MUST READ: The Left’s Dilemma

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POLITICALLY SPEAKING, the Left is currently in a very awkward place. It is clearly in the whole country’s interest for leftists to do whatever they can to prevent the election of a National-Act government. A right-wing victory would not only place vulnerable New Zealanders at the mercy of the most reactionary elements of the political mainstream, but also embolden and empower the even more reactionary groups operating at the political fringes. In a world ravaged by Covid-19, such an outcome would be little short of catastrophic.

But if the Left has a strong moral obligation to swing in behind the Jacinda Ardern-led government, it is also obliged to maintain a watching brief on its non-Covid activities. John Minto’s latest posting on The Daily Blog“Labour’s Shame!” – provides a welcome reminder of the multiple policy failures attributable to the Labour-led coalition. John’s piece alerts us to the fact that even if the virus could be wished away, and life return to its “normal” pre-pandemic state, then all would be far from well in New Zealand.

The crisis currently gripping the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) for example, is a classic case of how absolutely the neoliberal ideology still governs the provision of crucial social services in New Zealand. While the crisis, which has seen 7 out of the 11-strong senior management team of the CDHB – including its CEO – tender their resignations, is mostly attributable to the built-in deficiencies of the DHBs’ operational model, its immediate causes are entirely Labour-generated. The former Minister of Health, David Clark, is responsible for setting in motion the machinery that is steadily demolishing the effectiveness of the CDHB.

Clark’s principal adviser, however, was the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield. Yes, that Dr Ashley Bloomfield: the saintly Director-General of Health who, until recently, represented, alongside the Prime-Minister, the State’s highly successful response to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Bloomfield’s critical role in both the CDHB debacle and the fight against Covid-19 epitomises the Left’s dilemma. While the global pandemic has necessitated, in much the same way as the existential threat of Nazi Germany did during World War II, a temporary setting aside of ideological divisions; the virus’s eventual defeat will, inevitably, see those divisions reassert themselves. Just as Winston Churchill remained at heart an unreconstructed Tory, the New Zealand public service – and most of the ministers it advises – remain happily wedded to Neoliberalism. The Left is obliged to face this dilemma squarely, with the same unflinching honesty as John Minto.

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The difficulty, of course, is that having sung the praises of Jacinda Ardern and her Labour and Green comrades all the way up to 17 October, it is extremely jarring to then turn around and start piling on the criticism. In the mind of the Labour apparatchik (never a very spacious place) that sort of behaviour will be taken as proof of the “Far-Left’s” irredeemable perfidy. To the people surrounding Jacinda, victory is always the ultimate riposte. “If we were so bad,’, they will object, “however did we win?” Labourites always resist the obvious answer: because their party was the lesser of two evils. Not least because that conclusion requires of them the mental and moral clarity to recognise that though it may be the lesser, their party is, nonetheless, evil.

Driving this point home is the only effective strategy available to the Left. Pointing out, as John does in his post, the all-too-real consequences of neoliberalism. Labour, once safely re-elected, needs to be assailed with the brute facts of the poverty and marginalisation its policies have done so little to alleviate.

Almost as effective as rubbing the government’s nose in the misery it refuses to mitigate, is pointing out the naked class advantage which Labour’s policies confer upon people who look and sound uncomfortably like its own members of parliament. It takes more steel than most Labour MPs possess to openly acknowledge that they are not, and, for the most part, never have been, “leftists”. Most of them get a kick out of seeing themselves as part of working-class New Zealand’s long march towards social and economic equality. Demonstrating to them, with irrefutable data, that they are actually responsible for measures guaranteed to halt the forward march of Labour, causes them genuine distress. Nobody wearing a red rosette likes to be called a scab.

As the clock ticks down to polling day, the Left’s priorities are, therefore, clear. Keep Labour in office (hopefully with just the Greens for coalition company) and inflict as much damage on the National Party and Act as possible. Having achieved those goals, however, it will be necessary to calculate with all speed the co-ordinates of a whole new set of targets. Covid or no Covid, all is not well in New Zealand. Much remains to be done. And the Left’s dilemma has always been that only the Labour Party can do it.

 

 

54 COMMENTS

  1. Yes that was a sterling piece by John Minto.

    But lookey here,- an excellent pieces by Chris Trotter also :

    ————————————
    ”Driving this point home is the only effective strategy available to the Left. Pointing out, as John does in his post, the all-too-real consequences of neoliberalism. Labour, once safely re-elected, needs to be assailed with the brute facts of the poverty and marginalisation its policies have done so little to alleviate.

