An Opposition Worthy Of The Name?

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IT IS ONLY NOW, thirty years after the event, that the full effects of Labour’s 1984-1990 betrayals have become visible. The party’s inability to respond coherently to John Key’s National-led government has allowed the latter to escape, Scot-free, from economic and social policy failures that daily grow more intractable. All over New Zealand, voters shake their heads in frank disbelief at National’s extraordinary run of political good luck. Everywhere their cry is the same: “If only we had an Opposition worthy of the name!” How right they are.

The signal achievement of National’s nine years in opposition was the unification of the Right. With ruthless efficiency, Don Brash and John Key rolled up National’s electoral competitors, leaving only the vestiges of parties that had once attracted, between them, more than 10 percent of the popular vote. By the time National assumed the Treasury Benches in 2008, United Future and Act had become mere grace-and-favour parties, entirely dependent on Key’s goodwill for their survival.

It is a feat which Labour has singularly failed to replicate. A point which the latest Roy Morgan poll drives the home with particular force. In the pollster’s latest survey, the party accounts for less than half of the combined Opposition Vote (Labour 26%, Greens 14.5%, NZ First 12.5%). Sadly, the electorate’s imagination simply isn’t equal to the task of transforming these three distinct political entities into a governing coalition it could feel comfortable supporting. In spite of the fact that Labour, the Greens and NZ First jointly command 53 percent of the popular vote, their chances of unseating National are slim.

Were Labour able to move as easily along its half of the political spectrum as National, then things might be different. Its four post-Helen Clark leaders notwithstanding, Labour has not been able to emulate Brash’s ruthless consolidation of National’s ideological base. No one was prepared to believe in Phil Goff as a champion of the Hard Left. Indeed, since the departure of Jim Anderton in 1989 there’s been no one in Labour’s caucus capable of assuming that role. David Cunliffe tried – but failed.

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It was Helen Clark’s great good fortune to have Anderton and his Alliance available for coalescence. Their eventual partnership brought together the Hard Left and the Soft Centre in a fashion which Key, nine years later, was only too happen to imitate – drawing away tens-of-thousands of former Labour supporters in the process. That the parliamentary numbers never allowed Prime Minister Clark to replace the Alliance with the Green Party – thereby acquainting the electorate with the Greens as responsible and creative Cabinet Ministers – has proved extremely costly for the New Zealand Left.

The bitter truth is that if a beneficent angel were to uplift the best politicians from Labour, the Alliance (before it disappeared) the Greens and the Mana Party, and drop them into a divinely crafted political entity that might – or might not – continue to exploit the still potent Labour brand, then the Government of John Key would be in real trouble. The current Labour Party bleats on (and on, and on, and on) about being a “Broad Church”, but the sad truth remains that its reservoir of recruitment has never been shallower.

A genuinely “broad church” party of the Left would balance off Andrew Little with Hone Harawira, Jacinda Ardern with Laila Harré, Stuart Nash with John Minto, Kelvin Davis with Annette Sykes, Grant Robertson with Julie Anne Genter and Annette King with Metira Turei. The whole spectrum of alternative power: from Soft Centrists to Hard Leftists; would be covered.

That Labour’s fatal apostasy [the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief or principle] has rendered such a divinely appointed caucus little more than a pipe dream is the besetting tragedy of progressive New Zealand politics. Its embrace of neoliberalism in the mid-1980s left Labour with the political equivalent of syphilis. Sadly, every one of the many attempts to administer the Penicillin of genuine progressivism (God bless you Jim, Rod, Laila!) was rejected. Consequently, Labour’s bones have crumbled and its brain has rotted. Small wonder that the other opposition parties are reluctant to get too close!

It might almost be funny, if the only people laughing, all the way to the ballot-box, weren’t John Key and Winston Peters.

67 COMMENTS

  1. Yes.

    Syphilis -an appropriate analogy.

    Not only did Roger Douglas, Richard Prebble and company infect the Labour party with neoliberal ‘syphilis’, but they also infected New Zealand society with it.

    For an increasing portion of the populace the word politics is now synonymous with another rather nasty word you used in this piece -betrayal.

    Sadly, with the corporate media in bed with the sociopaths who form the core of the political establishment, the situation is beyond redemption. Only a complete clean-out of the criminal elements that have infected and misused the political process will do. And most New Zealanders are not suffering enough for that to happen yet. So we must look forward to more of the same until it all implodes.

    • Is John key and his national government HIV then?
      Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble are long gone. Neoliberlaism has been around longer than the 80’s.

    • The next election will be won by National, unless they piss-off enough voters, so Labour-Green will win by default.

