“Labour’s Looming Train Wreck”

The gloves are off as parties position themselves for the election.

Peter Dunne Speaks: Labour’s Looming Train Wreck

Dunne tries to draw parallels between UK Labourt and NZ Labour, and between Jeremy Corbyn and Andrew little.

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. For afficiandos, it is all fun and games, happening sufficiently far away not to be too bothered about.

However, there are some similarities with the New Zealand situation which should not go unremarked upon.

And remark upon them he does.

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.

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.”

Both Mr Corbyn and Mr Little believe naively that there is a latent Labour majority out there – the missing million voters New Zealand Labour keeps talking about – that has only to be offered a “true” Labour Party for them to return home, and that in the meantime, there is therefore no need to reach out to any other voting group

As the Antipodean Jeremy Corbyn, Mr Little must have groaned when Teresa May called Britain’s election for early June. New Zealanders are going to be able to watch a preview of his performance and likely fate, well in advance of our own election.

And when the inevitable blood-letting takes place after the British train wreck, New Zealand Labour will struggle to avoid the spotlight being turned on its own Jeremy Corbyn, and his journey down the same track.       

Dunne and others will no doubt try to have the spotlight shone on similarities between Corbyn and Little, and between UK Labour and NZ Labour.

House of Commons votes for general election

From Missy:

UK General Election update:

The House of Commons voted 522-13 in favour of the General Election on 8 June, exceeding the 2/3 majority required.

13 MPs voted against, including 9 Labour MPs.

115 MPs did not vote, I am unsure if they were all abstentions, or if some were just not in Parliament today. The SNP abstained reportedly along with a handful of Labour MPs.

The Government will make a call this week on the by-election due to be held on 4 May, there are those saying it should not go ahead.

More MPs announced they would not be standing in the election, amongst them George Osborne, which is probably a good thing as his new job as editor of the Evening Standard may have been seen as a conflict of interest.


Parties are already talking potential coalitions in order to keep the Conservatives out of power.

Liberal Democrats have ruled out going into coalition with Labour, but not with the Conservatives. That may be a problem with those voters they lost in 2015 who felt betrayed by their coalition with the Conservatives.

The SNP has said that they will seek a ‘progressive alliance’ with Labour and the Liberal Democrats. This presents 2 problems, the first is that it was the thought of a coalition or alliance between Labour and the SNP that is thought to have given the Conservatives the outright majority in 2015, the second is that the Liberal Democrats have already ruled out working with Labour so I am not sure why Nicola Sturgeon thinks that they will for her.

Theresa May calls for snap election

Missy has details of the big news from the UK overnight:

This morning Theresa May has called for a snap General Election on 8 June. She will take it to the House of Commons tomorrow for the vote, she needs 2/3 majority to overturn the Fixed Parliament Act for this election. Labour have indicated they will vote for the snap election.

She reportedly spoke to the Queen yesterday to tell her of this decision, and discussed it with Cabinet this morning. At just after 11am local time she spoke to media.

It appears the disruptive politics of the opposition parties, and the threats to undermine and disrupt Brexit, has led her to this decision. She is essentially calling the bluff of the opposition who say that the Government has no mandate for their Brexit strategy.

This is a smart move. There was talk a month or so ago that she would call a General Election before triggering Article 50, but when she didn’t, all talk of it stopped. However, by having the election now it means that instead of about a year post Brexit, there will be about 2-3 years post Brexit before the General Election.

There was no indication that she would be calling an early election, though some speculation began this morning when No. 10 said there would be an announcement by the PM, but it was still a surprise to everyone in the media and other MPs. Corbyn was interviewed on GMB this morning and nothing was mentioned about the possibility of a GE.

Theresa May reportedly made the decision over Easter, and has moved quickly on the decision.


The radio this afternoon has been interviewing MPs from other parties (all men) who have all been very negative, and suggesting that Theresa May is running scared, and that she wants to have an election before her disastrous Brexit plan becomes public, to be honest they were sounding more desperate and scared than May.

Nicola Sturgeon has claimed that calling an early General Election is a huge political miscalculation because Scots will reject the PM’s divisive agenda. It is a little ironic that she is calling the PM’s agenda divisive since her agenda since last June has been divisive.

