Breaking Point

By   /   February 11, 2017  /   62 Comments

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Though they could not admit it in as many words, their loud and very public rebellion against the recruitment of Willie Jackson made it crystal clear that if the choice was between winning the election, or compromising their social liberal ideology, then they were willing to give up winning the election.

WHAT AN EXTRAORDINARY WEEK it’s been! Two years of exemplary discipline within Labour’s ranks have been unceremoniously ditched in favour of rank insubordination and revolt. Poto Williams’ intervention and its aftermath have left Andrew Little’s carefully cultivated image of unity and loyalty in tatters. No amount of “robust and honest conversation” can hide the fact that a depressingly large number of Labour Party members would like nothing more than to punch their supposed “comrades” in the face.

Williams’ decision to publicly challenge Little’s recruitment of Willie Jackson represents the breaching of a dam behind which huge amounts of anxiety and anger has been building up since November 2014.

The Labour Party’s social liberals may have cringed when their leader, David Cunliffe, said he was sorry for being a man, but they also loved him for it. With his enforced departure, the allegiance of his faction shifted decisively in favour of Grant Robertson. Their champion’s defeat, by the narrowest of margins (50.52 percent/49.48 percent) left them with no other practical option except to swing-in behind Little and breathe through their noses. Three leaders in six years was enough. The party had no chance of winning in 2017 if it failed to rally convincingly behind the fourth.

It is now agonisingly clear that while the party membership and caucus may have marched behind their new leader, by no means all of them were enthusiastic followers.

Little’s powerbase in the affiliated trade unions made many of them uneasy. Labour’s activist base of highly-educated middle-class professionals were only too aware that the people represented by Labour’s mostly blue-collar union affiliates came from socio-economic backgrounds very different from their own. A party leader who owed his position to the votes of working-class New Zealanders was unlikely to be guided exclusively by the policy priorities of the professional-managerial class.

If Little was to deliver to his working-class base, then he would have to expand Labour’s demographic reach well beyond its inner-city nuclei of metropolitan social liberalism. The party’s catastrophic collapse to just 25 percent of the popular vote in 2014 could not be repeated without throwing Labour’s long-term survival into serious doubt.

Rousing the Registered Non-Vote and winning back the defectors to National was, therefore, essential to Labour’s success in 2017. But these twin objectives could only be achieved by making Labour much more attractive to all those voters who had turned away from the party in 2008 and not returned.

For Labour’s social liberals the logic of Little’s strategy was at once self-evident and threatening. Deep down they understood that the number of New Zealanders who subscribed to their ideology was far too small to win the Treasury Benches unaided. They also understood that the hundreds-of-thousands of ordinary working-class people whose votes made a Labour-led government a feasible proposition were by no means wholehearted in their embrace of the social liberal values to which Labour’s inner-city activists subscribed. After Brexit and Trump, the latter were fearful that the willingness of working-class voters to go on acting as the uncomplaining enablers of social liberalism’s policy agenda might be compromised.

This was their dilemma. They grasped that Labour must broaden its electoral appeal if it was to win. But, at the same time, they knew that if Labour once again became a “broad church”, then their position in both the party and the caucus would be seriously – perhaps fatally – weakened.

Little’s reaching out to Greg O’Connor and Willie Jackson – both of them social conservatives – was the test: and the social liberals discovered that they could not pass it.

Though they could not admit it in as many words, their loud and very public rebellion against the recruitment of Willie Jackson made it crystal clear that if the choice was between winning the election, or compromising their social liberal ideology, then they were willing to give up winning the election.

They could do this because their position in New Zealand society was sufficiently secure to endure another three years of National Party government without significant material hardship. Moreover, yet another electoral failure would, paradoxically, strengthen, not weaken, their ideological grip on the Labour Party. As a shrewd trade unionist once observed of the cynical political strategy of the Soviet era Socialist Unity Party: “Better to keep control of the losing side than lose control of the winning side.”

Unfortunately, the losing side in 2017 will be made up of the least securely positioned members of New Zealand society. Those impoverished and marginalised citizens whose endurance will be tested to breaking-point, and beyond, by another three years of National Party government.

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62 Comments

  1. Aaron says:

    I wish the Labout party would just get on with it and self destruct. The longer this nonsense goes on the longer it will be before we get a substantial party of the left again.

    • countryboy says:

      I agree @ AARON.
      Something new, clean and elegant. A thing of modern beauty and reverence. An entirely new concept that the Middle Rich few and the Struggling many can identify with collaboratively .
      Yep, that’s right. We need actors.

    • Adrian Thornton says:

      @Aaron +1, an internal revolution got them in, so will probably take one to get them out,and they won’t go quietly that’s for sure, they have shown that they haven’t got the strength of their convictions to go and start their own political party, just look at Labour UK, the third way terrorists would rather destroy the whole party than concede to a real Left movement.

