I’m sorry Mr Cunliffe, what were you saying before you were rudely interrupted?

David Cunliffe launches his leadership campaign. Image courtesy of Greg Presland.

david cunliffe and grant robertson


Back in 2012, David Cunliffe started a series of speeches aimed at philosophically reconstructing a debate against the neoliberal economic hegemony. He argued that it was Labour’s capitulation to Milton Friedman’s free market model that was the driving reason why so many NZers had left Labour and made the last election one of our lowest voter turns outs in a century.

Chris Trotter and I were at that speech, and we were both surprised at how big the questions Cunliffe had asked Before David was able to take this thinking much further, he was punished for effectively breaking Labour’s taboo to never bring the issue of their greatest betrayal at the hands of Roger Douglas up by debating the  economic paradigm Rogernomics had set.

I think the next election will be about the economy and what kind of results we really want from that economy. Currently the National Party have geared the economy up to benefit the wealthy at the expense of the poor. Baby boomers who set the agenda for change by protesting in their youth must see within the Labour Party a moral and ethical call to action that reminds them that the universality of state support can not just benefit their generation, but all generations.

That must be where Labour pitches their message if it wishes to attract any of those 800 000 NZers who were enrolled but never bothered to vote.

Here is that speech by Cunliffe gave in 2012…


April 29, 2012 at 8:38pm

Speech to the New Lynn Women’s’ Branch, New Zealand Labour Party, 29 April 2012

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

David Cunliffe, MP for New Lynn, Labour Economic Development Spokesperson.


You know that at the last election, the one that we lost so badly, nearly 1 million people didn’t vote. Over 800,000 people: a fifth of the population didn’t vote.

Now you know, there are lots of reasons that people didn’t vote, and there were even more reasons why people didn’t vote for Labour. Let me give you just a few.

The major reason that voters didn’t vote for Labour, and sometimes didn’t vote at all, is simply that Labour failed to inspire voters that it was a credible alternative to National.

This is the first of a series of speeches on economic development. I am going to start with the basics – why the invisible hand of the market failed us and why we need a clear and distinct Labour view on economics; why you can’t cut and sell your way out of an economic hole; and what a Labour economic development plan should contain. We need to be clear about the context before we can go on the policy journey.

I want to be clear from the outset that this speech represents my own views and does not pretend to represent overall Labour policy. All policies are being reviewed in the post-election period.


The Invisible Hand

The Labour Party was traditionally a left-wing party. Before we debate the future of the Labour Party, we should define what the terms left and right-wing mean.

Left-wing generally means community ownership and or control and/or responsibility.

Right wing means individual ownership and/or control and/or responsibility. By modern standards, even the National party would have been a left-wing party until the 1990s. That’s because most New Zealanders accepted the idea that the government has not just a right, but also a duty to be there for them.

New Zealanders wisely accepted that finance companies needed regulation. New Zealanders wisely accepted that it was the government’s job to ensure that the electricity didn’t go off. They wisely accepted that it was the government’s job to ensure the children didn’t grow up in poverty, that medical care was available for people who needed it, that decent housing was available for the poor and the elderly.

However, by the 1980s, the New Zealand economic system had grown clumsy and slow. Most people agreed that it was in need of reform. That’s what most people wanted, economic reform. That is, they wanted the existing system, but they wanted it to function more smoothly, more efficiently and more fairly. They did not want it replaced with a system that simply handed over most of the wealth and power to rich people.

Yet, that’s what happened, and to our eternal shame, the Labour Party was the party that introduced many of the so-called economic reforms that have proved so disastrous.

The National Government that followed it took the experiment further; with the ‘Mother of All Budgets’ that savaged social services, more privatization and deregulation, and the odious Employment Contracts Act that set us on the path of becoming a low wage economy.

You hear the National government talking about the need to sell assets because we have so little money in this country. Do you know why we have so little money in this country? It’s because a large percentage of our economic assets are overseas-owned. For example, when the Australian-owned banks make billions in profits here (and it’s up a quarter to a third this year alone). That money isn’t returned to New Zealanders. The money goes straight back overseas.

And, as if that were not bad enough, the National government now wants to sell our other major state assets, which is simply going to mean higher prices for ordinary New Zealanders and it’s going to mean still more profits disappearing overseas. It’s madness, and you know it’s madness and most ordinary Kiwis know it’s madness.

But let’s go back a bit.

