How does the progressive political movement in NZ win 2014 election?



Election year in Aotearoa. Time for political meetings, delivering pamphlets, targeting messages and getting out the vote.

Of all these activities getting out the vote is the most critical. Motivating the alienated, apathetic and dispossessed to vote is a productive and lasting political strategy. Pitching to the centre may, just may, win an election but it further entrenches the politics of the right and deepens and sustains the disaffection
At this point I am not willing to predict who will be in Government by the end of 2014.

I am however, prepared to risk laying out a prescription for long term political success. It involves governing in the interests of the majority, protecting and promoting the rights of all, acting urgently to mitigate the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the environment, and utterly rejecting the economic fallacy of neo liberalism in order that a more equal society can be restored.

It is time for the restoration, not of divine kings this time but of an egalitarian society where every New Zealander is free from poverty and its deprivations and can access the opportunity to live a full and rewarding life.

This means politicians giving some clear messages.

The first is that a transition to a just and fair society will not be achieved without pain. There is likely to be capital disinvestment and economic sabotage in the short term.

This should be countered by a confidence that the world is scrambling for sources of protein and NZ is, and should remain, a good source of nutritious food. We do need to protect the environment (including the soil) by diversifying our agricultural base and adopting farming techniques that reduce our dependence on oil.

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We should also invest heavily in education as the cornerstone of our future innovation and prosperity.

The second message that must be made clear is that taxation is the price of civilization. We are getting the politicians we deserve. We vote for people who consistently promise lower taxes and better services. The evidence of this lie is all around us in declining health and education statistics and a growth in inequality.
A fair society requires a higher level of taxation and tax should be assessed in a manner in which wealth pays more. Tax evasion and avoidance kills. If you think this statement extreme you should get out more.

A society is safer if individuals have a stake in that society. Monetary and broader economic policy should have full employment as its primary goal.

Collective bargaining and regulated labour markets deliver higher incomes to working families. The evidence is there. Say it boldly, then regulate for it.

Privatisation transfers wealth from all of us to a few of us. Privately run companies are not intrinsically or evidentially better run than public entities.

Equality of access to quality public health and education services is a marker for a fair and just society.

These are the main areas for policy, backed up by international research. A new Government must act according to its policy and be honest with the voters.

Labour and the Greens should demonstrate early this year that they will work together to govern in the peoples interests.

There is nothing to be gained by petty politics. It turns people off and keeps them away from the ballot box. Forget about the 24 hours news cycle – it encourages ad hoc policy, tabloid reactions and personality politics. People want a more just and fairer society – don’t discourage them by acting for perceived short term political gain- it creates further disillusionment.

Stop demonising the opposition – it convinces no one and only serves to make politicos feel better momentarily. Prime Minister as Voldemort? Really-give it a break. ‘John Key must go’ – by all means, but many of us remember the price we paid when we got rid of Muldoon without paying too much attention to the economic alternative. Concentrate on a positive future for New Zealand and model the behavior that might make people proud of their leaders.

The price of not offering a real social and economic alternative and opting for a lighter or softer neo- liberal policy framework is evidenced almost everywhere in the OECD. Labour and Social Democratic Parties are not convincing anybody that they can deliver real change in peoples’ lives because they are defensive and have become apologists for a failed economic model. In Europe, many unemployed young people and the working poor are turning to right wing nationalist parties with anti- immigration and racist policies. This is a political vacuum left by the inadequacy of the social democratic response.

It is time for a beautiful nation of creative and enterprising people in the South Pacific to once more take a lead. Be bold and direct.


