|One of these people is not a socialist. Can you guess which one?|
While the political fortunes of the UK Labour Party continue to rise, the NZ Labour Party continues to stagnate and it is sleepwalking toward another election defeat in 2017.
LAST MONTH a British poll revealed what many people already knew: under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, Labour's political fortunes are on the rise. Labour's lead over the Conservatives was small - 34 percent to 33 percent - but, importantly, it was a snapshot of a gradual shift to Labour. Last week a new poll revealed that David Cameron's approval rating had fallen below Corbyn for the first time - and the poll was taken before the Panama Papers hit the headlines.
Corbyn's success has refuted the claims of his Blairite detractors who have argued long and loudly that a left wing Labour Party under the leadership of 'radical' Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable.
Putting aside the obvious fact that the cautiously 'centrist' Labour Party of Ed Miliband managed to grasp defeat from the jaws of election victory, what is clear is that it is the Blairite faction that are out of touch with the public mood. While its not reflected in the corporate media, which dislikes Corbyn, his left wing views on the economy, including the so-called 'controversial' policy of nationalisation, are attractive to ordinary people.
Just as importantly, Corbyn's clear and unequivocal rejection of neoliberalism and market politics (what writer Tariq Ali refers to as the 'extremism of the centre') has meant that Labour has become a focal point for activists, grassroots organisations and community groups fighting against social and economic injustice and the policies of austerity.
As well as Labour has provoked a real discussion and debate about socialist politics. It is a invigorating debate for a party that has escaped the deadening grip of the Blairites.
The most likely outcome of Labour's swing to the left is that will continue to attract support from people who previously had given up on mainstream politics. Suddenly they have been given a real alternative to support - and to vote for.
The revival of Labour as a progressive force is mirrored elsewhere. In the United States Bernie Sanders is talking to massive crowds about what democratic socialism means to him. Whether it be Corbyn in the UK, Sanders in the US, Podemos in Spain or Left Bloc in Portugal, people are seeking out alternatives to neoliberalism. It is a rejection of 'politics as usual'.
But the Labour Party in New Zealand has not embraced the new politics. In stark contrast Labour, under the leadership of Andrew Little, continues to remain chained to neoliberalism. It has learnt nothing from its massive election defeat except to move further rightwards.
That deputy leader Grant Robertson should reject the policies of Jeremy Corbyn as 'unsuitable' for New Zealand illustrates that this is a party still out of step with public sentiment. It is no surprise that it continues to deliver up poor polling results. It has only got itself to blame.