Monday 3 April 2023

Sitting This One Out: How Angry Abstainers Could Sink Labour and the Greens.

It’s White Cis Males!” Greens co-leader Marama Davidson blithely alienates 33 percent of the voting public. The people who used to think of themselves as “left-wing” look at the causes Labour and the Greens have declared themselves to stand for and, very reluctantly, begin to weight the pros and cons of abstaining from voting altogether.

VOTER ABSTENTION should now be Labour’s and the Greens’ biggest fear. That tens-of-thousands of New Zealanders, normally supportive of these two parties, may simply choose to stay home on the 14 October and abstain from participating in the General Election altogether. Asked why they are considering this drastic course of action, why they are opting-out, the most common reply is: “Because there’s no one I can bring myself to vote for.”

The reasons for these voters turning away from Labour and the Greens are many and varied. Some are registering their displeasure at the way the Centre-Left parties responded to the challenge of the Omicron variant of Covid-19. Locating themselves, politically, among the 30 percent of New Zealanders who thought the anti-vaccination mandate protesters encamped on Parliament’s front lawn had a measure of right on their side.

Others may be planning to abstain in response to what some are calling the “Maorification” of New Zealand. The He Puapua Report, Three Waters, the whole “co-governance” project, may present an insurmountable hurdle to casting a vote for Labour and/or the Greens.

Not that the abstainers are considering voting for National or Act – not these “tribal” leftists. No matter how alienated they may feel from their traditional electoral options, there is simply no way they could ever cast a vote for “the class enemy”. Better not to vote at all.

Bolstering these groups considerably will be those women – and men – outraged at the treatment meted out by members and supporters of the transgender community to the British women’s rights activist Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull (a.k.a “Posie Parker”). Well-connected insiders are already reporting resignations – including a number of hard-working party organisers outraged by the scenes that unfolded in Auckland’s Albert Park on Saturday, 25 March 2023.

Their outrage has since been compounded by the apparent inability of senior Labour and Green parliamentarians to acknowledge their complicity in the whipping-up of a climate of toxic rage against Keen-Minshull and all those who accepted her invitation to publicly speak up for women’s rights.

Left-wingers who came of age between the 1970s and 90s find it increasingly difficult to relate to the “progressives” of the twenty-first century. They see activists who fought for women’s and gay rights (in a period of New Zealand history when there was strong societal resistance to both) demonised as “TERFs” by activists willing to tear apart an entire political culture over the question of who is, and who is not, a woman.

A fey mood of reckless radicalism appears to have gripped Labour and the Greens. The extraordinary charge levelled against “white cis men” by the Greens’ co-leader, Marama Davidson, declaring them responsible for all the violence in the world, epitomises the Traditional Left’s dilemma. Confronted with the Orwellian obligation to confirm that 2+2=5, or face excommunication from the progressive community, more and more of the people whose votes have kept the Greens in Parliament (and Labour in Government!) are simply saying “Fuck it!” – and walking away.

Undoubtedly, there will be some who will respond to this information with a tart “good riddance”. But those tempted to take this position should, perhaps, pause to consider the consequences of allowing so much electoral support to simply walk away.

Those perplexed and/or alienated by the actions of the Contemporary Left tend to be older voters. After all, if you can remember protesting the Vietnam War, the 1981 Springbok Tour and campaigning for the Homosexual Law Reform Bill, then you’re going to be well into your 50s – at least.

So what?

So, older supporters of the Left are among the most reliable of New Zealand voters. Their abstention will require Labour and the Greens to fill the gaps in the Left’s ranks with younger voters – the most difficult of all demographics to motivate electorally. While the ranks of the Right are replenished by middle-aged and elderly voters returning to the conservative fold after atypically backing “Jacinda” in 2020, the ranks of the Left will be thinned when those who, election after election, have proved themselves to be the Left’s most loyal and reliable voters, refuse to get off the couch.

There is even a worrying possibility that neither the Labour Party, nor the Greens, will see this electoral disaster coming. Left-wing abstainers are a politically astute group who, depending on how pissed-off they are with the parties they have traditionally supported, may flat-out lie to any pollster questioning them. If they refuse to answer honestly, then the looming threat they pose to the Government’s survival may not become apparent until it is too late to avert it.

Respondents lying to pollsters has been a vexing problem in the United Kingdom where “Shy Tories” pretending to be Labour loyalists have made electoral predictions increasingly problematic, and continues to bedevil psephology in the United States, where political polarisation is making people increasingly ill-disposed to co-operate with those they identify as the “enemy”. Such are the bitter fruits of political betrayals that never seem to end.

Sadly, New Zealanders are fast becoming familiar with their taste.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Friday, 31 March 2023.


Shane McDowall said...

Given her views on white men, perhaps Marama Davidson should change her name to Marama-X.

And, once again :

"What do we want?"

"Land rights for non-binary transgender indigenous dolphins!"

"When do we want it?"


Archduke Piccolo said...

I am one of those who not averse to walking away from the polls if I find no one to vote for. I've tried 'voting against', but have come to the conclusion that that just encourages 'em.