    Almost as effective as rubbing the government’s nose in the misery it refuses to mitigate, is pointing out the naked class advantage which Labour’s policies confer upon people who look and sound uncomfortably like its own members of parliament. It takes more steel than most Labour MPs possess to openly acknowledge that they are not, and, for the most part, never have been, “leftists”. Most of them get a kick out of seeing themselves as part of working-class New Zealand’s long march towards social and economic equality. Demonstrating to them, with irrefutable data, that they are actually responsible for measures guaranteed to halt the forward march of Labour, causes them genuine distress. Nobody wearing a red rosette likes to be called a scab”…
    ————————————

    I’ll be voting for the Greens and Labour this election ,- but I will be doing so knowing full well of the insidious ideology that permeates both to a greater and lesser extent. To me , – both covid19 and neo liberalism are infectious viruses that need to be stamped out.

    • I agree up to a point WK.

      Coronaviruses are clever viruses that infect their hosts but usually don’t kill the majority of those they infect, whereas neoliberalism is an utterly deadly disease that not only destroys its host -human societies- but also ‘kills; the planet via destruction of natural habitats and via rapid overheating.

      If you have Covid-19, you have a disease that may cause no apparent symptoms, or may cause severe bodily damage, or cause death.

      If your society is infected with neoliberalism it is a death sentence for cultural diversity, nutritious food, a clean environment, and a death sentence for your children’s/grandchildren’s futures, and if you are under the age of 70, a death sentence for you. There is nothing clever about neoliberalism, other than its capacity to deceive.

      Despite the irrefutable facts associated with neoliberalism and the monstrous harm it has done ( and is doing) the maniacs (politicians of all colours, so-called economists, so-called leaders of commerce etc.) just won’t relent.

      Another day, and another day closer to collapse.

      • ” Despite the irrefutable facts associated with neoliberalism and the monstrous harm it has done ( and is doing) the maniacs (politicians of all colours, so-called economists, so-called leaders of commerce etc.) just won’t relent.

        Another day, and another day closer to collapse. ”

        100%

      • Great post.
        I wish people would talk more about how neoliberalism, and its friend globalism, destroy cultural diversity.
        A monoculture of mixed races does does equate to Super diversity as the weird platform promoted by Mai Chen claims. A monoculture reduces diversity and therefore makes humanity more susceptible to disease and extinction.
        If Mai Chen’s claims were correct, we would import as many species into NZ as possible, and she would claim that is increasing biodiversity.
        Well yes it is, but only at one level, the species level. At the ecosystem level biodiversity is being smashed.
        That’s why I can never countenance the Greens desire for monocultural society. That is destroying diversity of cultures and making humanity and ecosystems weaker.
        Not sure if that was even your point, but it is mine.

        • Oh comon’, fess up’… all you care about is opening up the borders to foreign trade and foreign student’s.

          Be off with your faux care about ‘diversity’. FFS, – we have more than enough people here to foster genetic ‘diversity’.

          And if you want to see ‘diversity’ of cultures,… the internet is a wonderful thing…

  2. Chris
    Interesting article. As you say, Covid or no Covid, all is not well in New Zealand. Much remains to be done.
    There is now plenty proof that this Labour Party simply cannot do what needs to be done. Simple reason: lack of managerial skills.Take JA’s ‘ultra critical’ pet portfolio: to borrow from sport, the captain, in the first place, should always merit her spot in the team on performance. If Child Poverty management is that performance standard, fuck all will be achieved by this team. Shall I move onto Phil Twyford now? No? Too many fuck ups!
    If Jacinda and her team were really that good, we’d have little to whinge about.
    I think another real problem the left has, is that the Greens are not strategic enough to entertain a deal with National, say they were ever to win the most votes. To me, that is a sad, massively stupid strategic position.

    • So how fucking useless Key then. He stated he would never work with the Greens. But then by the end of his tenure he’d crippled N.Z.
      National screwed N.Z. ,underfunded N.Z. inc and the proof is shown by how many deserted the dangerous Nat party.
      So yes National are achievers, achieved poverty, homelessness, housing crisis, dirty waterways,failed policy, underfunding in health and education, EQC, not reducing wage gap between Australia N.Z.not building 10 bridges, yes they have achieved all that as well as MSD achievements in becoming a punitive government organisation. They also achieved corrupt practices by leaking N.Z. ‘s personal details. Well done National, you truly are high achievers.

  3. The transformations needed structurally are becoming more and more obvious to everyone who is paying attention and thinking. The rethink is probably beyond Grant Robertson and most of the established finance specialists in Jacinda’s team.
    But Jacinda has a level of support from here and all over the world that while she must herself be astonished by it, give her the confidence and the authority to force the fiscal and monetary management that she must see is necessary to implement the social policy promises John is pointing out that labour has failed to make progress on.
    D J S

    • She will never do it unless she is forced to by the rest of the country. I’m confidant she would listen to a mass movement and then she could go down in history as a modern Roosevelt – but she won’t do it alone. Roosevelt is the perfect example btw – he only bought in the New Deal because the people were ready to end capitalism in the US altogether.