  2. “The bitter truth is that if a beneficent angel were to uplift the best politicians from Labour, the Alliance (before it disappeared) the Greens and the Mana Party, and drop them into a divinely crafted political entity that might – or might not – continue to exploit the still potent Labour brand, then the Government of John Key would be in real trouble. The current Labour Party bleats on (and on, and on, and on) about being a “Broad Church”, but the sad truth remains that its reservoir of recruitment has never been shallower.
    A genuinely “broad church” party of the Left would balance off Andrew Little with Hone Harawira, Jacinda Ardern with Laila Harré, Stuart Nash with John Minto, Kelvin Davis with Annette Sykes, Grant Robertson with Julie Anne Genter and Annette King with Metira Turei. The whole spectrum of alternative power: from Soft Centrists to Hard Leftists; would be covered.”

    Yes Chris, that is spot on. We forget that Labour was happy to demolish Internet-Mana by teaming up with National, NZ First, the Maori Party, ACT and Peter Dunne.

    Oh how valuable Hone & Laila’s voices would be right now. But no, instead we have Kelvin Davis grunting about prisons – meanwhile, Labour’s prison policies are as racist and punitive as National’s.

    I do get sick of Labour pretending they represent me. I’d rather an eccentric German millionaire speaking on behalf of me. I’m no KDC fan, but the policies from his party put Labour’s to shame.

    Labour’s broadchuch allows Goff special dispensation to back foreign corporations…no wonder Labour also put the boot into KDC. Says it all really…

    • Goff is leaving, that’s why. Internet Mana demolished themselves. Maori can be a lot more conservative than you know. They were deeply unhappy with Hone Harawira teaming up with Dotcom. Where were all the youth votes that filled the Mana/Internet rallies after great efforts where made to get them registered? When the day came, they didn’t bother to vote.

      • They did not vote because they were not silly. The boot had been put in, if you were on the web – it was pretty clear from about three weeks out.

        • It was pretty clear what was going to happen from the outset. What makes people think dirty John, who abuses his position as pm and rigs elections to cling to power would ever allow his enemy into parliament? The very person Key was forcing NZ tax payers to pay millions of dollars to have extradited to his masters in America.

      • “Where were all the youth votes that filled the Mana/Internet rallies after great efforts where made to get them registered?”

        You mean the hip hop concerts that Kim Dotcom put on? The mainstream media reported those events as Internet-Mana rallies, but they were nothing of the sort. They were music gigs.

        You complain a lot about the media speading lies and people believing the media, but you’re just as bad as John Key supporters. Please stop repeating the lies of the media. Thanks.

        “Internet Mana demolished themselves. Maori can be a lot more conservative than you know.”

        Internet-Mana never demolished themselves, it was the left believing the lies from the media – an example would be you.

        “Maori can be a lot more conservative than you know”

        I’m aware of how Maori can be conservative, but Mana is not a Maori party. It is a party that promotes a bi-cultural form of social democracy. Me and all my friends who are Mana members are Pakeha.

        Your clunky conservative nationalistic views distort your analysis.

        • Load of bull. Did you like the way media buried Hone’s office being shot at and made out it was nothing? or the way they framed Dotcom as toxic? Maybe you should follow your own advice Fatty, and obviously you haven’t bothered to read my posts, I am not a John key supporter, I am not a National supporter, never have been, never will be and I do not hold clunky conservative nationalistic views either.

          I never said Mana were exclusively a Maori party, but the electorate that Mana represented is predominately Maori. So whilst you do agree that Maori can be conservative, you are completely blind to the point that Maori did take umbridge to Hone teaming up with Dotcom, because they did and I know what I am talking about. Sue Bradford knew what would happen and she was right.

          • “I am not a National supporter, never have been, never will be and I do not hold clunky conservative nationalistic views either.”

            I’d say blaming foreigners for our systemic housing shortage is a clunky conservative nationalistic view. I wasn’t referring to National – they’re more of a liberal party, both socially and economically.

            “Maori did take umbridge to Hone teaming up with Dotcom, because they did and I know what I am talking about. Sue Bradford knew what would happen and she was right.”

            Sue threw her toys out of the cot and Colin Craig took out a full page spread in a major newspaper to congratulate her.

            Mana increased their vote from 24,168 in 2011 to 34,095 in 2014 as InternetMana.

            Labour teamed up with National, The Conservatives, ACT and The Maori Party to knock out Hone in Te Tai Tokerau. If Labour didn’t team up with the enemy then InternetMana would have had the two most principled MPs in parliament.

            I got stats and facts to back up my theory of what happened to Mana – you’re just repeating Paddy Gower’s reckons. I prefer not to parrot Mediaworks

            • Its been well documented that foreigners, particularly non resident foreigners are fueling the housing market, and that has nothing to do with a clunky conservative nationalistic view.

