Lefter 76 ~ Artificially-lengthened poppies need no help from me. Or you.

I don’t really understand why success needs celebrating. When I was little, I was taught to share and not be greedy.

Those lessons stuck, and I passed them on to my own children in turn. Again, they stuck. In the light of that, I am sick to death of being told about New Zealand’s ‘tall poppies’ and how we shouldn’t lop them off. Almost invariably, these are people who have made it in financial terms. To me, that means they have successfully tailored and processed their greed to the extent that they have made loads of money for themselves.

Celebrate that? I don’t think so.

John Key is rich. Is that because he’s clever? No, it’s because he harnessed whatever Public Schoolboy bullying cleverness he did possess towards the singular aim of making himself wealthy. To me, this does not make him a figure worth any admiration, with the caveat that he should perhaps never be underestimated since there was enough cleverness present for him to be very successful at it.

Do something good for your fellow humans, sure.

Make yourself rich? You need some real values, mate.

Published in: Commentary, Government, Left, New Zealand, Politics, Thought on November 1, 2014 at2:32 pm Comments (0)

Lefter 75 ~ Labour leader options

What a mess. OK, this is how I see it: Cunliffe stepped aside, thank the lords, but that actually doesn’t solve much. Cunliffe had union support and he endorsed Little and, sure enough, Little now has that union support. Who else likes Little? He hardly made any impact as Labour Party President. Labour needed reform, and either there were simply no efforts made to undertake reform, or Little was singularly unsuccessful at it. Neither is very good on his CV. So apart from throwing out most of Labour’s policies, many of which were very sound if very not well sold, it’s hardly a platform for a resounding Labour future.

Little now looks like a de facto Cunliffe representative, but he represents the union movement which still holds power in Labour if almost nowhere else (more’s the pity, but that’s just a fact of life). This is a dysfunctional facet of Labour’s leadership process.

Nanaia Mahuta’s candidacy surprised everyone. She’s a Cunliffe supporter too, so this actually could spike the Little campaign a bit, and Mahuta might actually gain some headway amongst Maori voters. Maori supported Labour strongly in the last election. But it would be very presumptuous to assume Mahuta would have the support of Pacifica voters, and both groups are as prone to factionalism as the rest of Labour’s current interest groups and caucus. On the good side, Mahuta is not a white middle class man, but her record is not exactly breathtaking and her running obfuscates Cunliffe’s almost undoubted string-pullings.

But maybe that’s a good thing, as no one expected (or expects) Cunliffe to go quietly – least of all David Cunliffe and his supporters.

Then we have Grant Robertson. I can’t help thinking he’s a very clever bloke with all his heart – and all his brain – in the right place, and he certainly has a fantastic running mate in Jacinda Adern. This combo may appeal to young sophisticated urban voters, but might do little to assuage the somewhat more jaundiced and moribund views of most of the rest of Labour’s electorate. I would love this combo to lead Labour … but I wonder if it’s time yet. It might be for me, it might not be for Labour’s more usual supporters.

Finally we have David Parker. In a way, like Goff, Shearer, Cunliffe et al, Parker also represents ‘Old Labour’. But in Parker’s case, is this a bad thing? He has a clear mind, he speaks and understands economics, which is National’s (perceived, anyway) strong point, and he can be coached to show well in interviews etc (but Parker already proved he’s made great strides by his performance in the TV debate versus Bill English). Parker wrote some very sound policies which would have worked to better New Zealand, and they will work if Labour were to win an election. Parker has a good team behind him, he has few enemies in caucus (apart from Cunliffe, perhaps, and his diminished band of stalwarts) and, perhaps most importantly, Parker doesn’t use dirty tactics. David Parker is morally courageous, and everyone who has met him (including me) knows he’s a nice guy who thinks deeply and genuinely listens.

Since Parker is quite progressive, the line from Old Labour to New Labour would be more of a redefinition than an umbilical cut if he were to win. The first job Parker would have is to reunify the party, which basically means addressing every single faction and demanding – then getting – compromise to progress towards a goal that they – and we – can all believe in. Parker’s mana and charisma would rise with each success in this task.

