Jacinda washed her hands

By   /   August 7, 2017  /   25 Comments

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I’m sceptical we will see any significant policy differences from a Jacinda Ardern-led Labour Party compared to what we have seen in the past 30 years. Will it be about beneficiaries, the working poor, eradicating child poverty, the living wage and housing for all? I don’t think so.

I wasn’t surprised to see hundreds of Labour Party activists cheering and clapping for Jacinda Ardern on Sunday night when she announced their Auckland transport policy. After nine years in the doldrums they sense momentum behind Ardern and the chance for Labour to get on the front foot at last.

They were chanting Ardern’s new slogan “Let’s do it”.

I’m sure most of them think she will make big, bold changes if she becomes PM next month. I’d like to think they are right but the weight of Labour’s unreconstructed history, and her personal political history, is against it.

Ardern grew up in the shadow of the Labour Party of Roger Douglas and after university worked for Phil Goff and Helen Clark in “research” roles. Goff, who will be remembered as a particularly right-wing MP, brought in tertiary student fees and fronted the introduction of GST – two policies which hammered the poor. Clark, after nine years as Prime Minister in times of strong economic growth, left a legacy of 175,000 children living in poverty.

After working for Labour here Ardern left New Zealand to work as a “senior policy advisor” to British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Here is the Wikipedia entry:

“After graduating from Waikato University, she spent time working in the offices of Phil Goff and of Helen Clark as a researcher. She later spent time in London, working as a senior policy advisor to Tony Blair.[5

There are two important points here:

Firstly, she worked for Blair after he led the 2003 invasion of Iraq based on lies about an imminent threat to the UK from Iraq and non-existent “weapons of mass destruction”. She was happy to associate herself as a policy advisor to someone who should have been on trial for war crimes.

It explains why she attended a gathering for Tony Blair at Eden Park in 2011 while a protest went on outside calling for Blair’s arrest for trial as a war criminal.

It’s no wonder African countries are refusing to co-operate with the World Court. White war criminals like Blair, George Bush and John Howard are on the loose while only African war criminals have gone on trial for war crimes.

Secondly, Ardern associated herself with a government committed to Blair’s so-called “third way” of economic development. This “third way” abandons the government running public services in favour of the state “partnering” with the private sector in so-called public-private partnerships (PPPs) to build essential public infrastructure such as roads, schools and hospitals. The reality of PPPs everywhere in the world has been the private sector gains big profits from their “investment” while the public sector bears the risks.

PPPs are a boil on the backside of humanity but I’ve not heard Ardern speak out against this model which she has seen at work first hand in the UK and now New Zealand.

In short I’m sceptical we will see any significant policy differences from a Jacinda Ardern-led Labour Party compared to what we have seen in the past 30 years. Will it be about beneficiaries, the working poor, eradicating child poverty, the living wage and housing for all? I don’t think so.

Underling the problem was her decision on Friday to throw Green Party leader Metiria Turei under the Labour Party bus for a minor infringement of electoral law (the electoral equivalent of a parking ticket) 20 years ago.

Metiria’s “crime” was to be honest and truthful and admit her mistake.

Jacinda, her face earnest and frowning, said what a tragic set of circumstances it was (Jacinda is second to none when it comes to exuding empathy and angst) but she would never have Metiria in the cabinet of a Labour-led government.

I think it was a particularly unprincipled, unjust and gutless stance on the part of the new Labour leader. She washed her hands.

Like the Nike slogan “Just do it”, Jacinda’s new slogan “Let’s do it” does not include political courage.

 

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25 Comments

  1. HC says:

    Yes, I am also concerned about Jacinda Ardern and her third way kind of approach, which means that under her Labour will not change from the direction it took under Helen Clark, who she sees as a role model.

    I see nothing in Jacinda’s CV that gives the impression she is going to bring significant change. It will be more tinkering, and symbolic gestures, rather than bold measures.

    The problem is though, that the voting public are not keen on any truly left policies, the majority that is.

    They seem to be ok with PPPs and the likes, hence a guy like Phil Goff ended up as mayor of Auckland. He also seems to be keen to borrow more money from China and have Chinese business step in where New Zealand construction firms may not be able to deliver on infrastructure and housing to be built.

