Sunday, 30 June 2013


So, there's been a by-election and the result was a Labour victory over a bubbling Mana party. As an instinctive Labourite who voted Mana in 2011, I'm happy with that. It shows a solidly centre-left vote, albeit split three ways, between Labour the Greens and Mana.

Over on The Standard, of course, it is being hailed as (I kid you not) a ''disaster' for Labour. Clearly, some people don't know how numbers work. Perhaps they thought the vote tallies were akin to chart positions, and getting to one was the aim.

I don’t see why it is a ‘disaster’ for Labour. By-election results are almost always wobbly, as they are on reduced turnouts and without the over-arching narrative of a general election campaign. Also given this by-election was about a relative unknown contesting the seat vacated by a very well known politician who had held it for years.

I suppose people will read into it whatever they want to read into it; the factionalists and schismatics will mysteriously claim a win is a defeat and call for Shearer’s head.

I suppose the simple question they have to answer is, would they rather see David Cunliffe back in government, or would they prefer him on the opposition benches for another three years?

Because I think that really is the reality. There’s a slim possibility of the former if the squabbling stops and Labour get their act together; and a very strong likelihood of the latter, if things continue as they are.

What it comes down to is the common leftwing delusion that their faction is the one that people really want. When in fact within the broad church of the Labour movement, the far left make up only a small, lonely clique. Because they talk only to each other, and about little else, they exaggerate their own importance and influence.

I know, because I am one of them, but sufficiently cut off from the hot house of leftwing factionalism to be able to recognise my own utter insignificance.

Again, the issue comes down to compromise - and the far left are virulently opposed to compromise. They prefer the moral high ground (also known as the opposition benches) to the messy reality of achieving and using power.

They make a sad moral virtue of it, scolding those who do get grubby for being traitors and failing to mimic their own utter ineffectual sideline squawking.

At the time of the original leadership election, I preferred Cunliffe to Shearer - not because he was 'far left' (he isn't) but because I recognised him as an effective, experienced performer. But he lost. I got over it.

It's well past time for other people to move on. I’m sure he’d rather be a minister in government than leader of the opposition.

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