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July, 2011

  1. Lefter 41 ~ Labour, get labouring!

    July 29, 2011 by emweb

    Labour struck a blow by announcing the Capitol Gains Tax, but it has to work hard, and now, to maintain the momentum before the Rugby World Cup takes everyone’s attention.

    It’s clear to all that food price rises are making it increasingly difficult for people to manage. It’s clear that Capitol Gains Tax is a good idea. And it’s clear that the government has mismanaged the economy, lined the pockets of the wealthy and mismanaged Christchurch.

    So how come people still think National has a plan for the economy? What plan?

    Labour finally has a real shot at winning this election, despite appearances. The only poll I’ve seen looks like it was done in Remuera only and may be insignificant, apart from the fact it was widely quoted in the press, but other polls are coming, so Labour has to sell the message.

    For the first time in decades the battle lines are clearly drawn. It should be easy (anyway, easier) for Labour to pick up its support in its traditional base of workers and, increasingly, the unemployed and those disenfranchised by benefit cuts. People must be yearning for representation.

    Even the press is steadily ramping up critique of the the way National is handling (or not) things – but I’m still not hearing enough response from Labour.

    The Salvation Army has reported an 8% rise in the price of food over a year and a more dramatic rise in people using food banks. It’s calling the current situation ‘the new face of poverty’: a group that is outside the usual pool of beneficiaries – people who have jobs but can’t make headway against low wages and rising expenses.

    Remember when National let slip that low wages in New Zealand is an advantage in keeping us ‘competitive’?

    The Herald – not exactly a champion of the left – reported (July 27th) that 17% of NZ children go to school without breakfast, sometimes or always, and that 22% of households with children run out of food due to lack of money, and that 10% of households use foodbanks.

    Good lord, is this really New Zealand? That should be a scandal. It is a scandal. It should also be reported in the world press. The shame!

    Meanwhile, New Zealand’s 150 rich listers enjoyed a 20% increase in wealth. Just to prove their greed, lister and ‘jeweller’ Michael Hill and others on the list whinged that the government should relax restrictions on wealth creation!

    If National gets back in, that’s probably what will happen.

    Meanwhile Prime Minister John Key slipped three places on the list. What, he’s not making armloads of cash from trading currency? New Zealand’s dollar is rather high …

    If people in the poorer sector of New Zealand society can still genuinely believe National, which has largely created this crisis, has the better economic plan, the battle is lost. Here is your constituency, Labour.

    We need to see a cohesive plan to challenge this situation, and to get the message across to those who need the hope that a New Zealand government can actually do something worthwhile. And if that’s happening, we actually need to see it happening.

    For all of us.


  2. Lefter 40 ~ Cracks appearing

    July 13, 2011 by emweb

    Do you think Labour’s announcement of a Capitol Gains Tax has rattled National?

    I do.

    For the first time in … goodness, too many years! Labour has actually led the debate instead of reacting to it. The Capitol Gains Tax left PM John Key floundering to the point where he panicked.

    That was clear from his almost insane reaction to a very distant boat filled with clearly needy Sri Lankan refugees, about which he declared they weren’t welcome here. Any declaration on the subject was actually irrelevant, since they had no real hope of getting here, but I figure Key decided he needed to up the ante and do something right wing after Act’s newspaper ads proclaiming we should be sick of Māori ‘taking everything’.

    Right. That’s why Remuera is full of Māori while Brash and his ignorant, mono-culture acolytes live hand-to-mouth in Struggle Street. I did wonder about that.

    And hey, it might have been a stupid and grossly unimaginative thing to say, but the refugee card worked for Australia’s John Howard for a while, right?



    Crete was a defeat

    Wayne Mapp’s stand-down on the Crete Veterans has been interesting too – he effectively placed the blame on John Key with an admission (whether it’s true or not) that that he tried to get a better deal before the event but that ultimately it came down to the Prime Minister, and his efforts were to no avail.

    Which is a bit disloyal, don’t you think?

    Minister Mapp, who mangles his words as much as John Key does, attended the event on a junket costing NZ taxpayers $26,000 while veterans – the youngest are in their late 80s – got a paltry $2000 each towards their costs. British and Australian veterans got all-expenses-paid trips, not to mention carers and other services provided by their governments.

    I think their governments were genuinely thankful for the sacrifice. Ours didn’t give a shit.

    Veterans’ families have since declared they tried every avenue to get the government’s attention on this subject, but pleas fell on deaf ears. In fact, the only reason the government reacted at all is because an Australian pointed out the disparity between the countries’ representations.

    The shame.

    And what a missed opportunity for John Key, who so loves any chance to look like a good guy on TV. Now he just looks like a prick. Which is more accurate.

