Lessons from Australia for the Labour party

I have had people ask me why I post on politics in the UK and in Australia.

My usual answer is because I believe them to be relevant. Those two countries provide a hint as to what happens in domestic politics. Especially with the Labour party.

Whilst National maintains loose ties with the Conservatives ?in the UK and somewhat closer ties with the Liberals in Australia it is Labour that maintains very close ties with Labour in Australia and the UK labour party.

Many of David Shearer’s and now David Cunliffe’s strap lines and core policies come from UK Labour. So watching what happens in those countries leads to a closer and better understanding of what is going on here.

Which brings me to Labour’s problems in New Zealand…and the similarity between the problems the ALP is currently experiencing.

THE time has come for someone to take the Labor Party by the scruff of the neck and shake it until it recognises reality, truly admits defeat, reorders its priorities and changes key policies that have failed it repeatedly at the ballot box.

[…]

Logic and survival dictate that the ALP must drop the convoluted arguments it has used for defending the carbon tax, the mining tax and its economic management for much of the past six years.?Labor has to do what Tony Abbott did to the legacy of John Howard?s Work Choices, and bury and cremate the mining and carbon taxes.?

[T]here are numerous signs that its parliamentary leadership has still not sufficiently grasped the gravity of the situation and?be heading for half-hearted, and therefore meaningless, acknowledgments of the truth and is being distracted by dangerous internal preoccupations and obsessions.

Labor faces the political horror of a base support in many areas of less than 30 per cent. If that is the case, it will be consigned to a future of almost perpetual opposition or reliance on a coalition with the Greens to return to government.

[…]

[T]here is a mood within the ALP that much has to be done, and done soon, to avoid the permanent erosion of Labor support.

Bruised by five years of disunity and having four leaderships in as many years, Labor MPs can see what needs to be done but hold back for fear of sparking new destabilisation.

Labor?s efforts to cure itself are undermined by numerous factors: the party?s own sense of crisis, the fear of cutting the union ties that have bound the ALP for more than 100 years, factional power plays within an ever-diminishing base, concern about losing more of Labor?s base to the Greens, poor political strategic decisions in the past six months and a continuing misreading of the Prime Minister.

Labour, here, thinks that if they change the way the leader is selected and make changes internally then voters will flock to their party and return them triumphantly to teh treasury benches. They are wrong.

Andrew Bolt notes in discussing the same problem in Australia that:

…. ?reform? is in fact not a contest of ideas to present to voters but nothing more than a brawl for internal power. The Left wants to cut union influence on the party to give the far-Left membership more control. The Right wants to preserve the key source of its waning power.

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