Labour outflanked



Readers of this blog will know I’ve often written with strong criticism of the Labour Party leadership with their religious adherence to neo-liberalism, lack of vision and failure to promote anything other than National-lite policies.

Now I find myself at it again because the last couple of weeks have left me shaking my head in disbelief at their sheer hopelessness.

It’s not Andrew Little’s stumbles over transgender issues or means-testing superannuation – although both were eye-rollingly stupid. All politicians will stumble and Labour can expect the right-wing media to give them a much harder time than the free ride given to the Key government.

It’s more fundamental questions of policy that cause my angst.

Take capital gains tax for example. For decades the Labour leadership refused to consider a CGT but finally adopted it for the 2011 election campaign to bring New Zealand into line with countries like Australia and the US. The policy was abandoned by Andrew Little who cited it as one of the reasons Labour lost the 2014 election. Six months on and National has outflanked Labour on the left with a CGT on properties sold within two years of purchase. Labour was left high and dry – gasping for political oxygen.

Increasing benefit payments is another. Labour had nine long years to address child poverty but never addressed the key fundamental – increase the income of the families with children living in poverty. Working for Families made a significant difference for people in work but specifically excluded families on benefits so that the lowest-income families and their children were left to struggle in poverty. To the Labour leadership’s shame in 2008 when the party was ousted from government it left a legacy of 175,000 children in poverty. And remember this was nine years of economic good times.

In last week’s budget Labour was outflanked on the left again with National’s decision to go where Labour feared to tread – increase benefit payments. Labour was again left gasping.

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It’s true National’s move was cynical rather than well-meaning and would be eroded by other “bash the beneficiaries” initiatives in the budget. Struggling families will also have to wait until April next year for any increase while housing subsidy reductions will kick in well before but the point is that Labour has such a feeble policy response that beneficiaries may as well vote National.

I meet lots of great Labour Party members who retain their faith in the party or at least grasp the faint hope the Labour MPs from the 1980s will retire and let the party rejuvenate. However the likes of Phil Goff, Trevor Mallard, Annette King, Clayton Cosgrove, Ruth Dyson etc will be around for a long while yet and in the wake of the last election are in a stronger position in the Labour caucus to thwart any move back to progressive policies.

So while the mass of Labour Party members want a policy platform they can be proud of and campaign on with enthusiasm they are beaten every time by their 1980s MPs – the ones baptised in neoliberalism – who inhabit safe Labour seats and are a larger proportion of a diminishing caucus.


  1. See David@david, He tells of mental enslavement.All elections are a con ,both Republican and Democrat, National and Labour,Tory and liberal etc etc are all the same.
    These parties are all part of the cabal ,the elite,call it what you may,see the pattern of results,neck and neck until result then, surprise surprise, we are all fooled,and angry. The ruling party win by big majority with the collusion of other parties, because the ruling elite want them to carry on the
    game of distruction of economies that is well under way.

    Our last election Sept 2014 was blatently obvious ,Labour did what National led them to do, lose the election.
    In UK
    Tories romped home,despite talk of hung parliament,there was no contest. Everyone angry at result as the parties meant them to be,devide to rule.

    Check out Degraw,he explains how elections are decided before the first vote,in all countries.polititions of every stripe are in the pay of the elite.

    • Yes indeed, Labour has failed to be an effective opposition party for a number of years. These elected Labour members have failed to front-up and challenge National and Acts right-wing policies. Even the response by Mr Little to Bill English’s last financial budget was non-existing.

    • These days political landscapes can change swiftly, just look at Spain as an example.

      In New Zealand things take longer, and the isolation from many troubles in the world, the rather conservative, or say neoliberal economic policies, exploiting still abundant resources, migrant and local labour, has so far not led to the upsets in some other places.

      But time is running out for the Key government, as their “growth” is based on a natural disaster that necessitates a massive rebuild (there comes GDP growth), a now deflated former “dairy boom”, that was based on riding the Asian Tiger Mainland China (also now slowing), and also having relied on a powerful neighbour (Australia, now with no more mining boom).

      Apart from that, many middle class only feel well off, as they can borrow more due to increased equity based on inflated house prices. They all continue to borrow, and hope.

      It is all going to end, and when it slows and goes downhill, the panic will set in, and much confidence and “sound statistics” will simply vaporize.

      Kiwis and migrants turned residents can then choose, more asset sales, or a kind of revolution. At least they can throw this lot out, and only if Labour get their act together, or rather if a new force turns up on the block in the meantime, will there be an alternative that may seem more attractive.