              Sue didn’t throw out her toys, she was right to stand by her principles that she thought Mana stood for. She felt Hone was betraying the movement, and she was vindicated by the election result. Who cares about Colin Craig or Patrick Gower?

              Hone Harawira still lost.

              Labour didn’t team up with National. John key with a complicit msm launched one of the most sustained dirtiest hateful smear campaigns against Labour and the then leader David Cunliffe in this country’s political history.

              The Maori party with their National party fund raising dinners said they were going to win all the Maori seats, Labour said they were going after them. Labour made no secret they wanted the Maori seats and won all but 1.

              You are parroting fantasy. Your theory is just that a theory that’s been made up, I wonder what planet you are living on.

              • Absolutely the dirtiest,vilest, most deceptive and vitriolic campaign any Labour leader, ever had to face (with dignity) against the lying National money machine hand-in-hand with the complicity of right-wing media on every side!

  3. But there’s been a very successful 3 termed 9 year Labour government since 1984. so that argument of 30+ years ago doesn’t wash.

    Real journalism doesn’t exist in NZ. If only we had an unbiased troll-less mainstream media etc that told the truth and reported the events instead of making up stories, and giving free passes for their National party masters.

    If the msm had of told the truth, John key and his National government of corruption and destruction would have been history long ago.

    • So do you regard a government that promoted the interests of global corporations, signed away resources to corporations, encouraged destruction of the environment, failed to address any of the fundamentals, and lied as successful?

      I put it to you that the main reason Clark got in was because the Shipley government had become so alienated and despotic, and the main reason Key got in was because the Clark government had become so alienated and despotic.

      It seems that in general, people do not vote for party policies but against blatant incompetence, corruption and lies. And now that blatant incompetence, corruption and lies are seen everywhere, people just don’t vote at all.

      • Isn’t that what John key and his National government are doing?

        If that was the case, then Labour under Clark wouldnt have stayed in power for as long as they did. After all NZers are a lot more conservative in their mind sets.

        3 terms is the usual life span for a party in power. There have been only 2 exceptions. The first Labour government (14 years) and the 2nd National government (12 years). IMO In comparison with John key’s regime, the last Labour government were safe stable saints, the red flags were already out in regards to dodgy John, people didn’t seem to care about his conflicts of interests and his insider trading whilst a mp. People wanted change, just for the sake of it than for anything else.

    • “But there’s been a very successful 3 termed 9 year Labour government since 1984. so that argument of 30+ years ago doesn’t wash.”

      Um, what? Chris mentioned Clark’s term:

      “It was Helen Clark’s great good fortune to have Anderton and his Alliance available for coalescence. Their eventual partnership brought together the Hard Left and the Soft Centre in a fashion which Key, nine years later, was only too happen to imitate – drawing away tens-of-thousands of former Labour supporters in the process. That the parliamentary numbers never allowed Prime Minister Clark to replace the Alliance with the Green Party – thereby acquainting the electorate with the Greens as responsible and creative Cabinet Ministers – has proved extremely costly for the New Zealand Left.”

      But here’s the thing about Clark’s term – it cemented neoliberalism instead of undoing it or moving beyond it. Clark was our Blair – her third way form of neoliberalism created our housing boom (which started in 2003). Clark was also ‘tough on crime’ like Bill Clinton and this resulted in our prison numbers going up. Clark’s ERA 2000 was a disaster and continues to be a disaster today.

      If you want me to keep listing Clark’s failures, then I’m happy to do that. I could write a book about it…

      We all hate Key, but so long as the ‘left’ continues to look at Clark’s era with rose tinted glasses, then we’ll get nowhere. At the moment Key can point to all the problems as being the result of Clark’s term, and he’s right (or at least it works for him as a general argument in the eyes of the electorate).

      The ‘left’ claiming that Clark was good is holding the ‘left’ back. Corbyn’s strength is that he is happy to admit Blair’s third way was a disaster. We have to do the same.

      • Clark had a lot of successes too, and a hell of a lot more than John key in comparison. It was the 4th National government that cemented neoliberalism after the Lange Labour government resigned itself and got kicked out, and National did far worse after they promised they wouldnt continue in Labour’s footsteps, and yet the people kept them in power for 3 terms. Go figure.

        People tear Douglas/Prebble apart, and deservedly so, but I haven’t read people tearing David Lange apart for allowing his Labour party to be hijacked by the Trojan horse that was Rodger Douglas. Why is that? Interestingly Douglas was instrumental in Labour’s New Zealand Superannuation Act of 1974 that would have made this country extremely wealthy and the envy of most countries around the world, but Muldoon ditched it when he came to power. What made Douglas change from that during the Kirk years so quickly into a disciple of Milton Friedman during Lange’s time?

