Labour hamstrung by a sea-anchor of right-wing MPs from the 1980s.

By   /   March 16, 2014  /   78 Comments

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Labour’s biggest challenge is to get rid of this corporate-loving deadwood from its caucus.

and-we-told-them-the-wealth-would-trickle-down

 

I was speaking to a group this weekend on behalf of Mana when I was asked 2 questions: why is it New Zealanders don’t seem to care that we live in a dreadfully unequal country and why did I think John Key seems so unreasonably popular.

These issues are of course linked and I don’t claim to have all the answers but two things seem clear. Firstly most New Zealanders care deeply about inequality which usually features near the top in opinion poll surveys asking people to list the most important issues facing the country.

Secondly, as to why John Key remains so popular, my response was that the issue is not so much that Key remains popular but that Labour has not given us any reason to think they are more than a paler shade of National blue.

David Cunliffe’s election to Labour leader has unfortunately changed very little. Despite the belief Cunliffe would move the party to the left the most significant policy announcements he has made so far has been to say Labour will no longer push for the removal of GST from fresh fruit and vegetables and will not support the first $5,000 of income being tax free.

Both these policies Labour campaigned on in the last election and while neither were radical – simply tinkering with economic policy settings – at least they were progressive and would have brought some small relief to low-income families who typically pay a higher proportion of their income in tax, particularly GST, than any rich lister you could name.

Cunliffe says there are better ways of helping struggling families but it’s hard to have any confidence we will see bold policies to make a significant difference for low and middle-income families.

So why is there no vision for a more equal society and, more importantly, no policy programme to turn from vision to reality? Why is it just more rhetoric without any substance?

The brutal truth is that Labour is being held back by a sea-anchor of MPs from the 1980s who are fiercely resistant to any challenge to the rule of the markets. They built their political careers on the back of rogernomics and they know no other way.

The worst three are Roskill MP Phil Goff (he brought us GST at 10% then 12.5%, introduced huge student fees for tertiary education and he’s a staunch TPPA supporter), Hutt South MP Trevor Mallard (he closed schools, closed more schools and then punched National MP Tau Henare – we can forgive him the latter but not the former) and Rongotai MP Annette King (loyal supporter of neoliberalism for 25 years).

They are supported by others in the old conservative guard such as Labour’s unguided missile Shane Jones.

Each of these MPs sit in safe seats or are high enough up the party list to ensure they retain their seats and their stranglehold on Labour moving to the left. They should all switch sides to National or ACT and be done with it.

Labour’s biggest challenge is to get rid of this corporate-loving deadwood from its caucus.

Until then any move to the left will be stymied.

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78 Comments

  1. Lixin says:

    Thank you John, I would like to think it is that simple. Some of the problem is undoubtedly the old guard hanging in there but I wonder if Cunliffe really has a strong left vision and well thought through policies to make it happen? I haven’t seen any sign of a solid ‘big picture’ so far: some seemingly ad hoc, knee jerk response policy announcements aren’t doing it for me.
    I would like to see the whole thing: all the policies on all the major issues and how they fit together to make the big picture.

    • fatty says:

      “I wonder if Cunliffe really has a strong left vision and well thought through policies to make it happen?”

      Regarding the policies, it’s clear to everyone that Cunliffe has offered us very little so far. The $60 as week to new parents is a temporary bandage at best, and the insurance idea is middle class policy.
      When Cunliffe withdrew the no GST on fruit and first $5000 tax free, I thought this looked good – I thought that Cunliffe was going to announce something bold and different. But it’s been extremely disappointing so far. I’m unsure how Cunliffe’s policies differ from Shearer’s and Goff’s third-way failures?
      As for Cunliffe having a vision, I’m not so sure now. He has the ability to debate his position and make National worried, but it seems as though its all for nothing. If Cunliffe does get in and offers us another 9 years of neoliberalised third-way, then what’s the point? Just so Simon Bridges can become PM in 2023 and drive the screws in deeper than they are now? No thanks, I’d rather Key got in again until Labour get a leader who matches their policies with their rhetoric.

      The silly debate recently about where Key and Cunliffe live was bullshit individualised politics, but Key did touch on an important problem with Cunliffe – the way Cunliffe’s actions contradict reality. But Key was obviously wrong, who gives a shit about how Cunliffe’s address relates to his rhetoric?…what we should be concerned about is how Cunliffe’s policies fail to live up to his rhetoric.

      I think Cunliffe is a very good communicator – so good that it’s covering up his recent policy fails. Cunliffe’s Labour base, and those to the left just can’t support his policies with any real conviction, meanwhile the Tories continue to hate him. Cunliffe hasn’t moved away from the centre at all, and as a result people on the left and right are both disappointed with him. Maybe the Cunliffe die-hards and a few centrists might be interested, but who could he have inspired with those policies? To regain the faith of his base, Cunliffe needs to take a large step to the left – not according to the media, but according to his supporters. If he doesn’t regain the faith of his base, then he’ll only get votes as the lesser of two evils – this means low turnout and a major disinterest in the election.

      If that sounds all doom and gloom, that’s because it is. Cunliffe claimed there would be change, but he’s offered nothing. Failure from Cunliffe to offer a different path could see the younger generation turned off the Labour party for life – just as the past generation was in the 1980s. Considering the current policies from National and Labour, this election won’t make much of a difference to the average Kiwi, but it could signal the end of the Labour Party. Six more months of this and another generation will have lost faith in this haggard old Labour corpse.