      But the good news is that there are a lot of people just waiting, ready and willing to take on that fight here in NZ, and once the ball starts rolling for change, it won’t be stopped, again look at Labour UK under Corbyn, now the biggest political organization in western Europe, 600,000 paid up members…all supporting a Socialist vision for the UK, lead by their Labour Party.

      Turn labour Left.

  2. Afewknowthetruth says:

    Governments are simply managers of businesses on behalf of international banks and corporations. Labour can never overcome the basic incompatibility of supposed advocacy of socialism and the requirements of capitalism. Labour can lie, misrepresent, and pretend, but it can never circumvent the basic incompatibility of promotion of social values and governance in a globalized world run by international bankers.

    The last two Labour governments were abject failures in that they sold out to capitalism and rampant consumerism, and should Labour, by some miracle, manage to become a component of any future government we can be certain that it will sell out to capitalism and rampant consumerism, and be part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

    Indeed, the pace at which capitalism has been trashing the planet and trashing the remnants of society has been so great in recent years there probably is no time left for solutions to anything.

    • Paul says:

      After the Knowledge Truth, I respect your opinion.
      Is there any party not beholden to capitalism?
      The Greens also seem to be happy with neoliberalism.
      What about NZ First?
      Or the Opportunities Party?

  3. Castro says:

    http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/2/9/14543938/richard-rorty-liberalism-vietnam-donald-trump-obama

    In effect, the identity politics crowd do not actually represent the working class at all, actually, they are not even left-wing. Bring on the guillotines…

    • Aaron says:

      Agree. The identity politics crowd use the fact that they’re not racist, sexist or homophobic to convince themselves they’re good people – it saves them from having to confront themselves with their defacto support of the economic status quo.

  4. Pete says:

    When the rush to keyboards started at the Jackson announcement,
    the impoverished and marginalised citizens whose endurance will be tested to breaking-point, and beyond, by another three years of National Party government did not figure at all. They did not exist.

    They were to be victims again, drowned under a torrent self-centred, precious sentiment and navel gazing.

    How likely is it during that next three years of National Party government that the naïfs will ponder, “What happened? What could I have done to see this not happen?”

    (I can’t even write this without expecting responses about “minimising domestic violence” and being accused of reducing domestic violence to self-centred, precious sentiment and navel gazing. Or doing the same about errant radio show hosts parading errant views.)

  5. Spoon says:

    Excellent piece Chris.

    Your right until the decisions based upon neo-liberal ideology start to affect the educated middle class then it will be only the poor working class at the brunt of it.

    It will be interesting to see if the Labour–Greens agreement pays off with working class voting for them (the Greens) and NZ First instead, maybe a coalition might evolve?? Though I suspect it will resemble something out of Victor Frankenstein’s lab.

  6. Fatty says:

    Little might have shifted from identity politics to conservatism, but he hasn’t turned towards the working class. Little is neoliberal without identity politics.

    The left needs to get over this class vs identity dichotomy.

    http://nzagainstthecurrent.blogspot.co.nz/2017/02/false-dichotomy.html?m=1

    • Strypey says:

      I’m really not sure what the author of this AgainstTheCurrent blog piece is arguing. Throwing terms like “left wing”, “class politics”, “conservative”, and “neo-liberal” around without defining them only muddies the waters. I agree that to ask people to choose between “class politics” and “identity politics” is to set up a false dichotomy, but I think framing the debate this way is a strawman. The real dichotomy is between approaches to “identity issues” that place them within a broader left tradition (dare I say a “broad church” approach?), and approaches that, for example, pit all women against men in the name of “feminism”, regardless of the diversity of class positions and interests among women.

      The piece you link slams Bomber for endorsing a “cross-class alliance”, yet this is exactly what liberal feminism is; the ideology that a woman who cleans offices 50 hours a week for minimum wage should unite with the corporate executive whose office she cleans, if she happens to be a women, and rail together against their common oppressor; all men. Radical feminism, in contrast, starts with an understanding that the corporate executives are the real oppressors, even if a few of them happen to be female now, and that working class men are their allies, even if they need educating about gender equality on the barricades.

      So is the Poto Williams campaign against Willie Jacson an example of liberal or radical feminism? Williams is a career bureaucrat who is cynically weaponizing “feminism” against a rival whose politics are far to the left of hers. It’s sad to see so many on the “left” who consider themselves radical or even revolutionary taking her side, and choosing cross-class identity politics over cross-identity class politics. If Little was the neo-liberal that blog piece accuses him of being, he never would have reached out to Jackson in the first place. The fact that Williams is slamming Jackson and Little is all the more reason to have hope that Labour might finally be ready to shake off its Rogernomics legacy and return to the left.