This all comes back to the clear messaging around a position we can understand easily, as I have been banging on about for years.

But none of this is impossible … for whoever wins. I say good luck to David Parker’s aspirations, and to his toil ahead: and may Grant Robertson and Jacinda Adern somehow fit into all this if it’s Parker who wins!

Published in: Commentary, Government, Left, Maori, New Zealand, Politics, Thought on October 20, 2014 at12:05 pm Comments (0)
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Lefter 74 ~ Ashamed.

The results are in. Not so much that the left was defeated as the floor was wiped with them.

How does that make me feel?

Ashamed.

Ashamed that so many New Zealanders have so emphatically supported a regime that cares virtually nothing for their New Zealand countrymen with little: low incomes, poor housing, substandard diets and healthcare, little access to education. Cynically, New Zealanders voted in droves – again – for the former currency trader, trusting him despite considerable evidence that he has been deeply involved in misleading New Zealanders (he’d only step down if it was ‘proven’), involved in dirty politicking, involved in character assassination.

Voted in droves for a party that has no plans for the next three years apart from ‘business as usual’. That ‘usual’ business has been the creation of a whole new class: the Working Poor; bolstering the economic reliance on primary industries beyond everything else, and despite the dramatic recent falls in dairy prices; making it easier for the wealthy to gain ever more wealth while further victimising those desperate for work while taking away their rights; further victimising those struggling on diminishing benefits; making it harder for anyone but the rich to benefit from full tertiary educations; selling off our assets in land and farms and selling off our sovereignty by cuddling up to the TPPA; selling State Houses out from under people’s feet so developers can make fortunes off what used to be Government land built and maintained for the benefit of its peoples.

To me, the most telling image of the election was Hone Harawira’s distraught expression in a draughty hall up north. The chairs were white plastic; little kids were running around. Then, National’s election HQ on the Auckland waterfront: well-dressed people, descended on the city from Remuera Heights, holding champagne flutes. Self-congratulatory young men with tailored hair, women wearing Zambezi or worse, happily dining on some flash meat I’d never even heard of, basking in their privilege.

Well done you. How smug you must feel.

However, the blame can’t be laid only at the feet of the voting population …

Labour, what the fuck?! I’ve been saying all this for years in these blogs now. If ever there was a time to redesign your party, philosophy, structure – everything –that time is now.

Actually, that time was a decade ago, but it’s even more needed now.

Because I was shocked that Helen Clark disappeared off to the UN without even starting to set up a decent evolution in her absence, or the beginnings of a succession plan. I had admired her greatly until three years before. That’s when I started thinking more critically of Labour, because Labour only just won that previous election, but didn’t seem to notice how its support had ebbed, didn’t seem to be mindful of it. Labour’s incumbents seemed oblivious to wanting to do anything about it. It was like they weren’t taking it seriously.

Now, after six years in opposition, Labour still hasn’t addressed the fundamental issues of what the party means to New Zealand in the 21st Century. It has pole position to do this:

What is Left?

How can the Left benefit New Zealand?

How can Labour encapsulate those benefits so that people can clearly understand them?

Instead, we get a bellicose Cunliffe yelling that he’s going to lead us into the next election. From where I’m standing, that sounds like the Charge of the Light Brigade – straight down the valley into the fire of the assembled artillery.

I wasn’t the only one on the left who shuddered, I’m sure.

Helen Clark polled just under 35% when she stepped down. Goff went down to just under 28%, and moved aside for David Shearer. And Shearer polled at 35% before stepping aside.

Mr Cunliffe, you said the only poll that mattered was Election Day.

That poll put you and your party at 24.8%, David … 24.8! Even areas that voted Labour candidates in with healthy majorities were giving their Party Votes to National. How in hell do you work out anyone going ‘Shearer – tick. National – tick’?!

The future of Labour, if it’s anywhere, is not with David Cunliffe. It’s with Jacinda Adern, Grant Robertson, Stuart Nash who did so well in Napier, and with Kelvin Davis and with other under-50s. You Labour over -50s owe it to New Zealand decency to help guide these people into dominant roles, and to help guide the party not the future. You have, so far, let us down.