      • hetmes says:

        Cunliffe has to clearly communicate Labour’s policies, which might be a problem since he can’t find them on the labour website. Where does one have to go to understand where a Labour led government wants to take the country. In contrast the Greens and National have very comprehensive policies outlined on their websites on any issue that might be important to an individual voter.

        • poem says:

          Then you haven’t bothered to look have you Hetmes, and I suppose you didn’t bother reading David Cunliffe’s very recent speech on the economic upgrade that he has in mind. Its doesn’t make “do nothing but serve themselves” national look good, no wonder the national biased media largely ignored it. The media seem to think they can win national the election, by keeping it as one sided as they can. And what comprehensive polices do national have Hetmes? you mean like the lies of more jobs and a brighter economic future that never actually happened. Or like national shifting NZ’s wealth into the hands of the rich elitist few, ie selling our strategic money making assets against the will of the people, to his offshore interests, flogging off our land and literally selling our resources virtually for free, creating the biggest level of debt in NZ history, allowing America to dictate our laws, and national’s pro foreign line of policy that benefits the likes of China and is killing our manufacturing industry. After all, its EXPORTS that make a country money not IMPORTS, but the way national, and some lame brained economist that national have bought and their media buds talk it up, you would think imports are making this country rich when in reality its not, its just the opposite. Its kind of funny and hypocritical reading a nat like yourself admitting that the Greens have good policies, and they do, but lets face it, they need labour to win to get into government don’t they, because it sure wont be happening under national will it?

          • hetmes says:

            POEM, I searched the Labour website for policies on issues I feel strongly about, but they are simply not there. Yes, speeches, media releases etc, plenty, but policies? NO. I can find plenty of policy information on the National and Green websites, which enables me to make an informed voting decision. I liked Cunliffe’s speech on the economy, but it is up to the Labour Party PR machine to make sure it gets media attention. You can’t blame the media.

            • poem says:

              I have looked at national’s websites, and its the usual list of lies, bullshit and broken promises, Hetmes. Its just more of the same that NZ has gotten over the last 5 years. The election campaign has just begun and like other parties, labour will be rolling out more info on policy as the months go by. But I dare say, it wont affect you Hetmes, you have already prejudged and made up your mind, so it doesn’t matter what Labour has to say does it? No party beats the Greens for the amount of info they put out, they are always electioneering, they are great like that.

            • poem says:

              “Cant blame the media” ? rubbish Hetmes, the media have alot to answer for.

            • Francis says:

              Most of Labour’s officially announced policies are under the Issues section.

              • fatty says:

                Thanks for the link Francis…but one must wonder who had the bright idea of hiding the policies under an ‘issues’ tab.

  2. What Labour doesn’t get is that MMP has given us more choice in politics. If Labour isn’t going to give us left-wing policies, then we’ll vote Green or Mana.

    At the same time, I accept that this is no easy solution. Whilst a “National-lite” Labour might attract swing National-Labour voters – it still isn’t sufficient to “re-brand”* Labour.

    To attract votes, Labour must do more than offer a few slightly-diffferent policies. It must,

    * make voters think about issues and problems

    * offer solutions

    * attract allies to support those solutions (the public presentation of NZ Power was brilliantly done)

    * only make promises it can implement

    * inspire

    * inspire

    * inspire

    The latter three may be the most difficult to achieve, as we now live in a deeply cynical age.

    But that is what will get Labour over the line.

    Think of Norman Kirk and the way he motivated and inspired people.

    When did we last have a Prime Minister who make us this goddamn proud; http://fmacskasy.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/norman-kirk-anti-nuclear-testing-at-moruroa.png

    When?

    (*gawd, I hate that term – anyone know of a better one?!)

  3. I couldn’t agree more. I think David Cunliffe has a genuine desire to implement more progressive left leaning policies but is hamstrung at every turn by the old guard formerly known as the ABCs. Unless something is done by September to address this issue I suspect Labour will not only lose an election but sow the seeds of their demise as a major party player in the NZ political scene.

    Thirty years is a hell of a long time to ignore the wishes of their membership. No one on the left side of the fence wants a National government post 2014 but equally so they don’t want a National-lite alternative.

    I am increasingly disturbed by the actions and public comments of some, in particular Goff and Jones that seem to run against the direction David Cunliffe and the party membership wants for the Labour Party. Almost to the point where I think some would want a Labour loss this year to steer the party back onto the neoliberal path it is presently teetering off somewhat.

    If that means an internal cleansing of the old guard from the shadow caucus then that is what should be done post haste. 2014 is not a time for internal power plays it is the time to rid the throne of the monster that sits upon it.

  4. kevin says:

    Hear hear John.
    Labour is presently acting like a ‘National light’ and wondering WHY they aren’t getting support.
    IF WE WANTED a National style Government, we’d vote for it (or support it in the polls), NOT a ‘National light’ version claiming it was a Labour party, supposedly looking after the vast majority of Kiwis, namely the poor.

  5. John W says:

    Business NZ has allowed Labour to be in office providing some basics are followed.

    Clark / Cullen Kiwisaver did not bring the cry of Communist as the booty was to be fed to the private investment sharks.

    Working for families allowed higher rentals to be charged.

    No regulatory restraints on the Banks.

    No tightening up of labour laws

    etc.

    Challenging the capitalists is not without its dangers particularly when the media is controlled by the right wing old boys network.

    That program of propaganda has to be changed but getting shot down is not always profitable.

    But where are the Labour mouth pieces for structural change.

    Both John A Lee and Kirk are gone.