      • fatty says:

        “Throwing terms like “left wing”, “class politics”, “conservative”, and “neo-liberal” around without defining them only muddies the waters.”

        The author of the blog, Steven Cowan, is a Marxist, so his definitions of those terms are much clearer than today’s centre-left. It’s a bit harsh to critique him for not giving thorough definitions when a flick through his blog will make it clear what he means.

        “So is the Poto Williams campaign against Willie Jacson an example of liberal or radical feminism?”

        It’s liberal feminism, but you’ve set up a strawman there because Labour aree liberal – not radical (ironically, after accusing Cowan of creating a strawman). They’re liberal in the same way that John Key is liberal, or the Tories are liberal. That is Steven Cowan’s point. He’s not arguing for Poto, instead, he’s arguing against the myth that Labour is no longer liberal, and has become a class based party.

        I agree with him. I don’t particularly agree with Poto, but when the argument is framed as the liberal feminist vs the class based Labour Party, I can only roll my eyes.

        “If Little was the neo-liberal that blog piece accuses him of being, he never would have reached out to Jackson in the first place.”

        Jackson promotes charter schools and just jumped ship from the Maori Party. He’s hardly opposed to neoliberalism. Labour snatching him doesn’t mean they’ve abandoned their neoliberal values. Andrew Little can’t even give us a decent state housing policy in the middle of a housing crisis. He’s still more for landlords than he is for renters.

        You’re getting very creative with your framing of Labour as a working class party. I accept Poto is a liberal feminist – she is in Labour after all! Just because Little shuts down feminists, that doesn’t mean he’s no longer leading a neoliberal party

        • Ovicula says:

          Tautoko Fatty. If WIllie Jackson is a class warrior, it’s for the entrepreneurial manager class.

        • Strypey says:

          “you’ve set up a strawman there because Labour are liberal – not radical”

          I’ve never seen people thinking in cartoon stereotypes like this produce effective political strategy. Labour is not essentially any kind of party. Like all political organisations, it’s a coalition of people who disagree as often (or more) than they agree. Whether its collective behaviour at any given time is “liberal” or “radical” or anything else, depends on the balance of forces applying pressure to Its leadership, from both inside and outside. The public actions of its leadership – both its official leaders and prominent members (eg MPs) who speak out publicly – can be seen as a canary in the coalmine, giving us an indication of what the party might do in the near future, eg as the majority party in a government.

          What kind of canary then is the Poto Williams incident? Little (and by extension the rest of the leadership) bowing down to Williams and her histronics would indicate a Labour intending to continue distracting the protest “left” with loud shows of cross-class identity politics, while they carry on behind this smokescreen with a neo-liberal economic program (Clark was a master of this). I’d like to see Labour moving more towards cross-identity class politics. To me, the fact that they told Williams to pull her head in is a more promising sign of this than if they hadn’t.

          Moving on to Willie Jackson, your description is cherry-picking attack politics. Jackson has been active for many years in the union movement, and an MP for the Alliance. He was also a leader of Mana Motuhake, so of course he got involved in the formation of the Māori Party, which I remember kiwi marxists promoting as a grassroots movement well to the left of Labour, before being captured by the Iwi Leaders Forum etc.

          Jackson supports kura kaupapa, even when they are formed as charter schools, and I agree with you that this is unprincipled, and a mistake. But you are clutching at straws to claim he “promotes charters schools” as a *concept*. What I’ve seen (eg on Waatea 5th Estate) is him defending arguably ill-advised attempts by Māori to use them as a tool of self-empowerment, against the opportunists who attempt to characterize them as another example of fictional “Māori privilege”. I’ve certainly got my criticisms of Jackson (he’s a terrible interviewer for one thing), but to call him a “neo-liberal” is like calling a woman a witch because someone stuck a fake nose and a pointy hat on her.It’s petty name-calling, not a fair or accurate critique of his politics.

          • fatty says:

            “What kind of canary then is the Poto Williams incident?”

            It signals a a liberal feminist has a different view to the men in a liberal party. One thing it doesn’t signify is that Labour is a class based party. For that we need to look at their economic policies, as well as their housing and education. They’re still neoliberal.

            “I’d like to see Labour moving more towards cross-identity class politics. To me, the fact that they told Williams to pull her head in is a more promising sign of this than if they hadn’t.”

            For me, that’s no sign that Labour are shifting towards becoming a class-based party again. Look at their min wage, their state housing policy, their policies for renters, for public private partnerships, their tax policies on unearned wealth, their student loan policies…all barely distinguishable from National’s. This fiasco with Williams and Jackson tells us nothing about where Labour sits on the left-right spectrum.

            “Moving on to Willie Jackson, your description is cherry-picking attack politics.”

            Yes, as is yours. Jackson could’ve thrown his weight fully behind Mana if he wanted to. There are plenty of other non-neoliberal options in NZ. But he didn’t.