A party I admired would be fostering people like these, not pretending they don’t exist and/or easing them inexorably down the list.

Labour, it’s time to fundamentally sort out your shit: Philosophy – left-wing and progressive, because National has won the Centrist ground – and look where it’s taking us.

Structure.

Messaging.

Media relationships.

I keep using this phrase and it’s boring even me. But it’s still true: none of this is rocket science … so why in hell can’t you do it?

Meanwhile, those of the left need to be talking, engaging, demonstrating and collaborating. This is what I charge us with – or we may as well all just leave now.

73 ~ What is Left? And what is right. 

This is the weirdest New Zealand election I can remember. I have been angsting over it all, along with many others, and often the discussion comes down to what Labour stands for. I’m not sure, any more. But we want the left to win, so that includes the Greens, for the most part, and the Mana part of Internet-Mana at least.

But for that matter, what is ‘left’? What does it mean? And is that term itself redundant?

Well, yes and no. The fundamental principles of the left still stand. Unfortunately the semantic war has been won by the right if the term ‘left’ makes you squirm, and some Americans even use the term ‘socialism’ as a pejorative with the same weight they managed to attach, throughout the Cold War and beyond, to the term ‘communism’. And they knew very little about either. (I’ve always believed ‘know your enemy’, myself.)

But I think calling the left something else is pointless. I’d be more keen to reclaim it from the right-wing ideologues and propagandists. Otherwise the whole concept just gets even more dissipated, and this works to the right’s agenda.

Wikipedia defines it well enough: “left-wing politics are political positions or activities that accept or support social equality, often in opposition to social hierarchy and social inequality. It is typically justified on the basis of concern for those in society who are perceived as disadvantaged relative to others and an assumption that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished.”

If you already think any of that’s wrong, we know which side of the divide you’ll be on. For this is how Wikipedia defines right wing politics: “Right-wing politics are political positions or activities that view some forms of social hierarchy or social inequality as either inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, typically justifying this position on the basis of natural law or tradition.”

Is that really you, right-winger?

People who place themselves on the left typically want equal opportunity, the chance for reconciliation, and rehabilitation (even in the case of societal offenders). Anyone who says that the left is tainted thanks to Mao and Stalin is profoundly ignorant (wilfully or otherwise). What these two (and their many lesser versions) represented was actually right-wing appropriation: Mao and Stalin were ruthless opportunists who cleverly hijacked left wing societal impetus to set up very right-wing regimes.

Stalin and Hitler have far, far more in common than Stalin and Ho Chi Min.

People on the right typically want ‘freedom’, but what they mean is the freedom to make money by whatever means possible. They want freedom from societal constraints because they’re so fixated on personal gain. They dislike taxes and any other checks placed upon them, and conversely seek to punish anyone perceived as transgressing against their personal and familial wealth acquisition. As Judith Collins plainly stated, in agreement with Cameron Slater: ‘punish twice’. That’s why you see groups like Act and the Conservatives crying for harder sentences and less reconciliation. That’s why, rather than fix problems with WINZ and CYFS and trying to deal with desperate people after their benefits have been reduced, John Key’s solution is to post more security guards.

One of the weird things I’ve noticed about New Zealanders overseas is that they’ll brag about New Zealand in left wing terms: ‘we gave women the vote first, pioneered social welfare and housing, we’re the most egalitarian, the most multicultural …’ and then you find out they’re Act voters from Remuera. Darling.

Which just goes to show you they are (justifiably) ashamed of what they truly believe in. Because these are actually all things they’d like to get rid of.

For the fact remains: many New Zealanders are right wing at heart. If the polls are accurate, half of the country that will vote, will vote right. The strange thing in the polling, which Mike Williams pointed out on National Radio, is the larger proportion (compared to previous elections) of people refusing to say who they’ll vote for.

Unfortunately, I think this is because they want to vote National, and they’re ashamed to say so.

As they should be. As that means they want to vote National despite all the revelations about how National really operates.

Despite National having no ideas to fix the mess they’ve made.