I know that most of the people in this room think of the 1970s as a period of long-haired hippies and revolution. However, beneath the events that were happening on the surface, there was a much more sinister revolution going on in the background.

While the hippies were out protesting in the streets, a professor at the University of Chicago called Milton Friedman, was selling his students the idea that taxation was evil and that businesses worked best when they were deregulated.

Does this sound familiar? It should be. The Republican Party in the US, the Conservative Party in England and the Labour Party in New Zealand enthusiastically took up Friedman’s philosophy, which is now called neo-liberalism. Neo-liberalism has become such a dominant economic philosophy that it is now the only economic philosophy taught in many universities.

Friedman revived a belief in the “invisible hand” of the market. It was a fairy tale that Adam Smith had said a century earlier would automatically deliver the best of all possible economic worlds.

Of course many of the rogues who benefited from it have never believed that – they remember how they got rich. However, neo-liberalism was a convenient way of selling the idea of inequality to the masses.


Hands off our assets!

Let me repeat, none of this happened by accident. The people who were the most enthusiastic supporters of neo-liberalism were the people who stood to make the most money from it. Let me give you just one example:

In the 1980s and 1990s, merchant bankers Michael Fay and David Richwhite were advisors to government.

Michael Fay and David Richwhite recommended that the government sell the state-owned New Zealand Rail.

The government agreed and put the company up for sale. Fay and Richwhite and some partners, then purchased New Zealand Rail at a bargain price.

That’s right: Michael Fay and David Richwhite, the consultants that government hired to advise them on state asset sales, advised the government to sell New Zealand Rail, then Michael Fay and David Richwhite bought a large chunk of New Zealand Rail.

The story gets worse: Fay and Richwhite and their partners then sold many of New Zealand Rail’s most valuable assets, such as land, without improving the company as a true rail operator would.

Then, in 1995, Fay and Richwhite sold their shares in New Zealand Rail, having made hundreds of millions in profits.  Because Fay and Richwhite had sold many of New Zealand Rail’s most valuable assets without investing in trains or tracks, New Zealand Rail was virtually bankrupt.

The government was then forced to spend hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money to keep the rail service operating.  Does this sound crazy? It is.

This sort of madness has been repeated all over the world, and it’s always the ordinary taxpayers like you, who end up paying the bills.

Roll the clock forward to the current National Government and nothing has changed except the packaging.

They can try to soft-soap it by calling it the “mixed ownership model”. But you and I and the 10,000 other New Zealanders who marched up Queen Street yesterday to fight it – know it is still privatization.

We know why privatizing our power companies is nonsense.

Generations of Kiwis worked to build up those assets and we don’t need to be told we have to buy them all over again. That’s assuming we could afford them of course.

The fact is that when sold, they will not be state owned enterprises covered by the SOE Act at all – they will simply be companies like any other – in which the taxpayer has a much reduced shareholding.

We know they make a healthy return for the taxpayer now. In fact, over the last three years the total return was around 16% – far higher than the cost of Crown capital at around 6%.

They pay good dividends –over $300m a year for the last four years. But the Government deliberately failed to show that in the Budget documents when it banked the supposed sale proceeds well before the last election.

To complete the hypocrisy, the government is now saying the loss of dividends is so low that no sane buyer would pay the money they want without driving your power prices through the roof.

National tried to buy iwi support by saying treaty rights would be protected. I doubt this, but even if true it would mean the taxpayer bears 100% of that risk including on behalf of the new private investors.

Yet the biggest porky of them all – that the government would retain majority ownership and control. Yeah right. Not when SOEs like KiwiRail are already busy flogging off major components like Hillside Workshops. Not when SOE bosses told Parliament they are free to sell off 100% of subsidiaries.

In other words, the SOEs are like a horse. The government intends selling the horse off bit by bit, leaving the taxpayer owning nothing more than the saddle.

The fact is, this is old fashioned privatization with new spin and the same old result. The people lose. The ticket clippers win (it costs up to $300 million in banker fees to sell the shares!). And the voter is told to “eat that”.

So how do these rogues get away with it?

The answer is twofold: on one hand, the news media has been a solid supporter of neo-liberalism.

Did you know, for example, that British Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, regularly lunched with Rupert Murdoch, the far-right media boss? Tony, apparently, used to test which policies would be acceptable to Murdoch.

Thus we have a far-right media boss influencing the policies of what was supposed to be the party of the people. It’s shameful.

