What do the NZ Left want to do in Election 2014? Replace John Key or sit in opposition for 3 years?



The Left’s ability to turn on each other is legendary. From the anger caused by Jim Anderton walking away from Labour to the recent Green-Labour pushing and shoving and some within MANA threatening to walk away if Hone cuts a deal with the Internet Party.

The Left need to decide this election if they want to bicker amongst themselves or beat John Key, we can’t do both.

The spectacular naivety of Green tacticians to put a deal in front of Labour they must have known Labour could not agree to highlights this issue. If NZ First gain over 5% (I still think that’s a big if), Labour will need to accommodate NZ First into the mix. The animosity between the Greens and NZ First (Winston tripping them up in 2005 and Russel Norman twisting the knife during the Owen Glenn scandal) requires them working out their issues.

If Labour, the Greens and NZ First can agree on a legacy project that satisfies Winston’s needs, is that worth getting rid of John Key?

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If MANA and the Internet Party form an alliance and manage to bring in 5 or 6 candidates and that is the difference between kicking John Key out of Government or not kicking him out, should Hone do it and risk the socialist pakeha part of MANA marching out in protest?

The difference between the political Right and Left in NZ is easy. For the Left, we fight for Maori rights, beneficiary rights, environmentalism, living wage, social justice, Women’s rights, Gay rights, indigenous rights, eradication of child poverty and inequality to name but a few. For the Right they fight to just keep the Left out of power. When your goals are so narrow, unity is easy, when the goals are so much wider, unity becomes a concept rather than a purpose.

This election, the Left need to keep John Key from winning a third term. If Key gains his third term, it will make a 2017 win pointless because after 3 terms of right wing rule, any opposition Government coming in will simply be trying to stem the haemorrhaging rather than implement progressive change.

So if beating Key means cutting a deal with Kim Dotcom and/or Winston Peters, who from the Left will tell the 285 000 children in poverty that we wouldn’t do that because we’d prefer to keep our idealogical purity rather than winning Government?


  1. The left’s absolute strategic short term aim must be to deny the Key gang a third term. Whichever way it is sliced and diced hundreds of thousands of kiwis need relief via reforms that can be delivered via parliament.

    Even Lenin insisted that revolutionaries must not just support but fight for needed reforms for the people. This is different from the ideology of “reformism” that leads parties like Labour to be cross class and regular class collaborators. But this fine difference means little if you live in a garage.

    Yes the bourgeois MMP parliament will still be administering capitalism if Labour/Greens/Mana/TIP/NZ1 are in the majority, but much can be done re jobs, housing and the surveillance state regardless. This is as important as the 1935 election.

    Extra parliamentary activity, pressure from the people, community organising, as Mana has shown in it’s short history to be well capable of is then the ongoing requirement. Any ‘socialists’ that drop their bundle and desert Mana over this electoral arrangement have learnt little from NZ and international history and might consider a change of career or at least how to handle differences better.

  2. Because Labour are not going to deliver the reforms you want. Especially with NZ first, they are going to be the halfhearted crapheads they have always been. If MANA wants to keep fighting, they need to have principles more than a pity-seat at the table. If we get rid of John Key only to have no ability or credibility to fight the Labour government, then what. Is. The. Point.

    • So we let Key win because the replacement is not ideologically pure enough? You’ll be the one telling the 285 000 kids in poverty this James?

      • So you believe that Labour will deliver all of these children out of poverty? That they will change so much so as to make a wonderful difference?

        A Labour government is only going to be worth a damn if there are people outside of parliament forcing them to. If the left give up their principles to get Key out, we will be facing an uphill battle to get Cunliffe to care about any of the children in poverty.

        The job doesn’t end the day after the election. We shouldn’t stop ourselves from being able to fight just so Cunliffe can give us some scraps.

        • Thank you for telling me what I believe. You are wrong. I believe Cunliffe wants to make a difference in a Caucus that doesn’t want him to. I believe Cunliffe will need as many options as he can to get rid of this Government. I believe that a strong Green and MANA presence will force those changes. I believe fighting over who is most left wing and refusing to co-operate with those who haven’t got the same fixed beliefs we have will end in Key winning another 3 years.

          Let’s win the election first and you can complain as much as you like after that point.

          • Firstly, I -asked- you what you believe, hence the question mark. Thank you for responding to the question and explaining what you believe.

            I disagree with you.

            I see the 1st Labour government as a key historical event in New Zealand. It did some pretty great things – Industrial Laws, for example – but because the Unions and the left had put so much effort and discarded so much of their own principles to get Labour into power, they had no ability to fight when they needed to. During the 1949 Carpenters Dispute, the Union hierarchy refused to help – because it might hurt their chances of getting Labour into power. Same during the 1951 Lockout.

