The Dutch Labour party has a mini rebellion on its hands that could, if not properly managed, turn into a fully-fledged coup. Around 25 party members including a number of big names, want the party to become more left wing. They want to fight moves to make it easier to sack people, a super tax on the wealthy and a referendum over the new EU treaty.
Over the past few years the party has copied the middle road, business-friendly politics that made the British Labour party under Tony Blair such an electoral success.
Like Blair, the fresh-faced leader of the Dutch party, Wouter Bos, reduced the power of grass roots membership – something else the rebel group are unhappy about.
But like Blair towards the end of his reign, Bos’ wunderkind image is fraying at the edges. Bos has got his party into power but with heavy losses and so far he hasn’t found a way to stem the flow of left-wing voters to the vibrant Socialist party.
Yet like Blair, Bos believes the only way to guarantee continued electoral success for Labour is to soften the party’s left wing edge, to make it more businesslike and centrist.
Maybe Bos should copy Blair and resign. The rebels would dearly love a new leader. The problem with this is that the Dutch Labour party doesn’t have anyone of the calibre of Blair’s replacement Gordon Brown waiting in the wings.
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