            But these points are not the focus of the article I linked – Cowan was not simply demonizing Jackson and suggesting Williams has been wronged. His point was that just because identity politics was given a firm public rebuke, that doesn’t mean Labour have become more of a class based party.

            • Strypey says:

              >> Jackson could’ve thrown his weight fully behind Mana if he wanted to. <<

              Sure, and all the marxists who supported Mana could have pulled their support, as Sue Bradford did, after Mana and Internet formed their "cross-class alliance" (Cowan's words, I think he's wrong, but that's a different discussion). Why didn't you? Probably for similar reasons Jackson stayed with the Māori Party; loyalty to people you'd campaigned with for years, and hope that by staying in you could pull the party to the left.

              "For me, that’s no sign that Labour are shifting towards becoming a class-based party again."

              Your whole argument here depends on characterizing Jackson as some kind of brown table capitalist and "neo-liberal", an enthusiastic supporter of the Māori Party's move to the right, rather than an internal dissenter against it. My argument depends on placing his more recent years of cross-class identity politics (racial in his case, rather than gender-based) in the context of his full political history. I doubt we're going to convince each other, but I'll watch with interest to see whether Jackson's campaigning for Labour adds weight to your argument or to mine.

              • fatty says:

                “Sure, and all the marxists who supported Mana could have pulled their support, as Sue Bradford did, after Mana and Internet formed their “cross-class alliance” (Cowan’s words, I think he’s wrong, but that’s a different discussion). Why didn’t you? Probably for similar reasons Jackson stayed with the Māori Party; loyalty to people you’d campaigned with for years, and hope that by staying in you could pull the party to the left.”

                That’s an irrelevant comparison, and not even cose to why I supported Mana at the last election. It’s important to move beyond a dictionary definition of Marxism – there’s many stands and we frequently disagree on strategy etc.

                “Your whole argument here depends on characterizing Jackson as some kind of brown table capitalist and “neo-liberal”, an enthusiastic supporter of the Māori Party’s move to the right, rather than an internal dissenter against it.”

                No, that’s got nothing to do with my argument, nor Steven Cowan’s. Re-read the last sentence of my last comment: “…just because identity politics was given a firm public rebuke, that doesn’t mean Labour have become more of a class based party.” …that’s my argument. It’s based on policies.

                Or, go back to original comment – I didn’t even mention Jackson and Williams. My point is about Labour under Little: “Little might have shifted from identity politics to conservatism, but he hasn’t turned towards the working class. Little is neoliberal without identity politics.”

                Labour getting Jackson doesn’t really make them more neoliberal, or less neoliberal. I don’t give a shit if Ronald McDonald is 8th on the Labour list, or if they gag sll their women MPs and make them stop talking about sexual assault. I define their ideology by their policies. They’re neoliberal, just as much under Little as they’ve been for decades.

                • Sam Sam says:

                  Mean while in the real world, Little treate Garner like a chump then Garner treated blinglish like a sex toy.

                  Dont even try and deny it, academic ability is for those who dont like the real world

  7. David Stone says:

    Hi Chris
    You have made left-side politics your life’s work and study, so you must have a better insight into this than me, but I think the whole episode could be viewed much more optimistically .
    I guess you have seen Poto’s approach to Willie and his reaction; you probably have some insight into how genuine and self motivated that approach was. But supposing she acted on her own initiative , and that ongoing cooperation between the two of them continues, the end result could be quite good.
    Willie has been given the opportunity to respond to Poto ,apparently to her complete satisfaction , and gone a long way to publicly redeeming himself of his historical indiscretion. Their background areas of interest and activity are compatible and somewhat complimentary . They could well finish up being allies.
    So Poto has made her point re her pet issue, Willie looks much better re that issue . Andrew has selected two motivated humanitarians who are adult and responsible and has sensibly left them to resolve the issue which they have done. If he has had a hand in the background in bringing them together then that’s to his credit too. I don’t think any of them are coming out of this badly providing the reconciliation gets some coverage.
    Cheers David

  8. Sam Sam says:

    Just take a look at the amount of money private firms pored into John Keys campaign, that’s just not there any more. Just look at the news papers, the banks that where funding John Keys were being paid off. Now they have to find other ways to pay bonuses because no one can tolerate this any more. They say take it as stock instead of money so your borrowing money from the public instead of stealing it. So every one got paid off for having put John Key in office. But they were very carful to keep it quite and that’s characteristic of American politics. Helen Clarks handlers were another bunch of keep em quite, all we new about her was that she walked a lot because all her activism before that was scrubbed, 406’d off the internet. There was a whole bunch of photos of Clark and Phill Geof protesting the purchase of the RNAF Sky Hawks which vanished in her first term.

