Labour and the Greens prostrate themselves to corporate capitalism

By   /   March 29, 2017  /   10 Comments

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I think pitiful is the best single word to sum up this deal.

Just when you thought there was no way Labour could move further to the right – they have. And have taken the Greens with them.

Last week the two parties signed a joint Budget Responsibility Rules framework whereby they have put tight financial constraints on what they will do as a government.

The Green Party says the Budget Responsibility Rules will “allow us to govern responsibly” Oh please!
The parties have pledged to “deliver sustainable surpluses, reduce debt, prioritise long-term investments, be careful with expenditure and build a fairer tax system”

The Greens optimistically, but utterly unrealistically, say they will still be able to “make the changes people know are needed, like lifting kids out of poverty, cleaning up our rivers, solving the housing crisis, and tackling climate change” Yeah right.

No-one is averse to a government running the economy responsibly and sustainably – we should all insist on this – but Labour and the Greens intend to do so using the existing neo-liberal economic settings – the same settings with have obscenely enriched the 1% at the expense of the rest of us.

Before the announcement Labour had already signalled that they won’t raise taxes on the wealthy so the billions given in tax cuts to the greediest (and often nastiest) New Zealanders will stay in place and hamstring any Labour-Green led government trying to make any significant changes to National’s economic direction.

At the same time those on the lowest-incomes will continue to struggle under an intense tax burden. Minimum wage workers pay around 26% of their incomes in tax and GST while the highest income New Zealanders pay less than 5% of their incomes (from salaries and capital gains) in tax.

I think there are two reasons Labour and the Greens think signing themselves into a straightjacket is a good idea. Firstly, they think this capitulation will quieten media criticism from big business and secondly will encourage big business donations to help Labour run its election campaign.

The richest New Zealanders are the winners – the poorest two-thirds of New Zealanders are the losers.

Labour’s surrender to big business is the reason they are promising to build just 1000 additional state houses each year – when 40,000 New Zealanders are homeless. It’s the reason hundreds of thousands of our kids will be left in poverty (the last Labour government left 175,000 children living in poverty after nine years of strong economic growth) and it’s the reason none of us should expect any significant improvements in health and education.

And don’t expect to see anything more than token progress on swimmable rivers.

I think pitiful is the best single word to sum up this deal.

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10 Comments

  1. saveNZ says:

    I hear what you are saying. But last election Labour promised tax increases and increased the age of Super. They did not get elected. Yep there were plenty of other reason’s too for that. BUT, I personally think Joe Public for the last 30 years have heard about reform after reform from both National and Labour and voted for new parties and often betrayed by them too.

    The result, the public are sick of reforms that take more money from them in taxes, but their rewards from the government are decreasing no matter what is promised. The open lies, the manufactured reports, the endless new charges while being told inflation is under control. How can you trust government?

    In my parents days there was family credit, state housing that you could buy with government loans, plentiful employment, good health care and maternity and it was perfectly ok to live the middle class lifestyle on one income – leaving the other partner to look after the kids, the elderly and the community.

    We are in different times.

    I hear what you are saying about your concerns, but Labour and Greens could not be worse than the Natz who are openly destroying the environment as well as our long term economy and security.

    So it might be a hard choice. But I think it’s a vote that people have to make to change the government.

    Otherwise we will have a lot worse!

    At least once Labour and Greens get in, they are more open to debate and new ideas and are not in the trough like the Natz.

  2. David Stone says:

    Given James Shaw’s background are you sure who is steering a hard port helm.
    It’s depressing isn’t it.

  3. J S Bark J S Bark says:

    Well look at how they’re dressed for Christ’s sake!

    Look at Grant’s tie!

    Would you buy a used car from these two clowns?

  4. Not a Robot says:

    This is what inevitably comes of the majority of the population abdicating their responsibility in selecting, electing and managing their parliamentary representatives.

    If the People won’t fulfill their responsibilities, then obviously the corporate sector will oblige. And they have.