Nicola Sturgeon didn’t answer questions as to whether her case for a second referendum would be undermined if the SNP performed worse than in 2015. She claimed that the 2016 Holyrood election result has given her the mandate for a second referendum, however, Ruth Davidson – leader of the Scottish Conservatives – plans to make opposition to a second Independence referendum central to their campaign, and send a strong message that they oppose the SNP’s divisive plan for a second referendum.


Labour seem to be in disarray – again.

There is a lot of speculation on what will happen to Jeremy Corbyn after the election and the expected severe losses that Labour will suffer. Already he is being asked if he will resign after the election if Labour loses seats, but he is not being drawn on that.

One senior Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, said he will not stand in the election due to differences with the labour Leadership, and not long after his announcement another MP, Alan Johnson also said he will not stand again, it is expected that more will follow.



Brexit impact on New Zealand

While the United Kingdom exit from the European Union poses major challenges for the UK and for the rest of Europe, it should mainly offer opportunities for New Zealand.

We are trying to do a trade deal with the UK as soon as that is possible (they will be a tad busy at the moment), and also want to make progress on a trade deal with the EU.

Serena Kelly at Stuff looks at Brexit: the past, present and future impact on New Zealand

The past is of interest but it doesn’t matter much now. What we can do now and our future prospects are more important.

So what does Brexit mean for New Zealand and how has New Zealand reacted to developments?


Trade is the most vital interest for New Zealand’s foreign policy. Official statistics show that for the year ending June 2016, the EU was New Zealand’s third largest trading partner (and rising), and the UK our fifth largest export market. Out of our total trade with the EU, UK trade makes up 20 per cent.

The EU’s importance to New Zealand was showcased a few weeks ago when Prime Minister Bill English made his first official trip to Europe. In what was possibly a first for his National party, English visited Brussels before the UK.

During his Brussels visit, the possibility of fast-tracking the EU-NZ FTA was promoted on both sides – in order to signal to the world the importance of trade liberalisation in the face of a global trend towards so-called populism.

Indeed, Trade Minister Todd McLay has indicated that the EU-NZ FTA is likely to be finalised before an UK-NZ FTA. This is understandable – Britain still has at least two years to negotiate its exit from the EU and has yet to be accepted as a member in the World Trade Organisation.

No improved immigration access

Immediately after the referendum, there was hope that New Zealanders would benefit from relaxed immigration laws directed at New Zealanders. Unsurprisingly – given the consensus that Brexit was a vote against unfettered immigration – Prime Minister May recently told Prime Minister English that there would be no change.

Patience may be required.

Theresa May’s letter last month means there is suddenly a probable timetable for Brexit– around 18 months. May’s letter only hints at the phenomenal amount of time and manpower required to extract the United Kingdom from the European Union and to come to an agreement about the future relationship between the EU and UK. This means very limited resources for relationships with third countries such as New Zealand.

New Zealand may be a minor player and a low priority – but the UK could benefit from our extensive experience with doing trade negotiations, compared to their almost complete lack since they have been in the EU.

Getting in early would be a big deal for New Zealand. As far as size of trade goes it would be a small deal for the UK, but they could gain a lot more in other trade if they manage to do something quickly with us.

UK & Europe

Topics about the UK, EU and Europe.


See suggested posting changes in World news

UK to lose banking and medicine agencies

The European Union is set to take prestigious agencies off the United Kingdom as the separation from the EU progresses.

And the EU is playing hard to get on trade talks in repercussions following the Brexit vote and UK government formerly proceeding with a separation.

Guardian: Britain set to lose EU ‘crown jewels’ of banking and medicine agencies

The EU is set to inflict a double humiliation on Theresa May, stripping Britain of its European agencies within weeks, while formally rejecting the prime minister’s calls for early trade talks.

The Observer has learned that EU diplomats agreed their uncompromising position at a crunch meeting on Tuesday, held to set out the union’s strategy in the talks due to start next month.

The European Banking Authority and the European Medicines Agency employ about 1,000 people, many of them British, and provide a hub for businesses in the UK. It is understood that the EU’s chief negotiator hopes the agencies will know their new locations by June, although the process may take longer. Cities such as Frankfurt, Milan, Amsterdam and Paris are competing to take the agencies, which are regarded as among the EU’s crown jewels.

And trade talks look stalled at this stage.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Britain failed to secure the backing of any of the 27 countries for its case that trade talks should start early in the two years of negotiations allowed by article 50 of the Lisbon treaty. The position will be announced at a Brussels summit on 29 April.

The UK will have to suffer deal with the consequences of their distancing from the EU.

