Tuesday 26 March 2019

Those Who Do Not Learn The Lessons Of History …

The Past As Prologue: The 2002 demise of the Alliance is a sad and complicated story. But, at its heart is a single, brutal, truth. Labour has no use for a support partner determined to pursue policy objectives at odds with those of the Government it leads. Rather than endure the consequences of such political insubordination, Labour will do all within its power to break the party responsible.

MARAMA DAVIDSON and Golriz Ghahraman would be well advised to take a break and read a little history. Not the history of colonial New Zealand: they seem very well-acquainted with that dismal narrative. No, the history they should familiarise themselves with, is the history of the Alliance in the weeks and months that followed the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.

It’s a sad and complicated story. But, at its heart is a single, brutal, truth. Labour has no use for a support partner determined to pursue policy objectives at odds with those of the Government it leads. Rather than endure the consequences of such political insubordination, Labour will do all within its power to break the party responsible.

The issue which broke the Alliance was Afghanistan. Identified as the protectors of Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaida terrorist network, the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan were given an ultimatum by the United States Government to surrender those responsible for the 9/11 attacks or face the full force of the US and its allies. The Labour Prime Minister, Helen Clark, and her deputy, the Alliance Leader, Jim Anderton, raised no serious objections to President George W. Bush’s proposed course of action.

The left-wing of the Alliance was, however, outraged by what they saw as Anderton’s craven capitulation to US imperialism.

With the left of his party in open revolt, the Alliance leader, Jim Anderton, resolved to seize control of the party’s resources and records, and purge its membership of left-wing dissenters. When his attempted coup was thwarted, Anderton moved swiftly to split the Alliance – drawing loyalists away to form a new political entity: Jim Anderton’s Progressive Party.

As the Alliance tore itself apart, Labour sat back and watched. Clark understood that with the Christchurch seat of Wigram firmly in his grasp, Jim Anderton and his new party were absolved from having to secure 5 percent of the Party Vote.

The Alliance enjoyed no such advantage. It waged a brave fight in the 2002 General Election but, deprived of Anderton and scorned by Labour, it attracted just 1.27 percent of the Party Vote and was bundled out of Parliament. Jim Anderton’s Progressive Party, by contrast, although it won only 1.7 percent of the Party Vote, secured two parliamentary seats. Anderton’s vengeance was complete.

Even today, it is hard to believe that what was, at that time, the most successful left-wing party in the Western World, allowed itself to be split and broken over whether or not the Taliban should be overthrown for harbouring an organisation responsible for planning and facilitating the most devastating terrorist attack in modern history.

Why is any of this relevant to the Greens? Because, in the aftermath of another terrorist attack, this time against the Muslim community of Christchurch, New Zealand, another radical faction, in another small but highly successful progressive party, again appears determined to compromise another Labour Prime Minister’s domestic and international responses to an appalling terrorist outrage.

Davidson and Ghahraman need to ask themselves what the reaction of their parliamentary colleagues is likely to be if it becomes clear that their determination to leverage-off the Christchurch Mosque Shootings to unleash an uncompromising anti-racist campaign encompassing the whole of Pakeha New Zealand, is met with a strong enough push-back to jeopardise the Greens chances of remaining in Parliament after 2020? Will the other members of the Green Caucus meekly accept that two of their number must be permitted follow the dictates of the consciences, regardless of the damage they are inflicting on their party? Or, will they attempt to stop them?

Davidson and Ghahraman should also ask themselves what Labour is likely to do.

The Christchurch Mosque Shootings have left NZ First fatally compromised. Denied the option of playing the Anti-Maori, Anti-Muslim, and Anti-Immigration cards, the party’s chances of surging back over the 5 percent MMP threshold in 2020 are slim-to-non-existent. That leaves only the Greens to partner Labour in the next progressive coalition. Davidson and Ghahraman should, therefore, ask themselves what Labour’s reaction will be if its internal polling shows their New-Zealand-Is-A-Profoundly-Racist-Society campaign is causing the Greens to haemorrhage votes in a fatal fashion?

