Labour’s law and order stance bad for the Left


Some on the left mistakenly argue that Labour’s selection of Greg O’Connor as Ohariu candidate is a good thing because he would appeal to a more conservative section of the electorate. My fellow blogger Martyn Bradbury said it was “a bloody smart move by Little and his ever broadening church.”

The problem is that if O’Connor is elected he would not be sitting quietly in the back pew of this “broad church” but would be pressing his “law and order” solutions. O’Connor is to the right of National on “law and order” issues, not least through his advocacy of an armed police force, which not even National’s Judith Collins, when Police Minister, would endorse. O’Connor now says that, as president, he was just representing Police Association policy to arm the police but it is obvious to any observer that he led the charge. He was the Police Association’s tough man saying in 2014, for example, that it was “time to overcome our squeamishness and arm the Police.” Every time there was police misbehavior from a questionable shooting, to deaths in police pursuits, to sexual misconduct, to the mistreatment of Tuhoe during the 2007 Urewera raids O’Connor would leap on to TV to bash the critics – which included myself as Green Police spokesman through much of that time.

O’Connor, as Police Minister in a Labour/Green government, would probably not meet too much resistance (except from the Greens) to right-wing law-and-order legislation. Labour has a bad track record on law-and-order, adopting a “never be seen to be weaker than National” stance when it was previously elected in 1999. The then Justice Minister Phil Goff introduced Bills extending prison sentences, which is a major reason why our prison roster is now topping 10,000 inmates.

The Left has a duty oppose those who see tougher legislation and more police as the best way to fight crime. It is interesting that even National MP (and former police officer) Chester Borrows is to the left of Labour on police matters. He wrote recently that “I can’t truly understand the need for a radical increase in police numbers when the crime statistics as far as we can rely on them, are falling.” He accused Labour of “pork barrel politics” by pushing for an extra 1000 police “with no explanation of where these new officers would be deployed.”

Redeployment of the existing police force should be the first thing to look at. So much resource is wasted in chasing marijuana cultivators and users. Police so deployed could be better used for community policing and attending to burglaries.

Exaggerating the danger from criminals (including terrorists) doesn’t help the Left. The prime beneficiaries are always the right-wing politicians and racists. We see this vividly in America and Europe today with Donald Trump and Marie Le Pen. Here, the National Party, ACT and New Zealand First will always be the ultimate electoral beneficiaries of criminal bashing. By selecting an archetypal tough-on-crime candidate in Greg O’Connor, Labour is only making National’s law-and-order policies more attractive to voters.

Failure to properly address the roots of most offending, especially poverty, condemns us to a higher crime rate than we need to have, and poor communities to an alarming rate of incarceration. Tough policies, imprisoning more of the poor, is not the answer.

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Labour’s nomination of O’Connor is not necessarily a winning strategy in Ohariu. Many Labour and Green supporters will be reluctant to vote for a candidate who is well to the right of the incumbent Peter Dunne on human rights issues. The Greens not running a candidate may help O’Connor, but it also focuses National voters’ attention on the importance of Ohariu for the survival of a National government. Many of the 6120 voters who backed National’s Brett Hudson in 2014 may now switch to Dunne, given he supports National staying in power. Hudson and Dunne together garnered 53% of the electorate vote in 2014, compared with 42% for Labour’s Virginia Andersen and the Greens Tane Woodley.


  1. They are going for a broad church all right aren’t they; from Zen Buddism to Radical Islam. Trying to find enough diversity of identity that everyone in the country has some quirk to vote for.
    Perhaps they would be better to come up with a comprehensive economic and fiscal policy that returns control of resources to the elected government and makes their social equity intentions credible.
    D J S

  2. Great post Keith and so very true, I am appalled that they have given this loud mouth the opportunity to become a politician. But then that is Labour for you. Every time a person was shot and killed by the police this loud mouth would be on TV saying ‘The IPC will be investigating as are the police and until they have done their job we won’t know the full story… and then he rattles on to say they would never have shot anyone without there being no other option, apparently hwe knows all hte fact already.