  2. Well said John Minto, i do believe tho that the ‘right’ of the Labour Party MP’s when listed should include David Parker, David Shearer, David Cunliffe, Grant Robertson, Stuart Nash, Kelvin Davis, Kris Faafoi, that is just names added from off the top of my head and other commenters might well add more,

    Socially Liberal,(it doesn’t require much in the way of Government budgets),to the right economically,(monied Labour party liberals not wanting to pay more tax), is pretty much how i have seen at least one of those heavily involved in the Party machine describe Himself,

    At the apex of the Labour Party machine,(what’s left of it),there is also the rump of neo-Liberalism,(those who came out as winners in the game of winners and losers which is Neo Liberalism in its basest form),

    If in any way Socialist my view is that Labour having driven off what once would have been a vast swathe of the working class, those who earn the least, then that Socialism is that of, for,and,by the monied middle class,

    The policy of raising the age of superannuation entitlement, and, its most recent iteration, income testing of it, is in effect Labour telling those approaching pension age or retired that Labour does not represent them and does not intend to,

    Politically, besides the growing voter block that have their eyes firmly fixed upon retirement, and, putting aside the issue of affordability for the moment, the stupidity of this particular policy is that since 2011 in all but 1 poll a Labour Government would have to include Winston’s NZFirst, political suicide in other words over a policy that Labour could never hope to have the numbers to Legislate,

    How would you feel as a voter on low hourly rates with such a lack of hours of work that you, your 3 children, and, your wife were forced to live in 1 room in an Auckland boarding house,(Mene Mene as shown on a memorable Campbell Live), and, Labour announced their ‘flagship’ housing policy of building 150,000 houses, trumpeting all the while ‘affordable’ at 300,000 a pop,

    Beaten i guess would be the feeling of the 1000’s upon 1000’s who like Mene Mene live such a precarious existence only wishing for the hours of work and the wages that would allow them to suitably house them and their children, beaten again by Labour’s Socialism of,for, and,by the middle class,

    In effect, such a policy, like that of raising the age of entitlement to superannuation, is telling a vast swathe of the electorate that Labour no longer represents them,

    And, the third piece of election policy that ties in with the other 2 i have addressed above, anathema to the low paid living that precarious existence,

    Compulsory Kiwisaver, delivered as a policy in doses with 3 branches, first we got ‘Labour will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour,(lets not address here the divisive nature of promising Government workers the living wage),

    Next with a suitable delay, the proposal was that having raised that minimum wage Labour would take it away again by forcing everyone’s inclusion in Kiwisaver,

    If that wasn’t bad enough, next came the real kicker,(for kicker read real kick in the teeth for every low waged worker), Labour proposed that worker contributions to Kiwisaver would be used to control inflation, if inflation was getting above the Reserve Bank’s target the Labour proposal was to increase the dollar amount workers would contribute,

    To put it bluntly from the point of view of the low waged workers, Labour was proposing take food off of their tables so as to ensure the middle class didn’t have to pay higher interest rates on the 150,000 houses Labour proposed to build for that middle class,

    In conclusion, and, trying to show a kindness to Labour that in all honestly i do not feel, it appears that Labour, like i, know that it’s a 2% election scenario, unfortunately, Labour have decided to seek that 2% of the vote from among those currently voting National,

    What i see is a Labour Party that knows that after the previous raising of the age of entitlement for superannuation there was a grand surplus and thus after that event there were any number of tax cutting rounds along with Working for Families etc, the majority of these monies dished out to the middle class because that is who Labour represents…

  3. Your comments are spot on John, Labour are a lost cause. Our best bet is to ignore them, let them pass away and let a new party grow to take their place. Personally I have high hopes for Mana.

  4. ELLE is right,

    We have a media that deliberately go out and kill any competition to the ruling party that prop up the Elite corporations who own the media.

    Until the largest opposition parties bury their differences and get together to form a united front we people still will suffer.

    Firstly Labour could call for a united opposition forum strategy meeting to map the way forward and of course take back half our public media for their use and not continue to allow the NatZ to use our taxpayer funding to kill opposition parties chance at getting their positions out to the sleepy public right?

    • Cleangreen you missed my point that the opposition is the same as National,its all a con ,all elections according to David Degraw is a game ,the result is in before the first vote made.
      Tony you sound defeatist,no need to get drunk ,get out and fight for our rights, If we all did it we can defeat the greedy leaders.

    • The MSM (“Main Shit Media”) plays nothing more a role in modern day society, as the court jesters did before the courts of the kings and queens in medieval or more ancient times.

      They do at times dare jest a bit, dare ask a tricky question, but overall, they know they better not bite the hand that feeds them, and just play a bit, fool around a bit, and otherwise do nothing, to unseat the king and queen they dance in front of.

      It is a media dominated by private, commercial business interests, by corporate business interests, by “investors” and shareholders wanting their shares and returns, and by the ones that put the butter on their bread.

      Even “publicly owned” media as here in New Zealand been forced to “compete” with the private media, on a low level as the private media set the rule of the game for.

      Look at TV3 now, doing away with Campbell Live, and now also only having half an hour news, like last Sunday evening, and otherwise going full into entertainment, infotainment and emotive “current affairs”, based on some individual cases, that get ratings.

      The rest is commercial salesmanship, acting as the pusher of products and services, for consumers to buy.

      Wait until TV-One will do away with their one hours news program, to save costs, as they now need not bother compete anymore, with news from the private station. So standards keep dropping.

      And as the bosses in that media have very much on their mind, who also pays them, they will obey, and shoot anyone down, who dares to challenge the status quo, that keeps all them, the dominant powers, in control.