    None of this is liberalism when we live in a state capitalist system. New Zealand elections line Americans are a facade run by the PR industry who market candidates the same way they would market toothpaste (which is code for don’t say anything and smile) so when you see an ad on TV you’re not supposed to believe it because it’s not informing you of the market, it makes uninformed consumers that make rational choices, which is incidentally the opposite of what you’re taught in economics about markets. But we and I include all branches of labour are spending huge amounts of capital on creating uninformed voters.

    PR merchants market tooth past and politics the same way, they want to uninformed consumers/voters who make irrational decisions.

    • Patrick says:

      Can’t quite follow you post Sam, especially re the Skyhawks. The RNZAF bought the Skyhawks in 1970 when Helen Clark was still in short pants.
      It was Helen Clark in the 80’s who quite rightly decided that upgrading these obsolete aircraft was pointless and buying new out of the question so decided that the RNZAF should lose it’s attack capability.
      Very sensible decision.

  9. WILD KATIPO says:

    Regarding these social liberals… ne’er a truer statement…

    ” They could do this because their position in New Zealand society was sufficiently secure to endure another three years of National Party government without significant material hardship. Moreover, yet another electoral failure would, paradoxically, strengthen, not weaken, their ideological grip on the Labour Party. ”

    Quite tight , Chris.

    THEY can afford another loss , – but other working people who are doing it hard ( myself included ) CANT.

    I’ve said it once and Ill say it again. Labour needs a purge of these types. They are the weak in the chain that enables neo liberal monetarist policy’s and the loss of national sovereignty . They are one and the same group that resisted attempts to oppose such worker damaging deals as the TTPA and its ilk and all that deal and others like it would have implied for working people.

    These are the type who have agreed with , and facilitated over the last 30 years ,… the very things that is the antithesis of our former social democracy and its inherent egalitarianism.

    They are fifth columnist Right wingers masquerading as being ‘ Left’ – yet carefully choosing ,… only certain aspects of being ‘ Left’ in order to be able to give the appearance of being ‘ Left’ enough to enable them to remain in that party.

    It would not be a far stretch to say that , … much of the ideology’s and policy’s they adhere to make National and ACT their natural political home . That fact and that fact alone should alert people to just where their allegiances TRULY lie.

    • Patrick says:

      Unfortunately for you these people you detest are the only ones who strike a cord with middle NZ.
      Get rid of them and watch the party have it’s vote cut in half again at upcoming election.
      The facts are simple. Kiwi’s will not elect a truly left wing party so Labour as it is, is your best bet.

      • WILD KATIPO says:

        Sift out the ringleaders and get rid of them. Reason?… they do NOT represent what that political party stood for and never have. Along with that , – they have only come into existence because of the Roger Douglas phenomenon over the last 30 years.

        Would you think it equally as bizarre to have rabid socialist environmentalist greenies in the ACT party?

        No !… you wouldn’t . So why should the basis of the Labour party have to accommodate these no liberal subversives ?

        So on that basis that pretty much puts paid to that apologist’s line of logic you have just offered..

      • frank says:

        a broad base party that doesn’t spend more time attacking its own members and alienating its electorate MIGHT have the numbers to form a government…..believing either a hard left or a judgemental hypocritical liberal arm can do it on their own is the height of delusion…..but if you’re so sure of yourself why not reform the Liberal Party if you don’t need anyone else?

      • Adrian Thornton says:

        @Patrick, Yeh that’s funny because that’s exactly what Kiwi’s did in 1935, 1957, 1972 and thought we had done in 1984.

        You do realize that other New Zealanders outside the precious middle New Zealand do have a right to long term housing security,a functioning and fully funded health system, a political party that advocates for them, and a living wage?

        If labour (in my dreams) had a real Socialist Democratic vision that embraced social, environmental and community principles that we could get passionate about and really wanted to fight for, then Labour would get as many of the middle vote as they are getting now anyway for sure, maybe more?

        Then Labour could Leave the middle to vote with their conscious, and concentrate on the ‘missing million’.

        But the big problem for Labour today, is that Labour can’t relate to ‘missing million’, and not that they don’t relate to Labour.
        And while Labour remains captured by a neo liberal economic ideology, Labour never will have any way to relate to them.
        Just as the Democrats in the US and the New Labour in the UK can’t and couldn’t relate to their traditional demographics and keep getting wiped out.

  10. XRAY says:

    I don’t know if you take delight in Labours misfortunes, which I think you do given all I have read from you, but I am sorely pissed off.

    Read the Standard to see just how these Grey Lynner’s who ride their Eisenhower era bicycles around with silly looks on their faces in their unreal world of academia think. Poto, 2017 Imbocile of the year and nominee for worst team player should somehow be held up as a guiding light, she was brave and she was right. That National will only make things worse is truly lost on these fools.

