Tuesday 15 March 2022

A Fork In The Road: Which Way Should Labour Go?

Time To Choose: The changes that can no longer be deferred – on global warming, social equity, constitutional transformation and international relations – are so fundamental, so comprehensive and so disruptive as to be completely unassimilable by the current neoliberal order. Whether they like it or not, Labour’s leaders will have to become radicals and revolutionaries – or fade into history.

THE LATEST 1NEWS/KANTAR POLL raises a host of intriguing possibilities. Though the mainstream media’s reporting of the poll’s results has concentrated on National/Act overtaking Labour/Green, there has been considerably less attention paid to the potentially pivotal role of Te Pāti Māori in deciding the 2023 General Election. If the Labour hierarchy isn’t yet contemplating a sit-down with the Greens and Te Pāti Māori on strategy and tactics, then it should do so immediately. A radical electoral coalition is in the offing – if Labour has the wit and the courage to forge it.

The first thing for the Labour leadership to grasp is that the changes that can no longer be deferred – on global warming, social equity, constitutional transformation and international relations – are so fundamental, so comprehensive and so disruptive as to be completely unassimilable by the current neoliberal order. Whether they like it or not, Labour’s leaders will have to become radicals and revolutionaries – or fade into history.

The other option: standing in the way of the massive changes that loom ahead; will only hasten the moral and intellectual decay of the Labour Party. By positioning itself alongside National and Act, Labour would be abandoning the quest for transformational change to the Greens and Te Pāti Māori.

More seriously, Labour would be setting itself upon a course that could only end in the sort of Grand Coalitions that destroyed the German Social-Democratic Party as a force for progressive change.

Refusing to accept the need for radical changes might delay transformation, but conservative political resistance cannot prevent it from happening. The priority for any genuine party of the Left is to ensure that necessary change takes place in a context that expands the realm of human freedom – rather than constricting it.

Hence the urgent need for Labour to sit down with the Greens and Te Pāti Māori and sort out who does what in the formulation, presentation and implementation of a truly transformational programme.

Crucial to this process will be the identification of new sources of information and advice. A new societal agenda will require a new delivery mechanism: a creative and constantly changing constellation of “action groups” modelled on the astonishingly effective ad-hoc response to the urgent challenges of Māori vaccination against Covid-19.

Rather than policy-making being held within the narrow confines of the neoliberal mandarinate, Labour, the Greens and Te Pati Māori need to seek out the ideas and methodologies of individuals and groups hitherto regarded as operating beyond the realm of “realistic” policy formation. People and institutions able to begin immediately – utilising expertise and energies undreamt of by the official organs of the state.

A government committed to saying “yes” before it says “no”, would direct its fiscal support to transformational initiatives that have already demonstrated their ability to expand organically from one area of need to another, increasing in complexity and effectiveness as they grow. Change could thus emerge like crops in the fields – from the ground up.

Rather than congratulate itself for expanding the size of the state bureaucracy, a transformational Labour/Green/ Te Pāti Māori government would measure its success by the number of public servants it liberated from the crushing surveillance and soul-destroying discipline of the neoliberal administrative apparatus. Instead of sucking-up and taming organisational talent, the government’s goal would be to let it fall like windborne seeds into the fertile chaos of the revolution welling-up from below. As the wiser sort of trade union leader used to say: “Keep your experts on tap – not on top.”

If the recent protest encampment on Parliament Grounds had anything positive to offer the rest of New Zealand, then it was, surely, the example of people held together by a common cause, and how they managed themselves in ways that owed nothing to state or local officialdom. The way the protest community’s needs were supplied by those with the skills and resources required to meet them was genuinely inspiring. Motivated by a worthier cause: fighting global warming; delivering social and economic equity; exploring new ways of organising our politics; what could ordinary people not achieve?

Fanciful? Utopian? Not at all. Though the electorate has been given precious little evidence of its presence, there is in the 65 Labour Members of Parliament a concentration of idealism and talent which, in alliance with their colleagues in the Greens and Te Pāti Māori, is more than capable of unleashing a veritable flood of progressive change. The only thing stopping them is their collective unwillingness to believe that such an outcome is possible. Debilitating them – spiritually as well as politically – is the cancerous neoliberal lie that “there is no alternative” to the inhuman mechanism in which they have allowed themselves to become enmeshed.

