Friday 26 September 2014

Where Has The Election Left The Left?

Not Waving, Drowning: Herein lies the problem. Labour must change. Labour will change. Labour cannot change. Not even under the blows of an electoral sledgehammer called Twenty-Four Percent.
WHERE HAS LABOUR’S worst defeat in 92 years, left the Left? Before answering that question, it might be helpful to offer a few suggestions as to where National’s stunning electoral victory has not left it.
The wailing and gnashing of teeth from some left-wing tweeters and bloggers notwithstanding, the Left is not in some antipodean approximation of Nazi Germany, or even Fascist Italy. Nor has it been deposited, overnight, in the Kiwi equivalent of George W. Bush’s post-9/11 America. John Key is not der Fuhrer, or even il Duce. And Steven Joyce is not Dick Cheney, waiting to be whisked away to “an undisclosed location”.
No. The Left, along with everybody else, is still right here in staunchly democratic New Zealand: still in full possession of all the rights and privileges required to mount another assault on the Treasury Benches in 2017.
And Labour is also here. The largest of New Zealand’s left-wing parties can be found sitting dejectedly amongst the wreckage of a pretty comprehensive election defeat. But that’s alright, because Labour’s been there before, and, if history is any guide, will be there again – although, hopefully, with a decent series of election victories in between!
But before it can raise its arms above its head in triumph, Labour has a very long vale of tears to pass through.
It will be a bitter and painful journey for many within the party. There are groups and factions which have waxed powerful in what used to be Labour’s big tent – not noticing that, as they grew larger, the number of ordinary party members who were ready and willing to remain inside the tent with them was growing smaller and smaller and smaller.
What these groups also fail to acknowledge is that no matter how big and powerful they may have grown within the Labour Party, in the world outside their size and influence is considerably less.
The unions, for example, remain one of the key components of Labour’s institutional architecture, but in the much broader context of New Zealand society as a whole union density has fallen from roughly 50 percent of the workforce to just under 20 percent. (In the private sector it is even worse, with barely one in ten workers belonging to a trade union.)
Similarly, in a country where so many young women still feel the need to preface any discussion of gender relations with the disclaimer “I’m not a feminist …” just how sensible was it to require gender quotas to be written into Labour’s constitution? Or to speak out loud and long in defence of a “man ban”?
Perhaps the Women’s Council of the Labour Party should draw a lesson from the fate of Sweden’s “Feminist Initiative”. Founded in 2005, this left-wing feminist political party has consistently failed to breach Sweden’s 4 percent electoral threshold. In the Swedish general election of 14 September, the Feminist Initiative polled just 3.1 percent of the vote.
Labour women might also ponder the significance of a recent poll showing fewer than one New Zealand male in five being willing to cast a Party Vote for Labour.
Of course, anyone attempting to make this case within the Labour Party will be howled down as a right-wing misogynist stooge of the employing class.
And therein lies the problem. Labour must change. Labour will change. Labour cannot change. Not even under the blows of an electoral sledgehammer called Twenty-Four Percent.
Resolving this conundrum will require some exceptionally canny political management.
One solution might be to commission two external reviews of Labour’s values and structures: one from the democratic-socialist Left, the other from the social-democratic Right. And since it is pretty clear that Labour’s caucus is spoiling for a fight, let the contenders declare their preference for one or the other. That way the inevitable Leadership Contest can double as a party-wide plebiscite on which ideological and organisational future the membership feels most inclined to follow.
If the membership opt to go Left they will be voting to turn Labour into a niche party without the slightest hope of ever again receiving 40 percent of the Party Vote. But, if they turn Right, Labour will lose 40 percent of its members.
As Jim Anderton advised me 34 years ago; so would I advise them now: “Build your footpaths where the people walk.”
This essay was originally published in The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 26 September 2014.


Unknown said...