    Pragmatism, fuck right off there sunshine, the world must conform to their warped logic. They are truly indifferent to National or what Labour are supposed to represent, the little man, because that is of no interest to them. As you said, they’re comfortable enough and without any skin in the deprivation game to care less. What is near and dear to these turkeys lives is the equal rights of lesbian weasels amongst other game changers. Diversity and inclusiveness is what they think they are, above the fray until everyone is on the same page in the year 3500. Inclusiveness and Gandhi like conciliation, but only until you disagree with them or you were a “policeman” like O’Connor.

    Labour needs to split, the liberals need to find another host to parasite off and create a party for real people who need a party like the one Labour are supposed to represent.

    And if National voters in Christchurch East are even half awake they will give their party vote to National and vote Poto the stupid in by a record margin because she is their cast iron guarantee to endless National governments!

  11. frank says:

    I suspect we may be listening to the Labour party’s swan song (unless by some miracle something catestrophically electorally damaging to National emerges prior to the election.)

    Welcome back Liberal Party (2.0).?…..and with the resulting anger, resentment and distrust gone any chance of a left leaning government in NZ for a generation or more. God help the increasing and increasingly dispossessed.

  12. Paul says:

    It’s a touchy subject over at the standard. I have been banned till 2020 for saying Poto Williams was lucky not to be sacked.
    Put the views expressed on this article on that blog and you’ll be in for life.

  13. Castro says:

    Bring back the Progressive Party. Labour is a fezbinazi party.

  14. Reality says:

    I had the wrath of Weka coming down on me because I happened to think it was appalling certain entities were intent on showing off their disloyalty to Andrew Little. He is a thoroughly decent guy who should be given support and not be undermined by those with self-satisfied smug ulterior motives.

  15. Adrian Thornton says:

    Mr Trotter, I am sorry, but I believe it is you who is viewing this internal Labour dissent though a misaligned set of class lenses.

    Surely you,of all NZ historians, must understand that these divides run all the way back to 1984?, and to lay the blame at the feet of a few ‘Labours social liberals’ seems to me an incredibly naive analysis.
    Although the traumatic 1984 neo liberal take over of the NZ Labour Party may well may express itself though ‘social liberals’ views at times, the problems with Labour are far more serious, far deeper, far more ideological, and unless addressed, will probably prove to be fatal.
    I am sure you must be aware that all western Left wing parties co-opted by this neo liberal ideology (which worked well for them for a period) are now on their knees, pathetic and toothless in opposition, lacking long term vision and credibility to achieve power.

    Lastly, you attack the ‘social liberals for conducting some sort of class war, however it is the Labour Party itself who itself is conducting the class war…
    Lets take Labours platform on housing in AKL for an example.
    Affordable housing plan, $500-600,000 houses.
    Average wage for a cleaner 32,000 P/A
    Average wage Warehouse/Factory Worker 33,000 P/A
    Average rent 3 bed room South AKL $470 P/W
    So you can see that this whole strata of workers will not be buying these affordable houses, thereby being consigned to a life of renting.
    However Labour have absolutely nothing in their 2017 platform addressing the long term security, nor rights of renters, let alone addressing the tidal wave of workers that are about to go into retirement renting… no Labour are so obsessed with capturing and maintaining the centre, that they have completely disregarded and ignored these workers lives… and that my friend is what classic class war looks like.

    Turn Labour Left.

    • fatty says:

      “However Labour have absolutely nothing in their 2017 platform addressing the long term security, nor rights of renters, let alone addressing the tidal wave of workers that are about to go into retirement renting.”

      Exactly.

      Labour are a party for landlords before they’re a party for renters. They are a class based party, but they don’t represent the working class. Their version of affordable housing is for the middle class.

      It’s not identity politics that has turned the working class away from Labour, instead, it’s Labour that continues to ignore the working class – even if they back of identity issues.

      The elderly, the working class and younger generations aren’t turned off by feminism, Maori rights and other identity issues. They’re turned off because Labour continues with neoliberal policies and conservative ‘solutions’ to economic issues.

      • Sam Sam says:

        It doesn’t matter what models are used, if one is more efficient than the other, that one will grow and dominate the others. Care must be taken to limit growth in warfare or else it dominates the economy and makes you weak, and that’s what America is right now.

  16. garibaldi says:

    The issue of Willie v Poto is not as clear cut as you state.I don’t see it as an either/or situation. There are processes, discipline and leadership issues here, both of which have been handled poorly by those involved.
    More importantly I think the left cannot get sufficiently ‘unified’ until its factions can sort out the degree of rejection of neoliberal policies minimally acceptable to all.
    I still see Labour (and the Greens increasingly) as too accepting of current Western free market dogma and am waiting for something stronger than National lite.
    Two other matters….1) The Standard. Sorry to see you have been banned for so long Paul. That’s crazy.
    2)afewknowthetruth. I always concur with your comments and appreciate your wisdom, depressing as it may be.