While they’re at it, they should probably also ask themselves what use National and Act are likely to make of their We-Are-All-Guilty campaign. Do they really think the right of New Zealand politics is going to refuse to take advantage of the anger and disgust generated by what many (perhaps most) voters will characterise as a cheap-and-nasty attempt to capitalise politically on a terrible and unprecedented tragedy? Do they not see that what they are doing, and clearly intend to go on doing, is helping the Right to get back in the game? And, do they really think that Jacinda and her “Praetorian Guard” – Andrew Little and Grant Robertson – are going to just sit back and let that happen?

Helen Clark and Jim Anderton weren’t prepared to allow the left-wing of the Alliance to compromise their political mission. Marama Davidson and Golriz Ghahraman should, therefore, ask themselves whether, in their heart-of-hearts, they truly believe Jacinda Ardern and James Shaw are any different?

This essay was posted simultaneously on The Daily Blog and Bowalley Road on Tuesday, 26 March 2019.


peteswriteplace said...

Thought provoking again Chris, but the elections are 18 mths away - half an electoral lifetime away

Brendan McNeill said...


You are right to be angry about the actions of these Green MP’s attempting to label New Zealanders as profoundly racist and bigoted. It is wrong on many levels beyond just the raw politics you address in this post.

I was thinking earlier today that there is likely a place for a new political party; The Racists and Bigots Party. There would be no speeches at their meetings, just R&B music and convivial conversation. Given the climate the Greens are creating, there would be 5% of the vote for such a deeply ironic party, especially given the lack of substance in those parties laying claim to the conservative vote.

I do see some challenges getting people to put their name forward to be list candidates however, but it would be a legitimate reaction to the politics of the Greens. And that’s the thing they don’t understand; their attempts to de-legitimise the thoughts and opinions of people they don’t like risks producing the very reaction we are told they wish to avoid.

As to your warning, I’m not sure this Labour government understand much history, and Jacinda Ardern is not Helen Clark. We have yet to reach peak crazy from this coalition, the present actions of the greens notwithstanding.

greywarbler said...

This may be a pivotal post about NZs struggle for stable and good governnment. Thanks Chris. Realpolitik prevails over wishes and idealism.

I believe that the meme should be both kind, and, practical. It is an attempt to be kind to women that Marama and her cohort prefaced other discussion with that about the 'c' word. The priority for the Greens now is how to get under way putting practicality first. They will lose all hope of proceeding with kind policies, (positive and future-required survival actions) if they don't knuckle under and realise the difference between being in or near the power and knocking and calling from outside on the door. (Think French Taunting by Monty Python).

Thinking of further illustrations is the now-recognised one of agitators literally fighting for liberation, or change of oppressive government; once in what to do? A big sigh, and then the hard work of sitting down and doing the planning, listening, implementation and administration. Another cliche' - Rome wasn't built in a day.

Greens need to do a pressure-cooker course in how to build a practical tower and learn the method of decision-making for reality; how to make lists, prioritise, and judgments as to their goals and practical outcomes. From this 'tower' they can survey the field of endeavour, and plan the practical moves to take the country forward from its egregious, neglectful, backward path.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Denied the option of playing the Anti-Maori, Anti-Muslim, and Anti-Immigration cards, the party’s chances of surging back over the 5 percent MMP threshold in 2020 are slim-to-non-existent."
I must say Chris, you been getting a lot of compliments from the right lately. He is one that isn't. That is spot on. I guess it will all rest on whether Winston decides to run again and succeeds in Northland. Or if his successor has done enough bribery to clinch the seat. Not that I think Northland doesn't deserve a bit of bloody bribery mind, successive governments have largely ignored the brown and poor part of it anyway.
Because obviously the anti beneficiary card is a perk for Federated farmers and National. I think I'll be remembering that the next time they have a flood and farmers want free labour and my tax money.