        • “Clark had a lot of successes too, and a hell of a lot more than John key in comparison”

          That’s a low bar you’re setting there. That’s called a downward comparison and it is used as a tool to justify failure. John Key uses that approach all the time.

          Clark’s SOE model was a failure. Look at the shambles that is TVNZ – and you’re the one who blames the media all the time. TVNZ are barely distinguishable from Mediaworks – both chase advertising dollars because they chase profit.

          Same goes Kiwibank and Air NZ. What’s the point of Govt owned corporations that act the same way as multinational corporations?

          Are you going to explain Helen Clark’s successes? I have no interest in talking about Lange or Douglas or Prebble – they were shit. End of discussion.

          I’m talking about your claims that Clark’s 3 terms solved any of our problems. Guess what the child poverty rate was in NZ in 2008?

          In 2008 18.8% of NZ children were in poverty (see page 8 of this UNICEF report: https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/rc12-eng-web.pdf).

          That’s after 9 glorious years of Helen Clark? And you think that’s a success? My god you have low expectations…

          • The low bar is what John key has set. In comparison with key’s National government, the Clark Labour government was no failure but a success. By 2007 NZ was ranked second next to Sweden in the world under her leadership. Extremely low unemployment rate better standard of living, run of surpluses with govt debt that the previous National government left was paid down. Labour never sold assets, instead bought them back and set up Kiwibank, its National that is screwing that up. You are blaming Labour for what National are doing, and I never said Labour solved all of the problems, it would have required a lot more years in power to tackle the long standing probs that plague this country. What is the child poverty rate now under John key? Amazing how you have given National a completely free pass Fatty. Are you really a Nat supporter in secret?

    • Agree 100% words.

      Problem is Chris people such as yourself continue to kick Labour and that doesn’t help get rid of National and Key.

      Labour has come up with so fantastic policies re Tertiary Education (phasing out student loans), raising the possibility of a UBI and Kiwibuild and other housing policies. Kelvin Davis has been doing great work around Serco etc. Sue Moroney on paid maternity leave. And what happens is MSM and people such as Chris Trotter continue to diss them.
      Attack and dis-credit Labour and Little (previously Cunliffe) are the key strategies of the Nats and this is done through their mouth piece the msm. Be aware everytime we attack Labour rather than looking at their policies we are adding to the problems.

      • Spot on Anker. Makes one wonder what the motive is behind these anti Labour attacks doesn’t it? It most certainly looks like Chris and others like him don’t want to get rid of National and key.

  4. Who are the Labour MPs actually seriously on the left, probably Phil Twyford and Cunliffe are the only two I can come up with. Adern could have been but I gave up on her after she went to hear Tony Blair, because she could I assume, not to do a citizen’s arrest to this war criminal.

    • Kelvin Davis re the Serco mess and the detainees on Christmas Island.
      Sue Moroney on paid parental leave
      Palmerston North guy on ? 0 hour contracts I think.
      Robertsons plan to phase out student loans.
      the UBI being proposed.
      Annette King

      • Yes, that is Iain Lees-Galloway Mp for Palmerston North. There are a lot of positives coming from Labour, but those who just want to put the boot in for the sake of it don’t want to know about that.

  5. The one thing I just don’t get is how Labour is unable to evolve. Surely, they understand their disconnect with their traditional voter-base; they see the polls and surely some of them read articles posted by journalists not under National’s thumb.

    Yet still they continue to push the same agenda as National, with just a few of the excesses toned down so they can pretend they are different.

    Are Labour MPs actually so stupid they just don’t understand why they have no support? Perhaps they are just too arrogant? Or worse – are they sociopaths like Key and his cronies and they simply don’t care about anyone except themselves?

    I haven’t heard one MP from Labour accept responsibility for the disasters they unleased in the 1980s. Not one has said sorry. Not one has said they will reverse course and undo the damage. How about promoting policies that favour the “public good” instead of the enriching the rich even further.

    Are there any Labour MPs brave enough to represent what the downtrodden need?

    • I too feel the same as you Slumbergod. I can’t trust Labour – the next election is fast approaching and what have they offered to get those of us who want a change of government to get behind them. NOTHING AND MORE NOTHING.

      I am sure that we are going to get another term with this thieving lying National Government.

    • “I haven’t heard one MP from Labour accept responsibility for the disasters they unleased in the 1980s”

      What good will it do Slumdog? You cant change history, and whatever apology you think is owned won’t change the past. Phil Goff in 2011 during the debates apologized, and yet people like you are still banging on senselessly about it. You are wasting your life being stuck in the past and it doesn’t help anyone now struggling under John key’s brutal and amoral regime.