You can talk John key up if you like, but he is a dangerous little prick who is delivering albeit at his own speed, what the international globalists wanted when they asked him to return to NZ. The TPPA wan't just thought up the other week, but has been carefully thought out.The other members of the Five Eyes countries are all set to go when the time comes. NZ had ben the weak link, because the globalists felt we might have thown the Key mob out last Saturday. Hence the interference to ensure that wouldn't happen. Key gets all his advice from Australia and the US. He is in daily contact with his advisers, and they are able to change policies mid-stream. Labour would have waffled on for weeks before seking change.Key is the mouthpiece and the public main star. Not bad at it now too! NZ is well on the way towards neo-fascism.

pat said...

thats why I enjoy your say it so much better than I.

Chris Trotter said...

No, Peter, it isn't. It has simply voted for the man and the party demonstrating the strongest grasp of both the national mood and the basic techniques for winning democratic elections.

What are you asking for on behalf of the Left? A handicap? A 100m start?

We simply have to get a lot better at this.

Roger Nome said...

Well written as always Chis. I would like to add however, Labour's economic policy IS where the people walk. Look at the polling on child poverty reduction, minimum wage and state-funded affordable housing. These are all very popular. I do however entirely agree with your analysis of the man ban. There's no way they ran internal polling on that, or applied the slightest bit of common sense. So yes, I have also been insisting that Labour's feminist faction must take some responsibility for slaughterhouse 2014.

I would suggest a rejuvenation of the Party Council, followed by caucus. It's time for our career politicians, including my namesakes, to move on and make room for new blood. Simply changing the leader will achieve nothing.

I also recall that Jim Anderton was one of the Labour MPs that voted to diminish the vote of unions in candidate selection in the 1970s. Look where that took the Labour Party.

markus said...

And I do wish the MSM and other commentators would stop implicitly conflating the Left of the Labour Party with the various Identity Politics factions.

The Party includes Liberal-Leftists, Conservative-Leftists, Liberal-Centrists, Conservative-Centrists and an array of variations on these. It's quite possible, for instance, to be (1) Liberal-Left, (2) a Cunliffe supporter and yet, at the same time, also be (3) deeply irritated by the astonishing lack of political nous underlying the 'Man-Ban' and "Man-pology' and to (4) have an aversion to some of the more doctrinaire sections of the feminist / Maori nationalist / LGBT movements (particularly where they represent the interests of minority elites).

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"If the membership opt to go Left they will be voting to turn Labour into a niche party without the slightest hope of ever again receiving 40 percent of the Party Vote. But, if they turn Right, Labour will lose 40 percent of its members."
I don't understand this. It looks like a hiding to nothing. It would be more helpful to explain what you think Labour should do. Although I agree – New Zealand is turning into the United States, where policies that are popular are simply not implemented because the government tends to ignore the people. No wonder it's a plague on all their bloodied houses.

Anonymous said...

All the Third Way rhetoric will resurface....there is no point in having a Labour Party if it has a right wing political philosophy. Blair et al. What you need to do is not follow the path the people currently want if it leads to inequality and injustice but persuade them to go somewhere else.

Roger Nome said...

I'd also like to add that Peter does have a point. Chris - you must know what organisations were behind the creation of the international financial institutions (IMF, WB, WTO, BIS etc) that have lead the charge for globalisation/Washington Consensus? They were, are are privately owned banks, and they aim to gut our national sovereignty, deliver power to transnational corporations, slash wages and emasculate environmental regulations. You must have seen that Key's raison d'etra is to serve these organisations. This is revealed through the fact that he is only willing to pend his political capital on such legislation (privatisation, anti-worker legislation and TPPA). The rest of the time, Key is willing to pander to the people with populist policies. The only exception I can think of is GST. It's not a long bow to draw. The ultimate goal of all this globalisation is of course the effective dissolution of the liberal democracy. Just look at the US to see where we are heading - oligarchy, not democracy. These are grave issues, yet those with a loud voice on the left are mute in pointing them out. There's something very wrong with that.