There is no better example of this tragedy than Jacinda Ardern herself. When there is no rule-book: when History’s lightning-bolts bring horror and havoc out of clear blue sky; Jacinda has revealed her political instincts to be infallible. Her ability to find the right words: “They are Us”, “Team of Five Million”, speaks to an extraordinary level of emotional intelligence and empathy. But, on an ordinary day, with the rule-book open upon her desk, Jacinda’s performance is woeful. This superb free-spirit daily snaps the cuffs of “the way things are done” around her wrists and allows herself to be escorted quietly to the neoliberal jail.

Surely, by now, the Prime Minister understands that it is the lightning-bolt that inscribes the pages of history? That the rule-book she and her colleagues rely upon is merely the imperfect codification of all the inspired political improvisations of the past. Where was Mickey Savage’s rule-book? Where was Roger Douglas’s? They didn’t have one. All they had was the conviction that things could not go on as they were. That, for better, or for worse, changes had to be made.

Like them, Jacinda and her colleagues have come to a fork in the road. Whether their choice leads onwards to a brighter future, or down into the dark, will depend entirely upon how many people are invited to help them make it. Roger Douglas relied upon the secretive neoliberal priesthood of Treasury. Mickey Savage upon the wisest and most generous spirits New Zealand had to offer – beginning with the extraordinary people contained in his own caucus.

“By their fruits shall ye know them”, says the Good Book.

Having based her government’s decisions on the Rule Book, can Jacinda honestly say that she’s satisfied with Labour’s harvest?

The only way to win anything worth having in politics is by trusting the people. In alliance with the Greens and Te Pāti Māori, Labour needs to give New Zealanders something worth voting for.

Then watch the polls change.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Tuesday, 15 March 2022.


Wayne Mapp said...

"Then watch the polls change." Yes, they would, inexorably downward.

Is it really credible that Labour will become akin to a Corbynite party, since that is effectively what is being suggested. If they did, and that was clearly signalled before the election, I reckon you could pretty much guarantee Labour a few years in the political wilderness to contemplate the consequences of such a decision.

There is simply no appetite in New Zealand for a radical socialist change. It is no accident that the biggest selling vehicles are double cab utes capable of pulling the 6 mete fishing boat. In fact, owned by the PM's partner along with the beach house in Tairua. The epitome of the kiwi dream.

Just about every single policy dreamed up by such a fanciful radical coalition would be diametrically opposed to people being able to fulfil such a dream.

The party that actually trumpet the opportunity to fulfil such a dream are much more likely to electorally succeed.

Shane Jones certainly thinks so. His column in the Herald on Tuesday set out the battle lines. The further Labour goes down the co-governave path, the more likely it is doomed to electoral failure.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Wayne Mapp.

I want to thank you, Wayne, for so brilliantly proving my point.

Clearly, you find it impossible to conceive of a world that differs in any significant way from the one you know.

Climate change? Just a few tweaks and she'll be right.

Social equity? Just encourage people to be "aspirational".

Constitutional transformation? Oops! Looks like the Pakeha majority won another round! Sorry tangata whenua, but you lose - again.

A new cold war? Ongoing fuel crises? Food shortages? Massive political instability? Nothing Uncle Sam can't fix - all we Kiwis have to do is tag along.

Double cab utes and fishing boats - God give me strength!

CXH said...

I can certainly conceive of a different world to the one we are in, but it differs from your in many ways.

There is no possibility of ever achieving equity for all, unless you drop the level required to the lowest possible. The idea we can is driven purely by an idea that the State can rule all facets of our lives, there can be no deviating from the norm.

As for constitutional transformation, it would appear you wish for a move away from our present democracy to an autocratic one. One that is based on race to be able to chose our direction.

Good luck with your dream of equity for all when that happens. 150 years of payback will not be a pretty thing for the 85%.

Do we need to change and help others, certainly. Is some form of socialist apartheid controlling overlords the answer? I doubt it.

Odysseus said...

Exactly Chris, Labour need to double down on building the Communist Ethnostate, an Antipodean Albania with tribalist characteristics. As for double-cabbed utes, they should be immediately banned as part of our response to Climate Change. Maybe ClarkE got wind of this and has done a runner? Keep up the creative ferment!