      I cannot blame the current Labour Party for the Labour government of 30+ years ago, like I cannot blame John key for Muldoon, Bolger, Richardson and Shipley.

    • Think of it as trying to get the toothpaste back in the tube. That is what Labour basically has to do, after all these years of neo-liberal policies, with them being a complicit as anyone else, we need to have some government control of a few things, housing being possibly at the top of the list.
      At the moment its a bit of a game of whack-a-mole, with Labour trying to deal with all the issues that now need more government intervention and government money. No wonder they look a bit unco. What I would advise them doing is pick just a few very important issues to most people and put most of their energies into those, housing, heath, education and the environment.
      Yes, the left needs to join up and present a united front

  6. [Comments deleted. Winnie, any value your comments had were lost amongst a barrage of personal abuse and swearing. Please consider re-framing your comments that while critical, are not derogatory. – ScarletMod]

  7. A lot of what you say is true.
    However , if you watched a very professional Jack Tame interview Paula Bennett on Q@ A the other morning about Nationals’ dodgy practices with carbon credits, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see what a parlous state the National Party are in.
    She is a Senior Minister believe it or not ,yet some one from a 4th form school debating team could have made a better job of answering Tames questions.
    She was terrible!!
    So were the highlights of the Q@A interview shown on TV1 6pm news
    as is usually the case?
    No they were not !!
    So now we have the main taxpayer funded media outlet withholding news, obviously because it would have made National look bad.
    Selective reporting on serious issues that the public have a right to know is corruption.
    So let’s assume we got the ‘Dream Team’ together,(and it is a mouth wateringly good team), and they were acing all the issues, but the media carried on with their corrupt practices of selective twisted reporting .
    Now what??

    • I agree with you about the media, Grant. But the trouble is the “dream team” given Labour’s past practices towards their fellow opposition parties, is just that; a dream. Labour has repeatedly shown that it can’t work with the Greens, and completely shafted Mana at the last election. I want a strong, united opposition that can one day become the government, but I can’t see it happening anytime soon, unless Labour collectively ha a major epiphany. Which will mean quite a few long-term MPs leaving, and others changing their spots. Likely?

    • “but the media carried on with their corrupt practices of selective twisted reporting”….

      Social Media and alternative Media can carry the message. Look at the rise of Bernie Sanders despite a blackout in US media. Look at the success of his fb / twitter campaigns and alt phone banking fundraising techniques. If the message is there, it can be carried. Problem is Labour has no message

      AND it’s not in opposition with National – most often it’s in watered down agreement…

      • Lilly The Media are really mindless twits that are taught to read not think, that now some call the MSM as Lame stream Media.

        They also have “selective listening Disorder” so really they are the ultimate Government parrots nothing more.
        All the real Journalist’s are now out of work and on blog sites unless they perform as required by Chief National Propagandist S Joyce/Goebbels not to say anything against the NatZ doctrine, like Nazi Germany again me thinks.

    • ‘So now we have the main taxpayer funded media outlet withholding news’

      That has been the case for decades but people are only just starting to notice, probably because of greater access to truth via the Internet.

      Therefore the Internet is the prime target for censorship and control. After all, TPTB cannot allow the general populace to become informed and start thinking for themselves.

  8. That a conservative man like Jim Anderton could ever be considered ‘hard left’ says a lot about the left wing in NZ politics.
    It was because he was so conservative that Clark and her right wing government could work with him.

    The Labour party back stabbed the Alliance once Anderton pulled out of it, just as they did to Mana. They are the ones that seem unable to work with the Greens, probably because they are trying to suck up to NZ First.

    Labour is a zombie party, dead and still walking. Sad but they brought it on themselves.

    The future is Green (or alternatively death by corporation) and we better get used to it!

  9. “A point which the latest Roy Morgan poll drives the home with particular force. In the pollster’s latest survey, the party accounts for less than half of the combined Opposition Vote (Labour 26%, Greens 14.5%, NZ First 12.5%). Sadly, the electorate’s imagination simply isn’t equal to the task of transforming these three distinct political entities into a governing coalition it could feel comfortable supporting. In spite of the fact that Labour, the Greens and NZ First jointly command 53 percent of the popular vote, their chances of unseating National are slim.
    Yes Chris, we are hoping these parties amalgamate to call themselves “the new choice for change”

  10. The roll Winston Peters has played deserves closer scrutiny. That photo of him doing tea, cosying up to big little donny brash said it all. The game they play ? It’s with our lives. To hide the swindle and bury the truth.

  11. The roll Winston Peters has played deserves closer scrutiny. That photo of him doing tea, cosying up to big little donny brash said it all. The game they play ? It’s with our lives. To hide the swindle and bury the truth.

