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 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.
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.