GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Time For A Change

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Fifty-two years ago The New Zealand Labour Party swept to power with the slogan “It’s time for a change”. Yesterday the British Labour Party used the same catchcry to win a landslide victory.

When our lives are not so great we hope that voting for change might alter our circumstances.

The problem with our New Zealand  MMP electoral system, however, is that we usually don’t know what change we are voting for at election time, because a party with a tiny share of the overall vote can hold the balance of power and take the country in a direction for which the majority did not choose. (The current ACT/NZ First National coalition government is a prime example.)

Even when we did give Labour the majority and mandate to be transformative in 2020 we saw no great sea change in our economic direction. The wealthy few still benefitted, hugely, at the expense of the many .

Oh I know there was the Covid epidemic, but dreadful as it was, the health crisis made us realise how dependent we are on each other. During the first lockdown there was widespread support for the idea of “the team of 5 million”, but rather than use that moment of social unity to usher in sweeping social reforms (such as introducing wealth and land taxes) to make our country a fairer place to live, Labour let that unique moment slip away.

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Why? Because at heart NZ Labour is still a neoliberal party that believes, against the evidence, that governments should not be involved in the marketplace. That, for example, continuing to allow commercial banks to control the mortgage market is a wise and wonderful idea, when history tells us that when the government controlled mortgages during the 1950’s and 60’s (through the State Advances Corporation ) we experienced a low cost home ownership housing boom.

While both the UK and NZ Labour parties claim to represent working people and the interests of the poor and struggling, in reality their economic policies best serve the vested interests of the wealthy who are very happy with how things are and don’t want any changes thank you – be they social or environmental.

While the UK Labour manifesto certainly contains some measures designed to tackle the untaxed wealth creation issue (notably absent in NZ Labour’s last election document) their fundamentally neoliberal economic policies can hardly be described as transformative.

So, yes, it is time for a change – away from pandering to the wealthy few to meeting the well-being of the many.

It would be great if we could choose such a beneficial change through the ballot box without a major financial collapse or shattering world crisis  such as we witnessed with World War 2 to trigger it.

How about it Labour?

 

 

Bryan Bruce is one of New Zealand’s most important and respected documentary makers. His work is available on bryanbruce.substack.com

26 COMMENTS

  1. Which ever party is in power 2 things will not change .The rich will keep their money and the head public servants will bend to their masters will even if they know it is wrong .

    • Well said Trevor. Don’t often agree with you but this time I do.
      You could have also highlighted the number of executives and board members that are jumping or being pushed. This doesn’t bode well for what seems to be a government that is continually ignoring advice from their advisors and the opinion of the public.
      The only ones they seem to listen to are their donors and big business.

    • Yes the wealthy and the public service deep state are the local masters. National a subset of the wealthy. Labour a subset of the bureaucracy.

  2. They are not pandering to the wealthy, they are captured by the wealthy. Pandering suggests that it won’t take much to correct this problem but this is wrong because both politics and the public are captured by the wealthy thanks to their control of the media on top of their control of the entire NZ/Western political system. A fully informed, in fact a reasonably informed general public would soon challenge the hold that money has over politics, this is why the general public, largely remains – purposely misinformed. Change will only come at our hands, not by appealing to the captured to do better. Become better informed by moving away from mainstream media (independent, typically user-funded media is not too hard to find) then protest against the actions of our money-led political puppets.

  3. Please don’t misinterpret the UK election results. Labour wasn’t voted in: The Tories were voted out.

    And for good reasons!

    The average Briton is seething with anger over their failure to control both immigration and inflation (They are somewhat are related) so enough Tories voted Reform to ensure that in a FPP system Labour would stroll in.

    Labour is now in office with few voters knowing what their policies are going to look like because the Labour Party itself hasn’t internally agreed what they’ll do. Meanwhile the socially conservative Starmer has the onerous job of reining in all the radicals in his ranks who have zero experience in government and whose policies will tip the UK into chaos if they get implemented. Take this for an example: https://x.com/i/status/1809114778884804812

  4. Yes back to the future .In the 60s we had those cheap home loans and the key difference the well off high earners paid 60% tax and the low earners paid none as it should be now .NZ also built schools hospitals roads and all sorts of important stuff we needed .Over time the 10% managed to take control and now the tax rolls have been reversed.Before you all poohoo me check out two essays on taxation in the 50s and sixties ,written by no other than the ferret Paul Goldsmith when he worked for treasury .Just google taxation in NZ 1960 PAULE GOLD SMITH