  12. Go for president of the Labour Party Chris and make your changes from inside the tent, rather from the safety of sitting on the right side of the fence.

    We all want a Labour Party that is strong and aligned with its socially responsible roots. Pouring scorn on the Labour Party isn’t helpful, all it does is play into the hands of Crosby Textor, who will take your words and create the narrative of “no decent opposition” (heard it this afternoon from Duncan Garner already).

    If you are so annoyed about what the neoliberals and Key are doing, and the social mayhem they are creating, criticising and carping from the sidelines is not going to change anything.

    • Oh please Winnie stop living in a fools paradise. Labour have effectively purged anyone on the hard left, over and over. No one who with half a brain will touch that toxic beast, unless you want to get burned. Having seen the people that have been burnt for the last 30 odd years – your line about joining, then changing the party from the inside is just a pipe dream of a crack smoking fool. Do you have concept of history? Are you really that out of touch about the nasty politics that labour have played with people who identify as red.

      Labour are nothing but a liberal party, light blue, national light, space wasting, dying party. I thank them for the reforms of the 1930’s and wish they had stayed in power a bit more with Kirk. But, there days are over. They are the boot at the neck of working people.

      To paraphrase Peter Fraser – problem with the name labour, you leave it lying around, and any idiot can pick it up.

  13. You mention Winston laughing along with John Key – right at the end of your piece, undermining entirely your earlier lumping NZ First with the opposition.

    NZ First is a party of moderate conservatism, as different from Brash and Key as Goff is from Mana, and cannot be counted as part of a useful left-led government.

  14. Unfortunately, when National takes a hit, its all Labour’s fault, and out pours the distractionary and always passionate Labour bashings. Happens every time.

    • 100%Kim Dandy perfectly correct, we are being played by the CIA Black Opps on behalf of Bilderberg request to soften us up for a takeover TPPA misadventure in being raped.

  15. @ Grant – yes, it’s a fight against the establishment.
    National’s American masters know this game very well.

  16. The reiteration of the concept of a portmanteau grouping of a genuine broadchurch on the Left is certainly a useful contribution. I’m not sure if the people currently representing Labour are genuinely neophites of the neoliberal movement. Rather they doubtless consider that they are doing the expedient, either for themselves or whatever causes they still believe in. There is a good chance that the real problem goes back to candidate selection. I remember, Chris, you railing against the candidate selection policy, from memory, before the election that saw National come into power. It seems to me that this is at the heart of the.

    How many of us can declare, hand on heart, that ANY of the candidates for leadership of the Labour Party over the past few years seemed anything other than the best of a bad lot? Worthy, honest, some okay characteristics maybe. Neither inspiring nor even adequate spokespeople for the aspiration of their supporters. That is the problem.

    A leader even with the minimum charisma quota and average to good communication skills would be able to lead all party towards sensible rapprochements with their natural allies. Without that central rallying focus no one dares take the necessary steps.

    The only current leader among the opposition with charisma seems to be Winston Peters. Unfortunately he seems to have no broad vision, going instead for the low-hanging fruit of populist causes. I doubt if he can, or is interested in, changing his orientation. Can anyone else stand up? You would have to be sceptical.

    I wonder if Russel Norman is happy in his new job.

  17. Chris, at one level you’re correct; Labour today is indeed a talent-free desert which deserves its current polling.

    At another level you’re wrong.

    It wasn’t Roger Douglas who infected Labour. It was Helen Clark who put the party on a butchers block and chopped it up into factions in order to retain absolute control whilst she was PM. As soon as she left these factions turned on each other.

    • Andrew, if you’re defending Roger Douglas’s infection of the Labour Party, then it seems you’re expecting all political parties to share your neo-liberal values.

      So where does choice come into it? You know what I mean, choice to vote for something other than National and Act type policies?

    • Nah Douglas was another Jonkey he couldn’t care what he and Ron Brierley Fay Richwhite and co did then as now with NatZ chump.

  18. The problem is still clearly a Labour one, and its all been said before,…. on many posts, threads and articles – too many remaining neo liberals in key positions with far too much sway in its caucus.

    The only time Labour will extricate itself from this is when they purge these types and have a complete about face diametrically opposed to any semblance of the neo liberal charter.

  19. I’ve heard it said that ‘the best people to run a country can’t, because they’re too busy cutting hair and driving taxis.’
    Maybe.
    Labour seems to have a mindset in that it doesn’t want to ‘rock the boat’, while the country continues to sink, with it’s “Skipper” assuring us everything’s fine. Although I would have voted Labour over National, Helen Clark should be there beside Jonkey facing the firing squad.
    What about the Greens? Seems they have been brought out.
    Haven’t heard anything from Mana. Have they fallen out of flavour? So many were seriously interested in them.
    Bomber, maybe it’s time you stepped up.