David George said...

I think Wayne Mapp is correct, sorry Chris.
It's clearly possible to conceive of something, anything I guess, but would it appeal to the people's aspirations and intuitions? Is "equity" even possible, or would the attempts to implement it end up in the complete disaster it has in the past? Would the people of New Zealand sign up to run the experiment one more time? No, I don't think so.

It's no mystery, they do surveys all the time asking people what is important to them. Housing, cost of living, law and order, kids education and the provision of health care are the top concerns. Perhaps Labour would be better off figuring out how to deal with those a hell of a lot better than they have than dicking around with the whackos in the Maori and Green parties.

Come the next election are you seriously suggesting they go to the people, with their legacy of failure and division and say: yeah, yeah, but wait we've got a cunning new plan, just trust us to re-jig the whole thing, a top to bottom remake in line with our glorious, Utopian vision. Maybe get out and listen to what people say, looks like they might surprise you.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"There is simply no appetite in New Zealand for a radical socialist change."

There is not a party in New Zealand outside the lunatic fringe that wants "radical socialist change". The problem is that conservatives have decided that pretty much any policy that advances the cause of the working class and the poor is "radical socialist change". Something which we seem to have inherited from the US. Socialism = anything the government does that I don't like – but keep your hands off my middle-class subsidies.

It's funny isn't it that only when hardship begins to touch the middle-class does it become a crisis. Poor people had been suffering for years, yet when one articulate middle-class woman wrote to the Prime Minister conplaining that she, her husband, and their children couldn't manage on what seemed to me to be a pretty damn reasonable wage – does something get done. Hence 'working for families' which left out everyone who was poor/childless.

And yet, I don't remember a single conservative commentator whining "Why does she have so many children if she can't support them?" The conservative go to phrase if a poor person has children and has difficulty supporting them for whatever reason. Not that I needed any more evidence of conservative hypocrisy but that pretty much put it in the bank.

Tony said...

Wayne Mapp - you need to get away from the “double cab” world and see how many kiwis are suffering from 30 + years of neoliberal policies. How many young people have had to give up the kiwi dream of owning a home, having good holidays and bringing up children in a fair society? Yes, many kiwis have a good, well funded life with their “double cab” but an increasing number face a stark reality. Petrol today or food on the table. As more are forced to face this reality, they will not vote for any party and occupations/protests will increase. We face civil unrest as we saw at the end of the Wellington protest. Do you really imagine those who attended and lead/organised the protest will not have learned the lessons for the future? Chris is right, Labour go radical or fade into history as a failure.

Wayne Mapp said...


You are right, I don't believe in the level of radical change that you seem to want. Change yes, but not a revolution. For instance I have no problem with a well funded Maori Health Authority, or a major state housing building programme at say double the current levels.

Incidentally I don't own either a double cab ute or a fishing boat, not my thing. No where near efficient enough for me. But you only have to look around to see how many there are, and who drives them. Almost invariably men in the trades with school age children, who have worked dam hard to get ahead. As you have said many times, Waitakere Man, but I would now include North Shore Man and virtually entire provincial New Zealand in that grouping. From what I can see, they seem pretty determined to reclaim their political space. And typically the women in the household are leading the political charge and are more likely to be the political activists (and future MP's).

Anonymous said...

As the son of a well known NZ communist I can recall standing at his knee as a six year old, in awe of the conversations taking place in various living rooms we were to visit in those times.

In later years I grew to evaluate and recognise the frailty of man and his inherent short memory, coupled to a biological blindness, by a design of being born free but not equal.
Then came a desire by some to buck the creators will and worship their own king. It therefore comes as no great revelation that some will always be at that fork in the Rd

Which way should I go, Alice inquired from the cat.
Where are you going, the cat replied
I don't know, said Alice
Then it makes no difference which path you take, said the cat

And so it came to be that some are destined to wander only on paths of malcontent

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Almost invariably men in the trades with school age children, who have worked dam hard to get ahead. "

And who can write them off against their taxes.

Barry said...

There are 3 certainties in life.
1 Death
2 taxes
3 decisions based on race end in tears.