    Sure, New Zealanders had the furthest to go, but one suspects the NZ government would have happily carried on with this kind of high-handed and privileged approach if the press hadn’t rumbled the shameful treatment of those who ‘risked they’re all for the country’ (to use the time honoured terminology).

    Essentially, Key loves being Prime Minister because he gets to be on TV and imagine that people actually like him. Unfortunately for the collective intelligence of New Zealand, people actually do. This may be embarrassing and gauche, but there you go.

    And poor Mr Key, it’s probably the first time in his life people have liked him – I mean good lord, who likes traders? So you can hardly blame him. Meanwhile, he’s fronting for some right wingers who are just itching to raise unemployment even more to make hiring ‘more competitive’. In other words, the more desperate people are, the lower wages they’ll accept and the more money the rich can make.

    As anti-humane and frankly *larcenous as this world view is, that’s National’s view – keep a lower class down so the wealthy can have ever better lives. Like they need them, or deserve them. But that’s conservatism for you – it’s all about keeping the world order as it is, or was.

    The National Government is probably the only group in the country that is secretly thanking their lucky stars for this recession. Next term, they’ll also flog off our assets and worse.

    You get what you vote for. Finally, Labour is looking like a creditable party again.

    Something we can believe in. Please, please keep it up.


    *Larceny because a policy like this effectively steals from the poor and gives to the rich. The Sheriff of Nottingham would be proud.


  3. Lefter 39 ~ Capitol Gains

    July 8, 2011 by emweb

    Here’s my take on the Te Tai Tokerau byelection.

    Mana won – this is a good thing if only because Hone Harawira deserved to win. As I have noted previously, all he did to get railroaded out of the Māori Party was to tell some, albeit hurtful, truths about it. They should have been heeded.

    I could say the Māori Party’s showed a lack of political acumen and experience, but to be fair it’s no more than the sort of behaviour their supposedly much more experienced peers in the two major parties regularly stoop to. Only the Greens seem to be able to rise above it, generally.

    But there is lots to learn from Mana’s win. Labour’s strong showing pointed out something very clearly: not just a Māori hankering for a Māori Party that is not National’s patsy, but also a clear indication that northern Māori, at least, is still pro Labour in principal.

    And although that’s surprising, after some categorically awful gaffes in that regard by Labour over the last few years, it’s an important point that should not be left begging.

    Of the Te Tai Tokerau result, Key said the byelection was a waste of money. He should know: he’s an expert at wasting money.

    But how many votes did National get, in this election? None – unless you count the few votes for the Māori Party, since they have become National’s project to nullify Māori aspirations. National didn’t, officially, contest the election but its coalition partner did. And it all failed miserably by anyone’s measure.

    All in all, we have seen a realignment in the north that might spread throughout the country: Māori want a strong party that truly, honestly represents Māori aspirations – and since this is a fundamental part of New Zealand’s sovereign and cultural identity, we should all understand and laud this.

    But the other realignment is a Māori yearning for a party that has a social conscience – and this used to be Labour.

    Labour could be due for renaissance with Māori and it has some genuinely admirable Māori MPs. But the future is not, currently, separate from the fundamental concerns of Māori as a people. The policies Labour creates and the alliances it’s open to could not be more important. So act advisedly in this regard.

    But if Labour starts courting the Māori Party now, look forward to more dissolution and another term of National (which must be champing at the bit and hating having to be cautious) to really do some damage to ordinary New Zealanders.

    Oh, and Pita? Your seats are not safe. From your partners or from the rest of the country.

    Christchurch is a challenge that good government would rise to anywhere in the world, but National has not managed this well and disquiet swelled while John Key hid in India. (How insulting and naive to call India ‘the new China’!)

    From where I sit, Labour – for the first time in ages – has a shot at winning the election. National has been passing the ammunition across No Man’s Land. This has, for the most part, been squandered. Is it going into an arsenal for future use? One can only hope so, but good lord, don’t wait too long.

    But a shot has been fired – and it was a more like a fusillade! Thank goodness for the (‘leaked’?) announcement on plans for a Capitol Gains Tax! Finally, a point of difference that’s left even John Key gasping like a landed fish.

    And finally, we have something worth fighting for – as I have written here before, everyone knows it’s the right thing to do, whether they like it or not. This makes it hard to front a valid resistance to without looking like an ingrate.

    Nice one, Phil Goff. Whoever, ever (if anyone did) told you to act like a big man  … well, they should be fired. New Zealand doesn’t need another dumb Kiwi bloke in these difficult times. A smarmy liar and concealer. We have a surfeit of those, with the prime chump at the tiller.

    We need an academic. Please, Mr Goff, keep doing what you know.

    We like it.