    This may be a bit of scare mongering, but it may pay to be careful with over dependence on single states and economies:
    https://soundcloud.com/red-ice-radio/ron-asher-in-the-jaws-of-the-dragon-how-china-is-taking-over-new-zealand

    While we are faced with evil National and its support parties, it seems the only feasible alternative is to let things run its course, and let Jacinda appeal to the light blue voters who used to vote Labour until 2005, and abandoned it in 2008 to vote for Key.

    She will get female and young voters out, and while this is anything but revolutionary what we may get after 23 Sept. this year, we can influence the look of the next government by either voting Greens, NZ First or TOP, perhaps.

    Once this government is ousted, we can then put on the pressure on Labour and coalition or support parties, to push them to deliver more on welfare reform relieving pressures on beneficiaries, more on environmental policy and more on housing, health, education and what else needs urgent action.

    Under the National led government it has been very limited what could be achieved to moderate the government, it has been near impossible, and only court action and the likes saw to it that low paid working carers got a better deal after years of struggle. Also did National deliver a bit on welfare, far too little, but it did this to keep lower middle class voters calm, as they may have switched to the opposition in larger numbers.

    I fear there is now no alternative to Jacinda Ardern and what she may deliver, as the Jacinda effect seems to be working, and we have to take advantage of it, to get the foot into the door.

    People have over 30 years been too brain washed, and if they now vote for personal flair rather than substance, at least exploit the opportunity to oust National and ACT and United.

  2. Roy says:

    It’s actually “Let’s do this”.

  3. Danyl Strype says:

    This obsession with personalities and their backgrounds is exactly what the NatACTs need. Regardless of the media statements made in the heat of the election campaign, what matters is which combination of parties has the numbers to form a government, and what set of *policies* they would all be able to agree on. Focusing ourselves and the country on a detailed discussion of policy is the only way to get real change, regardless of who ends up sitting in the 120 hot seats after the election, and what colour rosettes they wear. Policy, policy, policy!

  4. Sam Sam says:

    That’s a yup from me. Totally agree.

  5. OncewasTim says:

    I find myself constantly trying to make excuses for Labour, and others who puport to identify with “the Left”.
    The culture of ‘greed is good’, over-ambition, competition, individualism, the battle of the egos, I want I want dressed up as I need I need consumerism …… all that is what many have ever known, whilst many fellow boomers simply want to preserve their station in life (and what’s depressing is that many of them who professed left-leanings are now the corduroy jacket wearing, Jolly Green Giant acid experimenters of 4 decades past-now busy clutching the leather skid pads on their elbows, or their pearls.
    Politicians and johnalists alike!
    Do as I say, not as I do or did!
    The hypocrisy and double standards never cease to amaze.
    Many of them, who used to protest and campaign against their parents conservatism, their various prejudices and politically incorrect utterances are now like their parents on steroids (or ‘P’ if you prefer)
    What I’m hoping is that collectively we can change this gubbamint firstly, THEN concentrate on calling the bullshiiters ( of which their are many ) to account.

    And the best hope in my mind is some sort of Labour/Green/NZ1 arrangement.
    If not, and if not, I’m off – and actually to the 3rd world where it seems there’s a shitload more honesty – including over issues such as corruption (I prefer the overt variety rather than the covert, nudge nudge wink wink, backhanded variety that now pervades the NZ Khonnnamee! – ez Jum Bowlja would hev put it) ( apologies to the biznuss-sooted Jane Cluftin whose threads we now seem to hold important reminded me of granny’s couch upholstery – maybe she thought it was about to inspire a Murray McCully style perception of authority -poor bitch)

    • OncewasTim says:

      Dear Jane.
      I fucked up in the last peargruff due to feart fung-gus en a shit searfone.
      Earneeway,
      All that lettuce from Frenk McS from a kimpletwly diff spektiv proof read in a totally stined Diminyun Reading Room.
      AND SORRY @ Jane C. It was something more than a mere ‘couch’
      AND SORRY @ Simon W .. i wasn’t a Jolly Green Giant I’m told, but you behaved just the same as the spoon-fed woose you once were, as you so today.
      Cheist! …. i’ve stumbled on more reasons to just get the fuk out of here

  6. savenz says:

    You are probably right, but if you don’t like Labour, vote Green.

