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Posts Tagged ‘right’

  1. Praise the Lord and pass the luke warm dishwater

    May 5, 2016 by emweb

    Out there in the big wide world – or at least the big white western world – traditional politics has polarised. When anxieties rise, people think more left or more right. The Great Depression of the early 1930s led to the massive increase  of Fascism and Communism, bloodshed and trauma.

    When things are going well, economically at least, the extreme ends of the spectrum shrink and the middle expands. Look at the 1950s.

    The middle of New Zealand has definitely expanded – and it’s stuck in spread mode. Trump is so right-wing in his pronouncements, even dyed-in-the-wool Republicans tremble. While the United States tussles with the mawkishly Hitlerian antics of Trump, Sanders almost daily surprises with increases of a constituency that self-admits to being left – quite incredible in itself, in present day America. The only figurehead left upholding the middle, currently, is Hilary Clinton, the darling of her own establishment, and the pillar of its own smug ennui. If she wins (and we have to hope she does, over Trump, as unattractive as that prospect is), she will have a vocally and avowedly disenfranchised left wing to deal with on her own side of the fence – something that hasn’t properly existed in the US since the 1960s.

    In England, Jeremy Corbyn is hated by his own party establishment but loved by its members. Those members put him there, whereas here in New Zealand, the practically useless unions still managed to get their own man in, instead of change and vision. In Europe and elsewhere, right-wing anti-immigrant and refugee parties are surging as people fear the future; fear the mini holocausts that flame across the Middle East; fear the consequences of their actions and inactions while struggling to stay out of it no matter the cost.

    Here, the Left let a middle manager of a union rule the Labour Party again, eschewing the chance to break out of the white hetero middle class male mould even a little.

    Here, the political fight is for the middle.

    Here, it comes down to who you’d rather have at your barbecue, or currency trading at your bank, or who you think is a good bureaucrat. Someone who looks the same, doesn’t stand out, but can still make the ‘hard decisions’ to let a few rich people make even more money.

    It’s boring. They’re boring. Rather than a titanic struggle, we have a disagreement over that bowl of boiled potatoes on the table. Who gets the biggest piece of white bread. Incremental shifts in slight tweaks of policy.

    Labour won in New Zealand a few decades ago by embracing the middle. National won that middle back and now enacts Labour-type policies (what National used to refer to as ‘nanny-statism’) while pretending to still represent conservatism: laissez faire economics and farmyard interests under the smokescreen of increasingly telling people what to eat, drink, smoke and what medicinal drugs it will or won’t allow.

    Is the middle a fight we can win? Not any more. It’s irrelevant, it doesn’t engage youth (and who can blame them), and it’s just bloody boring.

    The world is under increasing stress.

    And the middle’s not going to solve anything.


  2. Lefter 80 ~ Things fall apart …

    February 18, 2016 by emweb

    The centre cannot hold … this country (and, OK, many others to be sure) has developed into a fight for the centre over the last few decades in a race to who can be the most mediocre. Awesome, right? Fighting for the centre? I mean, once it was a battle to drag the country, then the rest of the world, into a future in which women were allowed to take an equal role in society, workers had rights as well as their exploiters, in which all people were cared for … we had the 40 hour week, the first real Welfare State, New Zealand mandated and ensured minority representation in parliament, at least for Māori… I do dare say it: all that made New Zealand a great nation was firmly on the left.

    And now the hardest fought battle is for the centre.

    And yes, John Key has won that battle. Repeatedly.

    But the world is changing and the centre is no longer holding. The battle for power in the United States may devolve to Trump on the far, crazy right and Sanders very distinctly on the left. In Britain, avowedly left-wing Corbyn took the top job in the Labour Party, much to the chagrin of the Labour Party’s ‘leadership’. What is the appeal? Both are not scared to say they’re left, for a start. Something both Labour Parties have found difficult for decades.

    Neither are centrist.

    That’s what you get after years of battling for the centre. Over here, Labour ‘likes’ Sanders but is worried by Corbyn, who has created a groundswell of voter support and who has already been responsible for a massive rise in grass roots Labour Party membership. NZ Labour’s attitude here reflects connections to Labour UK’s leadership more than anything else. We bought Tony Blair’s popularity contest off the back of our own terrible neo-liberal dalliance and we’ve been stuck there since, despite John Key doing it so much better.

    Of course, Labour here could actually grow some convictions and come from a similar stance to Sanders and Corbyn. Actually, you don’t even need to grow some – just resuscitate the ones the party was founded on.

    Remember those?

