Tag Archive for 'Labour Party'

Party discipline in the Republican Party

Inspired by this post by Cam Riley … Any observer of U.S. politics could not have failed to notice the incredible level of party discipline that the Republicans, particularly in the Senate, have achieved over the last year or six.  This may be something new to Americans, but it’s rather common to Britons and Australians, who generally get more excited when somebody — anybody! — breaks the party line.  The party discipline of the Australian Labor Party, in particular, is phenomenal.

I understand that the generally accepted explanation for the differences between the USA and Australia in this regard focuses on the sources of funding for campaigns.  In Australia, all campaign funds come from the party — individual candidates cannot raise money directly — where as in the US, there’s a combination of party-supplied and individually-raised funding.

That then suggests two possible reasons for the new-found Republican discipline:

  • Republican congressional candidates have started to take a larger fraction of their total campaign funding from the party itself; and/or
  • Advocacy groups that support policies we stereotypically associate with the Democratic Party have not been giving any money to Republicans.

If it is the second reason, then that is a tactical error, and a foolish one, on the part of those advocacy groups.

What were Hoon and Hewitt thinking?

I don’t understand the (failed) attempt by Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon to inspire a leadership challenge in the Labour Party here in the UK.  Any serious contender for the job (i.e. Milliband) would surely recognise that the chance of a Labour victory in this year’s general election is miniscule, no matter who leads the party, and to lose an election three or four months into your leadership would hardly make for a sterling start.

If one takes a Tory victory as given, it would be far better to let Brown take the full hit for the loss.  Keep him on as a figurehead to take all the bile, spit, rage and blame for the state of the country as a whole and the state of the government’s finances and the electoral loss in particular.  Let the voting public gorge themselves in a cathartic spasm of kicking the Blair/Brown pairing and then shuffle Brown off, declare that there will be no return to Old Labour and start observing loudly at every opportunity that now it’s the Tories that are all about spin.

Brown’s job at this point is not so much to put out the fire — that can no longer be done — but to save the furniture.  So why did Hewitt and Hoon do this?  It was never going to work and it only serves to further lessen the probability of Labour retaining some of their seats.

The obvious answer is that they don’t consider a Tory victory to be a foregone conclusion and somehow think that simply getting rid of Brown will help the broader party separate itself from the Blair/Brown brand.  The first part of that sentence may indeed be true (afterall, the Tories need an average swing of 7% to win), but the second is utterly false.  Labour will not escape the Blair/Brown brand until they’ve spent some time in opposition for the simple reason that the public needs to kill it before they will forget about it.