UK update

A catch up from Missy in the UK:


Hi All, okay, I know I have been a little MIA again, my only excuse is it is summer (yay) and I have been busy, and away, oh, and the UK seem to have been consumed by a little thing called the Olympics. :)

So, politics wise in the UK, it is still quiet, though a few things seem to have popped up. A very quick summary of the main points – I will miss some stuff I know, but essentially it doesn’t really get going again for another week or two, this weekend is the late summer bank holiday weekend, which is essentially like the Wellington/Auckland Anniversary weekends in signalling the back to work for most folks.

So, the summary:

Labour

The leadership race has been trucking along, with the same accusations, allegations, and insults as in the lead up. Sadiq Khan appeared at a leadership hustings, and was booed by Corbyn supporters – he has put his support behind Owen Smith. Owen Smith however hasn’t got off lightly, he has been pilloried by suggesting that the UK need to ‘get around the table’ with ISIS, as you can imagine that has not gone down well, to be fair it didn’t go down well when Corbyn suggested something similar a number of months ago, but he was smarter in saying it during the referendum campaign so it kind of got overlooked.

Corbyn is allegedly planning moves that could further damage the Labour Party (if that is possible), it is understood that if Corbyn wins the leadership election he will give more say to the members on policy making through email polls and plebiscites, this will further diminish the views of PLP. As much of the membership is now dominated by Corbyn supporters, this is a move that will boost his far left agenda within the party – it could also spell the end of the party.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/22/jeremy-corbyn-to-bypass-critical-mps-by-polling-labour-members-o/

Conservatives

As MPs head back from holiday there has been some noise from Conservatives. Most notably over the weekend, it has come out who advised Theresa May to use the EU citizens as bargaining chips in the Brexit negotiations, apparently all leadership contenders were advised to do that, but only May went with it, and now there is pressure on May again to guarantee the status of EU citizens in the UK – without having the status of UK citizens in the EU guaranteed I might add. This is however, in my opinion, one area that I think Theresa May has been smart, she would go into negotiations in a weaker position if she gave the guarantee to EU citizens, without having guaranteed the status of UK citizens, and I think the majority of people – especially those that voted Leave – get this and support her stance on it, it seems to be the vocal minority on social media, and in the MSM, that don’t agree.

EU

Germany, France, and Italy are holding a summit at the moment to discuss the way forward for the EU, and in doing so have stated the intent for closer ties on defence, intelligence, and security. This could be taken by some to confirm some of the fears of many on the Leave side who claimed that the EU had plans for more integrated defence which will, by default, lead to greater integration of Foreign Policy, thus removing more policy making and independence from sovereign nations.

Juncker has come out and claimed that borders are the worst invention ever, yet again pushing for more open borders in the EU. He has also said that there needs to be greater integration and a stronger EU in order to curb rising nationalism. This shows arrogance, stupidity, or blindness – or a combination of all three, on the part of Juncker. He does not seem to understand – or want to understand – that much of the rise in nationalism in Europe is in response to greater EU integration. Most of the nationalist parties in Europe are also anti EU parties, many citing the economic situation, open borders, and increasing control of the EU as reasons for their existence – also reasons why they are getting the support.

And on other EU news, the EU Parliament sent a tweet congratulating European medal winners at the olympics, accompanied by a graphic suggesting that the EU ‘won’ the olympics with the most medals. This of course has been mocked online in the UK.

https://twitter.com/Europarl_EN/status/76769196092

Is NZ ready for a Trump (or Sanders)?

Following on from their research that shows about a quarter of current MPs have only worked as political insiders Geoffrey Miller and Mark Blackham suggest this could lead to the rise of a New Zealand version of Donald Trump.

Comparisons have already been attempted by others between Trump and Winston Peters, and it’s worth noting that NZ First are unusually high in mid-term polls.

Is New Zealand ready for its own Donald Trump?

An estrangement between the political establishment and ordinary voters is one reason for Donald Trump’s popularity in the US. A gulf is growing between politicians and voters in New Zealand, too, inviting a similar backlash here.

Our recent study of the careers of New Zealand politicians reveals the idea that MPs come from all walks of life in the community to serve in public office is now a myth. Instead, we are witnessing the growth and dominance of our own “political class” – a group of people who have only ever known a working life in politics and Government.

Our analysis reveals the main path to Parliament is to be born into the middle class, go to university, spend a short time in work, then get elected via party manoeuvring on to a list or into an electorate.

Parallel to the growing political class where it has become common for MPs to be effectively promoted from within party organisations is a growing public disinterest in politics and in voting..

Being an MP is now a job, not a calling. This similarity of backgrounds, experiences and political careers reinforces the beltway paradigm of bland, uninspiring policies with little appetite for risk.

We have a blanding of politics coupled with over the top attacks on opponents that often lack substance and credibility.

Now, despite a Parliament more reflective of society in terms of gender and ethnicity, it overwhelmingly favours middle class men and women who view their first jobs merely as a strategy to gain “real-world” experience to propel them into politics.

Over time, we can expect this phenomenon to generate more career politicians – people whose whole working lives have been in politics.

This has already happened in the US. In 1965, no member of Congress or the Senate had previously worked in politics. By 2013, people with political careers formed half of Congress and 40 per cent of the Senate.