The second reason these rogues get away with it is because, as the Tony Blair example shows so clearly, the opposition parties, which are supposed to be the solution, too often become part of the problem.

When the right-wing party says that it’s going to cut your leg off, voters want the left-wing party to say that it’s not going to cut your leg off. Voters don’t want to be told that the left-wing party is also going to cut your leg off, but cut it off a bit lower down and give you some anesthetic.

I think that’s a major reason that nearly one million voters deserted us at the last election. It wasn’t because we failed to communicate our policies. Quite the opposite. Those voters saw that our policies – with the exception of asset sales – were mostly the same as National’s. So we can’t really be surprised at the result.


Towards a New Economy

So where to from here? Let’s be absolutely clear – New Zealand cannot cut and sell its way to National’s so-called “brighter future”.

New Zealand cannot simply milk more cows and hope that commodity prices stay up.

Nor can we pretend that mining national parks won’t destroy our precious global brand.

National has no new ideas and no credible plan. It has laundry lists of actions, many of which take us in the wrong direction.

The reason is that they still fundamentally believe that some combination of the “invisible hand” of free markets, and the “sleight of hand’ of dirty deals with casinos, dotcoms, film and media magnates, and telcos, will do the job.

The good news, if you can call it good news, is that the economic myths that drove the world into this current mess are starting to unravel. Let me quote economics writer Bernard Hickey, who regularly contributes to the New Zealand Herald:


It’s time for me to say what I’ve been thinking for months: the economic god of completely free markets and capital flows is not worth believing in any more.


I think the Global Financial Crisis …has demonstrated the failure of the economic model most New Zealand policymakers have adhered to for nearly 3 decades.


I think we need to rethink the way we run monetary policy, the way we allow foreign ownership of assets, the way we encourage savings, the way our financial institutions are regulated and [to] change the things we are aiming for.”


All around the world, this realization is sinking in: the unregulated marketplace has been a disaster, and the costs have always been borne by ordinary people.

Europe’s current economic crisis was caused by bankers who loaned money on riskier and riskier ventures until the whole structure collapsed.

Were those bankers jailed and their assets seized? Of course not. Instead of the bankers paying the bills for their reckless speculation, the ordinary taxpayers are being screwed, left, right and centre.

And you know what? Despite all the promises that the European economic austerity measures would turn this tragic situation around, the opposite is occurring.

Austerity economics does not work. It did not work in the Great Depression of the 1930s and it will not work in the Great Recession of the current decade.

When you start closing down your government services and firing your workers, those people have no money to spend. Because they have no money to spend, the local businesses suffer. So they start firing staff. And so the economy goes into deep recession, with no easy way out.

Am I the only one who thinks this is complete lunacy?

You know, these problems that we face today stem from a lack of appropriate regulation or a lack of enforcement of existing regulations.

The global financial crisis was caused by unregulated banking. Leaky building syndrome was caused by deregulating the building industry. The Pike River mining disaster has raised numerous questions about deregulation of the mining industry. Does anyone still seriously believe that big business can be safely left to regulate itself?

Yet, regulation has become a dirty word.

Do I favour regulating the lives of ordinary New Zealanders? Certainly not: I have great faith in ordinary New Zealanders.

Do I favour supporting positive businesses? You’re damned right I do. Businesses help create jobs and economic growth. I want to see a future Labour government get stuck in and do more to help the economy grow.

Do I support all businesses? No way. Businesses that let workers die unnecessarily, or abuse and exploit their workers, or steal from old people: all these business need a strong, legal response from the state.

All this requires regulation, and it’s there to protect ordinary people from becoming victims of greed.

Labour is strong on encouraging positive business and positive economic growth. And Labour is also about legislating to control negative businesses and their effects on our people and our environment.

Caught between a naïve belief in free markets and direct pressure from vested interests, National is unwilling to confront the downsides of unregulated markets.

Fortunately we’re not. And an increasing number of journalists and politicians are saying what ordinary people already know: that the economic policies of the last 30 years have mostly been an unmitigated disaster.

But you’d never know this if you listened to John Key. Like a quack doctor whose cure has failed, his response is to double the dose until the patient is dead.

Sorry, John, but let me quote Sir Winston Churchill:

“The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.”

No matter how many politicians and economists still defend the economic policies that led us into this mess, the truth is steadily showing itself.