In the US they started making race based decisions in the 1960s.
Now - 60 years later - its obvious that theyve all failed and afro-americans are now worse off than ever ' this despite all the race based decisions.
Climate change will be easily solved - and that doesnt include solar and wind energy. Nuclear energy is the only solution - its just that it will take 30 years for governments to come to their senses.

The really brave challenge is to embrace genetic manipulation to take account of reduced water availability and reduced CO2 production.

Unknown said...

"Constitutional transformation" is a "nice" euphemism for Labours secret implementation of their undemocratic disenfranchisement of NZdrs electoral mandate.

The next election will be decided on the single issue of co governance: all the rest is irrelevant noise "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing"

Barry said...

Labour went radical in 1984 and turned everything upside down. We know how well that went dont we - we are suffering from it still. International changes such as globalisation locked in the mess that rogernomics was and made it worse.
Making radical changes to the current mess is most likely to make things even worse. The reason is that the idea of 'radical change' is based on the assumption that nothing in our history has worked.
In the 1950's there was no umemployment, maori education was on a par with european levels, a high proportion of jobs were production of export product based, etc.
Changes since then seem to have made things progressively worse.
Seems to me that you are suggesting making things worse again is a good idea.........😨

Anonymous said...

GS at 13:36

'And who can write them off against their taxes'

Like most that have an infantile approach to economic laws and/or society.

Whom established the taxes and for what causes.

Jens Meder said...

Can anyone give an example of anything beside hand-to-mouth consumption of the fruits labor through hunting and gathering -

getting done without saving for reserves and investment, i. e. capitalism ?

If not, then it is indisputably clear, that there cannot be prosperous nor relatively secure survival without capitalism.

And is it not a clear fact, that without owning some capital the natural truth is have-not poverty?

So far, Social Democratic capitalism is endeavoring to alleviate that poverty through wealth redistributing welfare payments, and the extreme political Left dreams of achieving equality through (more totalitarian) state monopoly capitalism replacing (more democratic) private enterprise capitalism, practically reducing all workers to servants of the state, i.e. very similar to feudalistic slavery ages ago, or in the southern US less than 200 years ago.

But Welfare Socialism becomes self-destructive from the moment too many people choose to rely more on qualifying for social benefits than on prudent living, work, and reasonable risk taking.
Socialistic State Monopoly Capitalism has resulted in widening poverty everywhere (can anyone give an example where not?), the communist Soviet Union gave up its state monopoly capitalism, and on the economic level even totalitarian China very successfully reverted to private capitalism for its economic welfare improvement.

So, since nothing can be done without capitalism (even hard labor without it produces nothing beyond hand-to-mouth survival), what other alternative can anyone think of for widening prosperity and equality, than a universal effort by our "team of 5 million" to achieve at least a minimally meaningful level of (retirement) wealth by all citizens eventually, i.e. a true ownership society with 100% of wealth owning citizenship starting from birth. ?

DS said...

And what of socialists who consider the Identity Politics of the Greens and the Maori Party to be absolutely toxic? The Greens are the party of well-educated and well-paid social liberals, the Maori Party are the party of neocapitalist Big Iwi.

Kat said...

Same as our road rules.....keep left,,,,no right turn....

Warren Murray said...

Be careful what you wish for.

Chris, your heroes of the first Labour Government won by democratic means. It is highly debateable that they would have stayed in power so long, were it not for WW2 but they did so by democratic means.

I understand your revulsion of the wishy-washy middle and your hatred of the right, but let's be honest, the constitutional change that Bryce Edwards and you seem so keen on is anti democratic. Labour knew / knows this, hence why it concealed the Hapua agenda before the 2020 election. It'll take a lot of work to convince wishy washy middle NZ to sacrifice democracy, which will be a prerequisite for the Maori Party.

The other serious drawback for the revolution you seem to crave is the counter revolution.

Chris Morris said...

