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September, 2014

  1. Lefter 74 ~ Ashamed.

    September 21, 2014 by emweb

    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.



    Media relationships.

    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.

  2. 73 ~ What is Left? And what is right. 

    September 9, 2014 by emweb

    This is the weirdest New Zealand election I can remember. I have been angsting over it all, along with many others, and often the discussion comes down to what Labour stands for. I’m not sure, any more. But we want the left to win, so that includes the Greens, for the most part, and the Mana part of Internet-Mana at least.

    But for that matter, what is ‘left’? What does it mean? And is that term itself redundant?

    Well, yes and no. The fundamental principles of the left still stand. Unfortunately the semantic war has been won by the right if the term ‘left’ makes you squirm, and some Americans even use the term ‘socialism’ as a pejorative with the same weight they managed to attach, throughout the Cold War and beyond, to the term ‘communism’. And they knew very little about either. (I’ve always believed ‘know your enemy’, myself.)

    But I think calling the left something else is pointless. I’d be more keen to reclaim it from the right-wing ideologues and propagandists. Otherwise the whole concept just gets even more dissipated, and this works to the right’s agenda.

    Wikipedia defines it well enough: “left-wing politics are political positions or activities that accept or support social equality, often in opposition to social hierarchy and social inequality. It is typically justified on the basis of concern for those in society who are perceived as disadvantaged relative to others and an assumption that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished.”

    If you already think any of that’s wrong, we know which side of the divide you’ll be on. For this is how Wikipedia defines right wing politics: “Right-wing politics are political positions or activities that view some forms of social hierarchy or social inequality as either inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, typically justifying this position on the basis of natural law or tradition.”

    Is that really you, right-winger?

    People who place themselves on the left typically want equal opportunity, the chance for reconciliation, and rehabilitation (even in the case of societal offenders). Anyone who says that the left is tainted thanks to Mao and Stalin is profoundly ignorant (wilfully or otherwise). What these two (and their many lesser versions) represented was actually right-wing appropriation: Mao and Stalin were ruthless opportunists who cleverly hijacked left wing societal impetus to set up very right-wing regimes.

    Stalin and Hitler have far, far more in common than Stalin and Ho Chi Min.

    People on the right typically want ‘freedom’, but what they mean is the freedom to make money by whatever means possible. They want freedom from societal constraints because they’re so fixated on personal gain. They dislike taxes and any other checks placed upon them, and conversely seek to punish anyone perceived as transgressing against their personal and familial wealth acquisition. As Judith Collins plainly stated, in agreement with Cameron Slater: ‘punish twice’. That’s why you see groups like Act and the Conservatives crying for harder sentences and less reconciliation. That’s why, rather than fix problems with WINZ and CYFS and trying to deal with desperate people after their benefits have been reduced, John Key’s solution is to post more security guards.

    One of the weird things I’ve noticed about New Zealanders overseas is that they’ll brag about New Zealand in left wing terms: ‘we gave women the vote first, pioneered social welfare and housing, we’re the most egalitarian, the most multicultural …’ and then you find out they’re Act voters from Remuera. Darling.

    Which just goes to show you they are (justifiably) ashamed of what they truly believe in. Because these are actually all things they’d like to get rid of.

    For the fact remains: many New Zealanders are right wing at heart. If the polls are accurate, half of the country that will vote, will vote right. The strange thing in the polling, which Mike Williams pointed out on National Radio, is the larger proportion (compared to previous elections) of people refusing to say who they’ll vote for.

    Unfortunately, I think this is because they want to vote National, and they’re ashamed to say so.

    As they should be. As that means they want to vote National despite all the revelations about how National really operates.

    Despite National having no ideas to fix the mess they’ve made.

    Despite the national debt they’ve created.

    Despite the inequality that’s spiralled out of control under their watch (but that is policy, actually, as that’s how rich people really make profit and feel elevated).

    And despite National not wanting to ‘change’ anything, because they’re doing all the right things already. Does New Zealand look right to you?