economic policy to leadership candidates! That’s a winning combination.


UK Labour’s civil war

May 18th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Britain’s Labour party being ripped apart as an epic struggle for its soul threatens to destroy its election hopes for a generation.

Jim Murphy, a respected and moderate Blairite, left his colleagues stunned and distraught by quitting on Saturday as Scottish Labour Leader after a “poisonous” war with the party’s biggest trade union paymasters.

In parting remarks, he warned that it would be “the kiss of death” if Labour caved in to the demands of hard-Left union barons such as Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, who backed Ed Miliband as Labour leader.

The unions in the UK got Ed Miliband made leader, just as the NZ unions did the same with Andrew Little. Both Ed Miliband and Andrew Little lost the members vote and the caucus vote, but got elected due to the union vote.

Murphy warned that McCluskey must not be allowed to choose the next leader of the party.

In NZ, three faceless EPMU delegates made Andrew Little the leader.

Murphy’s decision came a day after Chuka Umunna, a leading moderniser, withdrew from the contest to succeed Miliband as leader.

David Cameron will be relieved. Umunna was the ones they feared could reach out to aspiration centrist voters.

Moderate Labour figures believe the time has come for a decisive shift away from union dominance of the party’s politics. Blairites are privately dismayed that 147 of the 232 Labour MPs elected are Unite members, or received donations from the union.

Owned, lock stock and barrel.


A candidate with very different life experiences

March 10th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Naz Shah has been selected as UK Labour’s candidate for Bradford West. She writes of her life to date:

I was only 6 when my father abandoned my mother with two young children and pregnant with a third when he eloped with the neighbour’s 16 year old daughter. I remember been thrown into the back of a taxi with black bin liners full of our belongings and packed off from the family home on Hartman Place to my granddads home in Kirkham Road. We never really saw the end of black bin liners over the next few years as we moved from squalor to squalor, 14 times in less than 2 years, from back to back houses where the toilet was outside to rat infested damp houses where we lived and slept in just one room.

But this turned out to be better than so called stability:

We finally had a home, 251 Legrams Lane, purchased with the sale of my mother’s wedding jewellery but in someone else’s name, Azam’s name. My mother’s attempt to provide her children with the security of a home came at the expense of being abused by Azam over years. A man that she thought would save her children from an uncertain and insecure future, little did she know he would be the exact opposite. My mother had sent me to Pakistan at the age of 12 when she felt I was at risk of his abuse. When my younger sister was growing up and my mother felt she was now at risk, and following years of anti- depressants, failed suicide attempts and feeling desperate and destitute she snapped.

She killed the man who abused her.

Her mother was sentenced to 20 years jail.

I remember how my days and nights became one, how my world was turned upside down, how I became a mother to my two siblings who were 11 and 13 at the time. Up until then the worst I had known personally was my own forced marriage through emotional blackmail when I was just 15 years old whilst in Pakistan. I never went back to schooling and my first job was at Society Linen hire on Usher St, the laundry service for the local hospitals. I moved on to packing crisps at Seabrook’s which was a huge improvement in job and wages. By January 1992 I wanted to go back to college after leaving my own husband who used his fists to communicate and now this.

So her childhood is 14 houses, being abused by her step-father, her mum going to prison, looking after her younger siblings, a forced marriage at 15, domestic violence and then working in a laundry.

This doesn’t mean she’ll be a good MP, but it does at a minimum mean she has battled huge adversity and come through it.

As she is standing against the repulsive George Galloway, I can honestly say I hope she wins.

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We’re backed by a businessman named Bill!

February 18th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reported:

Labour’s attempts to prove it is pro business backfired on Tuesday night when the shadow chancellor Ed Balls was unable to remember the name of one of the party’s key supporters.

In a bid to prove Labour did have support from some of the most influential names in business, Balls’ attempts to reel off the names was over before it began when interviewed by Newsnight. The best he could come up with was someone named Bill.

Asked by presenter Emily Maitlis whether it was worrying that the 63 business leaders who wrote to the Financial Times backing Labour in 2005 were silent ahead of May’s general election, Balls insisted the party did have support.

“I’ve been at a dinner tonight with a number of business-supporting Labour figures,” he said. Who were they, Maitlis asked?

“Well, em, Bill. The former chief executive of EDS who I was just talking to…”

Seizing on his uncertainty, Maitlis pressed: “What was his name?”

At which point the shadow chancellor had to admit he couldn’t actually remember. “It has just gone from my head, which is a bit annoying at this time of night.”

The hole got deeper when Maitlis replied: “Okay. So frankly you’ve got Bill somebody. Have we got anyone else? Cos you were talking about 63 or 50 FTSE 100 leaders. Now we’ve got Bill somebody.”

Oh dear that is a fairly bad fail.

It did get me thinking. While overall more business leaders tend to support National, the Clark/Cullen Labour government did have a reasonably significant number of business supporters. Hugh Fletcher, Stephen Tindall etc.

But since going into opposition and coming up with policies such as their electricity effective nationalisation policy, I struggle to think of any prominent business supporters apart from that Selwyn guy, and the gym owner. Certainly no one from a top 50 company. And as I said, while most business leaders do tend to be centre-right, it is by no means all.


UK Labour learns you need to do more than attack

February 4th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Don’t let it be said that Ed Miliband’s political leadership is useless. It has, in fact, just provided an instructive demonstration in how not to play your strongest electoral card. Over the next three months, his team may well proceed to offer a degree-level course in How to Throw Away an Election – but last week’s introductory module was an education in itself. Having “weaponised” the NHS, Mr Miliband then – choose your metaphor – had it blow up in his face, or shot himself in the foot, or fired a succession of blanks. By the end of the week, Labour’s ace vote-winning issue had become one more grotesquely embarrassing morass of internecine warfare, contradictory statements, ill-thought-out policy and, finally, unconvincing denials that the whole initiative had gone horribly wrong. …

Andy Burnham came spectacularly unstuck in a series of major broadcast interviews because he could not answer the most obvious challenges: why is the NHS in Wales, which is run by Labour on precisely the lines you advocate, performing significantly worse than the NHS in England? Where will you find the extra health funding that you are promising? Revenue from the mansion tax will not provide enough money, and besides you’ll be spending that elsewhere.

Oppositions do need to be able to highlight areas of Government failure. But they also need to have a competent and viable alternative.