  20. If you re-read the post, WildK, I think you will see that Chris is arguing the exact opposite of your take-away. Broadchurch means broadchurch, not further purges by you, Stalin or anyone else. There is room in a civilized, reform-minded but democratic party for a range of views. That is the message, and one many who post here should take to heart.

    As I said above, I doubt very much that any of the Labour caucus would describe themselves as neoliberal. Whether they are or not depends on what you mean by “neoliberal”.

    There is certainly a tendancy who believe that trade, especially free trade, is the best path to prosperity for workers. They may be right or not, but it is a discussion to have in a small country as dependent on
    foreign exchange as we are. Or would you rather join Eva Rickard’s shade in the neo-stoneage?

    What I think of as neoliberal: the belief that money is the only measure of success, the only worthy goal and the only true measure of morality; winners win; losers should be judged by their failure; “open those borders to the world of dosh!”; “down the drain with the politics of envy!…etc etc, while not much of an overstatement about the current administration, I would have thought describes literally no one on the Left in or out of office.

    What is desperately needed is not another neoliberal witch hunt, but a loud and effective voice to end your kind of intolerant judgmentalism.
    because what accurately can be attributed to the Left is a subservience to the magnetism of factionalism and a swift,often ill-considered condemnation of any who don’t subscribe to our own particular bias.

    Chris, you are also sometimes prey to this siren-call, so it is positive and encouraging for you to start to see an -albeit unobtainable – ideal which would join Harawira and Harre with Shearer and Nash, Adern and Robertson with Shaw and Norman maybe even some Maori Party voices and some manifestation of New Zealand First. All of whom recognize that to save us – body as well as soul – we have got to get busy. And that there is no time to waste.

  21. I agree with a chunk of this article. Bu the problem is that Chris really can’t mind up his mind, nail his colours to the mast etc etc.

    Sometimes he’ll produce a devastating critique of Labour, then six months later he’ll be writing stuff showing all kinds of illusions in this wretched party of capitalist managerialism and writing as if it could be something more than it is.

    Here’s some serious penicillin:

    Latest opinion poll – Labour just can’t catch a break: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2016/04/28/latest-opinion-poll-labour-just-cant-catch-a-break/

    Labour’s new general secretary indicative of party’s capitlaist managerialism: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/new-labour-party-general-secretary-indicative-of-partys-managerial-capitalism/

    Labour – a bosses’ party:https://rdln.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/the-truth-about-labour-a-bosses-party/

  22. Labour are dead, almost dead, I would say, the polls now show it is between 26 and 28 percent support, that is if we can rely on these polls, which never present the high number of undecided voters.

    But this is what has happened in many western and other countries, also in Israel, the left, the traditional left, has become a marginal force, and a diverse range of smaller parties have evolved all over the place. They stand for policies that are not easy to bring under one roof or church.

    What we have had is governments on the right work unison with their lobbyists, also managing to set the momentum in changing and influencing minds, it is about “the individual”, “choice”, “opportunity”, “growth” and “what needs to be done”, e.g. “reducing the state power”, that has caught on.

    People have been corrupted, in their minds, they will never admit to it, but that is the fact, it is promotion of selfishness, of individual freedom, of using opportunity, of competition and beating others, of giving up “old baggage” like obligations and duties, and about the internet too, where so much happens now, every person to himself, connecting only with whom and with what he or she choose to engage with.

    This is all very divisive stuff, but people do not see it as such, people are lone fighters in a jungle kind of system, but they do not object, as under given conditions most still manage somehow, to achieve and pay what they need for a basic minimum, or what fulfills their basic needs.

    Self service checkouts in supermarkets, ATMs, online banking and shopping, social media, and so forth, the younger ones, and older ones accept it and even like it, they put themselves into a cyberspace illusion environment, and simply dream of winning lotto, striking it lucky, of finding that great job, of perhaps, one day, affording their own apartment or even house.

    So the journey goes, most are brainwashed to death, as long as the capitalist system sells dreams, feeds the minimum needed, controls us all by division, enforced competition, by giving carrots to us, to perhaps get something ahead of others, and thus “move on”, nobody will rebel.

    It is when this system of perfected manipulation falls and collapses, or is close to that, then people wake up, they do not wake up as we have it now.

    Key knows this, the powers he works with have it all studied and worked out, they control most, they have the levers on the money, the finances, they force Labour, Greens and others to now run desperate online appeals for donations, where they, Nats and ACT are swimming in money.