      So by all means vote this election but don’t put your faith in any politician, it’s forces outside parliament that determine what they can and can’t do

      • What nobody seems to be recognising is that neoliberalism is over. It has demonstrably failed with the GFC in 2008. Since then the system we have been operating under is corporate welfare. That is what QE is, and the illusion of a continued workable system , pretending to be a continuation neoliberalism is dependant on an ever increasing flow of fiat money being pored in ever greater quantities into the neoliberal institutions to keep them alive in a zombie state.
        The incidents of hyper inflation that have occurred in the past have mostly applied to one country at a time and have seemed from the outside and to history like incomprehensible stupidity. But I suspect that the dynamics of the system take over and there is nothing else they can do stave off complete chaos but keep printing. it is usually the real economy for the people of the state who’s welfare is in focus. But this time it’s global and the dynamics have the world by the throat, but to try to avoid the classic Zimbabwean example the printed money is all going into the financial industry and so far staying out of the hands of the public. But irrespective of covid it is all grinding to a halt amid an exponentially increasing money printing frenzy.
        So in the not too distant future it will become obvious to anyone paying attention and with an open mind that some radical pragmatic changes have to be effected on the system structurally.
        My hope is that Jacinda will have the nous and the confidence to recognise the problem . Her apparent lack of involvement in the finance side of government might be a good thing if it means she is not psychologically committed to any doctrine and is therefore free to use her common sense.
        D J S

  4. Jacinda must instill our faith in her to go hard on climate change in her second term and not monkey around by funding roads roads and more roads and go back to rail freight for lowering our climate emissions.

    Labour’s Transport Minister Phil Twyford dropped the ball on this and earlier this year pledged $5 Billion to finishing the “National Party Roads of National Importance for trucks” silly man.

    Twyford should have committed that money to restoring the years of ‘rail decay’ in NZ instead.

    Phil Twyford has been ‘corrupted’ and dragged into the ‘big oil and road freight industry’ lap instead it seems.

  5. Not all opinions about Jacinda are important. Neither is the length of that opinion important and it may be true that short sharp and abrasive opinions of Jacinda will do a better job of working her out. And another reason why Jacinda is important and probably the principle reasons why Jacinda is important is written all over the place during this time of incrementalism where there is no change in welfare and economic policy because the place is being run by nimbuses of the neoliberal institutions. Always need an excuse.

    When there are no lions patrolling there territories keeping everything thing in check things can just shift incrementally without any political authority y’know and we have Jacinda and Hellen Clark meeting for coffee to in a sense “you show me you little incremental change and I’ll show you mine.”

    So at a time when everyone is essentially on the wrong side of all these trade deals negotiated from a position of strength after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we must now renegotiate from a weakened position so to arrest what could be a long secular decline. But the 1990s is when the real changes should have taken place 30 years ago but corona has presented everyone with the perfect excuses to accelerate the schedule and maybe Jacinda might show up to put a bit of structure into the UN as Secretary-General in about 10 years.

  6. Thank you Chris.
    You have so eloquently explained why I – very briefly a Nat way back in the 1960’s until Muldoon became PM – signed up with Labour earlier this year.
    In truth, I have not been overly impressed with this Labour Party’s continued nominal worship at the altar of neo-liberalism and its lack of substantive progress in fixing the many ills of society, but I would be devastated if the Nats/ACT got back into power after the election, especially with the Leader the Nats have now elected.
    I genuinely wish, oh how I wish, that Labour had got on with bringing even a modicum of reality to their vision of a better, more equal society; the vision and values they spoke of in the last election campaign and in the very early part of their governance.
    I will certainly give Labour my vote again. But please Labour, this time just get on with it!!!

  7. Strategy and Tactics is what politics operates on. And strange as it may seem to some, tactically Labour MUST be re-elected–hopefully with a reasonable Green presence–to enable the left strategy of organising to bury neo liberalism in all its forms to proceed.

    Three more years with National/ACT denied Govt. is a fair amount of space to operate in. And it is a very different space mid Covid 19 than it would of been. For six months now the PM in particular has effectively put the health of the many before the profits of the few. This has enraged every business sector imaginable from Corporates to SMEs to “I’m my own boss” self employed. She has unsurprisingly not couched it in class terms at all but significant subjugation of capital has been the effect. And a good part of the population loves her for it. The employers have had a partial victory though, as “elimination” has morphed into some sort of “containment” by Region and Alert Level.

    The thing is though, hospitality, educational and low wage migration, and international travel and tourism are essentially over. Open all the bars you like but the older population sector are just not going to go there. There cannot be endless money creation or borrowing–so the answer–that none of the Labour Caucus raised only on monetarism and austerity, want to think about is Socialism, in the form of a dramatically increased direct role for the NZ state.
    The list has been run down many times here…massive state house build, power generation and supply returned to full public ownership, re-established “Ministry of Works”, Green new deal project and approach, etc. etc. Thousands more could be employed by the state part time and full time, with some payment by low rents, low power cost, free Wifi and fare free public transport. A basic income for all citizens administered by IRD, the dissolving of WINZ/MSD (with a new agency for special needs people).