  1. Be bold and direct you say ? All righty then .

    After years of self serving , personal wealth creating , head tinkering neoliberalism we Kiwis can barely make a fist much less an informed vote .
    Before our ‘ beautiful nation ‘ can take a dump without someone holding it’s widdle hand it must be re booted .
    Compulsory voting is essential if voting is seen to be the thing to fix this cluster fuck of swindles . Otherwise most of us creative and enterprising people won’t be arsed to go to anywhere on voting day except to the pub .
    I agree that NZ is an agricultural economy . We do produce nutritious food . The British who come here and tell us we do . We can’t actually buy our own best food here in our own supermarkets because the best of it is exported by crooks well settled into our supply infrastructure like ticks on a cows arse . That , and it’s too expensive anyway .
    What we’re left with is seconds or thirds and now I see that the poorer people are left eating scraps thrown away by the supermarkets . A duopoly of supermarkets owned by crooks excreted by pig muldoon and his neoliberal protégé I might add . Is that not so sir fuck face brierley with your little , hitler mustache ? I have to laugh . I drove past some of your handy work just the other day when I was in Ch Ch . I drove by the Edmonds Sure To Rise location . An iconic statement of can do , Kiwi goodness . Ar at least it was until you pulled the factory down and built a fucking gas station over its grave site .
    I’m sorry to say James but the day of fluffy smoochums has gone . We Kiwis need to roll our sleeves up .
    If we want all the nice things about being a lucky Kiwi in Aotearoa back again we need to fight for it .
    And speaking of opposition parties squabbling ? David Cunliffe should head butt jonky then give him a decent kicking . For us all .

    • Compulsory voting eh, does that mean we get a “No Confidence” option? Oh that’s right, registering for the electoral roll and not voting – as 800,000 kiwis chose to do in the last election – *is* our “No Confidence” option.

    • I don’t think compulsory voting is the way to go.

      People get an aversion to authority particularly (but not solely) when their interests are not being represented by those authorities. Forcing people to vote will just get those people more pissed off (as illustrated in the comments section of the last article about the importance of voting by Martyn Bradbury). Such people can simply make their vote not count by ticking too many boxes on the voting paper- or even worse – they might simply tick the first person/party on the list.

      People need to be supplied with the information on the advantages of voting and in that way be motivated to vote.

      Those staying at home out of a disgust to what has been and is occurring must be made to see the connection how not voting supports the status quo and often allows governments to push through unpopular and destructive policies such as has occurred with the asset sales programme with this government.

  2. Collective bargaining and regulated labour markets deliver higher incomes to working families. The evidence is there. Say it boldly, then regulate for it.


    As shareholders demand more and more dividends (or else they take their investment elsewhere), that leaves less for remuneration (wages) for those actually doing the work.

    Right wingers demand to know where the money will come from to raise wages. I say, the money is already there; it’s just being funneled into the wrong pockets.

    That’s one of the reasons wages are higher in Australia – stronger unions negotiating for better wages, instead of allowing it to be pay to shareholders.

    This must change.

    • Unions got us the 40 hour week and meal breaks …companies and by their very charter Corporations have their responsibility to serve only their shareholders by paying the highest dividends ! Nothing humanitarian required, legislation is the only way to protect the humanitarian needs of employees.
      If you look at the remuneration trends since the ’60’s ,less and less money is going to the actual workers and more and more is going to the management and shareholders.

      It’s ironic that today’s retiree’s, who worked through those Halcyon days, are the ones stealing from today’s workers ,intended or not.

    • Youb are right about Austrakian wages being higher due to a history of strong union negotiation, a point which so overlooked by many commentators and politicians here in NZ, and are we doing about things here – this government want to curtail any union power, it has been done very subtely eg 90 day rule etc – lets all wake up and realise that

    • Gosman – “Gosh man” –

      Perhaps look up this:

      And while there is some justified discussion about the significance and reliability of PISA data, there is still reason for concern:

      Particularly the lower achievements of many Pacifica and Maori students should be a concern!

      As for health – perhaps do some research on how all focus has been put onto “elective surgery” results, that have over all improved, but also has the criteria to qualify been tightened, and also has there been concerns about the appalling poor health of certain poor groups in NZ society, again Pacifica and Maori rating poorly, with so called “3rd world diseases” being present in NZ.