Trev1 said...

A very good history lesson Chris. The two Green MPs have provoked a lot of disgust and anger by their cynical manipulation of this terrible tragedy. Their misuse of public vigils to promote their extremist views is seen as distracting from and insulting the memory of the dead they were held to mourn. Ardern and Labour's popularity are likely to surge in coming weeks which will further deprive the Greens of oxygen - they generally only thrive when Labour is doing poorly as before the leadership change in 2017. NZ First seems to be a spent force and all the indications at present are the election next year will be effectively a two horse race.

Geoff Fischer said...

There were good reasons for questioning, and opposing, the rationale for war in Afghanistan, which from hindsight can be seen as just another bloody failed war for New Zealand. So I don't think that you can seriously argue that the left was wrong to oppose New Zealand involvement in that war. The other thread to your argument, based on political pragmatism, carries more weight. If the left abandons its anti-war principles, then it may enjoy longer periods in power. As it happens, I also tend to the view that there is no place for a principled left wing party in the New Zealand parliamentary system.
If Davidson and Ghahraman are trying to represent New Zealanders in general as racist, I think they are plain wrong, if not being mischievous, and probably do not deserve to be able to hold on to and advance their parliamentary careers. However we do need people with the courage to call for a change in New Zealand's geopolitical positioning. Specifically, an end to New Zealand's collusion in the anti-Asian and anti-Muslim wars of the Five Eyes, and along with that a critical evaluation of the operations and biases of the New Zealand security services.

Unknown said...

I wrote something very similar a couple of days ago.

I'm disappointed with Ghahraman, she's fast becoming the Peter Garrett of New Zealand Politics. Davidson is a little smarter, she might annoy the more sound minds in Labour but she's also playing into the residual Mana vote and providing a point of difference for Maori that should allow the party to return to parliament.

There's a simple fix here for Labour, rather than jepodise a 2nd term in office with infighting, let NZ First die of natural causes and stand their candidate aside in the Coromandel so the Greens return...

Jack Scrivano said...

Chris, I despair of Ms Davidson and others of her ilk pointing to Parihaka (and similar events) as proof of just how racist NZ is. Parihaka occurred more than 130 years ago. ‘The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.’ What happened was not right. No question about that. But there is no one alive today who can go back and make it right. We need to move forward and try to make things better in the future.

From where I sit, NZ is not that bad. For the last 35 or so years of my working life I was fortunate enough to work on projects in many different parts of the world. And, sad to say, I saw ‘racism’ everywhere I went. Racism was prevalent in the USA, the Caribbean, Latin America, parts of Europe, most of Africa (not just white on black, but black on black), and great chunks of the Middle East. Even in the much-praised Scandinavia, I saw rampant racism. Or did I?

Perhaps I just saw ‘tribes’ struggling to accommodate other ‘tribes’. Family first and don’t you forget it.

One of my ancestors was a fisherman, working out of Hastings, on England’s South Coast. He was murdered for hanging out with fishermen from Normandy. Another of my ancestors got his comeuppance for marrying a Scotswoman. And one of my great uncles was ostracised for giving work to Chinese agricultural workers. Tribes, eh?

I’m old. And I’m sick of hearing about what we did wrong in the past.

Anonymous said...

Winston and/or Shane aren't going to even get close to winning in Northland. No amount of pork is enough for Northland to forget that NZF allowed Labour and the Greens to cancel their road.

Kat said...

Davidson and Ghahraman are just carrying on what Turia started. I am sure they mean well, just politically naive. I don't believe Helen Clark would put them in the "haters and wreckers" league but I am sure she would have some pertinent words of political wisdom to impart. But then they reside in a different tent.

Nick J said...

Jack well said. There are so many divided and tribalism is so rampant. People fear the unknown and unfamiliar. It's actually a winning strategy over time.

