Labour changes the ditchwater

Labour Leader David Shearer has continued his grey emulation of the Tony Blair model with an attempt to change way the Party votes for its leaders.

Political parties, and aspiring “change” leaders make a tradition of changing rules as some sort of symbolic refresh – an attempt to show how revolutionary they are.

In recent times, Tony Blair created “New Labour”. It was an incredible bottom up change in the rules of the Party that killed the stranglehold of special interest cabals.

The changes signaled that not only was Labour nothing like the dreary earnest myopic Party of the past, Blair was also a totally new type of Labour leader.

The current UK Labour leader, Ed Miliband, is doing the symbolic change. He’s inviting business leaders to get involved with the Party. His open call for business people to become Labour MPs, rather than any actual behind the scenes effort, is a clear sign that the ‘change’ is all talk.

When the NZ Labour Government got booted out in 1990, it embarked on a Labour Listens campaign. The intent was send all the old and new MPs on the road to learn hard lessons about real life. It was pretty good bonus that it symbolicly showed the Labour was attempting to learn the mistakes of the past.

Labour did the same thing when it lost after nine years with Helen Clark. Only this time, it was all about the symbolism, and the rancorous environment of the short bus trip only served to emphasise that Labour still wanted to tell, not listen.

So we come to David Shearer, whose attempt at a change in the Labour Party rules is a fair indicator of the type of leader, or Prime Minister, he would be; non-revolutionary.

He calls the rules “democratic”, but they only exaggerate power of the cliques in the Party. Much has been made of how the Party apparatchiks had formerly appointed candidates against member wishes. But the truth as often as this stuck electorates with right-on but unelectable members, it also served up good Parliamentary performers rather than mates.

Anyway, this power is not being touched. We’re just talking about changing how the Party votes for a leader. And even then, the view of the Party membership has less than 50% control of the outcome.

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