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.