    Too scary? Then you really don’t deserve votes.

    Because National is currently staggering, Labour – what are you going to do? Never before has ennui so dogged this party of the moneyed and the glib. Key catastrophically mishandled Waitangi Day, then got booed at the League. That would have been unthinkable even a few months ago. Meanwhile, up north where the running-scared Key should have been, Stephen Joyce went from looking like an imperturbable manager to just another suited dickhead thanks to a very deftly-pitched toy penis.

    The ‘new flag’ looks awful – want proof? Even many National MPs think that. John Key’s personal vanity project to foist his corporate conservative logo onto the nation’s masthead is faltering badly, meaning they have to turn up the heat to bring even their own people in line. Once again, this would have been unthinkable a short time ago, when National’s caucus was as tight as Judith Collins’ pursed lips. Meanwhile people like me, who have long hated the Union Jack being part of ‘our’ flag long after England turned its back on New Zealand (a process which has accelerated recently, with punitive measures against Kiwis who want to work and live there) finds myself about to vote to keep the damn thing, both to spite John Key and because, frankly, the alternative sucks and the process to come to this design sucks more.

    Two million dollars was promised to ameliorate emergency housing months ago and … surprise! Not a cent has been spent. Meanwhile, 27 million has been squandered on the ‘new’ flag. How much of that has been spent? How many people made tidy profits from that process while other kids go hungry and while people have to live in cars, garages and on the street?

    State house evictions have accelerated. And concurrently, National has cut funding for mental health in Canterbury coz – who cares? Clearly not the National Government, which has failed to rebuild the city, failed the traumatised citizens of quake-ridden Christchurch and clearly couldn’t actually give a shit apart from keeping its insurance cronies sweet and crowing about a little building work – much of which has been mishandled.

    As for dairy, are we crying foul yet? We should be – how have all the eggs in that basket actually worked out for this short sighted ‘governance’?

    Gareth Hughes absolutely skewered Key in a speech in Parliament in an excoriating and painfully-accurate dissection of our Prime Minister’s current state of affairs … oh for someone like Lange in Labour who could do this so well! Now it’s the Greens we have to turn to for in-depth socio-cultural commentary.

    Meanwhile, National has its Trump in waiting, in the form of Judith Collins champing at the bit to muscle in and erect her police state. Her alternative is ‘bite the hand that feeds’ Bennett.

    Who has Labour got?

    This is your chance. Like never before.


  3. Lefter 21 ~ What does ‘Labour’ mean?

    November 3, 2009 by emweb

    As I feared, it appears Labour MPs and party members have accepted the mindset that Labour will lose the next election in two years, and that’s how they’ll change from the Old Guard, starring Phil Goff, and move on to something we can believe in.

    If the Old Guard had any balls, they’d start doing something about this now and set up a future Labour, as I’ve said before.

    But it’s unlikely. Pride must triumph for a decent fall to result, I fear. So we’ll suffer another term of National because of this stupidity – National happily privatising NZ services to both make them more expensive for users, to depreciate their utility and to line the pockets of National’s wealthy dependents and speculators.

    And then Labour will have to buy them all back, at even greater cost, to get services running again. But what will National’s cronies care for this? Nothing – it’s a license to print money, after all.

    When I really think about it, I don’t actually know what the Labour Party stands for any more. Do you? To me, currently, it looks like an ineffectual left wing of the National Party.

    This may sound harsh, especially as Labour was responsible for a lot of good over its three terms. But Labour was also responsible for some embarrassingly pedestrian miss-steps. And who can forget the ghosts of Labour c1980s? We can’t forget because, like a slap in the face, that arch right-winger Roger Douglas is back in parliament under his true colours, leering at us and cackling like Muldoon.

    Meanwhile, National’s business supporters wait in hope for the True Blue moves they’ve been dreaming of. These will let them ‘compete’ more (shorthand for ‘make more money with less regulation’). And the farmers await their National nirvana too; they’re already asking for cuts to welfare benefits to save money to lower the currency so they can sell at even better rates, while charging those same disadvantaged New Zealanders more for second grade, home-market agri-produce due to their pecuniary god called ‘export requirements’.

    Will their hopes be fulfilled? Not while John Key remains fixated on his personal popularity. But he can’t have it both ways. The dam will break.

    Meanwhile, it’s enough to make any caring human quail. It also brings back other ghosts – of the 1920s and ’30s, when Labour first rose towards power, and when Wellington and the farmers used to entrain people into Auckland to beat up unionists and break strikes. Farmers had to get their produce to market and, unfortunately for them, a lot of it had to pass through Auckland. And boy, they just couldn’t get Auckland wages low enough, could they? All this while the business owners sat in their Remuera hills and pulled strings.