    • Aaron says:

      You’ve hit the nail on the head their John W. Helen Clark was as leftwing as she could get away with. The only way that Cunliffe will be any more leftwing is if he’s got a very serious public groundswell behind him.

      When the Business Roundtable start issuing instructions to Cunliffe the PM (like they did to Clark) he needs to be able to point to a public that’s genuinely ready to riot or a Labour membership that’s ready to replace him with someone more radical and tell them; sorry guys, my hands are tied.

      Yes, it’s true that the old guard are a problem but the only people who can really do anything about it are the public and the labour party membership. I’d love to hear from those within the party to know what the mood is at the moment.

      Ultimately the neoliberal revolution will be turned back – but it’s going to be those that are going hungry who do it. The fact that we’re all just sitting here discussing whether Cunliffe is genuine or not shows that we’re not hurting enough. Hell the fact that we can afford to have access to the internet probably shows that we’re not hurting enough.

      • Olwyn says:

        A very insightful comment Aaron. I am a member of the Labour Party, and I think that “as far left as you can get away with” is probably as good as it gets at this stage. I would just love to see Cunliffe in the position to say, “If you don’t like me, they’ll replace me with someone scarier,” but the signs of such an eventuality are not looking good at this stage. However, there is a big difference between going “as far left as you can get away with” and abandoning your base to scout around for a constituency that is easier to represent. David Cunliffe seems to get this, but I am not sure that all of his caucus do.

        The move from Keynsian economics to neo-liberalism was a fundamental, paradigm shift that took place all over the Western world. Yes, it is horrible, but it cannot be wholly dislodged until people are angry enough to overthrow it, or it exhausts itself, or both.

        However, if only to limit the amount of harm done by this vile economic system, we do still need Labour politicians who are willing to go “as far left as they can get away with.” A Labour Party that is reduced to a shell looking for a constituency is only of use to a handful of pol. sci. graduates who are looking for an easy trajectory into the cool job zone. And as such, it cannot last as a viable political force.

  6. Richard Christie says:

    Nothing from Labour or Green on remedying National and Act’s asset theft, just lame acceptance of the fait accomplis.

    Winston has now filled the gap with his pledge to buy back the power companies as a bottom line policy, thus he has helped himself to an assured place as king-maker.

    This situation is the creation of both Labour and Greens, both lacked the spine to do right by the people of NZ.

    • Draco T Bastard says:

      Nothing from Labour or Green on remedying National and Act’s asset theft, just lame acceptance of the fait accomplis.

      Part of that is the tradition of not immediately reversing what the previous government did. IMO, This is another reason why we have to a more democratic system based around referenda. The system we have at the moment is either getting us swinging side to side as governments change or going more and more to the right as the left governments refuse to undo the damage that the right governments do.

      IMO, government by referenda will both be more stable and make the country more progressive.

      • Richard Christie says:

        Which is cause to remind us that a C.I.Referendum clearly rejected the asset theft, yet even armed with such a mandate Labour and Green still wouldn’t commit to reversing the sales.

        Labour, I understand, they remain National (some would say Act) with a human face, as per John’s post. But I won’t forgive them for this betrayal, it’s the final straw.

        As for the Greens, I can’t fathom them on this issue.

        The country simply loses. We don’t get a major player offering to reclaim our stolen heritage..

        • Aaron says:

          Richard, the major player that needs to reclaim our heritage are the people – it’s always been the case.

          The right has the power of the super rich behind it and the left is supposed to have the power of the people behind it. This has been destroyed by a successful PR effort to taint anything that smacks of collective action but it’s still true.

          The will change when the greed of the right puts a significant number of middle class people in the poor house – or when someone on the left figures out how to communicate with the people who are already hurting.

          The young and the poor are already pissed off with the people who hold the power, it shouldn’t be too hard. The problem is that white middle class guys like me can’t relate to those groups – Hell I bet a lot of us don’t even like them very much.

      • TheContrarian says:

        A govt. by referendum is impossible for all practical purposes. In the last year 246 bills have been presented to parliament. Do you have time to read and vote in an referendum for all of them?

        • I have to concur with The Contrarian on this one. Ye gods, I haven’t even got time to blog as much as I’d love to (bloody Real Life keeps intruding!) never mind reading hundreds of pieces of complex, wordy bits of legislation…

          I suspect it would be those who have the time and money to dedicate to considering every bit of legislation – certainly not the working class who sweat ten hours a day; raise their families; juggle their bills each night at the dining room table…

          Then read a couple of hundred Bills before the House? Can’t see it.

  7. Mike says:

    I am of the opinion that Cunliffe will never make it as leader. He may come across to some as a good communicator, but deep down he is an Ivy League educated bureaucrat and doesn’t tolerate people below his level very well. He is a big picture man who gets frustrated and loses patience easily with individuals who fail to grasp his point at his high level of technicality.

    The Labour Party is falling in to the trap of being vanilla flavoured. They don’t stand for anything and have lost their way. The only way they can think of to financially help their supporters is what the right call the “crab bucket mentality”, crabs climbing over each other and inadvertently dragging the crabs at the top of the heap down to try to climb out of the bucket, meaning all crabs work hard but none ever make it out. As an example, Labour’s answer to more money for the poor is to “tax the rich.” All that does is make the middle class angry as they see their wealth being ‘confiscated’ through taxation and levies/charges as Labour mistakenly lump your average hard working middle class double income young couple feverishly saving for a down-payment on a house in with the ‘filthy rich who need to be taught a lesson.’