You know, there’s not much difference between a Wellington school teacher struggling to find an affordable home and a Northland freezing worker who’s just lost his job. Whether we earn our living by our hands or by our words, we’re all working people, whose lives have grown harder and whose world has grown steadily darker. We’re all in this together.

We all resent those who squander our tax dollars by helping out large corporations, while we struggle to pay our mortgages. We all resent those who seek to sell the very state assets that help keep us afloat. We all resent those who claim to represent us in Parliament, but who really represent the rich and the powerful, at our expense

Instead of National’s failed economic model, we need a simple, credible economic development plan that serves the interests of all New Zealanders.

One that keeps more of what we earn here in the country we love.



I believe the Labour Party is now uniquely positioned to take up the reins when this current government’s policies collapse under their own weight.

Labour has a new leader with strong values, who’s focused on reconnecting with the voters and has the courage to stand up to bullies. It’s up to us, as a Party, to share with our leader, our hopes, our fears and our dreams, to reconstruct the Party from within, to reclaim our natural constituency of decent, ordinary New Zealanders who believe in fairness and hard work.

Now it’s up to us to turn this around: a hard task, but not an impossible one.

When Labour proposed a nuclear-free policy, it was seen as an impossible dream. Yet nearly thirty years’ later, this dream is a solid reality, and it’s helped protect us from the sort of nuclear disaster that Japan has just endured.

The New Zealand Labour Party faced enormous pressure, from inside and outside New Zealand, to back down and change its anti-nuclear policy.

But we didn’t. And we don’t have to back away from creating policies that can turn us away from the economic insanity of the last three decades. New Zealanders are decent, fair-minded, hard-working people. We want a government that reflects our own uniquely Kiwi values.

It’s going to be hard, but we’re not afraid of hard work. With your help, and the help of the people of New Zealand, we can win the next election.

We can move forward to a future that rewards hard work and stops rewarding dishonesty. That gives the poorest of our citizens the chance to a decent life. That gives us all a chance to live in a nation that was once called ‘God’s own country.”

We can become God’s own country again. Thank you.

…I  believe that David Cunliffe was interrupted and during this upcoming leadership challenge, I want him to continue from where he left off. I have not endorsed any candidate to date, as I genuinely want to hear what each of them have to say in terms of replacing this Government with one that I believe can address the deep inequality and poverty issues we currently face.
When an architect for the Death Star like Matthew Hooton, (who recently on Twitter referred to Nicky Hager as a ‘pr0 Al Queda Commo C**t’) is flipping out at a Labour leader who would publicly utter ‘Socialism’ and ‘inequality’ while boasting to raise taxes, you know something good is happening.
Labour will be a stronger, better Party for this leadership challenge. It will enthuse the base and get the eventual leader match fit for the 2014 election. Expect the Right and big money to start a hate campaign against Labour the like we haven’t seen.


  1. Maybe New Zealand could become world leaders once again – in tearing down these failed Free Market/Capitalism policies which have benefited only one group of people: those who initially advocated them.

    The more I hear of David Cunliffe, the more I realise that he can not only defeat John Key, but actually inspire New Zealanders to finally throw away the policies of Rogernomics, Thatcherism, Reaganism, and all the other horrible policies around the world.

    It’s been 30 years now, we’ve had enough!

  2. “Expect the Right and big money to start a hate campaign against Labour the like we haven’t seen.”

    Let’s give them a good fight. The kiwi franchise of our vicious global plutocracy have a legion of useful second-tier idiots like Hooton, but we can win if we work hard to deconstruct their message and expose their shrill shills preaching the gospel of pure self interest.

    Destroy the Randroids!

    • Yes, I agree with your sentiments, Cemetry Jones, and may I add:

      “Expect the Right and big money to start a hate campaign against Labour the like we haven’t seen.”

      This statement could only ever be an understatement and the reason why is due to what this speech of Mr Cunliffe’s contains.

      “Expect a hate campaign”

      To me, this means take every bit of information provided about in the lamestream media Mr Cunliffe and put it in the shredder of your mind.

      Do not believe the hogwash.

      Remind yourself what positions of privilege that the neo-liberalist has granted some people i.e. money and power and think about what they will do to keep that position.

      They will lie, they will take a tiny bit of truth and twist it out of recognition, they will take your greatest bias and appeal to it. All these things will be done so that you vote against your own interests and for theirs.

      Don’t believe them!