UK & Europe – Maundy Thursday

Topics about the UK, EU and Europe.


Missy posts from London:

I know many on here don’t care about the Royal Family – or christianity, but I do love the traditions around both, and Maundy Thursday is one such tradition.

Today HM went to Leicester Cathedral to dispense coins for Maundy Thursday – though these days they are not a case of distributing coins to the poor, but rather a ceremony of dispensing especially minted coins to those specially selected who serve the community.

The Queen has now conducted Maundy service in every Anglican Cathedral.


Daily Mail: Germany urges Kosovo to pass border deal with Montenegro

Germany’s foreign minister urged Kosovo’s political parties on Thursday to approve the border demarcation agreement with Montenegro to end their status as the only Western Balkan country without free travel rights in Schengen zone countries.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-4408800/Germany-calls-Kosovo-pass-border-deal-Montenegro.html#ixzz4e9IVgDO5
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook


UK & Europe

Topics about the UK, EU and Europe.


BBC: No G7 deal on Russia sanctions over Syria

The UK proposal fails to win support, with the US secretary of state now in Moscow for talks.

BBC: Syria: Boris Johnson denies defeat over sanctions call

The UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has denied he suffered a “defeat” after the G7 group of nations rejected his proposal for sanctions against Russia.

The two-day meeting of foreign ministers was aimed at hammering out a unified approach to Syria before the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson went to Moscow.

The plan was put forward at the G7 summit in Italy in the wake of a deadly chemical attack the countries say was carried out by Moscow’s ally, Syria.

Italy’s foreign minister said the group did not want to back Russia into a corner and preferred dialogue.

The Lib Dem leader Tim Farron called it a “failure of British diplomacy”.

Mr Johnson denied he had suffered a defeat, saying there was support for sanctions if further evidence of the chemical attack were gathered.

One thing that did appear to unite the group was the future of Mr Assad.

Mr Tillerson summed it up, saying: “It is clear to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end.”

UK & Europe

Topics about the UK, EU and Europe.


BBC: Russian arrested in Spain ‘over US election hacking’

Spanish police have arrested a Russian programmer for alleged involvement in “hacking” the US election, Spanish press reports have said.

Pyotr Levashov, arrested on 7 April in Barcelona, has now been remanded in custody.

A “legal source” also told the AFP news agency that Mr Levashov was the subject of an extradition request by the US.

El Confidencial, a Spanish news website, has said that Mr Levashov’s arrest warrant was issued by US authorities over suspected “hacking” that helped Donald Trump’s campaign.

Mr Levashov’s wife Maria also told Russian broadcaster RT that the arrest was made in connection with such allegations.

Several cybersecurity experts, including Brian Krebs, have also linked Mr Levashov to a Russian spam kingpin, who uses the alias Peter Severa.


UK & Europe

Topics about the UK, EU and Europe.


The Syrian missile attacks have blown up UK-Russian relations.

Guardian: Russia hits back at UK and Boris Johnson over cancelled Moscow visit

Russian officials have launched a scathing attack on the UK over Boris Johnson’s decision to cancel an upcoming trip to Moscow due to increased tensions about Syria, threatening to bring relations to a new low.

The foreign secretary faced criticism at home and abroad on Sunday for postponing the visit, prompting his allies to say critics had put “polls and politics above sorting out a civil war”.

With the repercussions continuing from last week’s chemical weapons attack on civilians in Khan Sheikhun and a retaliatory US strike on a Syrian government airbase, the Russian foreign ministry and embassy in London belittled Britain’s role in the crisis.

The move showed a “fundamental misunderstanding or lack of knowledge of the events in Syria, Russia’s efforts to settle that crisis and the general objectives of diplomacy”, the Russian foreign ministry said. “The decision to call off Johnson’s visit to Moscow confirms once again doubts in the presence of added value in speaking to the UK, which does not have its own position on the majority of present-day issues, nor does it have real influence on the course of international affairs, as it remains ‘in the shadow’ of its strategic partners. We do not feel that we need dialogue with London any more than it does.”

Russia’s embassy in London, meanwhile, said it was “deplorable” that Johnson felt unable to meet his counterpart Sergei Lavrov. It tweeted mocking polls, including one that sought views on Donald Trump “as a wartime leader and Johnson as his lieutenant”.

Not a good sign.

A war of tweets is a new way to carry out international insults diplomacy – Trump already has a legacy.