    The Greens gain, NZ First gain, but their supporters are just smaller groups of society, Labour also lack clear direction and leadership, trying to make it right for all, right, left, centre, that is not going to cut it, I am afraid. They also face challenges to do things, as their MPs are not as well qualified and resourced as government MPs, they need funds to get somewhere, to do research, to dig into stuff and expose it.

    Good on the Greens tonight, the ONE News revealed more about Key and his connection to a trust and their vested interests and representatives, how they successfully lobbied government to stop any changes to trust laws, which make us a virtual tax haven. That is stuff that should shake people out of the slumber. But most are so disconnected, ahem, they are connected, but only to other not so well informed, via social media, going on about endless trivia and distraction. That is on purpose, divide and rule have been perfected by the business, right leaning pro free market, neo liberal political parties and government, so that few actually get any information of substance, and hence they vote accordingly, for who has the nicer face, is more appealing, has the soft skills to succeed in getting into the commerical media front page or the Women’s Weekly or so.

    With all this, it remains to be an uphill battle for progressives, I hope that more wake up, but yes, we need unity among the opposition, they must present a real alternative for an election, at least Labour and Greens should form a firm alliance, so voters see enough strengtht in unity there.

    I do not know where NZ First fits in, and I have my doubts, I cannot see them fit in well with Labour and Greens, at this moment. So Labour and Greens, get your shit together, I mean together, and we may see better poll results.

  23. Labour need to start talking to the people they say they represent.
    The factory workers,cleaners,cooks all those that lost so much under the Bolger government due to the employment contracts act.
    Nine years of Clark and Labour did stuff all to return our living standards.
    Two and a half years ago I moved to Perth. I now earn $12 an hour more and work 38 hour weeks,I knock off at 1.00 pm on Fridays and get time and a half when I work overtime.
    FFS Labour we workers on the ground and factory floor are your missing million.
    PS. I only moved because I met a fantastic Aussie lady.

  24. “It was Helen Clark’s great good fortune to have Anderton and his Alliance available for coalescence. Their eventual partnership brought together the Hard Left and the Soft Centre in a fashion which Key, nine years later, was only too happen to imitate – drawing away tens-of-thousands of former Labour supporters in the process.”

    Yes, there you have it. And the damage Clark did to the poorest of the poor was not only possible as a result but bloody unforgivable. I see Clark on tele now about all that UN stuff and it gets me close to being physically sick. Helen Clark disgusts me because of what she did.

  25. Forget Helen Clark. It is what we do now that matters.
    Andrew Little should start by putting out the olive branch to supporters of Mana and start to be “caught” at “secret” meetings with Harawira, NZF and the Greens. (The reef fish of the media can’t resist a leak or a scoop).That will start the ball rolling. Spokespeople for the Left on the media then should begin to sing from the same song-sheet with veiled references to something big in the wings and let the games of social media begin.
    By the end, even the MPs least enthusiastic about change will be on board from shear self-preservation.
    It can happen. Will it? Is it time for Matt McCarten to stand up?
    What is desperately needed is something that looks like strategy.

    • Well no, we wont forget Helen whats her name as she was the continuation of the neo liberal charter started by Douglas. And without the historical significance of that we lack the ability to have a chronological record of just how we ended up as we have.

      However I do like your idea of being ‘ caught ‘ at ‘secret meetings’…

      I suggested bi annual conferences between NZ Fisrt, Greens, Mana, Labour to discuss areas of commonality of policy and election strategy to avoid cancelling each other out…. I doubt there’s even the will or the ability to lay down the egos, however… sadly. And until there is… we will continue to see this cancer going unchecked. And if anything… its simply testament to the lack of unity and concern among these party’s,…again….sadly.

  26. A very good, insightful article Chris, especially this sentence: “Were Labour able to move as easily along its half of the political spectrum as National, then things might be different.” Without that kind of reach you have no leverage. I see a lot of comments seeking an apology for the 80’s. I think the current problems stem from 2008, when instead of challenging an establishment that was by then openly hostile to much of their constituency, the Labour caucus defended their right to be part of that establishment against their constituency. Think of it – the excessive and gleeful punishment of Chris Carter, the parachuting in of right-leaning sympathisers for by-elections. The installation of Shearer seemingly to head any left-leaning hopes off at the pass, and finally their craven and shameful disassociating themselves from Cunliffe during the 2014 election. During an election! With hostility toward their constituency being ratcheted up another notch or two! I like Andrew Little and I hope he is able to find a way through the impasse he has inherited.

  27. Labour has been smoking crack – they can’t shake their dependence on corporate money.

    First you have to get them off crack. Then you might have a chance of getting them cleaned up. But until you’ve done that, forget it. They’re gone.

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