When the Normans came to England they spoke French. It took 300 years for them to use English as their primary language. Integration is faster today but the lesson is that it takes time to achieve mutual comfort between different races and cultures. To condemn racism per se is fine, but we need to address root causes if we want it to go away. Creating a victim / oppressor narrative doesn't go far to achieving that.

BlisteringAttack said...

It all boils down to class agitation.

What are the 'Yellow Vests' all about? working class agitation against a neoliberal French President who attacks working conditions via employment legislation and other attacks.

What was the Christchurch shooter all about? a working class drop-kick resenting immigration.

It is not racism, a free / hate speech debate, the rise of so-called white supremacy etc that the media drones on about.

The only clear headed analysis of all these events amounts to class agitation and their various manifestations.

Anonymous said...

Not to be facetious, Chris, and slightly off topic, but in reference to Guerilla Surgeon and his perceived jibe at Federated Farmers, on last night's TV news, I saw an automated apple picker machine. Ready to take the jobs away from those that don't want them...

Unknown said...

Tsk, tsk Chris. You have now joined the long list of public commentators who have delivered a eulogy for the political career of Winston Peters... while he is still breathing.

Remember the old Kiwi proverb " Today's news, tomorrow's fish and chip wrapper. "

New Zealand First will be back in 2020. I will bet you a Rutherford on it.

My other prediction is keep an eye on Mark Mitchell. Bridges will be dumped either just before or just after the next election. Who will replace him ? Mitchell is an outside shot for National Party leadership... at the moment. But if a week is a long time in politics, then a year is an eternity.

I look forward to spending your Rutherford, Mt Trotter.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Not to be facetious Chris, but how can you take jobs away from people who don't want them?

greywarbler said...

What was the Christchurch shooter all about? a working class drop-kick resenting immigration.

But he was Australian. If it was just immigration he was on about he could well have done his dirty work there. No he was into feeling aggrieved and superior, and miffed that everything didn't fall into his white man's lap.
So look for a similar cohort group, then choose a scapegoat from their areas of discontent, see how to make a plan, get some purpose in life in looking for the simplest way to carry the plan out using the few skills that he has worked to achieve in his life.

Phil Saxby said...

I am tempted to join Shane McD in betting you that Winston and NZ First will be back in 2020.

The unsafe bet would be on the Greens surviving their self-inflicted wounds. They may be lucky this time, but would still have to survive another 18 months of being in government without falling into some other political abyss.

BlisteringAttack said...

greywarbler 27 Mar 17:26

The Christchurch shooter could have been Chilean, Mongolian, or Scottish but was in fact an Aussie. It doesn't matter what his nationality was. It is irrelevant.

The fact remains he was working class with deeply ingrained working class attitudes. One of which is resentment to immigrants who with their supposedly cheaper labour pose a deep-seated threat to his own cheap labour.

It is as simple as that.

Talk about free / hate speech, racism, sectarianism etc is all by the by. That is the media attempting to shape a false narrative.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"It is as simple as that."
No it isn't. He was a white nationalist and a neo-Nazi. Or as I prefer to call them – a Nazi. Let's not pretend that he's just a grumpy old working class bloke. I come from a long line of grumpy old working class blokes, and none of them have ever done anything like this, and none of them said anything to me ever about how they hated migrants. The false narrative is in fact trying to make excuses for this guy's political and racial opinions.

sumsuch said...

Gharaman and Davidson are only putting out there what we're all -- dense rationalisers, non-thinkers aside -- thinking, considering. The Greens haemorhaegging votes over this is ridiculous. The Coalition, sure, maybe. Don't know why you were ok with NZ First playing their cards previously, given the damage it did to the minorities targeted.

Reality is our friend unlike for the 'friends of the rich'.

Scape-goating is a symptom best addressed at the cause. It always helps a little to know more.I choose to nail the Irish because I know they're in the right. Doesn't effect my prosecution of'm much.

I encountered so much unreflective racism prior to the massacre. The poisons of a hierarchical society must seep somewhere. In our old welfare state it seeped into scratches down the sides of Rolls Royces. Better.

greywarbler said...

