For those who follow British politics, the prospect of the coming General Election turning into a major train wreck for the British Labour Party looms large. Barely a day passes without another set of contradictory views or comments emerging from senior members of that Party. Most of the criticism inevitably finds its way back to the Party’s veteran socialist leader, Jeremy Corbyn, a man who, in a long political career has never been chosen to hold any Government office.
34 years in Parliament and never has held Government office. Few seriously think he could lead a Government, let alone actually negotiate Brexit with the EU.
Jeremy Corbyn was never elected leader of the British Labour Party by the Party’s MPs – indeed, only a few months ago, they passed overwhelmingly a vote of no-confidence in his leadership. Yet he remains, having twice been selected by the Party at large and its trade union base to be Labour’s standard bearer. New Zealand Labour has a similar selection system – current leader Andrew Little was installed in his role in 2014 with the backing of well under half his MPs, and then only narrowly because of the union vote.
Little only received four votes in caucus. He also lost the membership vote to Robertson, but as Dunne says the unions installed him.
As with Mr Corbyn, Mr Little knows that the key to his retaining the leadership, lies not with his MPs, but with the Party’s trade union affiliates. He has already shown his recognition of that by his installation of trade union officials as candidates in a number of seats around the country. Many are likely to feature high up on the Party’s “democratically” selected list. And, like Mr Corbyn, he has eschewed any prospect of Labour claiming the centre ground of politics, indeed going so far as to dismiss the political centre and those who occupy it as “irrelevant.”
It is all about keeping the leadership after the election.
Last week, Mr little was reported widely as proposing to cut immigration numbers by 51,000. While the announcement came from nowhere, there was no denial by any Labour MP at the time that this was their policy. Now, over a week later, having been widely criticised for the announcement, Mr Little says he was misreported, that when he said immigration levels should fall from about around 71,000 to about 20,000, he did not mean a reduction of 51,000. It is difficult to know what else he meant, particularly when his defence was to confirm his original figures, and that he was talking about a drop of “tens of thousands” only. It was a pure Corbyn moment. (It came just a week after a similar moment when responding to National’s pay equity decision.) National will be hoping for many more over the next few months.
NCEA Maths Not Achieved.