Despite the national debt they’ve created.

Despite the inequality that’s spiralled out of control under their watch (but that is policy, actually, as that’s how rich people really make profit and feel elevated).

And despite National not wanting to ‘change’ anything, because they’re doing all the right things already. Does New Zealand look right to you?

Shame.

Published in: Commentary, Government, Left, New Zealand, Politics, Thought on September 9, 2014 at1:35 pm Comments (0)

Lefter 72 ~ Incompetent!

I have waited a while to comment on the Dirty Politics, or ‘Hager saga’, event as I wanted to see how things would shake down. And boy have they shaken down.

National keeps pointing the finger at Kim Dotcom as if he’s the only person in New Zealand ‘intelligent’ enough to release the hacked emails as cleverly as they’re being released. That just shows you how out-of-touch and stupid National is about IT. I could give you at least 10,000 New Zealanders with the skills to do that – out of the rest of the population, if you want to do something like that, for Christ’s sake just Google it like anyone else. It’s hardly rocket surgery.

Basically, as we all now know, some people in National have been super-complicit in aiding ace arsehole Cameron Slater into attacking opposition figures to the current regime in the most uncompromising terms, to the point of deep and nasty slurs (Christchurch earthquake victims ‘scum’, West Coasters as ‘ferals’ – and we haven’t seen the half of it). Some are opposition figures, some are completely innocent people who somehow got fingered by people who can’t be bothered checking facts to safeguard the innocent.

As even dyed-in-the-wool, suckled on right-wing cow milk National supporters begin to shudder in shame, Brand Key bravely denies, doesn’t recall and smiles weakly through the constant flow of revelations. I’ve said it before – the people standing behind Key have very little to recommend them. He’s it – Key is the Great Hope of National, because for some unfathomable reason (to me) people like him. Do they like the other National MPs? OK, let’s hear it for Nick Smith, Jerry Brownlee and Judith Collins, to name just a few. Didn’t think so …

And now, ‘at the end of the day’, Mr Key, that’s it. All you’ve got is you. The economy is rocketing along like a speedy racing boat? Don’t think so. Dairy prices are falling, farmers up north are already going bust, companies and mines are laying off more staff.

Then there’s the things you don’t care about – child poverty is now on a par with Mexico, equality is more dramatically polarised than ever before, and National invented an entirely new category of New Zealand suffering: the working poor.

Let’s check back on your record: some great work has been done in Christchurch under National’s watch. Except what you’ve done in three years would have been achieved in six months by a competent government. Likewise the disaster would have been used as a boost to the economy much more comprehensively and much sooner by a competent government. One that didn’t think of Christchurch as Labour-voting ‘scum’, anyway.

For shame.

So here’s my prediction of how this will play: National will keep painting Key as the poor victim of a smear, of looney lefties out for blood, of ‘hacking’ (since no one, especially them, seem to understand what this means). He will play the sympathy card: ‘I have some good policies but all this Dirty Politics noise is deflecting attention from them’.

Except National doesn’t. Except that it’s not a ‘smear’ if someone on the left is merely pointing out what National has been up to, which looks to be utterly true and utterly unconscionable in a country we used to consider a leader of civilisation.

And this is what the Left has to do: paint him as what he is – incompetent.

Key has not been in control of his own cabinet; he has failed to get and read briefs, by his own admission, even when they are from the Security Intelligence Service and even when they concern the leader of the opposition; incompetent in preventing the kind of bitchiness that Collins can’t seem to control, not to mention her scandalous misuse of government credibility and her own privilege (Oravida) and incompetent at managing his connections even when they’re with someone as patently out-of-control as that simpering fascist fuckwit Cameron Slater.

Incompetent!