  5. ” Why? Because at heart NZ Labour is still a neoliberal party that believes, against the evidence, that governments should not be involved in the marketplace. ”
    ( Is that you @ Country boy? )
    You’ve been very, very, very charitable and moderate here @ Bryan Bruce.
    I prefer to use street level language when describing Labour and it’s neo-liberal inner workings. Like for example ” crooked fucks! ” Or ” Traitorous liars” or “natzo’s 2.0.” or ” A self legitimising political crime wave.”
    While our primary industry farmers struggle with evil scumbag politicians as the wretched and the unlovely hustle for shop doorways to sleep in Labour gives its MP’s six figure salaries plus perks. How, is that ok? The answer is, of course, that it isn’t. And yet… Here we are. Baring witness to bold and arrogant crimes. The multi-billionaires, the multi-millionaires each with a starting price of $50 million each after tax and the bizarre, macabre world of the once were but now four *australian owned banksters making more in profits from us than any other bank anywhere in the world with the exception of the Canadian banks. What the fuck is that about?
    I think I can tell you. Corruption. Our politic is corrupt. Our politicians are either corrupt or they’re gone. The privateers in the various scams, swindles and rorts we think of as our resources but are now privatised ‘industries’ are corrupt. Do I need to mention the multi-billionaires, the multi-millionaires and the second most profitable banks in the world again?
    You suggest change.
    #1 Mandate voting. An essential public responsibility given the laughable scam that’s MMP.
    #2 Royal Commission of Inquiry that doesn’t stop until jail keys are jangling.
    #3 Investigate then asset strip as required the billionaires and millionaires then ban the foreign banks from trading here. After we asset strip them of course.
    * FUCK the australian banks! How dare our greedy fucking politicians think we could be ok with australian banks operating so obscenely profitably here when Australia is our primary industry competitor. You know what that is? That, right there, is corruption. Multi-billionaires? Multi-millionaires? Second most profitable banks in the world and being australian? Have an opinion about that?

  6. The Labour Party as it exists does not deserve to be Government it is devoid of talent with a useless leader.

  7. The Labour Party as it exists does not deserve to be Government it is devoid of talent with a useless leader.

  8. Don’t blame MMP. It tried to improve and widen the simple system that was binary. However the fault is that the whole system needed upending – all the bits an pieces in the political bag would have dropped out and we could. should make a better bag.

    Perhaps with two types of votes – one for people who studied the political and economic and social system and took a regular and responsible interest in it, and a second one for all other citizens who thought they would like a say. Then there would be a short discussion of the two different plebiscites. I think the French have two tiers of votes on some occasions.

    I think we need to be less lackadaisical and informed about preparation for this task; the present approach seems more in line with letters to Santa of a wishlist of things that Good Daddy and Mummy are prepared to give us. It’s ludicrous and inappropriate for such a serious matter at this pinnacle of our educated civilisation.

  9. Bryan
    You’re onto it! But the change we need is not for Labour to step up (they’re not capable of it) but to ditch MMP. It’s a continental fuckup. I mean, who wants to be held hostage by Winston? I don’t. We need a transferable system where your vote has two chances and is not entirely wasted of your preferred party doesn’t win outright. Two rounds, like the french. As for MMP…nothing but frustration.

  10. Bravo, Bruce. So many heroes like you popped up in the last 8 years. It is the struggle going on around the world, to get rid of these plutocratic parasites off our backs. Cenk Uygher just made the point on The Young Turks. We can’t seem to shake the pricks. But he did point out Obrador’s Mexico’s effective economic populism has just produced a landslide for his successor.

  11. There will be no change until voters grow some balls and vote outside of their generational tribe .People vote one way or the other because their family have voted that way for generations .
    Time to really vote for change that is not driven by greed or race but for the benefit of the whole country .But as we can see we vote for greed mainly at the expense of people lower down the scale .The result is poverty which has now feed into more people working but not having a decent standard of living while others have more than they or their families will ever need in 20 life times if they stopped earning right now .
    Why does anyone need more than one house for example .We should own one house only and we should be all putting more into kiwi saver which could then be used to fund the infrastructure of the country that is clearly needed .But keeping the greedy hands of MPs off that cash would be a problem .

  12. Change the system. Changing faces every 3 years does nothing.

    The 19th century Westminster system we adopted is no longer fit for purpose.

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