    “If you can’t keep up with the Jones’s, drag them down to your level” is now seen as mean and outdated.

    Wealth creation is the answer. It grows not only the amount of money in the system, but also the security, which is arguably more important than the amount. Cunliffe’s policy idea of getting agriculture out of the commodity trap and growing the scientific and technical sector of the community has, in my opinion, the potential to turn the economy and the Labour Party around if handled right.

    • Richard Christie says:

      Except that plenty of wealth IS already being created. Per capita productivity in the workplace has increased hugely since mid 1980s.

      Lack of wealth isn’t the problem, the problem is that trickle down theory is bullshit because corporate embracement of globalisation dictates that in respect of wages and salaries, it is a race to the bottom, in order to compete.

      • Intrinsicvalue says:

        “Per capita productivity in the workplace has increased hugely since mid 1980s.”

        What evidence do you have that the productivity gains are due to workers themselves, as opposed to technological advances?

        • Richard Christie says:

          Intrinsic Value

          I made a statement, you come along, change the statement and demand I do the work for you to provide you with the research for your invention.

          Go troll somewhere else.

          Try over at NASA or the Royal Society since you’ve already announced that you know more about climate science than them.

          • Intrinsicvalue says:

            Which part of the statement did I change, Richard? It was a word for word cite.

            Did you not understand my question? I’ll spell it out for you. If you can’t demonstrate that it is workers who are responsible for the productivity gains, why should there be any trickle down as a result?

            • Richard Christie says:

              Reality is not your friend.

              My point was workplace productivity has increased, it is a measure of increased wealth creation, as are other indicators.

              The distinctions you bring to the discussion may be of interest to you but they are particularly important to my point. They are not mentioned or made in my point If your eyes and comprehensive skills fail you, try a word search for keywords “due to” or “technological advances” within my short comment and see for yourself.

              (waits patiently)

              See? no mention of those terms You raised them. Then you re-framed my statement in that light.

              This is the internet, people can scroll up and see what you did.

              If you are interested in making an argument about the distinctions you raise, be my guest, but do the research yourself, don’t expect others to be at your beck and call… even if that is a hard habit for you to break.

        • Richard Christie says:

          What evidence do you have that the productivity gains are due to workers themselves, as opposed to technological advances?

          If you want to know the figures in regard to a distinction that you have brought to the discussion, do your own research and come back with an argument or conclusion of your very own. Don’t keep us guessing.

          I’m not here to do your work.

          • Intrinsicvalue says:

            You drew a comparison between improvements in productivity and the trickle down of benefits to workers. To make that claim stick, you need to demonstrate that the workers ‘deserve’ the trickle down, in other words that they are responsible for the productivity gains. I’m challenging you to do exactly that.

            • Richard Christie says:

              Lol. I need do no such thing.

              The issue is wealth creation via productivity.
              I provided a measure of that.
              The rest of your objection exists only in your head, much like your objections to the conclusions supported by every scientific community on the planet in regard to climate change.

              • Intrinsicvalue says:

                “The issue is wealth creation via productivity.”

                1. You claimed I changed you statement. I asked you to show where I did that. Answer please.

                2. You invoke the ‘trickle down’ language to infer wealth creation is not being shared. My point is why should it be shared with people who are not contributing to the additional wealth. You are either not understanding or are deliberately ignoring my question.

                • YogiBare says:

                  IV,
                  As you well know many of the technological advances, which allow employers to reduce staff, are developed with government resources. Why is it unreasonable for these tax paying staff to also benefit from the technological advances they helped to fund?

            • Intrinsicvalue says:
              March 18, 2014 at 9:12 am

              You drew a comparison between improvements in productivity and the trickle down of benefits to workers. To make that claim stick, you need to demonstrate that the workers ‘deserve’ the trickle down, in other words that they are responsible for the productivity gains. I’m challenging you to do exactly that.

              Seriously?!

              What a mutt.

              Is that the best you can do, IV, to kiss-arse the backsides of the employers?!

              Consider this, sunshine; the ruling Oligarchs of this planet do not care one iota for you. Certainly not as much as you seem to care for them.

              They would trample you into the mud and shit, to get to their next Boardroom meeting…

              So you can take your egotistic, wanky little “challenge” and-

  8. The Roadie says:

    quite simple. Labour need to adhere to their name : LABOUR!
    They are supposedly the working persons party. Time they remembered that!

  9. mary_a says:

    Right on there John.

    I hate to say this as a former active Labour member and supporter pre Rogernomics era, but Labour has become a party of ambiguity, through the relics of the 1980s still hanging on in there in the form of Goff, King, Mallard et al.

    Labour has lost its way. It is neither left nor right. As far as I’m concerned centre ground is sitting on the fence, a directionless place to be and that’s where Labour is at present. I say this with respect to David Cunliffe who I’m sure is doing his best to guide Labour in a more positive direction, but has the hindrance of stale right leaning MPs blocking any progress!

    NZ Greens are emerging as the progressive party for the workers, fixed and low income earners, as well as small business. It’s only a matter of time before disillusioned Labour voters will wake up to this fact and vote for the Greens, the party offering up a more genuine, caring approach towards creating a fair egalitarian state, where people are valued for WHO and not WHAT they are.

    If Labour wants to die, then all it has to do is continue drifting in no man’s land, with no positive, credible left wing policies giving people certainty, hanging on to yesterday’s dinosaurs, which are holding it down!

