[OPE-L] The spectacle of Dutch politics: a last stand of the Dutch social democrats?

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Thu Apr 26 2007 - 14:43:29 EDT

Last night, the entire party leadership of the Dutch Labour Party
bureaucracy resigned, after a crisis discussion at the party offices lasting
four hours, prompted by the announcement earlier yesterday of the immediate
resignation of Micheal van Hulten as Labour Party chairman. There is a lot
of soul-searching going on among the Dutch social democrats. The Dutch
Labour Party has been trounced both in the polls, and in the elections, by
the Dutch Socialist Party, even although the SP has less political
experience and networks in the corridors of political power, and on the
whole has a fairly tame, sober and level-headed "reality conscious"
political programme.

What is the main reason for this? Basically, Dutch people see the Labour
Party as a party of government functionaries and managers ("regents") out of
touch with ordinary folks and their concerns - a party whose leading lights
cream off tax money, while doing very little for the people except promising
them enforced standards of moral decency. Of course, standards of moral
decency are anyone's guess, and can be debated forever, but important to
ordinary working people is what's in their bank account, and their ability
to make a real life in society as it is.

That is not to say that the Dutch social democrats are totally dead in the
water. They aren't; they are quite capable, resilient and cunning, and quite
capable of making yet another media splash. If the Blairite Wouter Bos (now
Finance Minister) was ditched, and replaced with somebody who has real fire
in the belly (a brain and a passion) they could even make a comeback, even
among the youth that are deserting them. The Dutch Labour Party prides
itself on its ability to administrate public resources in an efficient and
effective way, and it believes it can do this better than anybody else can -
especially, better than the "inexperienced' and embarrassingly "partisan"
Socialist Party.

The problem however is that few people can see the positive results of this.
By seeking to be the party that has the interests of "everybody" at heart,
few - or at least many fewer people - can identify with the Labour Party
these days. Everybody knows that the Dutch Liberal Party (the VVD) is a
conservative employer's party. Everybody knows that the Socialist Party (SP)
is a broad left-wing workingclass party. The statistics prove that
perception. But what really animates the Labour Party, nobody really knows.
They seem to be administrators and managers without a constituency, generals
without troops.


Well this is my back yard
My back gate
I hate to start my parties late
Here's the party cart
Ain't that great ?
That ain't the best part baby
Just wait
That's a genuine weathervane
It moves with the breeze
Portable hammock honey
Who needs trees
It's casual entertaining
We aim to please
At my parties

Check out the shingles
It's brand new
Excuse me while I mingle
Hi, how are you
Hey everybody
Let me give you a toast
This one's for me
The host with the most

It's getting a trifle colder
Step inside my home
That's a brass toilet tissue holder with its own telephone
That's musical doorbell
It don't ring, I ain't kiddin'
It plays America the beautiful and tie a yellow ribbon

Boy, this punch is a trip
It's o.k. in my book
Here, take a sip
Maybe little heavy on the fruit
Ah, here comes the dip
You may kiss the cook
Let me show you honey
It's easy - look
You take a fork and spike 'em
Say, did you try these ?
So glad you like 'em
The secret's in the cheese
It's casual entertaining
We aim to please
At my parties

Now don't talk to me about the polar bear
Don't talk to me about ozone layer
Ain't so much of anything these days, even the air
They're running out of rhinos
What do I care ?
Let's hear it for the dolphin
Let's hear it for the trees
Ain't runnin' out of nothin' in my deep freeze
It's casual entertaining
We aim to please
At my parties

- Dire Straits, "My Parties"

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