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August, 2009

  1. Lefter 17 ~ Locally Lefter

    August 24, 2009 by emweb

    I went to another Locally Left meeting last night, in Grey Lynn. The Locally Left series is organised by Barbara Ward and Labour MP Phil Twyford. Twyford is co-ordinating the Not Yours To Sell campaign to get some democracy into the Supercity *initiative and to safeguard Auckland’s assets.

    *‘Initiative’ is probably the wrong word.

    Anyway, last night’s meeting was interesting in that Green Party MP Sue Bradford was a guest speaker, along with Twyford and Rhema Vaithianathan, an economist who lectures at Auckland University.

    Sue, of course, put up the bill to stop people smackin’ their kids. For God’s sake, why would people want to smack their kids? I’ve been leery of Christians for a long time – but now it’s worse, because now I can’t help seeing them as a bunch of crazed child-beaters. Go you.

    I feel like putting signs up outside kindergartens: ‘Come In And Smack Our Kids!’ You could get the kids’ Christian parents to sign permission slips or something. Fun for Christians all over the country. It’s sure to be a popular bonding exercise for them. But I digress.

    It was good to hear Bradford refer to herself as Left Wing. It’s not often you hear that from a Green, and to those of us who have always seen a Green/Labour coalition as a good fit, this was heartening. (In fact, Bradford is a former Labour Party member.) Of course, Sue being Left doesn’t mean the rest of her eco-party is. More’s the pity. Yes, we want green policies. But we also want to know where else you stand. Clearly, rather than coincidentally.

    Actually, there are many of us who saw Labour/Green/Maori as a natural fit, but whoa, has that picture ever been queered. I hate to think it’s true (but suspect it is) but it seems Tariana Turia’s spat with Helen Clark was what led The Maori Party towards a deal with the devil – I mean, with National. Pure spite. Trouble is, that might all blow up (deservedly so) with this Rodney Hide “I’ll quit, waah waah” rubbish. You have to admit it’s interesting seeing National nail its policies to the masthead of its rightmost partner, and against Maori, which has more voters than ACT.

    As if we didn’t see that coming.

    But if these political dealings really do come down to personalities, as is so often the case in this little country’s culture, and people really do let personal animosities effect policy long-term, which in turn has ramifications for all New Zealanders (and yes, it’s bloody pathetic), then it’s hard to imagine Labour members being all that happy having any kind of agreement with a Maori Party that climbed all too glibly into bed with National, despite it being obvious to all concerned it was never going to be a happy union.

    Meanwhile, economist Rhema Vaithianathan is an absolute breath of fresh air. Here’s just one of many of her gems from last night: Vaithianathan said John Key runs NZ like a medium-to-large enterprise and not like a country.

    Absolutely right, he does. And by that, I mean ‘absolutely Right’!

    I reckon Vaithianathan could plot out a whole new economic policy for New Zealand that would see low unemployment, high productivity and general well being as priorities, along with suitable curbs to the avarice of our business buzzards. She’s a real find. For goodness sake, sign her up, somebody. Anybody! She should be on Labour’s list. High up on Labour’s list.

    Phil Twyford was his usual urbane self, handling issues with aplomb, yet registering enough emotional engagement we could see he spoke from the heart. Meetings like this show there’s still strength in Labour, but I retain a visceral fear Labour may not even come close to winning the next election.

    I seem to hand out challenges to Labour Party leader Phil Goff in Lefter, don’t I? So here’s another one, Mr Goff: rather than lose the next election, then get rolled by your former supporters, how about starting work on setting up a refreshed Labour Party that can win? And carry us into the future?

    Because you have the brains, the personality and the experience to do it.

    That would be a much more positive legacy.

    There’s long-term thinking for you.

    (And sorry, I got side-tracked by New Zealand issues again. Back to the bigger picture next time. Promise.)

  2. Lefter #16: United, we stand. Divided … we stand

    August 2, 2009 by emweb

    I’ve found myself writing a lot more about New Zealand politics and the National Party than I perhaps intended when I started this blog.

    Sorry. There are bigger issues.

    New Zealand’s National Government is not exactly a difficult target – the worrying thing is that it’s pursuing a clearly right-wing agenda and most people seem either blithely ignorant of it (or at least of its long-term ramifications) or just non-caring to the point of stupidity.

    Viva typical New Zealanders and their general greed, then.

    Probably the National Party is best left to the well-informed office of The Standard and Kiwipolitico.

    But I must confess I glance at these but I don’t spend a lot of time reading through the postings.

    Why not? Well, I already know my own politics. And I don’t need to be fed Labour’s party line, or the line of the generically Marxist-influenced. In my opinion, Marx had his place — but that was long ago. We’ve moved on. A long way on.

    My personal politics revolve around self determination. In other words, I like to determine my own beliefs.

    At least, I like to believe that I determine my own beliefs. So I’m not about to tow a party line just because it’s the party line. I’d rather come to my own conclusions, thanks. If I disagree with what you’re saying, I’m not going to support you. And hopefully, I will tell you I disagree.

    So whereas I will assist Labour to get into power if I can, as it’s clearly better than National being in power, I don’t feel Labour is the ideal party for New Zealand.

    Why not? I believe something similar to what the Maori proverb that says, roughly, ‘go into the future walking backwards so you can see the past’.

    I just won’t be walking backwards. But I, too, believe the past is much more significant than most New Zealanders deign to register.

    Labour has, in the past, made some really dumb mistakes I never agreed with:

    Rogernomics … I could never forgive that.

    I think it was wrong to the point of childish stupidity for Labour to alienate the Greens and the Maori Party.

    (That said, it’s equally questionable that the Greens and the Maori Party are still carrying grudges. As are some in Labour.)

    I think it was really dumb to let National set the agenda in the last two elections. It was so painfully obvious – if I could see it, why couldn’t Labour’s advisors? And what were they being paid? And are they still working for the Labour Party?

    And there are many other past issues.

    And for now, I think it’s really extra specially dumb, actually, that Labour isn’t grooming its next generation of leaders.

    Many of these issues come, in my opinion, from suicidally detrimental small-mindedness.

    What do I believe in, then? People co-operating for the common good, and not always putting themselves first. New Zealand creating a place in the world as a beacon of civilisation, no matter how far flung it is geographically. (Lange laid some groundwork for this with our anti-nuclear stance.)

    And New Zealand as a beacon of egalitarianism and ingenuity. And independence from international political coercion. And independence from international business coercion (granted, this often amounts to the same thing).

    None of this can happen under a right-wing government.

    And for my own political position … more on that later.