  10. Originally 160 years ago, our forefathers immigrated here because of oppression and inequality in their homelands and having to bow and scrape to their respective “lairds”. They came to a place where the “queen’s chain” meant something – namely that some rich person couldn’t own all the rivers, trout, beaches, water and most of the other good stuff. Kiwis seemed to have always had an innate sense of justice and egalitarianism.

    1971, there were 62 people unemployed and the Minister of Employment knew all 62 on a first name basis. Kiwi paradise. When UK joined the EEC club in the 70’s and Labour got infiltrated in the 80s by ACT, it started a fire-sale of public assets. ACT infiltrated Labour, sold off everything including the kitchen sink, the Queen’s chain, riparian rights and the reality of egalitarianism.

    Under Clark and Cullen, kiwis saw some rays of hope for renewed egalitarianism with Kiwisaver, Kiwibank and Kiwrail, have all been dashed by New Zealand’s answer to John Major, (poor boy come good) and ACT re-born with Prebble, Douglas, Brash, Hide, Banks and Key (did I mention Prebble?). Kiwisaver went from 4% to 2% and then developed a lot of “administration fees”. Super-egalitarianism gone.

    These days the current ACT-infiltrated Nats are only selling off half the assets. Does that make NZ any more equal, or less unequal? Well selling them off to ‘mum and dad’ investors pours antiseptic on the open wound, but it still exacerbates inequality in New Zealand. So the rich have moved some of their asset base into energy shares, solar-panels – and interest rates and power prices rise for kiwi homeowners.

    Somehow the egalitarian ideals are further eroded by South African immigrants on ‘the shore’ and Chinese-sponsored “economic-colonising” immigrants into pizza huts, bakeries, dairies and fast food outlets.

    Egalitarianism is a disappeared dream, that not even Cunliffe, Norman, Harawira and McCarten can resurrect.

  11. Jenny says:

    Despite the belief Cunliffe would move the party to the left the most significant policy announcements he has made so far has been to say Labour will no longer push for the removal of GST from fresh fruit and vegetables and will not support the first $5,000 of income being tax free.
    Both these policies Labour campaigned on in the last election and while neither were radical – simply tinkering with economic policy settings – at least they were progressive and would have brought some small relief to low-income families….

    John Minto

    What you didn’t say John, which I think needs to be pointed out, is that removing GST off fresh fruit and vegetables and not taxing the first $5,000 of income would have delivered $1.5billion in relief to low income families. David Cunliffe justified this attack on the lowly paid by saying that he would replace this with “targeted” assistance to the children. As well as buying into the Right Wing meme that the poor would just piss this money up against the wall than spend it on giving their kids a better life. When it was all added up, David Cunliffe’s “targeted” assistance package amounted to only $520million, a reduction of almost a billion.

    What you also didn’t mention was in the same press release David Cunliffe said that Labour supports deep sea oil drilling. Another pro-big business and serve the rich policy that will see our environment which belongs to all of us being trashed on behalf of the minority wealthy share holders of the oil companies.

    With these policy announcements David Cunliffe turned his back on the sentiments he expressed in his famous Dolphin and the Dole Queue speech. But how could it be any different when David Parker who claims that Labour and National’s policies on these issues “are not much different” and is proud of it, is Cunliffe’s deputy leader? And while Shane Jones another Labour Right Winger seems to be running the show despite being trounced in the leadership contest?

    Cunliffe in the past has expressed views different to those he now espouses as leader, this will not change until he can get enough support to dump the Right wing “dead wood” that surround him.

  12. Draco T Bastard says:

    So why is there no vision for a more equal society and, more importantly, no policy programme to turn from vision to reality? Why is it just more rhetoric without any substance?

    Because Labour and even the Greens to some extent are more about propping up the rich despite the fact that it will be the rich that will destroy our society.

    In both scenarios, Elite wealth monopolies mean that they are buffered from the most “detrimental effects of the environmental collapse until much later than the Commoners”, allowing them to “continue ‘business as usual’ despite the impending catastrophe.” The same mechanism, they argue, could explain how “historical collapses were allowed to occur by elites who appear to be oblivious to the catastrophic trajectory (most clearly apparent in the Roman and Mayan cases).

    We, quite literally, have a socio-economic system that will destroy us.

  13. JC says:

    Precisely. This is why so many feel disenfranchised and won’t vote again this election, therefore denying the left any chance of an election win.

  14. Marc says:

    This “deadwood” problem has been known for a few years now, and it should have been addressed after Labour lost the last general election, where under Phil Goff they got the worst result ever, as far as I can remember.

    But what did they do, they brought “home” a former UN worker, who they thought could have a similarly “appealing” CV as John Key, but who would appear more “social” and caring. But David Shearer turned out to be an expert in “mumbling and stumbling”. They managed to get him voted into the Mt Albert electorate, but after that he was a true disappointment as leader. I had doubts from the start, as bringing “home” a “potential leader” who spent so many years out of the country, that was unlikely to work.

    The MSM tried all to keep Shearer in his “leadership” role, same did Key and National, we know why. In the meantime nothing much changed in Labour, Shearer even saw a “need” to hold a “sickness benefit roof painter” speech. That was it for me, when it came to the “shorn man” with no clothes.

    I fear that some in the media were right re Cunliffe, voting a leader into the job who is popular with the wider membership and to some degrees some unions, but leaving him to work with a caucus that were not going to make life easy for him, that has brought about the dilemma Labour have now.