Showing a bit of snobbery, aren't you? Writing the cost on the work utes off against the tax is a lot better than the massive subsidies the virtue signallers get for their EVs.
When I look out of my kitchen window, albeit its elevated, I can see six of my neighbors have twin cabs. Most are painted in company colours as they are employees, not owners. And they have the vehicle home because they are either tradies or on callout. Many also tow work twin axle trailers when needed - something there is no alternative for apart from big SUVs. Some use their utes to tow the tinnie down to the ramp to go fishing - that is the NZ experience. As the house prices round here are below the national median, most of those aren't in high wage jobs and have mortgages. The streets round here are only ever quiet when there is an All Black test on. Hi-viz and steel toecaps are de rigueur, even when mowing the lawns at weekends. I note they bus their kids to the Catholic school, where they mix with the Tokelaun and Philippino kids so it's not elitism, just more traditional education.
Those neighbours aren't into identity politics or equity or co-governance. They want low crime, affordable energy and a sense of nationhood. That is why I doubt many would vote Labour

Ribro90 said...

Tradesmen yes, educated men. NZ's children have an appalling rate of absence from school. We can't have an uneducated and productive society, it just won't work.
Socialism, always seems to be about making people dependent on the government for their livelihood while slowly reducing everyone's income as the government runs out of other people's money.
But good luck with going into the next election with a radical communist agenda, that's worked so well every other time.

The Barron said...

"When you come to a folk in the road, take it"

I have always been a fan of the sayings of New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra. Luxon's recent policy announcement drew me to Yogi's "It's like deja vu all over again". Chris' reminds me of his "You got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going , because you might not get there'.

According to the TVNZ poll, Labour could loose 16 seats. As Yogi said, "No-one goes there these days, its' too crowded". This should put caucus pressure on the government. However, there has been no sign of this yet. The backbenches have been unusually disciplined. This shows that the labour Party have been astute at candidate selection (c.f. Peter Goodfellow) and are largely agreed with the Government direction. It is also a sign that the poll has not resulted in panic. I can think of no historical example of a large governing caucus that has been so unified. "We have deep depth", is one Yogism, the more famous "It ain't over till it's over" being another.

It is understanding that the Hon. Dr. Wayne sees the best course for Labour being National-lite. It is continuity of Government ever crabbing to the right. This has been the pattern for almost four decades. I do not see anything radical in this Government, but I do see a commitment to some correction in that pattern. It is obviously supported by the caucus, which is undoubtedly diverse representation we have had on the government side of the house. There are no calls in caucus for a change of direction, or, as Yogi would suggest "we made too many wrong mistakes".

Anyway, it is one poll - in a crisis, a long way from the election. Yogi reminds us "the future ain't what it used to be".

Final words of wisdom from Yogi (not quite sure how to fit it in to the narrative, but too good to leave out) -

"Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't come to yours.;

sumsuch said...

Having now read your article I feel it's sad we implore Jace and Grant like the Russian peasants, Tsar Nicholas. Sad state of affairs for the 'people's movement'. But she won it where Andrew Little couldn't. 'Art of the possible', when reality needs the necessary. No more time.

No criticism of you.

sumsuch said...

Wayne, this is about reality, not what will win the next election. The 'necessary' not the 'art of the possible'.

sumsuch said...

Though, I have to concur with your imploration. I'd like to see Jacinda grow old in govt and our true esteem. Learn.

She has to be put her life into this for her child. All this CV nonsense is contrary to the reality. This is WW ll over 20 years. I hate the stupid arse reliance on the past pleasant times for the ruling classes from Roger on carrying on 'for ever'. Which, disgustingly, involves the leadership of Labour.

sumsuch said...

'Fraid being limited to basic cable, and my siblings being crazy, I seek family in the daily 'The Chase'. One of the questions was about a survey on what British people thought would be their Labour Party's favourite food -- quinoa. The awkward embarrassment was palpable. The incongruity. Something wrong.

Archduke Piccolo said...

One starts to wonder just why Labour has chickened out of some promising areas of reform. Are the main stream media and the Business Roundtable really so intimidating? Or are we looking at some sort of covert 'arm twisting' from offshore? (Remember Barack Obamas's deathless remark?).

Lest anyone suppose that this offshore arm twisting gag is implausible, there has been at least one precedent. That one I'm thinking of came from the UK, which, as a prerequisite for a loan this country was seeking, insisted upon the then Labour government's reversing some of its social reforms. That the UK demands were overtaken by global events doesn't alter the fact of quite major meddling.