It has long been my view that a non-vote IS a vote - a vote of no confidence in the candidates on offer, no confidence in the factions that call themselves political parties, no real confidence in the electoral system as a whole. It is a vote in anger.

Note to political Parties; beware an angry electorate.

Back in 2016, I recognised at once that the Trump vote in the US and the Brexit vote in the UK were votes in anger. Did the electorate seriously see in Trump a 'saviour'? Did the UK electorate genuinely believe the miracles that Brexit would bring? Probably much of them both did, but I'd bet my shirt that most who so voted were under no such illusions.

But what they did recognise was the 'maverick' choice that would hurt the ruling (I nearly put 'governing') class the most. So in the UK, the Tories that didn't bolt for the tall timber demonstrated for all to see that in the 'art of the possible' they were at crayon and stick figure level. Donald Trump - a political tyro - was to discover that policy was NOT part of his purview, and that any attempt to carry out his own policy could be an impeachable offence. The Establishment wouldn't even let him have the crayons - or maybe only those of a prescribed colour.

Small wonder the political establishment in the US is bladder-voidingly frightened of him - he's just the figure an enraged electorate is likely to turn to, and he's the sort of chap who, given a second suck of the sav - is likely to take policy by the scruff of the neck and scrag it- with who knows what outcome? But could it be any worse than this woeful Biden administration? The US electorate might have gone with Bernie Sanders - who at least seemed to offer something. But two betrayals is two too many.

New Zealand has no real mavericks to look to to shake things up. Back in 2014 I would have voted for Hone Harawira's Mana Party's candidate if one had been offered in this electorate. Not that I was a huge admirer of Mr Harawira, exactly - he just seemed the likely sort of cove who would challenge the established order and keep things lively. That Labour and the Greens conspired to sink the Mana Party did not make either appear any more savoury to my taste. I've always tended to the view the Greens were flakes anyhow.

As for National and ACT (shudder): I would not vote for either just to win a bet.

So, what do you do when there is no one to vote for? Where is there someone with genuine capacity, who can see what needs doing and sets out to gets what needs doing done? I mean real stuff, not the identity politics that I've known for at least a decade to be a luxury we can no longer afford. For a wild moment Jacinda Ardern seemed to be such a one. An illusion. Too bad.

Ion A. Dowman.

Kevin Stone said...

Why is it that NEW ZEALAND FIRST is not mentioned.
They will be back just watch the space. They are the only TRUE CENTER Party voting for things that are a benefit for our Country called NEW ZEALAND and Voting against things that are NOT

Anonymous said...

Speaking as a lifelong Green party voter and one-time Green party member (hey, my aunt was its founding leader and my uncle sat on its council for years), one who knew the vaccines weren't going to prove safe and effective (because I've been a nurse for 30 years and it takes 10 years to develop a safe, effective vaccine) but was forced to take it by this labor government anyway in violation of my rights to informed consent and bodily autonomy, while every other party in parliament cheered them on I'm not going to abstain. I'm going to vote for the only option available to me to protect my sex-based rights, my right to bodily integrity, and my right to free speech ie Winnie the Pooh. I will not be voting Winnie gladly: there is simply no one else left to vote for and someone needs to stop the current Labour/Green madness. Someone also needs to soften whatever horrible things National and act are going to do once they get in charge and to encourage them to roll back some of the Labour/Green madness (the teaching kids they can choose their sex in schools, the vax mandates that are still in place for health workers, the sinister disinformation project, the media that has turned in to mere propaganda).
Before you dismiss this as a one off, I know a lot of previously committed Green voters who are planning, reluctantly, to do the same thing this year.
This Green party is unrecognizable from the one of Janette and Rod. The party of Mārama and James stands in opposition to all of my values (free speech, socialism ie economic redistribution from top to bottom and seizing the means of production, women's rights, bodily autonomy, medical ethics). To say that I feel betrayed by them would be an understatement.

Jan Rivers said...

Thank you for your sympathetic coverage of this issue here and on and the daily blog.

I think you are correct about the disinclination to vote for the reasons you cite. With Gender Theory / Queer Theory in particular there is a strong case that it is akin to an authoritarian and quasi religious belief system. People sense this push to believe against their will.


Also I sense many mid career and youngrr people share concerns about it but are lying low literally to save their careers and make life tolerable.

Finally few are aware of the reach of this ideology into our public sphere. Who knows equal pay is now calculated by gender not sex; sexual attraction is redefined as gender attraction making gay and lesbian people invisible and white anting the Human Rights Act; Stats NZ has created a definition of sex that says it can change over a lifetime making it useless in science and medicine; teachers are keeping secret from parents that their children have adopted new names and pronouns and a new "inclusive" definition of woman sees the women's health strategy including men where they self identify as female or non binary? See

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"This Green party is unrecognizable from the one of Janette and Rod."

Thank Christ for that. I remember the sheer stupidity of possum peppering.

"it takes 10 years to develop a safe, effective vaccine"