    Back then, it was damn clear what Labour stood for. Labour literally stood for those who laboured – the eight-hour day, non-dangerous workplaces, better conditions, fair wages, equity and rights.

    But now it feels like Auckland against the rest again. That Auckland comprising suburbs of workers and unemployed, anyway. And it’s up to MPs like Phil Twyford and Jacinda Ardern to rally the cause.

    But what’s the cause, Labour? Without clear branding, you’re lost. If you can’t tweet it in 140 characters (or at least, tweet a link), you don’t exist.

    And we won’t be getting a new manifesto from Phil Goff and co.


  4. Lefter 5 ~ Politically Correct

    December 10, 2008 by emweb

    Bizarrely, as I write this, two young men with swastika tattoos are washing the house. The house washing people didn’t say anything about neo-Nazi operators. It’s not like the firm was called Himmler Housewash or anything. 

    ‘Politically Correct’ is one of the catch phrases people seemed to love to use to label all sorts of sins of the Left, and of the Labour Party. 

    But what does it mean? 

    Being politically correct means you don’t act on racist, sexist, or homophobic assumptions – or that you try not to, assuming you’re aware of these tendencies in yourself. You live and let live. You don’t promote racist or sexist acts. You try and be mindful of the rights of others and to treat people as your equals. 

    What on earth is wrong with that? Every major philosophy and religion in the world says essentially the same thing.

    You have to wonder if those who rail loudest against ‘the PC brigade’ are the worst recidivists of racism and sexism. It’s easy to assume they hate the strictures of being politically correct because it’s the antithesis of their real beliefs. And if their real beliefs are the antithesis of being PC, you probably won’t want much to do with them as they are not rational, reliable human beings. 

    When people ask me, with a withering tone, if I’m politically correct, I say ‘Yes, I am.’ Then I ask them ‘What’s wrong with that, exactly?’ It pays to challenge people on these statements as, unfortunately, you’ll discover they don’t often know what they mean. They just like the easy put-down. But it’s time to pull the rug out from under their feet, especially as National sets about dismantling the structures that attempt to keep our society decent and fair. 

    So explain what it means, then ask them to explain what is so wrong with treating people with respect. Be proud to be politically correct.


  5. Lefter 4: the Middle Class

    December 3, 2008 by emweb

    A few years ago my younger brother, who I respect and like, told me that the Middle Class basically paid all the taxes here yet was being squeezed continuously by successive governments. He said the Middle Class was shrinking and this was bad for New Zealand.

    I challenged him on this, and he annoyed me further by saying “Think about it. The Lower Class doesn’t, essentially, pay taxes because it earns too little or is actually costing money through benefits, education programs etcetera. Meanwhile the Upper Class will pay any amount of money to avoid paying taxes. That leaves the Middle Class carrying the tax burden — and the country.”

    I was angered at his words, due to my own working class pretensions, I suppose — but over the next couple of weeks, I realised he was essentially right. The Middle Class does carry the country and the tax burden. The Middle Class also produces professionals, artists, academics, educators, writers, managers, small business entrepreneurs … and New Zealand used to be renowned as a Middle Class society.

    And it did used to be, maybe up until the 1960s anyway, but over the last few decades the percentage fairly counted here as poor has risen dramatically, while the gap between the very rich and the rest has also widened dramatically. As a result, the Middle Class has not only been under financial pressure (for example, GST), but has been shrinking in size as members drop into the lower categories. This process may be about to accelerate as the debt burden, due to this current economic crisis, effects more people. 

    Side-stepping the issue that it was really bloody stupid for people to borrow so much money on so little equity just to have stuff they didn’t need, or ever bigger houses, for now, this perhaps-subconscious perception of stress probably added to the grasping at ‘lower tax’ straws that I think was short sighted. As call me old fashioned, but I don’t mind paying taxes as I quite like having roads, water, rail, power, schools — come to that, a defence force tat can help with disaster relief — and I like knowing that if I have an accident I will be cared for. Contrast that with my friend in Europe who had an accident on the motorway and nearly died because his medical care was so poor.

    This because, in amongst all the blood and mess, the doctors couldn’t find his medical insurance card so they got him out of the hospital next day, despite gaping wounds and multiple fractures, and he almost died of blood poisoning five days later. 

    Be proud to be Middle Class. It’s time we fought back.