    It is necessary for Labour to get more fresh blood, and they must be able to relate to the voters they want to vote for Labour, hence too many lawyers and teachers and whatever may not go down that well. But to raise this issue now, 6 months before the general election will not solve anything, except show the voters once again, Labour is too much “dead wood”. Reading and hearing that, the voters will surely be turned off and not bother.

    This is something that Labour will need to address after the election now, no matter how it will turn out.

    As for Cunliffe, yes, he is not quite as “left” as many of his supporters may wish, but it is not just due to his “deadwood” and otherwise “competing” caucus members, he is himself a business friendly man, who ultimately believes in the market. He simply believes the free market can be tweaked a bit, to deliver better results for all, hence his pointing to the Scandinavian and Singapore models. Just read his speech that he held to the NZ Initiative end of last week, it says it all.

    So he has also the difficult task to “appeal” to the broader church members that Labour has, to the ordinary worker, the professional career person, and the business operators. We are not even talking about beneficiaries there, and reaching them is something he indicated of wanting to achieve also, but so far I have seen little of Labour and Cunliffe taking beneficiaries seriously. At best he may throw in support for the working poor, otherwise is is mostly middle class focused policy and efforts we get.

    So for now we are stuck with the lot we have, and more can be discussed after 20 September, I am afraid, one way or another. At least we have more options, as Frank indicates in his comment.

  15. I am wavering over my support for Cunnliffe. My expectations of a more left ward shift from him have so far not materialized. Something’s got to give as the unequal wealth distribution proves corrosive. I suggest the following for Labour;
    1. No tax for the first $10,000. No tax for low income people on fixed incomes. A graduated income tax rate until $150,000 when a 50% tax levy applies thereafter.
    2. This should enable a GST rate of 10% on all food, 15% on all other goods and services. Higher taxes on alcohol drinks.
    3. A minimum wage of $16 per hour and $500 for a 30 hour week.
    4. Taxes levied on all foreign investment and purchases, especially property.

    Hei kona, Labour.

    • Intrinsicvalue says:

      1. Agree with the tax free threshold, but would make it higher in exchange for the removal of WFF. How do you define ‘low’? The 50% top tax rate is too steep, and will just drive wealth offshore.
      2. Dual indirect tax rates are a logistical nightmare. Defining what is ‘food’ alone is a headache, and the ongoing compliance costs make such a proposal impractical.
      3. Well that will cost jobs, as any move like this ripples up and juts drives wages higher without any corresponding change to productivity.
      4. I’m not sure what that will achieve when such a tiny proportion of NZ property is owned by foreigners.

  16. Krintin says:

    Unless something is done about the ABCs’ & Jones then I think that the Greens should show them their finger & go hard left with Mana.

    • poem says:

      Well, the Greens and Mana can go as hard left as they like, but it wont make an iota of difference being in opposition will it? Dont give up so easily, getting labour across the line, is a chance for the Greens and Mana in government isn’t?

  17. countryboy says:

    Spectacular ! John Minto ! I think I love you . x
    With one single hammer you managed to hit hundreds of nails on the head simultaneously .

    What an outstanding photograph .

    And no wonder I had the cops come into my business and harass me when I asked via email the then Minister of Police Annette King if she’d ever heard of neo liberalism and if so did she think [it] had become a production line for societal dysfunction based upon a conversation I had with one who is now a district court judge . Kings office spun my email around to make it look as if I was complaining about a lack of policing within my trading precinct . Thus , the cops were pissed off at me and viewed me through narrowed eyes for awhile until they realized that weirdly enough they and I were on the same page .

    You are dead on the money re Cunliffe , you’re dead on the money re any real or perceived move to the ‘ Left ‘ what ever that is and sadly , you’re dead on the money re as to what to be done about it .

    Personally , I’m over waiting on a messiah to save my arse . Clearly that’s not happening so I do my obsessed best to raise the alarm .

    The underlying causal problem in New Zealand is money . Money and the greed for it . It’s not so unusual when considering we non Maori New Zealanders are the product of a Presbyterian / Anglican co production of piety and the shunning of beauty , sex , pleasure and of course Love . The frisson is found in the lurid lustings for power and prestige . False Gods some might argue .I would argue that too and I’m no God botherer I can tell you .

    So , what to do if you want lots and lots of lovely , lusty money ? Work for it ? Nah , takes too long . Even a six figure salary won’t scratch the itch . Win it ? Hahahahaaahaha ! Inherit it ? That worked for a miniscule minority of dirty , filthy , rotten , lucky bastards but not for the impoverished Jewish Christchurch boy who had aspirations of being a multi-millionaire .

    The answer is simple . You swindle it . And even more cunningly , you convince your often unsuspecting co-swindlers that what you are doing is righteous .

    The sun rises upon neo liberalism . Hallelujah ! God indeed , be praised . Ruth Richardson introduced ‘ Ruthanasia ‘ into the common parlance .

    The souls of the damned , or farmers , were to be the mechanism for the craft of deceit . They’re isolated , both socially and by geography . They’re easily manoeuvred into debt thus are able to be controlled effortlessly . They efficiently produce a product that is about the most necessarily consumed consumable there is . Food . Once you start up a farm , it becomes a juggernaut that must be attended to . A Bankable certainty therefore , a frisson up jonky’s ball sack .

    John Minto . If , and clearly you do , want to solve the mystery of the Land of The Long White Swindle I’d grimly suggest you start looking at the NZ Farmer / NZ Politician connection .

    In there , in that cow and sheep shit spattered world of the lonesome farmer ? That’s where the county’s woes begin and must end . The Great New Zealand Institutionalized Lie .

