Watching the Labour leadership contest from afar, it looks certain that there will be a shift to the left at the level of the parliamentary leader. In a few days we will know who will lead and how fundamental the shift might be but you can be certain the protectors of privilege will not sit idly by as spectators.
A Labour/Green coalition Government is a distinct possibility in 2014 if these two parties can portray a coherent alternative set of policies, give an impression of leadership ability and credibility and most critical of all, give voters a sense that they can vote for Parties that will implement real change.
Social Democratic and Labour parties are at a low ebb. Conservatives and neo liberal champions of austerity rule throughout most of the OECD. Labor in Australia has been punished for infighting and incoherence. The Conservatives have just won in Norway despite 3% unemployment and a quality system of comprehensive public education, health and social security (and oil) overseen by 6 years of Social Democratic Government.
In the Anglo Saxon world there is a tendency to try to get elected by sending a message to voters that Labour will remove the hard edges of finance capitalism and will not be as bad as ‘the other lot’.
This is not a convincing message.
The only message that is worth promoting is that there are alternative policies to reduce inequality, build social cohesion and protect the environment and to spell out those policies as a genuine alternative social and economic model.
But here’s the catch. If we are to be honest with the electorate we must also explain that powerful economic forces will do their utmost to undermine a progressive agenda. Capital will Strike! Remember the sudden overnight drop in the value of the NZ dollar during the winter of 2000 when the newly elected Labour Government was preparing to introduce new employment laws?
Capital will disinvest. Capital will sabotage. There will be dire warnings of apocalyptic economic collapse. We need to prepare the electorate to weather such a storm and to stand up for their rights in the face of corporate bullying.
Consider the following:
The UK Financial Times (11/09/13) reported that Europe’s plan for an expansive financial tax hit a wall when a top legal adviser to finance ministers concluded that such a tax would infringe on EU treaties, exceed national jurisdictions and discriminate against States that were ‘non participatory’. This is a major blow to plans for a €35billion levy which seeks to tax institutions according to where their headquarters are based, rather than where the trade is executed. The tax is designed to catch trades in such markets as London, New York and Singapore.
On the other hand the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is being designed to remove the right of nation states to legislate in the public interest if such legislation has a detrimental effect on the present and future profits of corporates.
We need to fight and we need to win for present and future generations of New Zealanders but do not think for one moment that we live in an isolated community or that we can change without significant sacrifices being made in the transition to a fairer society.