    So yes Labour is a flawed, class collaborationist, neo liberal party, but it could be influenced by direct action and working class involvement to take a very different road. With a National/ACT Govt and the rising small nut job groups that would gain confidence with the likes of Mrs Collins in charge, it would be way uglier and detrimental to NZ’s future.

  8. Neoliberalism is going nowhere and deep down you know this Chris. Our current left are as wedded to incrementalism and neoliberalism as any on the right, as has been seen over the past three years. Ardern and co simply do not have the courage or time, especially in the current environment to make the changes necessary, the sad thing is many on the left havent woken up to that reality yet.

    • What do you mean:

      Our current left are as wedded to incrementalism and neoliberalism as any on the right, as has

      Are you talking about the left as if the Labour party are on the left.. they haven’t been for a very very long time, 30+ years.

  9. Not ‘only the Labour Party can do it’
    Rather ‘only the public can do it’
    Voting is important but so is being alert and politically active important. When FDR was elected US President , he invited activists, including socialists.. to come and talk to him. He asked them what they thought he should do. They replied: …health..education..poverty..,,
    Roosevelt told them. something along the lines..”I agree with you. Now get out there and make me do it.”
    My concern is the silence of parties and the media about our military and espionage commitments.,,and why the silence, about the plight of the Palestinian and Yemeni people.

  10. The template for successful social democracies is already there – both in our past and overseas.
    If Jacinda wants an alternative to Blairs 3rd way, she doesn’t have to look too hard or far.
    Our public agencies are infested with overpaid singleminded egotists. They cannot think beyond what they were indoctrinated with when they did their MBA’s, B.Comm’s whatever. TINA syndrome prevails.
    They are the true handbrakes to change in Aotearoa, along with corporate owned media.
    Some folk say “pay peanuts, you get monkeys”.
    I say “pay unnecessarily exobitant salaries, you get greedy corporate climbers with inflated senses of self worth.” Not as catchy, but you get the drift 🙂
    The crash and ensuing depression will enforce change. New ways of definining society and our economic relationships and roles. New ways of thinking about money – where it comes from and how it’s distributed.
    We should get ahead of the curve if we can.

    • Yes. Stop paying inflated CEO type business salaries to the public servants who are supposed to be running our health and welfare systems for a start.

  11. Glad you chose the CDHB to highlight one of the most disastrous outcomes of the Faustian neoliberal manipulation imposed upon the peasantry of New Zealand by the sub-species which we call, politicians.

    The health dept has long – perhaps always – been the repository of second rate medicos who fail to make the grade out in public or private practice. We still attract second- rate poms dissatisfied with their own crumbling NHS, and if this sounds racist, I couldn’t really give a damn.

    Prof Sir David Skegg is on record stating that the Min of Health- or whatever it’s called now – lacks leadership. Of course it does when decision making is in the hands of medical stragglers, bean counters, bureaucrats with crappy degrees, and the ubiquitous algorithm. Think twice before thinking that any power wielder of any political ilk is concerned about the uninsured, or the proles without private means. We are an untidy inconvenience.

    Think twice about our home grown medical specialists who may spend years doing the hard slog of post graduate medical training as outsiders in top overseas teaching hospitals and medical institutions, often at crippling expense, then return home to find that the barbarians are in charge.

    Labour started all this, and it’s their job to start on the big clean up, or just bugger off.

    • Snow White
      Why would that be racist? Don’t be woke now. Relax.
      Poms endearingly means Prisoners of Mother England, it’s not a reference to colour. Like Krauts, Germans endearingly named after some fermented vegetable, not some skin colour.

  12. There’s hardly a leftist political party left Chris!
    Labour are no longer to be considered left anymore as they abandoned that posi back in the Clark era. Centre right is their home now.
    The moral thing to do is?? Not to vote for them if you’re even the slightest left leaning politico. Thats the only way the vulnerable will have a voice and not be left behind like consecutive labour governments have done! Over promised and under delivered, time and time again.

    As for Act, 5.9% in a survey constantly tells me its bs. Never have Act surveyed/polled like that ever and I suspect some dodgy respondents getting hooked up on these suspect survey ‘phone tree’s’ for calling people. It isnt difficult to do.

    There’s only one take away from these surveys that is, the princesses numbers are tanking. Thats the trend in the last 4 polls/ surveys.

  13. Nicely said, Chris.

    ‘Nobody wearing a red rosette likes to be called a scab.’

    Okay, how about traitor? Or sociopath? Or eco-vandal? Or omnicidal maniac? Because Labour MPs are all of those things (and more).