    The realization of the lie will one day see a mass exodus from the cities to the land . It will see swindlers go to prison and fortunes lost only to be regained by our Government to be redistributed to those whom lost the most for no other reason than to create private wealth for the swindlers .

    I saw Jim Bolger on TV last evening . When the rats start to stir you know troubles brewing for them .

    Well done John Minto .

  18. fatty says:

    I have two questions about the idea that Cunliffe wants to bring Labour left, but the old guard are preventing that.

    1. Did Cunliffe appoint Parker as his deputy and finance spokesperson?
    2. Does Cunliffe have the final say on the policies?

    If the answer to both of those questions is yes, then why does it matter that the old zombies are still there?
    I think the idea that Cunliffe is a leftist is a nice romantic story, but I just don’t buy it

  19. poem says:

    So I guess you all love what john key has done thus far, you will vote for the status quo, or not vote, which is exactly what john key is hoping for to keep himself in power so he can ensure that within the next 3 years, there is absolutely nothing left of New Zealand to fight for, rather than taking a chance on labour because Labour is not “perfect” who or what ever is ???? Labour is under new management, and doesn’t change take time?

  20. poem says:

    WHO SAID john key is popular anyway? dodgy unreliable polls? national biased mainstream media? Isn’t that all part of national party electioneering to hoodwink kiwis? national have always done that regardless.

    • The Lone Haranguer says:

      All the polls seem to say the same thing – that the “electorate” love John Key. If only a few said that, and the rest said otherwise, then you would have a fair beef.

      The real problem for the left is that those who dislike Key and the Nats, dont dislike Key and the Nats enough to get off their collective bums and vote.

      And so far Cunliffe hasnt given them good cause to do so.

  21. Andy K says:

    I’m convinced Labour is committed to preserving the status quo and doubt Cunliffe has any sincere commitment to introduce any significant reforms.

    I believed this was the case very early on before Cunliffe was elected. In a debate on Q&A in the run-up to electing the next Labour Party leader, I recall Cunliffe mentioned creating jobs for those who want to work. This left a lasting impression and troubled me. People don’t want to work; People NEED to work. Realistically for most of us that’s the only way we’ll gain an income necessary to survive. Such statements and silence regarding beneficiaries doesn’t provide faith we’ll see anything different from the current settings.

    Sure he spoke of neoliberalism in critical terms in that debate, which was pretty exhilerating considering the usual dreary political fare expected from our state broadcaster. But surely he should be aware of the social ills generated over thirty years with the transition from a system focussed on full-employment to the established levels of unemployment, underemployment and low income that’s a reality for a signficant portion of the population. In this competitive world, unless with a plan of sheer brillance, I doubt we’ll ever see full-employment with increased technological advances and automation.

    Frankly, the Labour Party died thirty years ago with its New Right reforms and has been a lumbering zombie ever since, prepared to feast on its impoverished victims for the sake of its dark master. A leftist party that spawned a panoply of right-wing freaks, should hardly instill any faith in anyone of its left-wing credentials.

    Unless the party returns to its traditional basis (and time is fleeting), any voter serious of seeing any change for social justice should vote to relegate a detached Labour to the status of a minor party. After all in its aloof form as the largest opposition party it will only prevent any hope of any much needed change coming forth by those serious enough to honour it.

    As for talk of “the Centre”, where is this centre ground? Time has demonstrated the centre as progressively drifting right as a right-wing agenda continues to propel the system deep out right.

  22. Gosman says:

    As a self professed and proud right winger I am perplexed by how much left wingers make a fuss over how right wing the Labour party is. People on the right also complain about how left wing they think National is but we don’t moan about it and demand the party purges left wing elements. Instead we vote ACT. Left wingers have not just one option to the left of Labour but two, The Greens and Mana. Both are virtually guaranteed seats in parliament so a vote for these two won’t be wasted. It is as if left wingers don’t really comprehend how MMP works and think the election is still run along FPP lines.

    • framu says:

      thats bullshit gossamer – for you to think that, you would have to have been ignoring each and every substantive explanation on every single left wing blog youve lurked about for years

      no ones buying that

      • Gosman says:

        The only reason I can see for Labour supporters to worry about this is because they have some emotional attachment to the Labour brand and cannot bring themselves to support another political party. If this is not the case then what is you explanation why people don’t just support Mana or The Greens if they think the Labour party is too right leaning?

        • framu says:

          “Instead we vote ACT.”

          theres your answer right there sunshine – or did history not happen at your house?

          • Gosman says:

            Care to explain what point you are trying to make?

            • The Lone Haranguer says:

              I suspect his/her point is as you do/have voted Act, your opinion is irrelevant to the discussion, because you are the enemy of the left.

              • framu says:

                nope – gossman wonders why the left have an issue with the right wing of the labour party.

                Where did act come from?

                once burnt and all that

                i thought you would have got that one gos

                • Gosman says:

                  But they left to form a new party. Anybody who supports those sort of policies now has a party to support. It also doesn’t answer the question why you don’t just support The Greens or Mana rather than Labour.

      • The Real Matthew says:

        Gosman is quite correct.

        If this sort of methodology is so popular the Greens would be polling 25% and the Mana party 10%. The reality is that the Greens are polling around 10% and Mana would be out of parliament without Labour giving Hone a free ride in his electorate.

        Why would a party polling 30% change it’s policies to that of parties polling circa 10%?

        Sounds like a dumb strategy to me.