Chris Trotter said...

What I mean, GS, is that a rightward turn would drive a very large number of current members (the left-leaning ones, obviously) out of the party.

What I should, perhaps, have added is that these defectors will be replaced by a more conservative type of Labour Party member.

And if the Party's poll results begin to improve, then the number of conservative members will increase sharply.

That will change the "tone" of the NZLP; the "pitch", if you like; with the probable consequence that it will begin to peel away those voters driven into National's arms by the shrill and uncomfortable pitch of Labour in its current guise.

In short, the Labour Party will become a much more comfortable habitat of Waitakere men and women. A transition that could have been effected six years ago under Phil Goff (who did try!) but which has had to wait for the NZLP to hit rock-bottom before being recognised and accepted as the only sure route to electoral recovery.

Rain333 said...

What about the 'three gender' option for passports and drivers' licenses that was announced 3 weeks out from the general election? The third gender being indeterminate.

No problem with that at all, they have a third option on Australian passports and it seems appropriate to introduce the same policy here. However, was it wise to launch it at that time therefore raising it as an election issue? I have firmly come to believe there are factions within Labour that are entirely focused on what they believe are their own issues of principle, at the expense of being electable.

Is being an electable party important to them, or do they identify more closely with simply being a movement within the political landscape?

Victor said...

Beautifully put, Markus

Victor said...

A conditioning factor is that National has probably just passed the apex of its dominance.

It's amazing, over the last five days, quite how many pigeons have fluttered around the coop, preparing to come home to roost.

Dairy prices, exchange rates and Pike River just for starters.

The Left will not necessarily be the beneficiary of these alarums and certainly won't be if it doesn't pull itself together.

But there will undoubtedly be an increase in the numbers feeling betrayed, short-changed and disillusioned with "Brand Key".

Alan said...

Many years ago acceptance of the Principles and Objects in the Labour Party Constitution was a condition of membership of the Party. These democratic socialist principles flagged a vision of society that was just and fair, where cooperation and community values would take precedence over the competitive selfishness and indifference to the plight of others that the Rogergnomes foisted back on this country 30 years ago.
This is an unapologetic socialist formula, and if it has lost traction in the population at large, there are several reasons for this.
First is the steady advance of the Right, which has embraced unemployment as a tool for creating fear, breaking the power of unions, and dressing up the resurrected skeletons of 1850s laissez-faire economics in modern garb. It has its own vision which it has advanced and continues to advance with the horsepower of money and the help of a subservient media which nowhere addresses the reasons for the human alienation that unshackled greed produces. The right has used its power effectively.
So where’s the alternative? People are not happy in this society, but, like mushrooms, they are fed manure and kept in the dark.
The second problem is a Labour Party which has not challenged and tried to fill that void by holding aloft the flag of the alternative vision so clearly set out in its Constitution. Nor has the Party made an honest break from the monumental treachery of Rogernomics, when sackcloth and ashes and apology to the nation might have allowed it to restore its integrity and articulate future vision and real alternative.
Nor is it just a matter of putting a path under where people walk. Neo-liberal policies have produced a confused people who don’t know where they are walking. The Labour Constitution rightly instructs Labour ‘to educate the public in the principles and objectives of democratic socialism and economic and social cooperation..’ Who has been doing that? Certainly not the Labour Party. By default the Right has had the landscape to itself, and the vision of a decent society operating on socialist principles is as far off as ever.
The Party could well revisit its own constitution if it wants to know what inspired a surging faith in the future 90 odd years ago when the up and coming Party was scoring at the down and going level it is at today. It was a Party of vision, with a faith in a better future that was articulated with a passion that overcame the same enemy forces that that vision faces today. People finally understood, and responded.
So today people want to understand and respond. They don’t need a pallid neo-liberal non-alternative with fluffy edges. Back to basics! Honour that Constitution!
Alan Rhodes

Davo Stevens said...