    • Paul says:

      Can’t believe one gets a three year ban simply for questioning an author’s opinion.
      Weka is a powerful force at the Standard and, given the length of the ban myself and others have received, clearly not liberal when his/her views are challenged.

      • Pete says:

        You must have, like in the old expression, “touched a nerve.”

        In terms of open debate, in terms of expressing an opinion, in terms of making an observation, the ban for that says a lot more about the banner than the banned.

        It was great on Whale Oil when it happened like that. You could step back with resignation and a shrug, to a cool analysis and attempt to describe what had happened and why, with logic and intelligence, until you got to the only rational response. Which of course ended up to be the initial surface, base reaction: “Gutless, super-sensitive, cowardly, infantile, intellectually bereft.”

      • Adrian Thornton says:

        @Paul, sorry to hear you got kicked off the Standard, I personally find it incredibly disappointing that they often conduct the site in such an authoritarian way.
        I managed to get a quite lively debate on this over the top moderating fiasco, going on there a while back in response to my freind, then my wife, and ultimately myself being kicked off for some meaningless bullshit, I think it was that we had said that The Standard was a Left leaning forum (yeh you couldn’t make this up!)

        It is a real shame, as I do respect the amount of work and effort that a lot of good people obviously put into the site, but the moderators shouldn’t be able to moderate their own stories for a start, it just gets to personal, and sometime way to aggressive, which I know turns a lot of potential new voices off, and especially woman contributors.

        I have brought this problem up a couple of times on open mike, and have had some robust debates, but it seems that it is built into the internal culture of The Standard, because as you well know, it still goes on.

        • Paul says:

          Thanks for the support Adrian.
          There are some moderators who are very touchy on the subject of identity politics.

  17. Jono says:

    That professional managerial class Chris is an issue as they back neo liberal values. whereas the change group is the blue color working class who will vote against that ideology as it does not benefit then. Maybe little knows there is a change coming with Trump and Brexit getting the vote. Thats why Little is bringing in Willie and making a focus on getting blue collar vote back. But what you left with is a split party. Will be interesting to see what happens here.

  18. Janine says:

    “…. throwing Labour’s long-term survival into serious doubt”

    I’d say its been in serious doubt since around 2004. By now it resembles an exhausted fish thrashing about on the end of a line.

    Other people on this thread have suggested it should split into two separate parties and I think they’re right.

    Talking to people I know who belong to

    ” the least securely positioned members of New Zealand society. Those impoverished and marginalised citizens whose endurance will be tested to breaking-point, and beyond, by another three years of National Party government.”

    I predict NZ First is going to do extremely well in the up coming election.

  19. John Johns Anon says:

    Young Labour and the Young Greens are far worse than people realise.

    It is well known that the youth wing of the National Party have been used to do dirty work to curry favours with the hosts of Princess parties – blackmail all the way – in mind of their own political and otherwise careers. New light could be shed on the Len Brown scandal, for instance, by looking at who was in John Bank’s office at the time… and who they were very close friends with.

    The National Party youth wing still gets up to mischief, but from my top-down perspective I feel that the young Greens and young Labour take the cake for nastiness. It may even become an issue before the upcoming election.

    I am aware of a number of people who were subject to surreptitious attacks by members or former members of the youth wings of the Greens and the Labour Party, and, to a certain extent, with the approval of sitting members of Parliament (as well as members who have since resigned). Charitable types, very naive as to how political networks operate, they got involved politically assuming that people would appreciate their efforts and the good they were trying to do. They were gaslighted and harassed as a result – they didn’t belong to the right networks, or factions, if any – and at least one was driven half-mad as a result while the identarians sniggered knowingly in the background – sometimes in his face, to his bemusement. His spent time in hospital and his career was destroyed. Another victim, also someone who regarded himself as a leftist, was attacked by the same group – and he thought they were his friends. A health researcher, he was driven off Twitter and forced to leave the country after calls were made to his work and to others. I have heard of other examples.

    The same group is behind it – the ex – young Labourites and some young Greens (although they have been told to shut up and largely have).

    What is curious is that the people they attacked had not done anything wrong. One came from the wrong background (white, middle-class), and the other had (maybe) made an inappropriate pass. These were men who dedicated at least half their time to charitable activities, without being particularly careerist or interested in entering Parliament, as far as I know. There are a lot of examples however and it would be very interesting if someone was to investigate this and draw up a tally of victims.

    I hate to say Cameron Slater is right about anything, but ‘the left’ (they are not, as posters above have written) do engage in Dirty Politics, and against fairly innocent individuals as well.

    Why do they do it? I can’t see any other reason than pure tribalism, which I think identity politics encourages.

