|Disgruntled Blairite Chuka Umunna speaking at the Global Progress Summit.|
UK Labour MP Chuka Umunna is strenuously opposed to leader Jeremy Corbyn and his 'hardcore left wing policies'. But he is a big fan of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. She's the kind of 'centrist' politician he really relates to...
BRITISH LABOUR MP Chuka Umunna doesn't like his party leader Jeremy Corbyn and what he stands for. He has consistently campaigned against Corbyn's leadership and he played an instrumental role in an attempted coup against the Labour leader in 2016.
When Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader in 2015 Umunna was one of a cabal of right wing Labour MP's who claimed that Corbyn could never win a election because he was 'too left wing'. Of course Umunna had to eat his words when, in 2017, Jeremy Corbyn's Labour came close to toppling the Conservative Party with Corbyn securing the largest increase in the share of the vote by a Labour leader since Clement Attlee in 1945.
Since then Labour have been consistently leading the Conservative Party in the polls and Jeremy Corbyn remains the bookies’ favourite to become Britain’s next prime minister.
Unable to criticise Corbyn on the grounds that he can't win an election, Blairite MPs like Umunna have tried to smear Corbyn as anti-semitic. But Corbyn's only 'crime' is that he has been a consistent critic of the policies of the Israeli apartheid state and he has consistently defended the rights of the Palestinian people. That doesn't make Corbyn anti semitic and most people have seen the charge of anti-semitism for what it has always been: part of a deliberate smear campaign driven by right wing forces seeking to undermine Corbyn's leadership.
Unsurprisingly, Umunna is a firm supporter of the Israeli regime.
In September John McDonnell, Labour's finance spokesperson, accused Umunna of 'inventing stories' after Umunna said 'centre-left' MPs were being driven from the party by 'hardline supporters of Jeremy Corbyn' and he wanted Corbyn to 'call off the dogs'.
“There are no dogs being called on,” McDonnell told Sky News. “I actually think referring to our party members as dogs is just unacceptable.”
McDonnell added that there was no purge, but that individual constituencies were raising their concerns “in the traditional way” in cases where local members were dissatisfied with their MP. He could of also mentioned that many Labour members in Umunna's own electorate of Streatham are not happy with hiscontinued attacks on Jeremy Corbyn. They are say that Umunna does not represent them.
What Chuck Umunna seeks is a return to the 'good old days' of Tony Blair. These were the days when Tony Blair and his supporters ran the Labour Party the way they wanted with little reference to the wishes of the broader party membership. This was a Labour Government that pursued neoliberal policies that widened inequality and deepened poverty in Britain. This was a Labour Government that dragged the country into a disastrous war in Iraq.
In the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008 Umunna decided to support the few and not the many when he decided that he’d support Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s plan to bail out the bankers and the financial wideboys and force ordinary people to pay for a crisis they weren't responsible for through austerity measures. This was the reality of Chuck Umunna's 'centrism'.
Now the talk is of disgruntled Blairite MP's abandoning Labour to form a so-called 'centrist' party. Umunna denies that 'centrism' is a spent force and claims " There is a new generation of politicians, mostly in their late thirties and forties, leading the progressive charge internationally" and that "These politicians respect the achievements of the wave of “third way” leaders of the Nineties and Noughties".
One of these "new generation of politicians' says Umunna is Jacinda Ardern. He writes approvingly:
|Jacinda Ardern speaking to the Global Progress Summit 2018 via video link.|
"New Zealand Labour’s 38-year-old Jacinda Ardern – who describes herself as a “progressive” and a “social democrat” – became leader of her party just three months before their general election in October 2017. She went on to become prime minister of a coalition government after substantially increasing Labour’s vote share. In her first budget she ploughed billions more into health and education and her government declared it would be the first in the world to measure its success by the improvement of its people’s wellbeing, all in a fiscally responsible way."
Of course Umunna ignores inconvenient facts. He ignores the fact that Ardern's government has maintained the austerity regime of the previous National government. He ignores that Ardern backed away from increasing taxes on the wealthy and has pleaded poverty to justify not increasing core welfare benefits. He also ignores the fact that under Ardern's government the wealthy elite have increased their wealth by a massive twenty percent. Nor has Umunna got anything to say about Jacinda Ardern signing New Zealand up to corporate friendly free trade arrangements like the Trans Pacific Agreement.
But in passing off the Labour-led government as progressive, Umunna joins a cabal of New Zealand commentators who insist that it is 'centre-left'.
Chuck Umunna chairs the new centrist think tank Progressive Centre UK. It co-sponsored the recent Global Progress Summit held in Canada and attended by another centrist politician that Umunna admires, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. But the so-called ''centrist'' Trudeau has continued and in some cases exceeded, the economic agenda of Conservative Stephen Harper. Among other things he has cut-back healthcare funding and attacked public pensions, maintained tax loopholes for the richest and approved fossil fuel schemes and initiated privatisation projects.
Jacinda Ardern also spoke to the Global Summit via video link. Chuka Umunna thought she was impressive.