The biggest problem I saw with Cunliffe was that he didn't have the Charisma of Photogenic Johnny. He may well be a nice bloke but to me, he didn't have the bite needed to shoot Johnny down in flames.

I have met John Key twice in person and I don't like him one bit. I have never met David Cunliffe in person so I can only go on what the media portrays him as.

Labour will survive this and carry on but if it wants to be a real contender it must take a damned good look at itself and ask why so many potential supporters stayed away from the booths.

Anonymous said...

Chris, I can't see having a gay man at the helm of Labour appealing to the "Waitakere Man". Grant Robertson is just another example of Labour's lurch into identity politics, which has done huge amounts of damage to the brand.

And as far as letting Labour become another conservative party, what would then be the point of its existence? Just National with a change of faces. Yes, Labour might get into power more often, but nothing would change in NZ for the better. The power hungry members of the Labour caucus may be satisfied, but as for the rest of us, no improvement. The Labour lurch to the left in the UK which gave them Tony Blair was a disaster, he did as much, if not more damage to the UK, than the Tories did.

I would rather Labour stayed a party of the left, and maybe got into power occasionally, but then did some real good when it did get a chance.

Anonymous said...

Waitakere man called.
He says he's a figment of your prejudices and would like to cease to exist now.

Other than that, well said.
Esp "What are you asking for on behalf of the Left? A handicap? A 100m start?"

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"In short, the Labour Party will become a much more comfortable habitat of Waitakere men and women. "

And this is a good thing?

W Nash said...

>> WHERE HAS LABOUR’S worst defeat in 92 years, left the Left? <<

This "worst defeat in 92 years" we keep hearing about is presumably Labour's 1922 election result. There the overall percentage of Labour votes was fractionally down on the previous election, that of 1919, but the number of MPs elected was more than doubled. Had Labour in 2014 suffered the same sort of "defeat" it suffered in 1922, it would now have 72 MPs.

Kat said...

Crazy times, or just sad reality times because it appears from all commentary so far Labour will have to get down to Nationals level and meet them head on in the mud of political scrummage.

Don’t you just love rugby analogies, well 48% of us do, they just voted for John Key who uses them frequently.

Perhaps Labour does need a real ‘war room’ complete with 24/7 operational tacticians advising on managing how, when and where to put the boot in and a lot cleverer and even more circumspect than National.

But then perhaps the wise men and women of Labour may again decide on the strategy of going into battle with another new leader, armed with the party's ideological list of political Ten Commandments (etched in stone to make them easy to carry of course) marching to the drone of gay tunes from melancholy bagpipes to fight naked with imaginary swords and shields.

I was a great fan of David Shearer's, and remain to this day, but he did the party no favour when he stepped down. He could have beaten Key, we will never know. However, this is Cunliffe's time now, he has suffered a premature loss but I want him to stand tall and fight for the leadership of the Labour Party and I want him to fight for the role of Prime Minister in 2017.

Big Norm did it and so can David.

Charles Etherington said...

Labour need first tid themselves of the delusions they have about their opponent which you are well on the way doing but many of your lot are not.
The idea that Key is a tool of some evil plot backed by a long game consiracy is a constant theme on the left. It simply is a delusion. Such thinking drives a smaller faction usually but not currently on the right who think the Jews run the world. This deluded indeed mentally ill group are huge in Muslim countries. Needless to say it is a ridiculous delusion and one that massive ly handicap s its adherents. In the same way the left is literally loony to think similarly about Key and his party. Their success lies plainly on the face you see. They are uncomplicated by ideology and motivated by good intentions. Seeing that as your starting point is the only way to begin to construct a new left of centre that is electable.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris

As always, interesting, but for those of us without deep knowledge of the Labour party's court intrigues and the affiliations of its remaining courtiers (and those who are still influential but beyond the Beehive's remit), can you please identify the various groups and factions as well as their champions and supporters?