    The number of demonstrations that I have now been to where the police ‘illegally’ carry tasers is extremely worrying. And every time there is a complaint about this, the IPC ihvestigate and some cock and bull story is told about them being at something else and forgetting to remove their taser. This happened one year at the annual Waihopai demo and should have been followed up by the IPC to see what the event was prior that they had to have their tasers. This was before they were ‘part’ of the uniform.

    The IPC are useless and rarely come out on the side of anyone except the cops.

    I suppose some of the Greens will swallow the dead rat and vote him in.

    • Traditionally conservitives are dead against marijuana reforme so its an awkward fit calling O’Conner right wing and a lesser extent Labour.

      Besides id rather try Labour out first before an armed uprising

      • You mean the same Labour that gave us Rogernomics and large-scale immigration, a Free Slave Deal with the Chinese mega-dictatorship and runaway house prices under Clark? The Labour Party is a right-wing party, and they know it. Anyone claiming otherwise needs their head read.

        • All that is irrelevant because polls show 30% support for Littles Labour. Care must be taken to limit growth in fake news. 2 things set Labours P3 agreement under Clark from the TPPA under John Key.

          1) IP law or the mickey mouse law which gave companies the right to continually extend intellectual property rights far beyond the aurthors death which doesn’t protect the aurthors rights at all, it protects corporates rights to only profit.

          2) ISDS which sets up parallel courts as if New Zealands legal fraternity is some how substandard or cant be trusted to secure corporate profit. The differnce in the P3 agreement is ISDS was run under the World Trade organisation.

          Iv only replied because I thought ur view was inconsistent and the left shouldnt be trying to replace Labours knowledge at running government departments right now. If we listened to people like you there wouldnt be any one in Labour.

          • Irrelevant? How is the fact that Labour is a right-wing party is irrelevant? They may be on 30%… so what? The Labour Party is still a right-wing neo-liberal party with strong ties to the Chinese dictatorship (which is basically a gigantic north Korea). If there was no one in Labour, that would be ideal, because then perhaps we could get a genuine progressive left-wing party, rather than a neo-liberal trainwreck pretending to be “of the people”. The Labour Party is like Hillary Clinton, and working class people can see from their record since Lange that the Labour Party acts in its own interests and not in the interests of working NZers. It is your view that is inconsistent and incoherent.

            • Once you’ve been in amongst the people and gain a sort of excitement, it is an incomparable atmosphere of what a big voting block is like, that should make your mind up.

              For those that don’t know how to apply risk arbitrage and event driven management in finance and apply it to politiking. First of all it’s proprietary trading so left leaning parties trade in and out of major voting blocks which are specialist areas, and risk arbitrage refers to take over situations so that can be an out situation that have already been announced by mino parties which spreads arbitrage between parties acquiring and the acquire.

              There’s also whats known as rumourtrage where you’re trying to spot voting blocks that are ripe for take over activity and the event driven side is more geared towards dualistic sides of left or right leaning blocks for example Mana Movement and The Opportunities Party which are both listed but the votes once you’ve ached out the political differences don’t necessarily absorb the same amount of votes as it may be written in to an agreement.

              So we should play the spread between the mino’s and the major parties instead of trying to drain the major parties. In my opinion.

  3. All good points Keith, although there is one thing that is even worse for the left…

    …another three years of National government!

    One step at a time Grasshopper, one step at a time.

  4. Hi Keith,
    I am a little surprised that you have fallen for the Nats line that ‘crime is falling’. I have seen the stats and crime increased by 4% or over 11,000 victimisations in 2106 compared to 2015, and resolution rates are appalling (<10% of all burglaries are solved). Moral among police in the regions is alarmingly low and 60% of police don't believe they are meeting the promises they make to their communities.

    Community policing has been gutted and there are only 195 (or less than 2% of police) in the Organised Crime squads (those chasing the gangs).

    We do need more police. A significant number of Labour's promised muster would have gone into community policing which is actually about prevention rather than resolution (even though this is important) and certainly not just about locking people up.

    I am the first to acknowledge that addressing the causes of crime must be a priority, but if people don't feel safe in their own communities, or they have lost confidence in the police to solve crime, then as a society we are all in trouble.

    So it's not just about more police: the real challenge is to place them in positions and locations that really make a difference.

    Stuart Nash
    Police Spokesman – Labour

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