Of course we are familiar with France's sabotage of Greenpeace, and there remains a very large red question mark over the United States' involvement in New Zealand's election process in 1975, which also threatened the social reforms of the Third Labour administration.

I'm not saying Labour IS being coerced by the US. I am saying that were facts to emerge to confirm that very thing, I should not be a whit surprised.

(By the way: a 'conspiracy theory' is just an unofficial narrative in competition with the official conspiracy theory. Calling it a conspiracy theory neither affirms its falsity, nor confirms the credibility of the official position).
Ion A. Dowman

sumsuch said...

We know where they should go but the cowards who guide them don't.

David George said...

Some good quotes above, here's one. Ancient Chinese saying: Man going nowhere is certain to get there.

Chris: "The priority for any genuine party of the Left is to ensure that necessary change takes place in a context that expands the realm of human freedom – rather than constricting it."
You know as well as anyone, Chris, that that would be the last thing you should expect. All of those parties are authoritarian - "one source of truth", criminalising speech, removal of democratic rights ring any bells?

There's a pervasive whiff of death surrounding the entire liberal project as it's torn apart by it's inherent contradictions and the increasing separation from it's moral foundation. Labour are willing victims of that, they just lack the self awareness to see it, I wonder if they even know what liberalism means anymore. Looks like they've been mugged by reality with their backdown on their hideous speech laws which is something to celebrate at least.

I think the liberal project is worth fighting for and I don't think you can have a truly free or prosperous or just society without economic liberalism. I just hope the people can see or feel that as well.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Showing a bit of snobbery, aren't you?

Given that I drive a 2007 Hyundai, I suspect not.

Writing the cost on the work utes off against the tax is a lot better than the massive subsidies the virtue signallers get for their EVs."

No it's not. And you provide no evidence that it is – you just prefer it that way. We have to shift to electric vehicles at some stage. But even with the subsidy I couldn't afford one. If I could I would get one, because it's better than blowing crap Into the atmosphere.

David George said...

Here's a really good essay up on The Democracy Project with agreement on a lot of Chris's points.

"Governance partnerships with Māori are a big focus for Labour. Regrettably, they do not represent meaningful devolution. Labour’s approach to co-governance is top down: it’s all about growing a parallel bureaucracy.

The MHA and the other co-governance entities will be no closer to the people they rule over than a Mojo-swilling Wellington bureaucrat is to a rousey in a Tinui woolshed. It’s an expansion of Wellington’s grasp and control – not a sharing of it.

They say governments fall when they lose touch. Labour isn’t losing touch, it’s actively distancing itself from touch.

It is deliberately surrounding itself with ever-growing and ever-thickening layers of lanyards so that it may better rule over us from the splendid isolation of central Wellington rather than govern for and with its people.

More than any single decision or policy, this is what is driving Ardern’s Labour towards an unceremonious departure from power. When a government puts ever more barriers between it and the people, the people become more sceptical. We’ve been seeing that play out for a while now, even if more urgent events hold our attention from day-to-day.

And when it happens, Wellington will be as shocked and surprised as the courtiers of the French Crown.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"They say governments fall when they lose touch."

Governments fail when people get bored with them it seems to me. There seems to be some sort of natural span of two maybe three elections and then they're out. It has to be that way David because otherwise you'd have to admit that National governments lost touch, given that they regularly fail. And that would be heresy right?

Of course conservatives always govern with and for ITS people. They just forget about the rest of us.

Political parties have had barriers between themselves and THE people now for years. I think I've been canvassed perhaps once in the last 30 years. Those raucous political meetings they used to have are gone. I've never been invited to be part of a focus group .:) Mass party membership disappeared down the toilet years ago.

Of course, National is in far greater touch with ITS people because they meet in exclusive clubs and chat with their business leader/farmer constituents. But I guarantee that many labour politicians do exactly the same, in order to make sure the money keeps coming in. Business leaders might bitch about labour, but most of them still donate in order to have "immediate access" to ministers as one of them said.

But the idea that National cares about the whole country is ludicrous. They've never done that.

David George said...

Well yes, governments tend towards arrogance and aloofness but this is on another level, yes they need a good wake up periodically. You seem to have missed some key points, did you even bother to read that essay GS?