Having this kind of map of the Labour Party will tremendously help many of us follow the developments of the next while from a more informed perspective.


Charles Etherington said...

Been in the desert in Utah and the wilds of Wyoming and it puts NZ in perspective! You think the left has a hard row to hoe in NZ!
Anyway to your correspondents: please apologise for your pre election abuse. I was predicting that the dirt the left was flinging would blow back and give my team close to half the vote, you lot may recall. Not holding my breath.
So in the immortal but plagiarised words of smarty pants Cullen: We won, you lost. Eat that.

Alan said...

Charles Etherington’s view of the National Party, ‘uncomplicated by ideology and motivated by good intentions’, as some sort of role model for Labour’s revival is very naive.
The only people not motivated by ideology are dead. Your ideology is part of the culture in which you grow and soak, and the Nats with their policies are as ideological as any.
Reminds me of the chap up the East Coast who once told me: “Pakeha don’t have a culture. They need to learn one from Maori who do..”
Some sort of slow Morris dance around a mythical ‘center’ by Tweedledum and Tweedledee parties is not a position Labour should aim for. Voters need choice and clear ideological difference of conviction defines that.
Alan Rhodes

markus said...

Good God !!!, I thought Walter Nash had died quite some time ago. And yet here he is (26 September 16:07) pointing out a few facts about the 1922 Election (presumably from memory).

I'll let you into a little secret Walter (promise you won't inform the Tories ?): Labour only stood candidates in half the seats in 1922 - so the 2014 result is even worse !

Back in 1919, the fledgling Labour Party decided (after much debate) to put up candidates in as many seats as possible to show voters they were serious about becoming the Party of government (rather than remaining some sort of minor appendage to the Liberals). In the end, they stood in more than two-thirds of the 80 electorates and received just over 24%.

Although most historians agree that the newly-minted Labour Party did pretty well in 1919, leading Party activists at the time were rather less impressed. They had high hopes, were impatient for success (especially after doing very well in a series of dramatic By-Elections during the First World War) and their general feeling in the wake of the 1919 Election was one of disappointment.

Again after some debate, Labour decided to be much more strategic at the following Election and, ultimately, stood candidates in just half the seats in 1922 (concentrating exclusively on the strongest areas - all of the Urban and Provincial City seats, along with 3 semi-rural mining/timber worker seats - what the late great Robert Chapman used to call "Special Country" electorates).

1922 result: slightly under 24%.

But what's important here is that this 24% represents Labour's vote in the 41 seats in which it stood as a proportion of the entire (80) seat vote nationwide. Whereas the 2014 Party-Vote is, of course, nationwide.

In other words, had Labour stood in all 80 seats in 1922 it would certainly have scored more than 25% of the vote. No doubt about it.

And the reason the Party won so many more seats in 1922 (than 1919)?: There was actually a significant swing to the Party throughout Urban New Zealand (albeit aided by the Liberals pulling out of one or two Big City seats, resulting in a straight Labour-Reform contest).

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I was listening to Kim Hill interview that Scottish actor feller on the radio this morning as I was running. I sincerely hope the leaders of the Labour Party were listening – but they're probably too busy stabbing each other in the back.

As far as conspiracy theories are concerned, I've never met anyone who thinks there is anything formal between Key and big business in any sort of "long game". There doesn't need to be – Key's interests and big business's interests are the same. Key probably knows most of the business leaders in this country and is on friendly terms with them. They donate a lot to his party and pretty much have instant access to him – according to them. There's actually no need for a conspiracy here, they just agree on what 'needs' to be done :-).

Olwyn said...

"Build your footpaths where people walk." Yup. Except in a society divided by inequality, people no longer walk on the same footpaths. Moreover, the trade unions, with "a little less than 20%" of the workforce, is still a rather large bird in the hand to drop for a possible two in the bush.

