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Lefter 37 ~ The Road Ahead

April 24, 2011 by emweb

I appear to have created some disquiet with my last Lefter.

For which I don’t apologise. Sincerely.

But a couple of criticisms deserve addressing. One is that people working in the Labour Party are finding it hard enough, thank you very much, without my criticisms.

The other is that it’s easy to criticise; what alternatives do I offer?

OK, the first one: I have a fundamental problem with any party that has one voice that everyone has to agree with. This is not democratic. It’s what sunk the Alliance Party as Anderton degenerated into He Who Must Be Obeyed, and it’s what led to the Maori Party completely mishandling Hone Harawera when it should have honoured him for the gift he offered (the truth).

Personally, I refuse to hew to any party line I don’t agree with, in life or work. It’s got me into trouble before and that’s OK – it’s a principle worth fighting for.

I don’t think anybody should be expected to go along with a pronouncement made by some figurehead. Members should be able to say: So and so said this, and I don’t agree with it. And we are working together towards a solution we can all believe in.

Coalitions group together different interests. That’s what a coalition is. A party is essentially a coalition of interests that share a similar general principle. They should all be represented as different interests, working towards a common goal. Since Labour no longer has a clear stance or manifesto, the ground keeps shifting anyway. If Labour can’t enunciate what it means, how do you expect anyone to act unified? Yet Labour does. The cracks are appearing, and the wall paper being applied to hide them is not a good look.

In World War Two, it was pretty damn clear that Russia and England and the US didn’t agree on everything. Well, on much at all. But they didn’t demand each be the same to fight Hitler, did they? That would have been ridiculous. The losers, of course, did do this. Nazism had an archaic structure based on feudalistic ‘figurehead knows best’. This can be spectacularly successful, but only for a short time, and it always ends in bloodshed and disaster. It’s the same in business (perhaps without the bloodshed). The Third Reich had a dramatic rise, a dramatic (and revoltingly destructive) impact, but if you look at it from a distance, it was all gone in 12 years,wrecking most of Europe, Asia, the Pacific and North Africa in the process.

However, some business leaders and geographic despots still see fascism as an excellent model, for in that potentially truncated time frame, they can be incredibly powerful. Why would a left wing (albeit increasingly nominally) even begin to look like it’s following the strictures of anything even faintly resembling Nazism?

Labour’s archaic structure demands that whatever the leaders says is ‘agreed to’ by everyone else. This is the sham of ‘caucus unity’.

Why pretend? Encourage dissent. Encourage freedom of speech. It’s laudable and it makes you look like a group worth supporting. Goff pronounces things that Labour’s caucus doesn’t always sanction, to the surprise of some, and yet Labour then has to act, in public, as if it’s unified. Since very few have any genuine faith in Phil Goff any more, we all suspect there’s a storm gathering to displace him, to the detriment of the next election and to the country. This turns off voters even more.

So here’s some advice to you, Mr Goff: Stop acting like the know-it-all leader. You are not. Nobody (but you, apparently) thinks you are. Look around. The majority overrules you. It’s time you saw it. Open your eyes. If you really want to become a good leader, marshall a flock instead of ramrodding it into the breech. This is heading for a misfire and you risk losing even your most faithful supporters.

Instead, become a wise leader guiding an unruly flock to a result worth waiting for. We like unruly flocks. We also like Border Collies. We note they are clever. This is New Zealand.

You can gather the supporters who are getting turned off because they don’t agree with you personally by giving their figureheads voices within the party.

And Labour, for god’s sake rewrite your operating procedures!

Look progressive. Act progressive. Be progressive. It’s bloody obvious, if you don’t mind my saying so. As I keep saying, we all want something to believe in.

Meanwhile, The Greens are looking like the displaced lefties’ alternative to Labour by doing just this. The Greens have social policies, they can enunciate their beliefs, and they do seem to embrace different voices within the ranks without acrimonious fallouts and the public spectacles they engender. In a nutshell, their structure is more modern and more flexible.

The Greens would make an eco-friendly New Zealand as a cornerstone of both looking after its people and economic gain. It’s a clear, laudable, achievable and easy-to-understand platform with lots to like.

There’s nothing at all like this coming from Labour. (And if there is, as I’ve said before, why don’t we know about it? The election is just a few months away.)


Ok, second criticism. Here’s how to sort the country out, from an uneducated commentator. I can’t believe Labour, with its specialists, economists, unionists, business leaders etc, can’t make these work or come up with even better solutions – but we have yet to see any real evidence of this. So here you go:

1/ Use Christchurch. It needs rebuilding. New Zealand did it with Napier in 1932, and the whole country got behind it. Rebuilding Christchurch rebuilds New Zealand. It gives us something to believe in, it gives us something to be proud of, it gives us work and sacrifice for a good cause and it internalises the economy to an extent. Plus it’s something that desperately needs doing, and doing properly. Everyone likes a rebirth story. This is ours. Labour should be taking the lead, unlike National’s Minister for Disaster.

2/ Tell everyone right now that you’ll tax the rich more. You’ll lose a few rich voters. You’ll gain back a lot – a lot! – of poorer voters. You want the Maori vote back? You want the working class suburbs back? Announce it.

The rich don’t need tax breaks, and they’re doing sweet fa for the country anyway. Besides, they vote National and worse. Make a stand, nail your colours to the mast and get over it. People out here on the street don’t care one jot for the wealthy you’re trying to placate. Many of the middle classes know they didn’t need that last tax break – they’re looking for direction from the Left and they’re not getting it. They, too, need something to believe in. Their taxes will go up for the good of Christchurch, the economy and the country. Big cheer.

3/ Capital Gains Tax. We all know we need this to rein in house prices. We all know owning three properties is bad for the country and stops people getting into houses, keeping the prices high for speculators. But Labour’s too scared. What, Labour, you’re going to lose voters? What voters? Look at the polls, for goodness sake. Make a stand. It’s easy to convince everyone that a Capitol Gains Tax is needed, because it is clear that it is needed. Have the balls to campaign on it. In the long run, it’s a winner. Take the stand of righteousness.

4/ Point out all the crap National has foisted on us. Many still don’t know. Examples are legion. Go for the jugular. Set an attack dog like Mallard onto it – but this only works if you do the above at the same time. One doesn’t work without the other.

5/ Finally, this has been unsaid until now, so I’ll say it: Patriotism. We want something to believe in, something to brag about when we’re overseas. Like we did when we stood up to America’s nuclear ships. Like when we were the first country in the world to give women the vote. The first with a proper welfare system.

Some New Zealanders lament the lack of patriotism we show, and that’s because we’re ashamed of what we have done to our own country, and of the fact we let wankers like John Key, Gerry Brownlee, Bill English and even Rodney Hide walk all over us. We deserve this shame. We’ve been stupid patsies.

It’s time for a change, because these figureheads are not good New Zealanders. They’re obsessed with money and personal power and they don’t care about the general population except as a cash cow.

It’s time to displace this regime. Prove them wrong.

That’s my two cents worth. It’s hardly rocket science, and plenty of people have said it before me, so I honestly don’t get why Labour is still faffing about.

And if you don’t like commenting and want to talk to me personally, email my alias: (no, it’s not my real name).

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