"The core public service has grown by 220% since the turn of the century............ of the increase above, less than 10% occurred under a National government.

When all Labour has is a hammer, everything looks like a nail

How do you tackle rising healthcare costs due to ageing hospitals, costly medical advances, and an older population? Labour’s answer is more centralised bureaucracy. More Wellington.

What about crumbling water infrastructure due to local government scopes getting broader but not their access to capital? Sounds like a job for a centralised bureaucracy. More paperwork and committees and bureaucrats will fix it.

A post-secondary education system struggling to deliver against critical skills shortages? Sounds like a job for a centralised bureaucracy. If that won’t get young people learning, nothing will.

A significant global pandemic threatening our health and our economy? Sounds like a job for a centralised bureaucracy. What else?

the issue is the government’s reflexive instinct to take problems away from community organisations, local governments, and business groups rather than solving those problems (their problems!) with them.

Labour’s instinct for ever more centralisation draws an unnecessary line between problem sufferers and problem solvers. Communities are framed as victims or supplicants rather than empowered entities capable of helping themselves. The public service is framed as their saviour.

Civil society is continually diminished – its energy and resources untapped and its agency and capacity for self-determination withering. The public service is expanded in a vain attempt to make up the deficit but it just ends up colonising the social capital that still exists."

So yes, I would say this is a problem, not unique to Labour, but one they need to recognise and own. The elimination of direct local democratic control and input (health, education and water for example) is something of a speciality it seems.

Chris Morris said...

GS are you being deliberately obtuse or still living in an echo chamber?
How much subsidy do you get buying an EV? Who pays for the power at a lot of the charging stations? How much RUCs do EVs pay? They are the subsidies. What do commercial ute owners get that matches them?
We don't have to switch to electric cars - the ones currently on the road will be scrapped (if you can find someone to take them) before the coal fired power station that powers them is decommissioned.

sumsuch said...

GS, I prefer Holyoake to the egotist John A. Lee, just from the National Programme doco of those two going around parliament in the 70s. I understand, but Holyoake spoke for the people from an easiness. Key and Luxon don't have as much of the fellow-feeling, but they understood where they couldn't go. So no leadership but a realisation. Of our old social democracy. Leadership of course is the only fit that will do. But where the fuck would that come from ... from'84?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Well Chris, considering the oil industry is subsidised around the world for billions of dollars – I imagine that answers one of your questions. But even so, subsidies are necessary often. At least with new technologies. Even economists sometimes agree on this.

" Who pays for the power at a lot of the charging stations?"
Not at all sure what this means. The charging points in petrol stations I've seen insist that you pay them for the power.

One of our local "baristas" delivers coffee to God knows who, in a huge American four-wheel-drive thingamabob - anyone would think he was delivering it up shingle banks and braided rivers to outlying farms or something. Microscopic sign on it with the company logo. Must be a real bait magnet. Bet he couldn't afford one of them unless he had some sort of tax subsidy.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

David, at the turn-of-the-century there was little or no social welfare, and very few of the protections that government offers people these days. Much of the bureaucracy admittedly not all – is dedicated to keeping you safe in one way or another. Stopping people adultererating your flour for instance, or watering your whiskey. I would have said beer but you know.........
Anyway, are you some sort of expert that knows exactly how much bureaucracy we need? I'd love to see your qualifications.

"Labour’s instinct for ever more centralisation draws an unnecessary line between problem sufferers and problem solvers. Communities are framed as victims or supplicants rather than empowered entities capable of helping themselves. "

Well firstly I don't think it's true. And secondly you people get all upset when Maori for instance, are given money to help themselves. It's racist or something.

Anonymous said...

By the time of the next election, Labour will lose in a landslide, and the Maori Party will be goneburgers. Do you really think this utterly destructive, undemocratic and useless Labour govt will be returned to office. Covid won it for them last time, next year, their appalling handling of the vax passport fiasco etc is going to lose it for them. A separatist NZ, the magic of being a New Zealander utterly wrecked and savaged, and on purpose. You read it here first. Huge caning coming!


sumsuch said...

All National can do, 'Hugh', is pace, as per Key. As per Ardern's Labour. Lies about what is necessary. Truth can't win by votes, apparently.