    The very system Labour is embedded in and that Labour promotes -globalised money-lender and money-printer facilitation of gobbling up of resources and generation of waste [in humungous quantities]- is at the heart of the predicament we are confronted with, and at the heart of all the dire manifestations of that predicament.

    The good news is that the biggest overseas promoter, and in many respects the founder (via the Federal Reserve, the distortion of the work of Simon Kuznet, the implementation of the work of Edward Bernays and the instigator of the consumer society after WW2) is going down in a screaming heap.

    With interest rates at an all-time record low (not much above 0%) and ordinary folk reluctant to borrow or spend, with out-of-control Covid-19, with continuing shootings of black men by police officers and the ensuing riots, America now faces yet another environmental catastrophe of its own making -Laura, which has been upgraded to a category 4 hurricane with a projected path right through the heartland of the US, from Texas to New York.

    These are ‘interesting times’ as the American people become increasingly scared, as the world economy implodes, and the NZ government pretends Industrial Civilisation is going to continue function into the foreseeable future.

    ‘People are scared’: Texans brace for Hurricane Laura as storm approaches

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/26/hurricane-laura-texas

    https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/refresh/graphics_at3+shtml/151358.shtml?cone#contents.

    ‘Portugal’s government has reported a public deficit of 8.3 billion euros between January and July this year, over 17 times higher compared to the same period last year, due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Total revenues fell 10.5% and tax revenues dropped 14.6% as a consequence of a “contraction of the economic activity”, the finance ministry said in a statement, adding expenditures grew 6.9% due to, among other things, subsidies for the unemployment and ill people.

    The ministry said:

    Budget execution highlights the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy and public services following the adoption of mitigation policy measures.

    The outbreak is set to leave long-lasting scars on Portugal’s tourism-dependent economy, with the central bank expecting it to contract 9.5% this year.

    Last year, the country reported 2.2% growth and a budget surplus of 0.2% of gross domestic product.’

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2020/aug/26/coronavirus-live-news-who-signals-slowing-of-infections-but-india-cases-still-soaring

  14. The left’s dilemma – equating nice words with positive outcomes, all while running around telling everyone how amazing they are and calling all those who dare to question them evil.

    • You mean how the rest of the world are saying how amazing they are. Listen harder, rather than just with your right ear.

  15. What left?

    The Greens announcement today will help to drive them below 5% it is absolutely wrong, it is not part of their kaupapa and the co-conveners of the party had no idea that this was to be announced. That is staggeringly arrogant, I wonder if the caucus knew.

  16. It is very annoying when the parliamentary left insist “You have to vote for us, even though we look down our noses at you and have nothing determinate to offer you,” but nonetheless I agree with you here. However, the big question over the long term is whether the liberal left and the working class are capable of genuine allegiance now, and it doesn’t look promising. In an interesting article, to which I shall post a link, Malcolm Kyeyune, of Sweden, argues that their class interests are too divergent now for that to happen. Basically, the managerial class that now fills most left wing parties, wants to manage people in accordance with their own conceptions of value, and the working class want representation, and to have their agency and material interests respected. Despite neoliberalism’s desire to run the world as an open plan corporate office, with “the left” employed in the HR division, any fight back has to begin with the understanding that “A working class person is not necessarily a failed middle class person.” A failed middle class person may begrudgingly find themselves in the working class, true, but a broadly capable person may also hold firmly to a working class family and/or identity, and reject the corporate office conception of society.

    Anyway, here is Kyeyune’s article. It is quite confrontational by NZ standards, and comes from a Marxist conception of class interests. However it is very well written and does touch on some key issues.
    https://www.thebellows.org/on-strasserism-and-the-decay-of-the-left/?fbclid=IwAR2jIpQ8vi3b5hBqzhhSPS7Hn-4aCBsvYeydVderrSuLDKhlMrU77gNM9aw

      • Thanks Grey. I look back at what I’ve said and am not sure that I managed to get my point across, although Malcolm Kyeyune gets it across excellently, in a take-no-prisoners fashion. Basically I wanted to say that there is a conflict of interests, and not merely culture, between upper middle class notions of progressiveness and working class representation. Back in the day, the temperance union and the working class had different agendas but were able to unite against a shared enemy, and both felt they were getting something out of it. What the working class gets out of the current arrangement is an unreliable “least worst”, and not the confidence that there are people in high places who indisputably have their back.

        • Yes Olwyn I see that personally. My father employed a lot of guys who did the hard yards, unskilled, semi-skilled, some skilled. He was probably a fair but tending mean employer. He is retired and wealthy now, and runs down the working class and the unemployed. Where is the respect for ordinary people? They did his work, which he knew was hard as he started out as a one-man business. Now he has risen to a different level from the common people; wealth seems to corrode humans.