      Last not least I know of cuts and capping of spending on mental health, while the government distracts from those general trends, by only emphasizing extra spend on mental health and addiction treatment of prison inmates and youth. They are robbing Peter to pay Paul, and that is what many do not know.

      • Even if you choose to use the Pisa results as evidence, (which you acknowledge is problematic), the recent results are hardly reflective of anything National has done. The vast majority of time spent in schooling by the students involved in the exam was under a Labour led government and involved a new curriculum and new testing regime introduced by that government. If the results fall even further in two or three years then you would have a good case to make. You don’t at the moment.

        • Haha, I am already looking forward to the disaster that the present government’s “charter schools” will provide in future. As for the rest of education, we can thank the Nats for causing much turmoil with pushing for “national standards”, which does nothing to improve educational outcomes.

          There was turmoil about closing certain schools, without proper consultations and considerations, so the Minister got the large share of the parents, teachers and others up in arms against her.

          As for tertiary study we “thank” National to block and discourage the educational access for those over 55 years old, making it impossible, or near impossible for more mature persons to do tertiary study.

          And re those on welfare, that being sole parents, and Living Support beneficiaries (formerly invalid beneficiaries), they are now denied to do any study over level 3 (unless they want to go into huge debt), which they could do with the help of the training incentive allowance, until the Nats put an end to that.

          Thank you Natzies, you have surely (dis)”encouraged” education, let us not even start on adult education offered by schools, which is yet another topic to go on about.

      • Since my education was completed around 20 years ago I don’t think you can use me as evidence of a decline in standards as a result of the current government.

  3. “…..In Europe, many unemployed young people and the working poor are turning to right wing nationalist parties with anti- immigration and racist policies….”


    They want jobs to be available before immigrants take them. Like NZ, immigrants come in first, and the jobs then follow because OF immigration.It’s the quality of the immigrant that matters. Get in the unskilled and you only then get jobs that support them. Get in the highly educated instead, and you then get jobs made available because of them and their skill set.

    That’s not racism either.

  4. The progressive political movement, and with that also the “labour movement” (both clearly overlapping) must simply do the necessary work to dig out and present the true figures on what the National led government has done!

    That is crucial work, absolutely crucial, as we have a largely corporate owned and dominated mainstream media, that also feels the pressures by the advertising industry, who do NOT present us enough of the truth, and the true figures.

    As I already touched on in another comment under this thread, just look at the changes in taxation, and how the burden has clearly been shifted from the higher earners to the lower earners, simply by bringing in tax cuts that essentially benefited the high earners and increased the total tax burden for the low income earners. This is due to the substantial increase of 20 PERCENT of GST:
    (from 01:49 pm, January 06)

    This graph found on the website of the IRD shows it so clearly, what has happened on the tax take side since 2008 (when the Nats took over government), it has led to a massive increase in GST take, while income tax take decreased (and that only slightly):

    You would have to be totally blind or ignorant beyond any chance of being enlightened, to NOT see what has been happening!

    So it is the GST payers, who make up for the hole created by the tax cuts.

    Also has National sold (at discounted sales price rates) up to 49 per cent of two large electricity companies, filling the coffers, to make their budgets look better than they should look like, had they simply been based on the ordinary operating of government’s “business”. With that though they have for future years lost important dividend earnings for the government, which will force government to bring in further “cost cutting” down the line, and we can all work out, where that is likely to happen.

    Yes, welfare will be one area, and here it is the duty of the under-performing welfare spokespersons of Labour and even the Greens, to do more homework, to sit down, to analyse the true figures, and to expose the lies that Paula Bennett and her government mentor mates give us.

    Where have all those people disappeared to, who went off welfare, without going into jobs or education? What is going on with the sick and disabled, and sole parents, who are now ruthlessly pressured to jump through even more, higher held hoops, to meet “requirements” to receive a benefit?

    What about exposing the dishonest “research” that people like a Professor Mansel Aylward from the UK has presented, to tell governments in the UK, Australia and here, that much illness is “simply in the minds of people”, yes, “illness belief”, as he tries to prove with selected, hand picked data from other reports, and with his perverted ‘bio psycho social model’ for assessing sick and disabled for work capacity.