The beltway recipe mixes the same ingredients of people in the same bowl of thinking and every election serves it to the public with a different garnish. Now, we are seeing Donald Trump confronting the American political establishment.

In some ways Peters has been battling the political establishment for decades, but he has also been closely involved with the establishment, joining both National and Labour in coalitions and not ruling out doing future coalition details if he gets the opportunity

Could New Zealand see the rise of its own Trump?

Our study’s findings show the ground is being laid for one. Across the political spectrum, our MPs’ lack of life experience is already creating a jarring political culture that increasingly bears little resemblance to the lives of voters.

Populists like Trump are extreme reactions to the very real inadequacies of the current political choices on offer.

If New Zealand’s political elites do not want to face a challenger to their own dominance, they need to start becoming more like the people they represent.

Doing so will be painful, but not as painful as staring down at a rampaging populist who will do it for them.

One thing markedly different in New Zealand compared to the US where trump and Sanders have both challenged the political establishments, and Corbyn is doing likewise in the UK, is that we have MMP.

Will MMP ensure bland diversity here, or is there a way a political maverick could make waves here?

Last election Kim Dotcom tried exactly that with huge funding but failed, and dragged down another maverick with him, Hone Harawira, but there were a number of serious negatives surrounding Dotcom.

Andrew Little seems to have lost his chance of fitting the maverick profile.

I doubt there’s much chance of a Trump-like rising in New Zealand.

But what about a Sanders? A decent well meaning politician who can tap successfully into social media support and capitalise on public sentiment?

I’d certainly prefer a Sanders here to a Trump. He/She and their party wouldn’t have to compete with National, they would just have to beat the 5% threshold and be seen as a credible holder of the balance of power.

It could be a sleeper MP who has the gumption to launch into something different and meaningful. Or it could be a political outsider.

But it needs someone who can take a team with them and stand out as a good alternative to the bland political class we have now.

Trotter and rebooting the unions to fund Labour

Chris Trotter has another lengthy complaint about Labour in relation to the TPPA, posted at  both The Daily Blog (he must have an exemption from their exclusive post requirement) and at Bowalley – Burning Down The House: Why Does The Labour Caucus Keep Destroying The Labour Party In Order To Save It?

It’s heavy going so I’ll skip to the conclusion where he suggests a peoples’ revolution to get Labour on a Corbynite track to then facilitate the People’s Revolution of New Zealand.

Only a mass influx of people determined to make policy – not tea – can rescue the Labour Party from the self-perpetuating parliamentary oligarchy that currently controls it.

Only a rank-and-file membership that is conscious of, and willing to assert, its rights – as the Corbynistas are doing in the United Kingdom – has the slightest hope of selecting a caucus dedicated to circulating the whole oxymoronic notion of democratic elitism out of New Zealand’s political system altogether.

The way this can be done is discussed in the comments, with suggestions that a return to compulsory unionism is the way to fund Labour so they can be a proper party.

Bushbaptist:

The Labour party has to go to the same sources to get funding as the Gnats, therein lays the problem they have. Which is why I have said that Unions should be made compulsory again and then Labour can get funding via them.

Green supporter Simon Cohen isn’t happy with this:

So Bushbaptist you want to make Unions compulsory again so that their members dues will contribute to the Labour Party and get them elected.And you wonder why so many of us are now anti union.I would object to my union fees going to support Labour when I am a strong supporter of the only true left wing party in NZ the Greens.

That makes him a traitorous fake to the left, or at least to Greywarbler::

You don’t know anything Simon if you don’t know that and you might as well be a Nat as you think like them. Perhaps indeed you are just playing at being a Green for the purposes of commenting here. Your anti-union stance doesn’t fit with the Greens I know. But perhaps you are part of a modern plan to subvert the energy and commitment to Green ideals as RWs did to Labour? That would be par for the course for an anti-union Nat.

And Greywarbler endorses the union revolution for Labour.

This is where the unions come in, to re-energise Labour, get Labour onto its avowed task which is to look out for the country and assist all to a reasonable and now sustainable living.

And to bring funds in from those who enthusiastically back that goal, just as National gets funds from those who back themselves and their narrow clique only, with gusto.

Trotter comes in and points out an obvious problem with this plan…

Our problem, Grey Warbler, is that in order to re-boot the union movement, it is first necessary to re-boot the Labour Party and get it elected. We appear to be caught in a classic “Catch-22” situation!

…but notably doesn’t disagree with compulsory unionism being a source of funding for Labour.

Bushbaptist also slams the Greens.

Firstly the Greens have no show of becoming a major party in the medium term anyway, there is not enough grassroots support for them. Secondly they are NOT LEFT! THEY ARE CENTRIST! The only remotely thing one can say about their political position is that they are “Left” of both Labour and National. The Greens only support ordinary workers who vote for them not for the protection of all low paid workers in general.

So if the Greens aren’t proper LEFT…

Simon you have conflated what I said. You can vote for who-ever you wish. The Unions would support Labour by financing them.

…so should be forced to join unions and finance another party.

I wonder how many people choose not to join a union now because some of the unions finance Labour?

Rebooting the unions would be relooting the workers.

The revolution doesn’t look like threatening New Zealand any time soon.