      Is anybody really surprised we could get any other election results as we have had the last two to three elections, with the media we have?

  5. One thing I always notice is how little support other Labour members seem to give to their leader. Phil Goff had to virtually campaign against National on his own in 2008 and both David Cunliffe and now Andrew Little appear to be walking alone.

  6. These are frustrating observations, shining light on what has already been spoken of … many times. Shining the light is worthwhile. It is necessary. Isn’t all life to do with politics? The way to make a decision on behavior? Differing points of view that need to be resolved. The ‘counter culture’ of the sixties/seventies was, in part, a reaction against the relentless and unenlightened minor swing between parties that were never going to be less than pro capitalistic. Forming alternative society based on ‘caring and sharing’ and ‘harmony’ proved difficult. Being absorbed back into the system found concerned citizens hoping for a compromise in the shape of the capitalism with the most emphasis on social conscience, one in which society could socially evolve. To my mind The Green Party has been the one to address the issues holistically and with the most care. We need enlightened people with the ability to get a healthy perspective across. We need a listening public that is informed and concerned. It can be done.

  7. Just imagine Bishop Brian Tamaki maturing a bit, and coming to realise his past follies, accepting it is not all good that he has done, and becoming a “true Christian”, selling his estate and cars, and living in a two bedroom unit like so many in Otara? He confesses to his followers, it was wrong to ask them for all the money, for all the blind obedience, and it is over now, as he needs to change direction, and “repent”. He then gives away all the wealth, to the Salvation Army or another organisation, to feed the hungry school kids.

    That may be a good comparison for Labour aka “Nat Lite”, in the present circumstances. Having gone along with neoliberalism, to a degree even conformed to a more neoliberal economic and social direction in policy for 3 decades, it is very difficult to come to terms with reality, and change.

    A road to Damascus kind of journey for Labour, can anybody imagine it?

    Just as they did in the late 1980s, and as National did during the 1990s, and Labour more or less did so again up to 2008, they allowed the mass brainwashing of the whole population through the commercial, private, vested interest holding businesses, their lobby groups, the various “leading economists”, the think tanks and what you have. So most have “conformed” and “converted” to that thinking, it seems.

    Chasing away the ghosts that they created or allowed to enter, and becoming the ecorcist, that is a very, very hard choice to make, a difficult task, like climbing a massive mountain.

    It seems they dare not change, as they fear, nobody will believe them, they cannot even believe themselves anymore, that there is way to change and follow a political path that they once did follow.

    Hope is fading, given the apparent confusion and disarray within their ranks. Where to go from here, they ask?

    Can they not see, that the Nats are just playing a nasty game with them?

    It is time to come clean, and reform, and get back to basics, dear Labour!

    • The real left in Labour are very dear people, and I’m tired of them being slagged by the disorganised far left.

  8. Well this is actually a war , with the same sort of techniques used to win in a war , – and I hate to point out the obvious and I know you people already know this but – the fact is…in any war….you use spies and subversives.

    You plan to take over all fronts . ALL FRONTS.

    And strategically this is what the neo liberal has done.

    We all know….that the neo liberal subversion was started of by Roger Douglas and a small band of hand picked backers in Labour .

    YES – LABOUR !!!

    And who was the traditional workingmans party ? LABOUR !!!

    A classic coup de tat.

    These were the same individuals who then , after the subversive damage was done…left that party and formed ACT.

    But as in all good strategy …you DO NOT forgo ground already taken – you consolidate that position.

    Which is precisely what they did.

    And ensured a large number of their people stayed behind in Labour to ensure total coverage of that subversion no matter which party the population voted for.

    THIS was among other things why it was so important to place Kelvin Davis in Te Tai Tokerau.

    Kelvin Davis is a neo liberal.

    And it was also why it was so important for John Key to advise his supporters to vote for Davis….who ,…happens to be in the so – called largest opposition party.

    If Hone Hawera had brought in several other MP’s…we would quite possibly have had a different govt by now and Key would have been history.

    Its that simple.

    Do not think for a moment that a neo liberal in the Labour party is any different from a neo liberal in the National party. You would be naive and grossly stupid to assume as such.

    Neo liberalism knows no allegiance to any particular party .. you are dealing with an ideology. And it uses any social movement so long as it suits its agenda and can be utilized to serve its core game plan.

    It will pay lip service to any social situation ,adapt , and tailor it to any country in order to progress its ideology. And they are quite content to bide their time to do it.

    This is why CGT was unpopular with Labour before the election. All National had to do then was wait a certain length of time then introduce it under another guise and suddenly it seems like some bold new initiative.

    And introduce it well after the election – strategically – so it raises no real dissension. Then it just becomes ‘ prudent ‘ economics.

    And rest assured …those neo liberals in Labour will be quietly giving approval to ALL these things done by National. Perhaps not in the more mundane…but certainly in the important fields of the neo liberal framework.

    And there you have it.

    Much like the TET offensive of Vietnam …we have a major incursion on our hands.

    View it like this – and you will easily see what and how they achieved it and the motive behind so many of their seemingly bizarre initiatives.

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