      Fact: Neo-liberalism is a massive failure.
      Fact: The small group of people who have been advantaged by this system have accumulated a lot of money and thus power
      Fact This is unfair and they DO NOT care
      Fact: They DO NOT care about you, or your best interests.
      Fact: There is nothing that these types will not do to hold their positions.



      • Correction: ..take every bit of information provided in the lamestream media about Mr Cunliffe and put it in the shredder of your mind.

        (A cut and pasting error, sorry!)

  3. “Expect the Right and big money to start a hate campaign against Labour the like we haven’t seen.”

    Yes, but the way National go about it will be interesting. I don’t see them going for the throat excessively over the next 3 weeks, but I guess we’ll soon see. I think National know that Cunliffe has the leadership in the bag. They managed to choose the leader last time, but not this time.
    Therefore, National’s plan will be to play the long game. The idea of disunity in Labour will be taken care of by Cunliffe listing his MPs appropriately and thus extinguishing National’s first point of attack. This only leaves two options: paint Labour’s probable coalition as extreme left (yes, haha), and also paint Cunliffe as a rich snob who is power hungry and uses empathy as a vehicle for power.
    Painting the coalition as left won’t really work as environmental politics has been mainstreamed – ironically by National themselves as they have incorporated neoliberal sustainability (which of course only sustains environmental destruction). As a result they will focus on Norman’s apparent socialism and also push the fear and mythical racism of Hone (which shamefully most of NZs left also buy into).
    Perhaps Cunliffe’s personal wealth will be National’s main target and weapon. To counter this Labour must control the framing of Cunliffe. Thankfully Cunliffe has the ability to do so, but they must be well prepared because John Armstrong is John Armstrong and Patrick Gower’s pay-packet still bulges with the interest-free money kindly donated by slippery’s henchmen.
    Let’s hope Cunliffe has an image team is onto it. I’d suggest Cunliffe should come out and say why he is going to tax himself and his wife. He could say that under Key his wealth is part of the problem and under Key their family create poverty

    • @ Fatty,

      Yes, what you say re possible plan of spin attack sounds very plausible, for one thing, they are already sending out those messages that you speak of.

      It is very good having people point out what they see, helps all of us see through it, thanks.

      Hopefully you (and others) will continue to do this.

  4. It is a great article and it is inspiring to see Cunliffe finally talking about the huge gorilla in Labour’s room, namely the role of Roger Douglas in the fate of Aotearoa over the last thirty years or so, as the instigator of neoliberal capitalism. He may yet be brought to justice. Pity that even in such a hopeful article, Bradbury can’t drop his baby boomer obsession. As well to start blaming generation x and y for not protesting enough. It is victim blaming pure and simple in that people are the fodder of neoliberal capitalism irrespective of their age, gender etc., and this talk is divisive at a time when we need everyone who will oppose this scourge.

    • “It is victim blaming pure and simple in that people are the fodder of neoliberal capitalism irrespective of their age, gender”

      Yes and no. Neoliberalism negatively affects women far more. Neoliberalism also negatively affects ages outside of an individual’s prime earning period – that’s why the baby boomers voted it in when they were at their earning prime.
      To say that analysis is decisive is short sighted. Oppression intersects at multiple levels. By individualising the generational critique, you offer little more than a neoliberal analysis of neoliberalism.
      Just a guess, but are you a male/boomer/Pakeha? Your ‘we’re all in this together’ is a thing of the past.
      Get over it and stop turning a macro-critique into a micro argument

      • Neoliberalism wasn’t actually voted in. People voted for Labour to get rid of Muldoon. They voted for Lange’s and Prebble’s Save the Rail campaign. They voted for an end to the politics of envy. Neoliberalism came in via a palace coup and the rail was saved for Fay Richwhite. Plenty of male boomers marched against it, while plenty on the left called us agents of National for opposing Douglas’s obscenities.

        So, excuse me, but I will protest when Bomber or anyone else blames my generation for the mess we’re in. As with any generation, some of us fought, many of us embraced the crap, and it was actually the generations after us that became the most fervent followers of the market. Blaming us as a generation is pointless and wrong. Those who fought then are fighting now, and we won’t be stopping any time soon.

