Matthew Hooton explains how it is that Labour has allowed itself to be hijacked.
My friend Matt McCarten, now Andrew Little’s chief of staff, introduced me to the word “entrism” some years ago.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it means “the policy or practice of joining an organisation with the intention of subverting its aims and activities.”
“Entrism” was first used by 1930s French Trotskyists when dissolving their own radical organisations and joining moderate parties to steer them towards Leninism. It became recognised in English in the 1960s and 1970s to describe the subversion of the UK Labour Party by Militant Tendency, which the party then spent 20 years eradicating to make itself electable again.
Since its election defeat in 2008 and the departure to New York of the firm hand of Helen Clark and Heather Simpson, the New Zealand Labour Party has been the latest victim of the tactic. In the past fortnight, that has reached fruition ,with Labour’s lurch to the extreme left over the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and its abandonment of the middle ground over student fees.
While the moderate centre of the party – as personified by Phil Goff, David Shearer, David Parker, Stuart Nash, Clayton Cosgrove, Peeni Henare and Kelvin Davis – plan to launch an offensive against the party’s direction in May, they have no chance of success.