    There is endless stuff to expose this government on, and to show, that they have benefited the top earners, the better off, the rich and the upper end of the middle class, who love to cosy up to the rich, as they aspire to become richer also. They have also done deals with corporate business, given tax exemptions or discounts, bail out money and more, to look after their sponsoring mates in businesses.

    Injustice and inequality, and the dishonest form of government, also taking the human rights and other rights of many, that must be core part of the election year messages and information policies by the progressives in New Zealand.

    We are waiting to be excited, dear Labour MPs and spokespersons, get behind your leader, shape a sold front and get cracking, please, you owe it to your voters, the (neglected) people and the country!

  5. “… many of us remember the price we paid when we got rid of Muldoon without paying too much attention to the economic alternative.”

    Too right, and those who are too young to remember need only look at Obama. We certainly want “Change”, but just because it’s promised, doesn’t mean it will be delivered.

    National Radio’s website reports that scientists are predicting areas of our coastal cities will be underwater in 100 years due to climate change. Meanwhile Cunliffe’s Labour supporting continued coal mining and deep sea oil drilling. If I voted, it wouldn’t be for another smiling hypocrite who’s happy to fiddle while the planet burns, or any party willing to go into coalition with him.

  6. Excellent article, thank you James Ritchie.

    I agree thoroughly with your article and yet one small detail to clarify. It should be about governing in the interests of the greatest number as opposed to ‘the majority’.

    There are a few problems with ‘majority rule’. The asset sales program is an example of one aspect of the problem – a majority of those who voted managed to get this government into power – had National been governing in the interests of the ‘greatest number’ they would have acknowledged that the greatest number of people weren’t advantaged by the sales of assets and would have adjusted their plan accordingly.

    The major problem, however, with aiming at addressing the interests of the majority is the way the importance of minority voices are undermined and ignored.

  7. More Lies.

    The reason wages are higher in Australia is because Australia is a stronger economy. Why? Because they produce what the world wants. The mine their land and they don’t have an immature attitude towards clean, green Nuclear Power. Unions are almost totally irrelevant and only exist to create a small minority of champagne socialists otherwise known as union officials.

    Yet Labour/Greens oppose every policy that might lead to a strengthening of the New Zealand economy. Thankfully we have a great leader in John Key and a National Party that has some understanding of economics.

    New Zealand does not have excessive returns to shareholders. To suggest that shareholders can demand higher dividends by threatening to move their capital is laughable. So what if they move their capital. They have to sell it someone. No effect to the company in question aside from a reduction in the share price.

    As far as educations standards are concerned what did we expect when we instituted the NCEA? It is not a system that promotes achievement so you have to expect education standards to slip.

    Health standards are down due to a lack of responsibility. The “R” word has become a dirty word in New Zealand. Hey who cares if you have more children than you can afford. Have some more welfare. The consequences of socialist policy are coming home to roost.

    • Ummm…….Australia does not have nuclear power. Wages are higher because of the unions, which are still much more effective than in Aotearoa. Gina Stoneheart would like to pay $2/day for gastarbeiter in her mines.
      National’s understanding of economics extends to selling assets that bring in dividends, but as long as someone gets rich off it, fools like you will believe it. Australian payments to single parents are far more generous than Kiwi payments.
      As usual, the lies are coming from your side, the side of shit polishing finance capital. Enjoy it while it lasts. It won’t be long now.

    • To suggest that shareholders can demand higher dividends by threatening to move their capital is laughable. So what if they move their capital. They have to sell it someone. No effect to the company in question aside from a reduction in the share price.

      You are right about this.
      Helen Clarke should have told them to fuck off instead of the third way “prudent” neo-liberalism that dominated her Government

    • Hi Matthew,

      Thanks for giving a clue as to the nature of your comment by providing the two word title. 🙂

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