          Classes are a social construct in materialism, artificial. If people acquire great scholarship they could be said to transcend the ordinary. But wealth brings
          separation from simple humanity results in a huge rift between people, with the wealthy transferring their attention to pleasant lifestyles, expensive possessions and novelty, almost childlike. This is what happened to the Unions in New Zealand, those who became distant from labour in the Labour Party, such as Roger Douglas. They float upwards into a different class and the workers experience the lack of politicians “who indisputably have their back”. What’s to be done? I do think we need to teach about democracy politics, economics, at primary school level. Revise the curriculum so that children understand the patterns of life, and have less of adult fairy tales. The kids would find it very interesting, and would love to alarm their parents with their insight!

  17. The crisis currently gripping the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB).

    So what you do, you don’t front as the Minister because he doesn’t want to be tainted especxially as they appointed these morons to chair the board – Hansen, and to have oversight – Levy.

    You send Bloomfield, ‘the man of the day, and a public servant’ who got a huge cheer at the demo I have just come from when he arrived this morning. 500 people at the demo but there could have been a lot more had we known sooner that this was on. He did address the crowd and then went in to talk to Hansen, we could see them inside and then on to a board meeting.

    The fact is the DHB needs more money everyone knows this.

    • The DHBs all need more money to bring them up to 21 Century. I was in CHCH during those years of the Earthquakes. The National Government did not give the CDHB any extra money. I worked in the Operating room during those earthquakes. In actual fact ACC should have been giving them the funding for treating all of those casualties. But no one knows how they fund theses situations except the DHBs are bulk funded for ACC cases. Even though they provide all Emergency and Intensive care For accident cases. In the Private hospitals, they are creaming off ACC for the surgery they do in Private. In Private they itemize everything they use. In Public they dont. The National Government tried to privatize ACC. People need to look at what the Labour Led Coalition have achieved so far. Instead of whining. They are still fixing the mess that National left behind.

  18. The DHB needs more money and everyone knows this?
    Why did this not happen to the nessacary extent under Key and National. Where was big Gerry in advocating for his constituents?

  19. Gee Chris, you remember the good old days when Jim Anderton, Matt McCarten, Bruce Jesson, et. al. used to have a drink in the TUC hall on the Great North Road? Remember how Labour had betrayed the left, but a new left wing party was going to rise and replace them? New Labour or the Alliance?

    How’d that work out? Face it, people don’t want to vote for left wing parties, no matter how much we’d like them to. Back in 1990, I stood for the Green Party. Thirty years later the issues we stood on are mainstream. School kids are being driven by their teachers to Climate Change demos. And Green support has skyrocketed to …… what?

    The ‘left’ are inconsequential. It might make you feel good to occupy the high ground, to win the argument, but the argument and the high ground are both on the head of a pin. The only interesting thing about the ‘left’ is how many irrelevant arguments you can have. Splitters!

    The left have had every opportunity to be more than the lesser of two evils and has failed. Miserably. It has managed to implement almost none of it’s policies. But lets not face that truth – lets bash the party that stands between the people and perpetual National governments. Stands successfully, that is. The left might be right about everything, but they couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery.

    • That last sentence sums it up.
      The right just sit there and smile at the left. They fear the truth that the left seeks, but smile smugly at the disarray and disunity within the left wing voice.
      The right can unite whenever they so choose, as they have the unifying principles of greed and the fear of being found out as the exploiters of humanity and the environment.
      The left need to discover quickly three unifying principles to unite them, or face getting steam rolled into the ground.
      The world is not heading left as some treasonous commentators proclaim, with Covid-19, it is heading right and to authoritarian facist governments worldwide.
      And yes there will be a more peaceful outcome after the revolution, but the left and its supporters will not be any part of that unless they wake up and demand more of their leaders and political commentator “friends”.

  20. Thanks for this thoughtful post Chris T. It outlines matters that many on the left cannot see clearly or face up to. And in Parliament so many are lawyers now, and i have worked for lawyers, and their minds run along law railtracks and efficiency. They are not inclined towards righting wrongs and assisting the poorer classes. Indeed being involved in conveyancing (property exchange) and business law is the best paying part, crime is hard and can cause suicide, and family law is not comfortable. Being a crusading lawyer takes a special sort of person, speaking plainly, putting one’s head above the parapet can probably shorten your life as I think the case for Judge Peter Mahon. Of course there are other professions in Parliament as well, accountants for instance, and some can make being a politician a career.

  21. Get back to truly State services. ie housing, public works, electricity, health. Take gst off food. Put CGT on all but the family home and farm. Get rid of “mum and dad investor” landlords. Stop taiking in emotive cliches about “child poverty”. If the kids are poor it’s because their parents are poor – rent takes up so much of income for basic working and pensioner people. This government is just Nat light.

  22. Lament the health sector, and social services, and so forth, and we must realise, tax reforms are OVERDUE. Bring in a more progressive tax regime, where those earning high salaries get taxed higher again, same as corporations and businesses who have had it good for so long.

