Shane Jones quit Labour. People say it’s because Labour has drifted too far from the centre and leftwards, but I disagree. Labour does need to get away from the centre. Currently, this wishy-washy centrist Labour looks like National Lite, and since National already holds the reigns, people will just vote National as the familiar line of least resistance. The option is centre? Well, National is already there and already governing.
The trouble is, with Cunliffe faffing around and not being definitive about anything, and no decent Labour policies we can sink our teeth into, National Lite is what we have with Labour 2014 anyway. Sure, Cunliffe can quip (so can Key), but is wit all he has?
I’ve written and said this many times before, but Labour doesn’t know what it is any more. If Labour doesn’t know, we don’t either. Who wants to vote for something with an identity crisis? Not me. So I’m afraid, unless something amazing happens (and I’m no longer holding my breath), Labour will not win this election, condemning us to another three years of Key and all his social damage in pursuit of lining the pockets of the wealthy few. How they must be laughing at the rest of us!
But what will then be the outcome for Labour, and the left in New Zealand, when National wins again? Collapse and, hopefully, finally, the rebuild I’ve been calling for. Somebody posited to me recently a Labour co-led by Jacinda Adern and Grant Robertson. It would certainly make a striking and bold statement in the gender stakes, and they’re both very valuable, clever, experienced people, but would they create a new Labour we can believe in? Because that’s what we need.
I want a left-wing government. It’s another thing I’ve been repeating. That’s because I’m an anarchist at heart: I hope for a world in which people are good enough to work together for the greater good thanks to non-violent cooperation. I’m not stupid enough to think this is imminent by any means, but I truly believe it’s a worthwhile aspiration. One which can only come closer under a left wing government.
But Labour, currently, isn’t really left wing. It’s policies are National Lite, it doesn’t know what it stands for, but at the same time it’s tarred by Old Left (the unions, for goodness sake!). Labour’s leadership struggles to satisfy Old Labour while making a pretence of engaging new (younger voters), but Labour should have taken the bull by the horns after losing the last election and set about defining a new role, image and purpose for itself for this century. But it failed. Actually, I don’t believe it even tried..
Jones was Old Labour. But so is Cunliffe, I’m afraid.
Labour is, currently, doomed to fail.
And that failure will be New Zealand’s.