Published in: Commentary, Government, Left, New Zealand, Politics, Thought on August 21, 2014 at7:33 pm Comments (0)

Lefter 71 ~ Dot-con

There’s an election coming up. Once again, National is polling strongly, Labour has yet to make real headway, and the Greens (and Labour, for that matter) have what percentages they do retain threatened by the Internet Mana party. This new hybrid party will only do any real good in the current socio-political scene by appealing to those who would vote National, but if anything, having Laila Harré as head of The Internet Party and teaming it with Mana makes them look left wing, rather than as a party typical National supporters might swing to. The only real impact this unnatural hybrid can make is to energise the overly large sector of the young adult demographic that doesn’t actually vote. This is also, of course, the most attractive sector (and the only place for any real traction) for the Greens and Labour too, to increase their vote. So once again, this new party conglomeration is actually more threatening to the left than it is to the right, despite the stated intentions of Kim Dotcom and his oft-quoted deep (and justified) dislike of John Key.

Even this is a marker for the left – it’s an attractive position to those who already dislike National and Key, while being unattractive to those who do like Key. Internet-Mana is unlikely to sway anyone from the right while simultaeniously adding to the fragmentation of the left.

So, thanks a lot.

Of course, philosophically, Kim Dotcom belongs on the right – after all, he’s a laissez faire trader who made millions from selling other people’s intellectual property illegally. At heart, he belongs with Act.

Meanwhile, what does National actually stand for? As we have seen repeatedly, it’s a party run by the rich. Almost every week for the last year we’ve had our faces rubbed in the directorships, landholdings, property portfolios, company and international trade interests and the personal wealth of ministers in National. We also often see that John Key is once again holidaying in his luxury pad in Hawaii – he has another at that rich people’s preserve at Omaha north of Auckland.
So who do you think these people instinctively serve? Not ordinary New Zealanders.

Let me be clear, here: nobody ever gets rich from just doing good. Meanwhile that vast pool of people that has little is where wealth actually comes from. They buy stuff. It doesn’t actually matter how little they can afford, as long as you can get them to buy something they don’t need, you’re onto a winner. And when they run out of money completely and end up out on the street, so what? Social services have been cut to make the current account deficit look better. It’s good PR.

If a large proportion of this struggling market doesn’t vote at all, National couldn’t be happier.

And if you think National has anyone at all in the party with a good heart, look who they need as their allies. You’d have to be pretty blinkered to think Act was a party you’d want to go into coalition with. Its leader was found guilty of fraud, its founding philosopher sounds like a fizzing right-wing nutcase and it’s new leaders are, frankly, both naive and hilarious. And if the blank-eyed ravings of Colin Craig and his personal Conservative Party doesn’t make you feel odd in the stomach, well, vote National. Because these are the only viable partner options for National, although the vestige of the Māori Party might still be around. For the fact remains that National has been slowly dismantling Māori ever since the party made the mistake of its pact with Key.

National needs to be as popular as possible – it wants and needs to govern with a full majority. Then it can finish destroying New Zealand’s egalitarian society and welfare state all by itself.

The only hope for New Zealand is that National doesn’t make it.

Published in: Commentary, Government, Left, Maori, New Zealand, Politics, Thought on July 17, 2014 at1:18 pm Comments (0)
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Lefter 70 ~ The country should be rousing about housing

Are you pleased with the budget? It does nothing to counter the crazy rise of house prices, most notably in Auckland. It does nothing to make more houses affordable, though at least National has been putting some thinking into the issue. What National’s plan amounts to is to allow in immigrants at the current rate (which is escalating) despite evidence that immigration is one of the primary factors in pushing up house prices, while also keeping the pressure on house availability, which is constrained. Why? Because rich people own houses, and they stand to gain from this. Meanwhile, National is changing the rules for state housing: a state house used to be for life, in a contract signed with the Crown. The contract changed a few years ago, to be with the government, and went to a three-year term … except nobody ever saw one of these contracts. Certainly, nobody was told about these contracts – not even the tenants of state houses.

Glen Innes and other poor Auckland suburbs are currently having their state houses moved off, to make the land available to developers. This is the other part of National’s brilliant plan. Contrary to the Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan, which aims to keep Auckland within its bounds and make it denser, National’s brilliant idea is to scrape the state houses off their sites, getting rid of the tenants in the process. Fifteen families in Glen Innes got their marching orders last week – 90 days to get out. This process, largely kept out of the papers, allows developers to build those godawful suburbs you see everywhere. Simultaneously, National intends opening up land on the verges of Auckland to developers. In other words, so Auckland can sprawl more.