The labour movement gave birth to the Labour Party and still gives it its concrete link with reality: it is not an abstraction looking for a promising home, however much some MP's may want it to be. And as Alan Rhodes has pointed out, the LP does have a constitution, which outlines its principles and objectives. What is needed most of all is for Labour politicians to be held answerable to the standards outlined in that constitution.

I would prefer see Labour reduced to a rump of committed centre-left representatives, drawing on their own and others' creativity and resourcefulness to rebuild the movement. The less appealing alternative is Labour reduced to a trajectory into the political/media elite, funded by the GST from the meagre diet of the constituents they have abandoned.

Jigsaw said...

This is by far the most realistic assessment of Labour that I have yet read. Well done Chris!

jh said...

John Tamihere: "Under Helen Clark the party was captured by academics and tertiary-educated leaders of a union movement that never worked a shop floor. They concentrated on identity politics and controlled the party not on the great economic issues, but on whether you were gay, Maori, feminist, bisexual, etc. … hey have driven people like myself out of the conversation and out of contributing to the party. They have lost connection with middle New Zealand and, particularly, men".
Labour said "this isn't you're country". They deliberately set out to destroy the National identity.

Anonymous said...

The ideological denial currently circulating in the left wing blogosphere is beyond comprehension. According to the common currency, Cunliffe has been a leader of staggering brilliance, and Key’s National, with their single party state, are still, as always running terrified from Cunliffe’s dazzling political sleight of hand. Nobody dislikes bourgeois identity politics, and man bans, apologies for being a man, and pre-Magna Carta rape laws are strokes of sheer political ingenuity. Labour would have won in a landslide if they’d just gone further left, and the million odd non-voters who have never voted are secretly rabid supporters of the left – their head space preventing them from the trauma of voting. Delusion cannot get any worse. Chris is a rare voice of intellectual integrity on the left, and I’m sure he if anyone could shed light on this phenomenon that is left wing ideological denial.

Charles Etherington said...

Here in the USA I believe Key's historically successful party would fit a little left of centre within the Democratic Party. So we have almost nothing in NZ to the right of that wheras they have the majority. But therefore there is little to the left of National here. Labour would be small here too.
So what you might ask? Well it was not like this a few decades back. And looking around the world the left has receded as the middle has expanded and moved a little right. So that is an historic shift and Labour will have shift or fade away. Perhaps the name says it clearly. Labour is leaving mankind as technology takes over. The worker is dying out and so your sort of party will too. Look at yourerlves. Are you mostly workers labouring?
But what is needed here in the US is a party that will better raise average incomes.than the current two do. Perhaps similar in NZ. Capitalism depends on average people being able to buy it's goods and services and have a surplus. So the replacement for Labour will be a capitalist party that works to perfect capitalism. Not one that works to destroy or block it.
It's first job would be to destroy the awful Greens who have no place in the spectrum but currently waste 10% of it. The environment, which they pretend to represent is neither left nor right but central to both sides. And the centre is where the future lies.
Here endith the lesson from Salt Lake City.
Jesus the Mormons are weird!

Anonymous said...

The election result was much worse than I feared it would ever have been. We on benefits have been betrayed yet again, by National, Labour, and now too many of the voters that put Key and Bennett back into charge.

We are having welfare "reforms" UK style, that the majority of society has NO knowledge and idea about, as they are not affected. Sick, injured and disabled are now re-assessed to be considered "fit" to do some hypothetical kinds of work, no matter whether jobs are there, that fit the criteria, and whether they pay a living. I am despairing, we had Ashburton, a shocking incident, not justifiable, but NOBODY asks ANY questions re WINZ and MSD and their "new " approaches! All focus is on the "mentally ill" shooter, the need for more security, surveillance and the likes, and we get more George Orwellian kind of societal order.