        • OK, voted for it since 1987.
          The generations after the boomers have given up on politics. They don’t vote. Then they got called the ‘me generation’ by the babyboomers for not voting for boomer centric policies. Gen X and Gen Y were never able to vote anything in, they were always in the shadow of the boomers.
          The babyboomers not only voted for everything that suited their stage of life, but they also depoliticised the generations after them. Don’t worry, neoliberalism will run its course when boomers run their course. Its a tough reality for you ethical boomers to comprehend, but I don’t know why.
          All the oldies on the Standard blow on about how destructive neoliberalism is to the vulnerable, but if you point out that neoliberalism appeared when boomers got to their earning prime, they get all shitty and defensive.

  5. Agree that it is a very good sign indeed when right-wingers go toxic at the prospect of a Cunliffe-led Labour. You only have to glance (and a glance is all you will be able to stomach) at the hate speech in the comments on Whaleoil whenever David Cunliffe is discussed. The mere possiblity of him anywhere near the leadership pushes their little blue buttons so hard, they squeal like stuck little blue-blooded silver spoon piggies.

  6. Have you noticed the Hooten’s, Armstrong’s, O’Sullivan’s and all the other MSM talking heads are bringing out the knives for a bit of back stabbing and that other powerful put down….damning with faint praise – Armstrong’s favourite MO for anyone on the Labour benches.
    But if Key really and truly stuffs up – the Campbell Live interview – he is lauded as being inspirational, a winner etc etc. No he is not, he is bloody rude, arrogant and I ran out of fingers when counting the disinformation, misinformation and straight out lies – all there in the Campbell interview.
    We are in for a rough ride “comrades” – love it. Hold breath, the nose and may just have to phone talkback…..now that is taking loyalty a tad too far……to respond to the “far right’s” cat fights. When are we going to be allowed to drop the false “centre right” label and say it how it is in Natz territory…..bloody fascists….. as they worship the corporate world.
    p.s. Did you smile, purr, at the “socialist’ word dropped by Cunliffe…woohoo. 🙂 🙂

    • Yes ha ha I did…the mere mention of the word ‘socialism’ from D.C’S lips would have been like the morning sun hitting the vampire N
      ats before they had time to crawl back into their stinking hideouts!

      Go Cunliffe

  7. hooton is a touchstone for all that’s dishonest venal smarmy and disgusting in nz politics and even the Nats despised him according to their emails in Hagar’s wonderful history ‘Hollow Men’.

    Reading hootons histrionic tweets is so funny. Looking forward to when he gets seriously drinking after Cunliffe wins… oh dear no more taxpayer handouts for his consulting firm from the Beehive.

    whaleoil in makeup

  8. We have a short window of opportunity to get the government ‘by the people, for the people’ which New Zealand desperately needs.

    Neo-liberalism is designed by the 1% for the benefit of the 1%, who forcibly siphon upwards the wealth amassed from the misery of workers at the bottom of the heap, and in addition shrink down the formerly prosperous, educated middle class to ‘newly poor’ status. In New Zealand this process is accelerating under the National Government. Globally the 1% pay no taxes as they shift trillions around via unaccountable tax havens, thus growing stolen wealth and exponentially increasing the gap between rich and poor. This template which currently plagues society is designed to keep the poor in perpetual thralldom, and the opportunities still existing in current democracies for betterment through education or health are being systematically dismantled by right wing governments worldwide.

    Chris Trotter’s 22.7 2013 Daily Blog: ‘Cuckoo in the Nest: In the Name of God, David Shearer, Go!’ certainly got me thinking.

    Who is the real David Shearer? The ‘perceived history’ of this man, who parachuted in to achieve a meteoric and unlikely rise through Labour Party ranks, just does not add up. Curiously, as chosen leader Shearer forgot to declare an offshore $50,000 bank account. In addition he unethically concealed from the party his unofficial, ‘confidential’ GCSB meeting with John Key. Then the ‘ineffectual and lacklustre’ Shearer resigned the very day after the passing of the GCSB Bill. What does this all mean? Is it all co-incidence?

    There seem to be two David Shearers. The lukewarm politician who trips over his words, and the Shearer who advocated for private mercenary armies while studying at the London IISS, with its strong links to MI6 spooks, and who later became the Deputy-Special Representative to UN Secretary-General Ban Ky Moon in Iraq.

    An orchestrated extreme rightwing campaign against people’s favourite David Cunliffe destabilised the Labour Party process sufficiently to deny the country the strong policies which he would have championed, resulting in Shearer’s appointment. Following this nearly catastrophic blunder, Labour must not allow neoliberal policy to subvert rank and file party members’ will again.