    Andrew Little was further left than Jacinda, but nobody in the left seemed to be rallying behind him.

    NZ has problems, but poverty has been hidden from many in this country by the media. So many Kiwis are blithely unaware that it is growing because every 2 minutes there are glowing announcements by the media that National is spending billions on poverty, congestion, housing, health god knows what else. There is zero analysis just the appearance that the Natz are on top of the problem (sub texts, they keep giving the Maori party more money, but they just spend it and demand more, poor National can’t win).

    I think for all their faults, Labour would never get this crazed with power like National and their stranglehold on the news. When senior ministers send Gower personal letters then there is a real problem with independent media.

    Labour will do a slow push away from neoliberalism, but National will put NZ on Trade for a reserve of $1. That’s the difference.

    If you want a slow turn on neoliberalism, vote Labour.
    If you want rapid and more radical change vote Greens.
    If you want more pollution and less freedom, and a transfer of wealth from the taxpayer and from future generations, to the powerful then vote National.

    • Shona says:

      Or Alternatively you could vote fora party committed to repealing the Reserve Bank Act. That is NZ First. Economic sovereignty will never be achieved otherwise and everything else , including the environment is less important than removing this piece of legislation. It is the founding document of the neo liberal nightmare we have inflicted on ourselves. All other lofty albeit worthwhile goals pale into insignificance .
      Ardern is full of shit!

  7. Observer Tokoroa says:

    So you all hate Labour.
    Therefore you rubbish Jacinda Ardern

    True to type – aren’t you. Why don’t you try growing up ?

    • OncewasTim says:

      I certainly don’t hate Labour. It’s just that the speed with which they embraced neo-liberalism and the not-so-free trade market economy was one thing. It’s taking more than a lifetime for them to acknowledge it hasn’t worked. Pretty depressing really when you consider even Spud Bolger has acknowledged what a complete fuckyp and hijack its all been.

    • Shona says:

      Hey OT i have been on marches with Ardern she is not committed to the left as we know it. you see unlike you we actually know what her values are and where NZ would go under her leadership. Yes it would be better than the Nactional government we have now, BUT it questionable as to what she has to offer. Nothing new , in fact nothing at all that is so desperately needed. AND we are so much poorer economically than we were when Clarke came in and Ardern and her backers( Robertson Twyford etc ) were not wanted by us LAbour members as leaders for a very good reason. They are neo liberal third way Blairite scum!.

  8. Jerko says:

    Well here’s a tip for those who are not happy with the Labour Leadership change. Move to the Un-United States of America. Take your pic. You might want to try Wisconson. Trump is adored there. Right up your ally. What a pack of wingers.

  9. David Stone says:

    Thanks for doing the homework John. The background is what we need to know to get an idea of where she is likely to go. We await new policy announcements but it looks like Labour has gone for changing the leader instead of changing any policies rather than changing the leader to change any policies.
    I don’t see any good reason for her to have expressed an opinion on Metiria’s admission. There was a good chance that Metiria was going to tap into a slice of the missing million with that stand, even if it cost her personally. By needlessly ruling out a cabinet position, and therefore any influence on relevant legislation, while simultaneously dissing MT’s actions she has closed off that appeal. The missing million will stay at home (if they have one) as usual.
    Let’s continue to hope for announcements that contradict me.
    D J S

  10. Kim dandy says:

    I’m not hoping for miracles – just a change of government would suffice. GO enough parties to kick National OUT!

  11. Nitrium Nitrium says:

    I think Jacinda has a lot of explaining to do when it comes to her association with the war criminal Tony Blair. Would love to hear what she has to say about him and, especially, if she still supports him and his neocon war mongering policies today.

  12. Daphna says:

    Spot on John. I note too that Labour’s transport policy is going to dump another indirect tax on people that will hit the poor really hard.
    Auckland’s gridlock is said to cost $1.9b a year in lost productivity. That is a loss for businesses. For the workers stuck in traffic it is a loss in precious time and a loss of enjoyment of life. Labour will lift the financial loss from businesses and have it borne by the people in cars.