        • framu says:

          hes been lurking around left wing blogs long enough to understand the arguments there

          gossamers second comment is about a different topic to his first here – lets stick to the original comment and not follow the merry chase he is setting up

          • Gosman says:

            I have no idea about what arguments you are making here or via other left wing blog sites.

            If it is that you don’t trust Labour then it is irrelevant to my question about why left wingers don’t just support Mana or The Greens. Mana is far more left wing than Labour. Surely you don’t have a problem with them do you?

            • framu says:

              “I have no idea about what arguments you are making here or via other left wing blog sites”

              where did i say that? – oh thats right i didnt did i so stop being deliberately thick – youve been around long enough for everyone to know your MO

              fucks sake – its right there in black and white

              “hes been lurking around left wing blogs long enough to understand the arguments there”

      • Paul says:

        Please DNFTT

  23. poem says:

    Who said the polls are true the real matthew ?

    • Intrinsicvalue says:

      The ‘Polls’ are only a reflection of the people ‘polled’, but they are never so far out as to make either the Green or Mana positions electorally so different from what Gosman is presenting.

  24. poem says:

    Its election year, so where is the balance? why is there no focus on “no friends” john key and national? john key is refusing to discuss it, and is deflecting attention onto Winston Peters instead, who has his position quite clear.

  25. poem says:

    Why is there no focus on national and their potential partners or I should say, lack of. john key is refusing to discuss it, instead is deflecting attention onto Winston Peters, who has made his position quite clear. It would be of no surprise if the Maori party, Dunne and Act do not get returned to parliament and its very unlikely that national will have the numbers to govern alone either, not only is it fact that No party has been able to do that since the introduction of MMP in the 1990s. And you can’t trample over the people like john key has done and get away with it either.

    • Gosman says:

      There is a lot of comment in the media about the fact that National has not a lot of options in terms of support parties and would require to get close to 50% support. I don’t know why you think this has not been raised.

      • poem says:

        c’mon not that much commentary on it at all. I am not saying it hasn’t been raised, what I am talking about is the media are not focusing on it, rather the attention is more on Winston Peters, when it should be national who dont want to mention Colin Craig that much.

        • framu says:

          ” I am not saying it hasn’t been raised, ”

          gossamer knows this already – its how he operates

          play the game if you want – sometimes its a bit of fun, but dont be fooled by his cute routine

  26. Katherine says:

    Gee if everyone spent as much time getting stuck in and involved trying to change the government as they currently do analysing and pulling the Labour Party apart I guarantee we would see more benefits for the poor and marginalised in this country.

    Can’t you all see that all this energy is wasted on constantly attacking Labour and not by removing this government?
    I fail to see why you think it’s ok to let National remain in power for another three years just because many of you THINK that the old guard of Labour will be worse than what we have now.

    Those of you currently not involved with campaigning to change this bloody Government GET OFF YOUR COMPUTERS and get out there to swell the ranks to get Labour back in government.
    Then, if things get worse, or nothing changes, I’ll agree you Labour bashers out there were right.

    • Marc says:

      “Those of you currently not involved with campaigning to change this bloody Government GET OFF YOUR COMPUTERS and get out there to swell the ranks to get Labour back in government. Then, if things get worse, or nothing changes, I’ll agree you Labour bashers out there were right.”

      I would totally agree, and I have called for this repeatedly, but broaden the attack lines, please, Labour are not necessarily representing all of us, so we must stand together as a “progressive” front, that is Labour, Greens and Mana, to fight this government! I am always a bit expectant of Labour to realise, they cannot win this on their own, when do you start realising this and stop some in Labour attacking Greens and so, just to score individual brownie points?

      Best wishes, we fight on disregarding.

  27. Robinson says:

    In actual fact, I believe Mr Minto is essentially correct.From around 1929 onward’s in the Labour party, economic policy was based around the economic theories of John Maynard Keynes,and various other thinkers who developed similar theories. Essentially..if workers (and in a modern context the middle classes) receive a cut in pay, and there is mass unemployment, this simply means there is less consumer power in the community as a whole to purchase surplus productivity-and no incentives to further invest capitol by private enterprises. The solution then ,as now, is for a government to provide incentives to stimulate the economy through such things as profit making public ventures- such as a nationalised computer componentry industry- this could easily be publicly floated with one condition- that it remains solely in the hands of New Zealanders. This is just an example.

    The origins of the neoliberal agenda have their origins in a group called the Mont Pelerin society. Formed around 1947 or 1949- its aim was to bolster western capitalism in light of the communist takeover of China under Mao tse Tung. Its tenets are exactly the same as Rogernomics. And here’s the big punch….both Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson were/are sitting members of this group…it was a program of stealth, which relied on the general ignorance of New Zealanders of these ideologies….practically speaking it meant that no matter what major party you voted for…continuation of the neoliberal agenda would continue.

    The business Round Table at that time-and now- were involved in lobbying certain individuals in both major parties to legislate such things as the Employment Contracts Act..detoothing union collective bargaining…removal of import tariffs,..selling off of our S.O.E’s..the list goes on…the wealthy 1% elite were zealous in the dismantling of our sense of sovereignty and self determination..it was seen as an obstacle to their free market policies- and a hindrance to their future economic power base ..it is still the same today..through clever manipulation of media..funded by massive (and collective) multinational corporations…

    So ,…Mr Minto is correct…until there is a shedding of these individuals from Labour, a return to Keynesian economic principle- and a total rejection of classical neoliberalism as the foundation for ALL economic theory..this downwards spiral will continue.