If you think Auckland has problems with traffic congestion and a pretty crap public transport system, it’s because of that very sprawl. At least the council is trying to deal with this, by improving public transport and trying to institute denser housing developments. This is why the council is at odds with National – letting Auckland sprawl more only suits one group. You guessed it: the rich. They get to make huge profits from the houses and land. And yes, the rich vote National (or worse). The greedy always want more – with National, they get it.

National working for the average New Zealander? Not bloody likely. Your government is evicting poor families to add to Auckland’s problems by contributing to sprawl for the benefit of one of the lower forms of life: property developers.

Published in: Commentary, Government, Left, Maori, New Zealand, Pacific, Politics, Thought on May 16, 2014 at9:58 am Comments (0)

Lefter 69 ~ Thank goodness for David Parker

I haven’t had much positive to say lately about Labour, but it’s from despair rather than malice. Finally, though, a light at the end of the tunnel. And an incandescently bright one, too. Let’s hope it shines on all the dark corners created by National over the last two terms, with their patsy yes-man partners. David Parker presented a policy – a policy! At last! One that’s profound, well thought out and, best of all, even innovative. And it’s not one National can steal, as it’s too counter to National’s coda. Neo Liberals might rail at the level of state economic control it implies, but that’s because it’s a policy that’s bad for the greedy and good for everyone else. Yes, that’s what I mean: it’s a good policy that’s good for the country. Parker even nails his ‘egalitarian outcomes’ to the masthead – it’s what Labour was founded on, but how long since you heard anyone say it? 

Civilised countries have schemes, you see, that draw on national savings plans to balance the economy. Personal savings helped Japan weather the collapse of the ‘Asian Tiger’. Best of all, KiwiSaver does something to counter the stranglehold Australian banks have on New Zealand money. Again, a good thing. Note that Just days after the ANZ posted a record NZ profit, Westpac followed suit … at the same time as Westpac is running ads to asking Kiwis to donate to their rescue helicopter. Excuse me? Your record profits came from us.

Pay for it yourself.

How long does anyone honestly believe New Zealand can carry on as a low-wage, high risk (in Rod Oram’s words) economy? Until the bubble bursts. But that’s the game National is playing. National knows Labour will have to put everything back together again sooner or later, and so the cynical seesaw continues.

We entrust our welfare – social and economic – to those we vote for. National has blatantly been flogging the country’s assets off while keeping the economy turning in favour of local consumers rather than our exporters. People are pleased because they can buy more stuff they don’t need, as the country sinks deeper into debt. Debt always comes back to bite. But it’s such an easy sell – everyone likes buying stuff. We can hardly stop ourselves – so someone has to do it for us. Meanwhile, National’s core constituency gets richer in the short term.

And good lord, the Sunday Star Times even has passages that are quote-worthy. I love this one from Parker: “Giving rights to the minority never takes it away from the majority.”

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s majority party is becoming very frayed around the edges. MPs have quit, Judith Collins and Maurice Williams have shown where arrogance leads and John Key’s smile looks increasingly strained.

Good-oh.

Published in: Commentary, Government, Left, New Zealand, Politics, Thought on May 5, 2014 at9:57 pm Comments (0)

Lefter 67 ~ Labour’s love’s lost

Shane Jones quit Labour. People say it’s because Labour has drifted too far from the centre and leftwards, but I disagree. Labour does need to get away from the centre. Currently, this wishy-washy centrist Labour looks like National Lite, and since National already holds the reigns, people will just vote National as the familiar line of least resistance. The option is centre? Well, National is already there and already governing. 

The trouble is, with Cunliffe faffing around and not being definitive about anything, and no decent Labour policies we can sink our teeth into, National Lite is what we have with Labour 2014 anyway. Sure, Cunliffe can quip (so can Key), but is wit all he has?