    To build a fairer society we need to make some painful adjustments, or we will NEVER achieve more fairness and equality, and also not care for those needing it most.

    COVID 19 is being used as an excuse to do not much more by this government, it is unacceptable. We go billions into debt to bail out many businesses, some of which will NEVER survive, e.g. in tourism.

    It is better to get real now, to stop feeding the money into dead business projects and build a new and sustainable society and economy that actually delivers better to us all.

    The longer this bail out and emergency mentality goes on, the more we load heaps of debt unto the younger generations, that will be difficult to pay off. And the present settings will only enable it to be paid off by continuing with the fossil fuel based economy.

    It is like a death wish recipe, what we are presently following.

    Jacinda and her government are simply not up to it, or not honest with us, or both, and need to be pressured to bring true change.

    Sadly it is too late to form a new party, so alternative voting may have to force her hand, by voting TOP, or at least the (useless) Greens, to keep a control on Labour.

    With Shaw now supporting a private ‘green school’ in Taranaki by pumping in the millions, he makes the Greens easy fodder for ACT and their like minded travellers, who will rubbish them for their hypocrisy.

    Get rid of Shaw, the sooner the better, he is an liability.

    • Good comment.
      The crux as you mentioned is they need to be pressured to bring about change.
      At the moment NZ is so brain dead I don’t see that pressure being applied.
      Everyone is out for themselves, apart from the usual empathetic dogooders who keep communities semi functional.
      The sad reality is we need the revolution to drive change.
      Willing change as Chris suggests is not going to prevent the revolution.
      And left supporters are going to do very poorly out of the revolution.
      Too arrogant, too poorly prepared, and too disunited.

  23. Hi Chris, There is no dilemma, The Left must unite in getting the Labour led Government of Jacinda Ardern reelected.

    In times of crisis human affairs often coalesce around the strengths of character of one particular leader and the organisation they head, that we collectively recognise as having the qualities needed to match the needs of the time. Because of these qualities we support that personality to lead us through the crisis. In my opinion, Prime Minister Ardern is just this sort of personality.

    Chris, your recall of the Second World War and of the British wartime coalition against Hitler is apt. But there are differences.

    Unlike New Zealand’s current Prime Minister, Winston Churchill was a vicious anti-working class, anti-union right winger. Churchill was also a brutal imperialist. Winston Churchill would never have embraced the Muslim community after the terrorist attack in the way that Jacinda Ardern did. 
     
    In no way can Jacinda Ardern be compared to Winston Churchill.

    In a word, Churchill was a monster. But the British Labour Party of Clement Attlee, as one of the main conditions of Labour joining a war time coalition government led by the Conservatives,  demanded that the Tories make Winston Churchill Prime Minister.. Defending Labour’s support of Churchill, the British Labour Party leader of the time, Clement Attlee, said, “I know Churchill is a monster, but he is our monster”. What the Labour Party and the British Left generally recognised, was that despite all his other failings Churchill had the qualities needed at that time to unite the British people in the fight against fascism. Because of his wartime leadershiip the Labour Party and the Left overlooked Churchill’s other failings. In the final analysis Churchill, in this particular instance, did not let them down and the Left’s support for Churchill was proved right, where any other Tory leader would likely have capitulated to the Nazis.

    In some ways, John Minto’s post on the performance of this government around housing and your own criticisms of the Ardern government are too harsh, in another way are too soft.

    Why we might like to imagine the situation if the virus was not here, it still is. And its defeat is not inevitable.

    When we should be concentrating on how the government is dealing with the immediate crisis, in my opinion high lighting the government’s, (admittedly egregious), failings in other areas, hits the wrong note,

    At this time when the government, under pressure from the right, is in danger of backsliding in their determination to eliminate the virus is where we need to be harshest in our honest criticism. The fight against the virus is not over.  If the Left are steadfast in demanding that the government no waver in their determination to eliminate the virus we may find a hearing from a Prime Minister and a government that has proved that it has the mood of the time to fight this battle to the end. Concentrating on the government’s other failings will weaken this coalition, and the right will succeed in their campaign to avoid any cost to their profits and taxation levels, and instead want to let the virus rip through our poorer and most vulnerable communities for ‘the good of the economy’.

    “You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.”

    ―Winston Churchill

    If we are to beat this virus and protect our friends and neighbours from this scourge, this is the sort of leadership we should demand and expect. The alternative is for New Zealand to resemble the Australian state of Victoria.

    This what we need.  We are told we cannot have another lockdown, because the economic burden on people would be too great. If we are to have another lcckdown, or even extend this one, we need a major relief package that shares the burden with the wealthy in particular the banksters. The first Labour Government brought in a nationwide moratorium on mortagages as a relief measure to blunt the harm of the Great Depression. if we are to eliminate this virus and bring the majority of the population with us we need to demand that the government do the same again.