            The Maori party thought they could influence the National Government from the inside, as did the Alliance with Labour in 2000. All the Alliance achieved was Kiwisaver – the 5th Labour government hardly made life great for the poor. But it was next to impossible for them to fight the government, because they had set principles aside to get them in.

            So, two questions on what you ‘believe’ – Do you believe that merely having MANA and the Greens supporting a Labour government will deliver the reforms we want. (In which case, what is your response to the historical evidence that that doesn’t happen)


            Do you believe that the left will retain the ability to effectively fight for change outside of parliament with a Labour government despite giving up our principles to get them in. (In which case, what is your response to the historical evidence?)

            • I have very little interest in 60 year old history lessons based on FPP dynamics.

              Do you believe that merely having MANA and the Greens supporting a Labour government will deliver the reforms we want.

              (In which case, what is your response to the historical evidence that that doesn’t happen)
              I have very little interest in 60 year old history lessons based on FPP dynamics.

              Do you believe that the left will retain the ability to effectively fight for change outside of parliament with a Labour government despite giving up our principles to get them in.
              Of course

              (In which case, what is your response to the historical evidence?)
              Because it’s our responsibility to hold them to account. Did they have blogs 60 years ago? Did they have the internet 60 years ago? My suspicion is they did not. Blogs brought about a change of leadership in the labour Party for Christ’s sake – if we put these buggers in, it is our responsibility via social media to hold them to account for the real changes we want to see.

              • I happen to agree with you Bomber that the Mana-IP alliance is a good thing, witness KDC standing up at his party picnic and announcing FREE education as a policy on the evening lies!?! When was the last time Labour or even the Greens talked about free education?

                I also agree with you that post-election, if making a devil’s bargain with Winston First is the only way to put Key and his cronies on the opposition benches, so be it. Although I think we should be doing everything we can to avoid that. Particularly because there’s a risk Winston will instead decide to keep Key’s regime in place, if he offers a better deal.

                However, you are dodging the strategic point James is making. At least two of his examples took place under MMP, the Alliance and the Māori Party. If you or I spent the next 6 months telling people they should vote for a “Labour-led” government, we’ll be perceived as supporting everything they decide to do, or not do. If we are honest about which policies of the “left” parties we actually support, and encourage people to vote with their conscience to get Key out, I think that’s more honest. As James points out, it also gives us a lot more wiggle room to continue campaigning for those policies and criticizing the government (whoever it is) if they don’t deliver the goods we want.

  3. I’m a simplistic person at heart. I tend to break things down into its component parts and work from there. It seems to me that the prime objective for the left is to change the government next election and vice versa the right keeps the left from power by sowing dissension between the players. The right parties understand this principle well, they inherently put there ideologies aside to get into power and then pick them up again after winning. They understand its the win that’s the only goal and everything else will come after that.

    This is something that some of those on the left do not grasp fully. Just topple the National government and then worry about the semantics of ideology later. Its the people without a voice that matter not who has the most say in a government that has not even been elected to power yet. Its the only win that matters at this stage of the game

    • This presumes, somewhat naively given the history of the last 30 years, that shows Labour is substantially different from National. Please show me one policy, just ONE, that Labour have put forward that it *substantially* different from National. For those of us who remember the betrayal of the 1980s, the campaign is not about Nat vs. Lab, it’s about the people and any parties brave enough to say publicly that the neo-liberal emperor wears no clothes, vs. both legacy parties and the crutches that prop them up (ACT, Dunney, Winston First etc). To demand that we support “The Left (TM)”, makes a joke of the somewhat tenuous idea of the “left”, where that “left” supposedly includes:
      * Labour, a corporate-funded command and control heirarchy, led mostly by unreformed neo-liberals
      * Winston, former Nat MP, kept Bolger in power in 1996, vicious social conservative

      Given my druthers I’d rather see a Greens-led government, with Labour as a suitably humbled support party, and a decent-sized Mana-IP alliance block to regularly challenge both the moderate parties, keep them honest, and inject a bit of fresh, radical thinking. In this fantasy, Winston and his baying mob will of course drop below 5% for the last time and disappear without a trace, as will the toadying remains of the Māori Party MPs, and that electoral zombie, ACT. The Libertarianz aren’t even running a party list this year. This party can definitely happen!

      Oh and Bomber, remember only a few months ago that you were saying a vote for NZ First is a vote for National?

  4. That’s like saying “if you don’t support the Labour/NZ First pre-election petting, you don’t care about 285,000 poor kids”, just because you may have a different opinion about how best to achieve a govt of the left that can deliver REAL change.