I’ve written and said this many times before, but Labour doesn’t know what it is any more. If Labour doesn’t know, we don’t either. Who wants to vote for something with an identity crisis? Not me. So I’m afraid, unless something amazing happens (and I’m no longer holding my breath), Labour will not win this election, condemning us to another three years of Key and all his social damage in pursuit of lining the pockets of the wealthy few. How they must be laughing at the rest of us!

But what will then be the outcome for Labour, and the left in New Zealand, when National wins again? Collapse and, hopefully, finally, the rebuild I’ve been calling for. Somebody posited to me recently a Labour co-led by Jacinda Adern and Grant Robertson. It would certainly make a striking and bold statement in the gender stakes, and they’re both very valuable, clever, experienced people, but would they create a new Labour we can believe in? Because that’s what we need.

I want a left-wing government. It’s another thing I’ve been repeating. That’s because I’m an anarchist at heart: I hope for a world in which people are good enough to work together for the greater good thanks to non-violent cooperation. I’m not stupid enough to think this is imminent by any means, but I truly believe it’s a worthwhile aspiration. One which can only come closer under a left wing government.

But Labour, currently, isn’t really left wing. It’s policies are National Lite, it doesn’t know what it stands for, but at the same time it’s tarred by Old Left (the unions, for goodness sake!). Labour’s leadership struggles to satisfy Old Labour while making a pretence of engaging new (younger voters), but Labour should have taken the bull by the horns after losing the last election and set about defining a new role, image and purpose for itself for this century. But it failed. Actually, I don’t believe it even tried..

Jones was Old Labour. But so is Cunliffe, I’m afraid.

Labour is, currently, doomed to fail.

And that failure will be New Zealand’s.

Published in: Commentary, Government, Left, New Zealand, Politics, Thought on April 24, 2014 at8:28 am Comments (0)

Lefter 66 ~ National: Rusting on its laurels

National has been demonstrating the three strongest planks of its fiscal policy and crowing about the results. These are: wait it out; hope for oil; and sell everything possible.

This is the kind of hands-on fiscal management that voters apparently wanted, as it’s a commonly-cited excuse for voting National. If you look back, National has done very little, if anything, to foster the job market, create jobs off its own bat or in fact do any kind of monetary management at all. National seems to attract two kinds of voters: those who know bugger all and don’t care but at least hope to become a little personally wealthier, and those moribund conservatives to whom social responsibility is anathema, always looking for people to blame for their own lack of success or those to denigrate because they’ve found it, and thus feel superior.

Meanwhile, as John Key gears up for the election, he’s looking increasingly concerned at the prospects of governing in partnership with nutters and right-wing ‘philosophers’. There’s a philosophy of greed? Demonstrably yes, unfortunately. Look at Act’s two new top people. Its interesting, if not unsettling, that such a facile thing can be dressed up as academia. But I guess everything can be, ultimately.

Once again, it’s high time for Labour to demonstrate it is different to National. Yes, I mean left wing. Some Labour people may need to look up what it actually means. I still think Labour has an identity crisis. It wants to act, and to be, socialist, but it’s too scared to say so. State a position and market it, Labour. That’s what you need to do. Sure Cunliffe can snipe effectively at Key, but how about some policies?

This just shows that the right has won the battle for hearts and minds, which is bizarre in a way since those are two of the things it cares very little for. It’s not just heartless, it denigrates culture in favour of business, thereby discounting pursuits of the mind as counter to profit.

Where does that leave Labour? Scared of what it represents, and bound by decades of what it has been. Why doesn’t Labour oppose drilling and mining? Because it doesn’t have much union support left (since unions are so small now) but what there is left, Labour feels it can’t afford to lose. Drilling and mining means workers and workers are, still, sometimes, in unions.

Which means once again the Greens steal the moral high ground on this, along with policies that seek to protect the poor, to educate and to raise New Zealanders up as good global citizens.

The more the Greens position themselves as socially left, the more some Labour voters will identify with them.

That’s what I’ve been doing. And Labour’s biggest criticism of the Greens is that they’ve never been tested in government.

Well, that’s possible  to rectify.

Published in: Commentary, Government, Left, New Zealand, Politics, Thought on February 7, 2014 at6:26 pm Comments (0)