    Americans are learning a very painful lesson on this front now; the Democratic party, the equivalent of Labour, sorta, is completely captive to corporate interests. But the tide is turning.

    Bernie Sanders nearly won the Presidency by campaigning on social justice and REFUSING corporate money. Private donations averaging $27 allowed Sanders to raise MORE money than Clinton.

    After their near-win, left-wing Dems were emboldened to founded JusticeDemocrats to continue the fight to the finish

    https://justicedemocrats.com/

    This group refuses corporate donations, and has sworn to run Bernicrat candidates against every incumbent Democrat in ever electoral office in the country. And they mean it.

    They are also campaigning on bread and butter issues like Single Payer health care and minimum wage reform.

    They are studiously avoiding distracting and diffusive leftwing issues, which are like catnip to the NZ Left – I won’t name them, but if you’ve ever attended a protest with less than 20 people, you probably know the sort of thing I’m talking about.

    The aim of JusticeDemocrats is to completely clean out the Democratic party. It’s working. The Democrats are under huge pressure, they are being outed as Corporatists and Elitists at every speaking engagement, and they are being marginalised by the Left. These Corporatists are heavily on the defensive now. As a result, the Democratic Party has just called for the resignations of their entire staff. The purge is on. They deserve it – they’ve earned it.

    Justice Democrats aren’t just stopping at party politics. They are crossing party lines, and calling Congressional Reps irrespective of party to pressure them to vote responsibly. These party-agnostic constituent calling campaigns have been so intense that many Republicans voted against RyanCare, in spite of everything that has transpired in the last 8 years, and despite the fact that Trump would be humiliated.

    This is what it takes to get progressive change. Knock off the protesting and start phone-banking your elected representatives.

    It’s because we don’t engage in this way that the NZ Left is in such low estate. Our left wing politicians are openly doubling-down on Neoliberalism and austerity. What do we do? We whine to each other in our ever-shrinking political ghettos. We attend a few invisible protests. But we do nothing to actually bring Labour or the Greens to heel. Consequently they could care less what we think, as there are no consequences for disrespecting or disregarding us. They are barely aware that we exist. So they lie and continue to betray us, and like good little Clintonites, we are convinced there is no alternative.

    There is an alternative. It’s called Party Revolt. It means campaigning AGAINST Labour candidates at every level of the system specifically BECAUSE they are corporate tools indistinguishable from National candidates.

    It means running a JusticeDemocrat campaign to clean out the Labour Party. It means re-learning, as citizens, how to engage with the political process, not just throw rocks at it from the side-lines. It means picking up the goddamn phone and calling your representative BEFORE they sell us out, so that they understand that if they DO sell us out, there will be trouble in the home counties.

    It’s called Democracy, because it requires people. It has rules. You can’t delegate it to professionals. You can’t just put up posters three weeks before the election and call it done. You actually have to understand it and engage with it, collectively and individually working in concert, with goals, plans and programs, to put direct pressure on parliamentarians and party members.

    BTW kids, this is why the Boomers have got all the toys – they know this stuff, and they don’t hesitate to do it. This is the real reason why the whole of government fears to touch their privileges. Lower the retirement age? Sure, in 2047, when all the Boomers are gone. Get the picture? It actually is that simple.

    Learn from the Boomers. Or better yet, learn from the Justice Democrats! Democracy is free, and anyone can do it. If we learn this lesson, these Corporatist Labour and Green apparatchiks will melt under the heat like butter on a skillet. They will do what they are told to do, if they are told in the right way, by enough people. It’s not as hard as we’ve been making out.

    We are not helpless. All we have to do is stop whining and organise.

  5. Mike in Auckland says:

    “Before the announcement Labour had already signalled that they won’t raise taxes on the wealthy so the billions given in tax cuts to the greediest (and often nastiest) New Zealanders will stay in place and hamstring any Labour-Green led government trying to make any significant changes to National’s economic direction.”

