Scouring Labour for some Trubro magic

Chris Trotter dismisses the chances of Labour leader Andrew Little weaving any Trudeauesque magic in New Zealand and scours the Labour ranks for what I presume he wants, a change of leader.

He is seeking a Trubro that doesn’t seem either apparent or likely.

Having moved on quickly from the hope that UK Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn would inspire a world wide left wing revolution Chris Trotter is now hoping that Canada’s new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the template for his socialist nirvana.

From his latest column at Stuff – Chris Trotter: Can Labour find someone to weave some Trudeauesque magic?:

Inevitably, those New Zealanders favouring a change of government in 2017 are scouring the ranks of opposition parties for a Kiwi politician capable of bringing some Trudeau magic to our own political arena.

Before he scours Labour’s ranks Trotter writes off Little.

Labour supporters, in particular, are looking at the rather dour figure of Andrew Little and wondering whether he has what it takes to unseat a Prime Minister as popular as John Key.

Are they? Or is it people like Trotter who seem to want to remake Labour into their own socialist ideal?

New Zealand leftists who have studied the Canadian campaign are worried that Labour has already committed itself to the sort of moderate and fiscally unadventurous course that saw Canada’s left-wing New Democrat Party (NDP) relegated to third place behind Trudeau’s Liberals and Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.

Leftists always seem to be worried about being foiled by a moderate approach to government.

So concerned was the dour and rather tetchy NDP leader, Tom Mulcair, to fend-off criticism that his party wasn’t ready to manage the Canadian economy, that he promised voters to keep the federal Budget in permanent surplus. Given that this was also Stephen Harper’s policy, Mulcair’s decision allowed Trudeau to outflank the NDP on the left.

Little’s critics look at his inept handling of the Trans Pacific Partnership issue and wonder whether something similar hasn’t already happened here.

Trotter went from almost maniacal  trumpeting of a Little lurch left over the TPPA to despair in a day recently. He is obviously now in the ‘Little’s critics’ camp.

In the end, however, most of the speculation about whether a Justin Trudeau is lurking, unrecognised, in the Opposition’s ranks circles back to the Labour Party. If Little is too dour and grumpy to beat the man Bill English once described as “bouncing from cloud to cloud”, who is left to bounce Labour’s banner up there alongside him?

Little is also Labour’s current leader and there is no sign of a mood in Labour to go through yet another leadership contest.

Grant Robertson would probably say Grant Robertson. (And, to be fair, there are many in the Labour Party who would agree). But, to the rest of New Zealand, Robertson can come across as just a bit too complacent; a bit too absolutely, arrogantly, Wellington. For the best part of a year, he’s had plenty of chances to shine as Labour’s finance spokesperson. That his light has barely flickered in that role must count heavily against him.

Robertson certainly appears to be no Corbyn or Trudeau. Nor probably New Zealand Prime Minister. He has twice failed to become Labour leader. And it’s difficult to see him getting the union support thought necessary to swing a Labour leadership contest.

Which leaves just two names for Trudeau-seekers to play with: Stuart Nash and Jacinda Ardern. Both are well endowed with the skin-deep trappings of the Trudeauesque politician: youth and good looks.

Nash even boasts a famous Labour name – although, the number of people who recall New Zealand once having had a Prime Minister called Walter Nash will not be large.

And the number of people who see Nash as a genuine socialist revolutionary probably isn’t large either.

Ardern, herself, is already registering in the preferred Prime Minister stakes – always a sign of better things to come. The positives are definitely there for both MPs.

So to Ardern, the Labour MP who doesn’t even aspire to becoming deputy leader.

Trotter may need to scour the ranks of ambitious candidates-to-be and hope that a New Zealand Trudeau – a Trubro? – somehow manages to survive Labour’s selection process and score a winnable electorate or list position.

And then get sufficient time and experience to be considered leadership material by those who vote in Labour (not Trotteresque miracle fastrackers). And to survive and succeed in a leadership contest.

Trotter’s Trubro aspirations may need to look past 2017, to 2020 or even 2023. By then surely New Zealand will have woken up to the wonders of socialism that have never proven successful to date.