Reading the comments makes me realise that many people don't attempt to understand what the writer meant, they paste their own preconceptions on and give you your comment back with a twist, or pulled out of shape, or covered by one inflated word so you can't see the attempted reasoning behind. One wonders how we ever manage to decide anything of practical value at meetings. It does matter that he was Australian Blistering Attack, it is relevant. To my point not yours. He wasn't a true working class type, he had made the break with the limited vision of a stay-at-home guy in a semi-skilled lifestyle. He had crossed borders like an immigrant, travelled and looked at other cultures but not learned to understand or find anything in them to like, and somehow had his white superiority dented.

The people he looked down on seemed, despite their known inferiority to him, been confident in their ability to order him around, and some cheated him out of something. And when they immigrated, they did well and seemed cleverer which was unsettling. It shook him and he decided they would obviously take over given a chance. And somehow he had enough money to pay for his living and obtain all he needed. And please himself. That is not an ordinary working class guy who would be off at the pub and always a bit short of the ready.

KJT said...

Reading the article it seems the writer has allowed his antipathy for the Greens to cloud his thinking.

One of the good things which many of us hope will come out of this, is people beginning to face the harm that, "othering" people does.

That is what Golriz and Marama are asking for.

I for one am proud of them.

Unlike Labour abandoning principles for power, since 1984.

I hope Jacinda Adern follows through with the politics of compassion and fairness also. She has made a good start. Whether she can overcome the dinosaurs in her cabinet to do so remains to be seen.

The rise of intelligent talented young women in Parliament, gives this aging white bloke, hope for my grandkids future.

Charles said...

He was indeed a resentful working class muscle head. Read his drivel. He says so. But that says very little. Some of my friends are from similar backgrounds and very nice good citizens.
And actually, again based on his drivel, he was not really a Nazi or a white supremist, although I'm sure he supports them as they have similar paranoia & goals. And he describes himself as a former communist. Now an eco-fascist wherever that is. I would have thought that describes some greens quite well. Those that directly or indirectly advocate death for most of humanity (by flood, pestilence or starvation of course) for example, which is almost mainstream green thought these days. In their case it is pure nature they want, rather than a pure race.

No, the killer is a Breivik disciple most of all. So a ‘Euro-Nationalist’ apocalyptic extremist. They want non Europeans out of their territory, by any means. And they see starting a culture/religious/race war as one means to achieve this. They are all about ancient cultural purity myths. As mythical as Rousseau’s ideas, who’s legacy gives us the two current Green bigots. I expect Davidson and her ilk want to wipe out the offspring of the Enlightenment here similarly. Funny really because I would wager half her ancestors were colonialists. It always amuses me most activist Maori actually have a higher proportion of true colonising Christian settler ancestors than the average Kiwi. Anyway, logic and racial bullshit never meet..

So these euro puritans Breivik & Tarrant are the exact mirror image of extremist Muslim puritans, better described as Islamists or Islamo-fascists. They want all except Muslims wiped out of the lands they see as theirs. So they advocate genocide and promote war between cultures and religions. The far left supports them cleansing their turf of Jews and Christians..

Tarrant claims to be a pre-Christian warrior fighting Muslims ‘invading’ Europe. This is a major trend in Europe now where the far right have moved their hate to the Muslims, from others previously. What seems a strange alliance: the post-modernist radical left, a very conservative religion and Euro-fascists is not really, as it is what they hate that unites them: The Enlightenment and therefore the Judeo-Christian West, especially modern Europe.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Funny isn't it – Muslim commits an atrocity and it's because of Islam and all Muslims are held responsible. Neo-Nazi commits an atrocity and all of a sudden he's a lone wolf and everyone on the right scurries around trying to disassociate themselves from him. It'd be funny if it wasn't such a waste of fucking time. Time the right grew a pair. They want their freedom of speech, but they refuse to take any responsibility for the consequences.