    For the working poor, earning minimum wage rates, on precarious hours this tax will cause real hardship. To pay 10 cents or 20 cents more per litre for fuel will be a big percentage of their income gone. For the well-off adding $10 or $20 more to fill the tank will barely be noticed.

    Auckland is expensive to live in, and housing costs have pushed the poor to the outer most suburbs. They travel greater distances than the well-off in the inner suburbs. That means the poor will be paying a much bigger share of the fuel tax as they drive greater distances every day. Their older cars are less fuel efficient than the late model cars driven by the well-off, so again the poor will pay more. Low paid workers, with insecure hours are often holding down two or three jobs, and they will be paying more as they go from one job to another.

    The poor work all sorts of shifts outside the hours that public transport operates. They don’t have many options to use trains or buses as Auckland does not yet have a network that reaches most parts of the city. The well-off in the inner suburbs have much better public transport options and tend to work daytime hours when public transport is operating.

    How telling that Labour opted as its first choice to make the poorest pay. In 2017 the top ten parasites on the Rich List are collectively worth $25 billion. That is $2b more than last year. What about a levy on the Rich Listers? Labour these days doesn’t even come up with faintly social-democratic programmes like tax the rich, or levy the ultra-rich. Instead the poor can wear the cost.

  13. WILD KATIPO says:

    Nice point about the Reserve Bank Act , Shona .

    100%

    Though I don’t think we should get our knickers in too much of a twist just yet. Lets get Labour and the Greens in govt first. I hope NZ First along with them. May be a bit mainstream for some, and we would all like some major changes and overhauls, myself included.

    I’m OK with Adern , shes got a lot of good personal quality’s. Also the thing about being a policy adviser under Blair , well ,… she would of been one among a number of them. And yes, I would have liked to have seen Metiria in the incoming Lab / Green govt. I’m a bit annoyed about that. Bill English wouldn’t have a leg to stand on in light of what he took from the public purse hence the nickname ‘ the Double Dipper from Dipton’ .

    I suspect in light of the negative coverage of homelessness , housing , low wages ,speculation and our degraded health and education , out of control immigration etc that the new govt will want to put some distance between them and this National govt and the really negative consequences of their policy’s. So I expect there will be changes over the months. It’ll take time no matter what solutions are put into effect.

    I still believe tens of thousands will be better off in general under a Labour led govt, – particularly if the Greens manage to implement much of their social policy’s. Now more than ever we need the Greens. I also believe NZ First is a necessary ingredient. Anyone who has seen the issues their members are primarily concerned with will realize just how anti neo liberal they really are. Take 5 minutes to have a read of this :

    NZF members are lefties – will they get a say in choosing government …
    https://thestandard.org.nz/nzf-members-are-lefties-will-they-get-a-say-in-choosing-go

    All in all , a far better option than another 3 years of National wrecking this country. I still reckon our priority is to get rid of National , to keep the eye on the ball and after they are gone, start enacting policy that will give effective relief to thousands. Things may not be perfect, but they will be a lot better after National is gotten rid of . Far better, I would say.

  14. Dennis Frank says:

    The situation has changed: two male long-serving Green MPs resigned an hour ago due to Turei’s refusal to resign as co-leader. Could be a re-run of the schism that destroyed Values – but better to hear their reasoning for why they did so first.

    This is beyond serious, it’s historic. First ever structural disunity in a team effort characterised by consensus since the 1990 origin.

  15. Sam Sam says:

    Been wrestling with this since Metiria’s AGM speech. What would happen to Metiria if the US government happened to acquire good intel on her activities and her movements?

    Looking through the this lens may make Jacindas announcement look wise. The NZ left are not in a position to change such a power play if the U.S decided to strong arm us economically.

    Our stand with Metiria MUST! Be stronger.

  16. Philip Ferguson says:

    Spot on John! Ardern seems the benficiary of the triumph of the most superficial type of celebrity culture.

    https://rdln.wordpress.com/2017/08/09/anti-working-class-scumbags-score-tawdry-victory-over-beneficiaries/