    That’s not fair. You’re also working on a rather large assumption that NZ First won’t in fact draw support away from Labour, and then go with National !

    Somehow I can’t see Mana doing that, which is why people are questioning the apparent “NZ First before Mana” tendencies of the Labour Party.

    • For maybe the millionth time – while I think there is a chance NZ First won’t gain 5%, especially seeing as the KDC evidence that will damage Key and the Snowden revelations that are timed to be released at the same time will overshadow the campaign, there is the chance Winston might get over 5% – if he does, do we on the left refuse to work with Internet Party and NZ First so we can stay ideologically pure? If Winston is in and he’s looking for a legacy project we shouldn’t try and craft a super national trust fund that buys back the assets? Is that your position?

      • Bomber, after ticking off James for supposedly putting words in your mouth, here you are doing it to Tim. Nobody is arguing we should reject Winston First after the election if it means handing the reigns back to Snapper Key, that’s a strawman. What I’m arguing (I’ll let Tim speak for himself) is that we shouldn’t let Winston position himself as a supporter of a “Labour-led” government, drawing votes away from actual “left” parties and Labour, and either:
        * delivering those left votes to National, as he did in 1996
        * using his block to drag Labour towards the liminal “centre” space occupied by social conservatives (sexist, racist, homophobic, pro-prison labour etc) like Winston and Dunney, as he did in 2006

        NZ First is a populist wedge strategy to stop Labour from really delivering to its left supporters, leading to the sort disillusionment that we say in 2011 (nearly a million non-votes). To pretend that they are actually part of the “left” is either delusional or dishonest PR.

  5. You are wrong Martyn in your assumption that Peters will go with Labour.

    Winston Peters refuses to say which party he will go with because he wants to maximise his appeal to his supporters many of whom hate National.

    Winston Peters will not go with Labour and Greens.

    He is openly campaigning on Right wing issues like alleged Maori Privilege. He refuses to say where his party stands on climate change.

    All this shows that NZF is setting the table for National, not Labour and the Greens. All his policies are antipathetical to both the Greens and Mana.

    By putting the welcome carpet out to New Zealand First, the Left is virtually guaranteeing that New Zealand First will become the king maker.

    Instead of the Left leaving the door open to New Zealand First, The Left need to tell the electorate clearly that a vote for Winston is a vote for Key.

    On another matter Martyn I think you are conflating Hone making a deal with Dotcom and Labour and Greens making a deal with Peters.

    The two are just not equivalent.

    Dotcom wants to get rid of National, Peters doesn’t, (or hasn’t said that he does)

    Another point, it is not libelous to describe Winston Peters as an “Opportunist” Winston Peters was indentified as such in leaked official Australian government briefing papers evaluating New Zealand politicians.



    We must accept that Peters is no friend of the Left.

    The real problem is not that we need a Right opportunist like Peters to get rid of Key, it is because our own support is too low.

    The Left need to out Peters and build our vote. How do we do that?

    We do it by championing openly Left issues that National would never agree with and challenging Winston Peters on where he stands on them.

    What are these issues?

    I will ask our readers.

    • While I admire your passion and idealism Jenny – are you seriously saying that if NZ First+Labour+Greens+MANA are the majority, we shouldn’t try and make it work because Key is preferable to ideological impurity?

  6. you fail once again to fully understand that poverty is inbuilt into the system the system – the system is not broken it was designed that way …deliberately – and you think that by voting its going to change it – all one does is change the CEO but the corporation stays the same – you wonder why a tiny nation like NZzzz has the same problems as big world nations pfft …same policy same agenda same result ….you can’t vote it out you can’t hand it a petition and they don’t give a rats arse if you rally, march or protest – and while people scream for change – history shows they always vote predictably for the same old same old and all they get is the same old same old – we should have matured out of this system of governance decades ago – but no….

    use your vote as a protest forget dark blue and light blue they are simply the good cop vs bad cop – vote green mana/Maori as a protest and get real change – any thing else is just zombie behavior …

  7. Ultimately Labour’s rejection was a choice that erodes the public confidence in the coalition that probably needs to form to oust Key by popular vote.

    Post election a working arrangement between Labour and the Greens is obligatory, and Winston may be needed also. If Winston cannot stomach the Greens then he will not join the coalition anyway, so his preferences can not be accomodated to that extent.

    Labour needs to own this decision – they rejected working openly with their partners, preferring to exhibit disunity in the critical pre-election period – because they still resent the public abandoning them in the context of the failed neo-liberal reforms that half of them still believe in. Labour does not talk much to the public you see, they are part of a community of declining third way parties rendered irrelevant by their refusal to advocate successfully for their constituencies.

    The protest vote will rise accordingly – good news for Mana/IP at least.

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