  24. Farcical to the point of comedy. Signaling the government’s retreat in the face of the corona virus threat.
    It was almost like a Monty Python sketch.
    Despite the grimness of the topic, I couldn’t help but burst into a laugh, when David Parker being interviewed by Duncan Garner on the AM show this morning about the move to level 2 despite the virus still circulating, barely managed to mutter a word and then tried to hurry Garner onto asking him questions about the sentencing of Brenton Tarrant.

    Bizarre

    • Hey Pat. Great comments and great argument about a rent and mortgage moratorium. Makes perfect sense. I feel the PM has been persuaded to take something of a backseat. In times like this that is not what is needed. Hers was almost a lone voice on the need for elimination. We need her to get back out in public and rally us again. Unite us. Make her ministers find ways to afford to eliminate once again. And then again if thats whats needed. Packing up shouldn’t be an option. If we want real change this must come first. Otherwise everyone just lives in fear and pretty much does what they are told because its hard enough just to stay alive.

      • Hi Spikeyboy, thanks for the vote of support.

        I fear you maybe right in your feeling that the Prime Minister has been persuaded to take a back seat and step back from her previous leadership initiative to eliminate the virus.

        All Politics is Pressure

        We were very lucky when the Prime Minister went full Churchillian, took charge, skipped over Level 3 and ordered the whole country to go straight into Level 4 Lockdown.

        The truth is the Prime Minister didn’t deliver this unprecedented executive order in a vacuum. All politics is pressure. The political pressure that the PM was reacting to, came from the front-line health workers.
        New Zealand’s front-line health workers and carers knew first hand that our overburdened and underfunded public health system can not cope with a full blown outbreak. Leading Drs and nurses were in real fear that New Zealand was heading toward an Italian style public health meltdown,

        Kiwi flax roots health workers organised a mass petition to the Prime Minister demanding that the country go into immediate Level 4 lockdown. When the petition had only 3,000 health worker signatures Ashley Bloomfield said the country would stay at Alert Level 2.
        When the petition reached over 65,000 front line health worker’s and carer’s names, it was a different story. Within hours of this enormous petition landing on her desk, the Prime Minister skipped Level 3 to go straight to Level 4.

        The result was that we achieved a world first in eliminating the virus.

        Remember those glory days. For 102 days we held the golden ticket. No lockdown, no masks, no social distancing, full sports stadiums, pubs clubs and restaurants all operating normally, families enjoying the winter sun at parks and beaches, our border controls were working, we were the envy off the world, and at relatively small cost.

        The rest of the world is spending $billions on trying to find a cure, New Zealand had already found one.

        Like many scientific and medical breakthroughs New Zealand’s victory against the virus was somewhat the result of serendipity.

        It wasn’t supposed to happen at all. The Prime MInister’s swift action had caught the Business As Usual lobby completely off guard,

        But it didn’t take them long to regroup, the first early foray was to mount an extremely expensive high court action to get the government’s action declared illegal. Since then there has been an unrelenting propaganda campaign to declare all lockdowns unbearable and unsustainable, and that we must allow the virus to keep circulating and infecting people for the good of the economy.

        Friday, August 28, 2020
        by
        Common Dreams
        “Business as Usual! Business as Usual!” Chants the Oligarchy as the World Burns
        On this fire season, the last one, and the fire seasons to come.

        by
        Hank Edson

        https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/08/28/business-usual-business-usual-chants-oligarchy-world-burns?cd-origin=rss&utm_term=AO&utm_campaign=Daily%20Newsletter&utm_content=email&utm_source=Daily%20Newsletter&utm_medium=email

  25. The problem the left has is half its followers are workers whose DNA will mean that they will always hate business owners, but the other haft are socially minded business owners who are ( filthy capitalists) by another name and although wanting everyone to be happy and fulfilled, are not about to give up their hard won gains. Unfortunately for the purists, those in power have to run the business, not run it into the ground and so sometimes unpalatable decisions have to be made, and not all the decisions will be socially or environmentally acceptable. Especially to those on this forum. In my opinion, because labour’s followers come from such a wide spectrum of thinking they eventually tear themselves apart. The purists end up hating everyone except themselves and the moderates get so frustrated with the handling of the business that half of them end up voting right again. I think the JA Coalition will scrape into power again but the forces within, the dwindling resources and high expectations from all sides will be be too tough. By the way I’m from the right and don’t believe National would do better. But they will do something.

  26. ‘Apparatchik’? ‘Incomprehendable’ moi?

    I realise Left politics is brutal but in our communications only good faith is good enough.

    Of course …

    I well may be wrong, in this, as many other respects.

    You’re very much the old guard, Chris, and the achievement of gay marriage in America involved going round the gay old guard there, as I learnt from a very dull library-book over lockdown.

    I’m not a leader, nor can I bow my head to ‘leaders’ but I’ll support the good.

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