    Thank God for the Daily Blog.

  20. Mike in Auckland says:

    “Unfortunately, the losing side in 2017 will be made up of the least securely positioned members of New Zealand society. Those impoverished and marginalised citizens whose endurance will be tested to breaking-point, and beyond, by another three years of National Party government.”

    That is my greatest worry, indeed.

  21. Mike in Auckland says:

    Besides of what Chris Trotter writes about in this post, what exactly do Labour stand for these days, that is in policy, I wonder?

  22. Saw the Opportunities party out and about at the mall today (I was just there for the supermarket, honest!). Plenty of ordinary people walking around with their handbills. Simmons himself front and centre. After the way things were over at The Standard this week, I’m ready for an alternative.

  23. ann says:

    I thought that Poto W was the only labour MP who objected to WJ in public? Forgive me if I am wrong, but I think not. Surely one MP who has stated she regretted speaking out is hardly a rebellion.

    I thought Little handled it well. None of this “Labour is a broad church” stuff. But quite prompt in saying caucus is not to air issues like this in public. Afterall a leader cannot prevent the troops making errors of judgement i.e. in this case speaking out. But s/he can give a swift strong message that what they have done isn’t acceptable. Little did this.

  24. ann says:

    I thought that Poto W was the only labour MP who objected to WJ in public? Forgive me if I am wrong, but I think not. Surely one MP who has stated she regretted speaking out is hardly a rebellion.

    I thought Little handled it well. None of this “Labour is a broad church” stuff. But quite prompt in saying caucus is not to air issues like this in public. Afterall a leader cannot prevent the troops making errors of judgement i.e. in this case speaking out. But s/he can give a swift strong message that what they have done isn’t acceptable. Little did this.

  25. Andrew says:

    If Little can’t manage the Labour caucus, he’s not fit to run the country.

    • WILD KATIPO says:

      And could you manage your own family or any business you might run if you had a core group always diametrically opposed to your decisions?

      No.

      You couldn’t.

      And yet you are advocating Little should put up with these divisive , destructive neo liberals and expecting Labour to prosper …

      You do recall Trevor Mallards idiot comments DURING an election about wanting ‘ a Moa,… just a small one ,… one that I could pat …’

      IN THE MIDDLE OF A GENERAL ELECTION .

      No,… it really is time to purge these deceitful wankers from the Labour party and be done with them. They have caused nothing but constant division and strife since 1984.

      Anyone who views them with favour and exception should be keenly scrutinized themselves for just who they give their allegiances to.

      We already have an ACT party… albeit a complete fail.

      • andrew says:

        No WK, I’m saying Little shouldn’t be leader.

        He was foisted on the caucus by the unions, against their wishes.

        Labour needs to fix its constitution because a union dominated voting system isn’t working.

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      Thanks, this past week Andrew showed exactly that, he can manage the Labour caucus, and hence can also run this country.

  26. Real Youth says:

    They are strange these so-called Labour Party “youth” willing to destroy their own party. But are they really of the Labour Party anymore, and are they even youth?

    I would argue no on both counts.

    The main detractors of the Labour movement are on closer inspection former members of young labour – and former youth, that is to say, people approaching middle age – who failed to secure political office and who failed in their own left-positioned media ventures. That is why they hate the Daily Blog and that is why they hate Labour.

    James Dann is a failed candidate for Ilam. Others also wanted to run but are recognised as too nasty and too unable to work with others and not likable enough to succeed in politics outside of backroom backstabbings. Other major detractors are the former contributors to failed media venture “On the Left”: Asher Wilson-Goldman, those who run the “Druve Thru” (formerly economist) podcast, student politician turned failed political mover and wobbler Nicole (not Nicola) Skews, and Daniel Clemerston-Philips, a Doungeons and dragons nerd who heads the PSA twitter bully gang aka Twitterati, and other hangers on.

    These people are approaching 40 if not over the hill already. They have houses and children. They are entrenched in the Bowen Left-wing bomerang (because those who live along it always seem to end up hitting themselves in the face). They are not “young Labour”. They are not young. Many if not all of them are not even members of the Labour Party anymore because they are bitter about not having been able to bitch and wreck and lie and blackmail their way up the ranks. They are the bitter stalks of failed political candidacy and media ventures and only want to sow discord and destroy.

    That’s why I choose to call them: zombie Labour, or the Zombie Wing.

  27. Jen says:

    Interesting… one comes out as a former cop:

    https://mobile.twitter.com/PCGoneRad

    NZ JTRIG Cr3w?

  28. Salad says:

    Can someone please tell me what the political viewpoints of O’Connor and Jackson are? It is not clear.

    I only ask as many on this blog are painting this as being “identity vs class”, but it isn’t clear how Jackson and O’Connor fit into this.



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