    Yes, I was truly gobsmacked, when I heard that announcement by Andrew Little.

    So much for “tax reform”, well they talk about setting up another talking shop to discuss tax policy for the future, but what the hell will that mean. We had the ‘Future of Work’ discussions, which were just that, resulting in a lengthy report, which is basically just an acknowledgment of the challenges ahead for working people.

    But there is little in the way of real, practical and sensible solutions, and Labour’s policies are as clear as Wellington Airport was in the fog today.

    The Greens do at present seem neutered, there is nothing much coming from them, even in the Parliament, they do not ask the smartest of questions, just more of the same we have heard for years, but with less energy.

    The Greens are fast fading into ‘Pale Greens’, like late summer leaves, before they turn yellow and brown, and finally drop off to decompose.

    I really do not know, what and who to vote for this time, I am sick and tired of voting for a “lesser evil”.

    So I am waiting to see what Morgan and his TOP may still have available to fire, and whether that makes any sense.

    Emigration is the last solution, leaving this place, for good, as progress seems to be more likely in other places now, while not right now, at least in the medium term.

  6. Strypey says:

    John, I hear and share your frustration with this fiscal timidity on the part of Labour and the Greens, but I’m not sure what you hope to accomplish by writing off both Labour and the Greens as traitors. The realpolitik of the situation is that after decades of neo-liberal governments flogging off our infrastructure and outsourcing large chunks of the public service to businesses, the threat of capital flight is a real danger for an incoming government than wants to shift to the left (or even just *not* continue drifting to the right). At least Labour and the Greens are being honest about these constraints, rather than promising the Earth during the election, and then carrying on with BAU once in government.

    The Labour/ Greens goals you quote, are sufficiently vague that I’m willing to suspend judgement until I see the policy details, particular those that describe what “long-term investments”, being “careful with expenditure”, and a “fairer tax system” mean in practice (policy, policy, policy!).

    • Michal says:

      Strypey I do think if we are going to blog on this site on politics, which after all it is all about then we have a responsibility to blog what we believe. Whilst I expect Minto wants to get rid of the current crowd, he has little faith I think in Labour and the Greens. Labour have sold out so many times in the past that why would we think they are going to do any better than the current mob.

      I am a Green party member of 16 years and am contemplating not voting for them this time around. I definitley won’t vote for the Green candidate but will swallow a dead rat and vote for the Labour candidate in order to move the current national person out of office – they don’t hold it by much.

      Not sure yet what party I will vote for. Shaw has always been keener to be a minister than he is to keep to Green principals.

      • Strypey says:

        We also have a responsibility to use our words here to say something which can bring positive change, which why I keep emphasizing the need to talk about policy (policy, policy, policy!), so that we can find broad consensus on what we want future governments to do, regardless of which parties form them. Everyone on this blog knows about Labour’s neo-liberal dirty laundry. Nothing is gained by hauling it out in an election year unless it is to criticize a specific policy, and propose a better policy. Similarly, nothing is gained by smearing party leaders.

        I suggest you read Susan St John’s post on the same Labour/ Greens announcement, which actually addresses the substance of what they said, and the effect it could and couldn’t have on *policy*. Unlike John’s wailing and gnashing of teeth, it produces more light than heat (ie actually has some detailed information in it, instead of just misdirected anger).

  7. lloyd jordan says:

    at last a real summation of the traitor party known as labour

  8. John W says:

    John A Lee, Labour’s one man think tank, pushed the first Labour Govt into state housing, a greater state control over banking, pensions and much more. He got dumped but continue to have public voice and a wide following.

    His booklet ” The Debt Finance System” hold true today as it was then.

    Nash, Frazer and Savage all took heed when they were warned off but John A Lee stuck to his guns.

    I see nothing in Labour today that resembles the clarity of thinking of John A Lee.

    Labour complies with the tyrants that run the Finance Heist that bleeds our lives and future.