    We cannot afford another ‘Cuckoo in the Labour Nest’.

  9. It was this speech, and the response from his own colleagues that made me and most of my extended family decide to NEVER vote Labour again – that is until Labour clearly and unambiguously ditched the neo-liberal agenda.
    Depending on the outcome of the leadership contest, they may get back a vote – but given that its now nearly 3 decades of this crap (that even Lange likened to a religion), it’ll be 2017 before I completely return to the fold.
    That is of course if Labour is still around then – because IF they fail to ditch the failed dogma that is neo-liberalism – they’ll be taking the fastest route to irrelevance I can think of.
    There are ALWAYS alternatives!

  10. David Graeber has an interesting, recent article touching on neoliberalism that does much to explain Hooton’s apoplexy.

    Here’s the guts of it:

    Is it possible that this preemptive attitude toward social movements, the designing of wars and trade summits in such a way that preventing effective opposition is considered more of a priority than the success of the war or summit itself, really reflects a more general principle? What if those currently running the system, most of whom witnessed the unrest of the sixties firsthand as impressionable youngsters, are—consciously or unconsciously (and I suspect it’s more conscious than not)—obsessed by the prospect of revolutionary social movements once again challenging prevailing common sense?

    It would explain a lot. In most of the world, the last thirty years has come to be known as the age of neoliberalism—one dominated by a revival of the long-since-abandoned nineteenth-century creed that held that free markets and human freedom in general were ultimately the same thing. Neoliberalism has always been wracked by a central paradox. It declares that economic imperatives are to take priority over all others. Politics itself is just a matter of creating the conditions for growing the economy by allowing the magic of the marketplace to do its work. All other hopes and dreams—of equality, of security—are to be sacrificed for the primary goal of economic productivity. But global economic performance over the last thirty years has been decidedly mediocre. With one or two spectacular exceptions (notably China, which significantly ignored most neoliberal prescriptions), growth rates have been far below what they were in the days of the old-fashioned, state-directed, welfare-state-oriented capitalism of the fifties, sixties, and even seventies. By its own standards, then, the project was already a colossal failure even before the 2008 collapse.

    If, on the other hand, we stop taking world leaders at their word and instead think of neoliberalism as a political project, it suddenly looks spectacularly effective. The politicians, CEOs, trade bureaucrats, and so forth who regularly meet at summits like Davos or the G20 may have done a miserable job in creating a world capitalist economy that meets the needs of a majority of the world’s inhabitants (let alone produces hope, happiness, security, or meaning), but they have succeeded magnificently in convincing the world that capitalism—and not just capitalism, but exactly the financialized, semifeudal capitalism we happen to have right now—is the only viable economic system. If you think about it, this is a remarkable accomplishment.

    How did they pull it off? The preemptive attitude toward social movements is clearly a part of it; under no conditions can alternatives, or anyone proposing alternatives, be seen to experience success. This helps explain the almost unimaginable investment in “security systems” of one sort or another: the fact that the United States, which lacks any major rival, spends more on its military and intelligence than it did during the Cold War, along with the almost dazzling accumulation of private security agencies, intelligence agencies, militarized police, guards, and mercenaries. Then there are the propaganda organs, including a massive media industry that did not even exist before the sixties, celebrating police. Mostly these systems do not so much attack dissidents directly as contribute to a pervasive climate of fear, jingoistic conformity, life insecurity, and simple despair that makes any thought of changing the world seem an idle fantasy. Yet these security systems are also extremely expensive. Some economists estimate that a quarter of the American population is now engaged in “guard labor” of one sort or another—defending property, supervising work, or otherwise keeping their fellow Americans in line. Economically, most of this disciplinary apparatus is pure deadweight.

    In fact, most of the economic innovations of the last thirty years make more sense politically than economically. Eliminating guaranteed life employment for precarious contracts doesn’t really create a more effective workforce, but it is extraordinarily effective in destroying unions and otherwise depoliticizing labor. The same can be said of endlessly increasing working hours. No one has much time for political activity if they’re working sixty-hour weeks.

    It does often seem that, whenever there is a choice between one option that makes capitalism seem the only possible economic system, and another that would actually make capitalism a more viable economic system, neoliberalism means always choosing the former.


    Perhaps it’s time to attack neoliberalism at its weakest point.

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