I despair about New Zealand and what state this country and people are in. We have Bill English also now comparing "benefit dependence" to DRUG DEPENDENCE:

Also check out this:

And there is a blog called 'nzsocialjusticeblog2013' also offering more info on what is already really going on, which NO media bothers to research and report on.

All done for the sake of saving costs, no matter what, and nobody cares.

What a disgrace New Zealand has become, I am sorry!

Brit Bunkley said...

It seems to me that the economy was a huge factor. Most of the times Labour/The Left get into power are during economic down turns- the Great Depression, the Asian Crisis 98-99, etc. The GFC of 08-09 barely hit Australasia after the initial shock - while the Christchurch rebuild sent GDP stats misleadingly sky rocketing to “rock star” heights.

The major media will always be undermining the left …as we know by our understanding of Herman and Chomsky’s intuitional propaganda theory. But this time it was far worse than normal (the fraudulent 100k bottle of wine and other lies, the other even worse exposed Dirty Tricks which the Left couldn’t come close to even if it wanted to…again quickly forgotten, and the contemptuously dismissed 8 Eyes spying revelation by Snowden and Greenwald and Assange.) Meanwhile health, education and inflation adjusted wages for the bottom 2/3’s have been slowly stripped…and all’s we hear is how great the economy is. I only heard the evidence about declining wages (ironically) deep in a Herald article on “how good” our economy is doing!

Really… Labour is light years to the right of what it once was on economic and labour policy (and we need to distinguish against the social liberal-left …that even libertarian Brash was an acolyte towards). It’s in nobody’s interest to have lower wages and declining public services. We don’t need to move right further! Unions have been decimated primarily the same way they have in the States …though a “right to work” law …called the ECA here with a few band aids attached by the last Labour government. It is time to change that law. It is time to communicate to people that their wages are getting lower, health education and poverty are getting significantly worse …instead of capitulation. When the economy really slacks we will then see real Crisis Capitalism …and big cuts.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

So the prescription is a move to the centre. Like it's been working recently. I hate to shout but: 1,000,000 PEOPLE DIDN'T VOTE. And THEY are in the main unemployed or labouring. They are also often, young. They don't have representation – they deserve representation. They deserve somebody acting in their interests. What pisses me off about a move to the centre is that it just abandons them basically – leaving them to the greens. Who are not in fact awful, but nice middle-class people who have some empathy for the poor, but can't seem to get the nonvoters energised.
I'd just like to ask what on earth do those who believe in a move to the centre think should be done about these people? I'm not expecting any answers, having put similar questions to jigsaw a couple of columns ago and been totally ignored, but it would be nice to know what you think.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Jigsaw said...

GS- I am not sure just why you think the so called 'missing' people who don't vote would be attracted by a move to the left. I think that you need to accept that there are an increasing number of people-especially young people who simply are not in the slightest bit interested in politics. I know in the late 1950's and 1960's we endlessly talked politics but it's a whole different world out there now. Young people whose sole focus in life is a new model cellphone! Why would you think that getting them enthused about politics would mean that even a majority would vote for the left? Politics ion NZ these days is much less tribal than it was. Where I grew up I didn't know of anyone who would admit to voting National and yet here in the country I am told that exact opposite was the case-quite different in both areas in 2014.

Charles Etherington said...

Those who don't vote deserve what they get.
Or they can only be considered to have voted in exactly the proportions of those that made the tiny effort to vote..
It's utterly delusional to claim them as for or against snything. They simply fo not count.

Davo Stevens said...

@ Brit Bunkley:
Yep you're so right mate. And so is Surgeon.

I have been consistently stating in all my responses that LABOUR IN NOT LEFT!!! Labour is Rightish, AKA, Gnatlite! The only "Left" party was Hone's bunch and look what Labour did to him. Davies is another Rightwing Socialist, i.e. Another Gnatlite! Helen Clark was not "Left" either, she was also Gnatlite.

Chris you of all people, should know the difference.

As Surgeon has so eloquently put it, the 1 million or so non-voters were made up of mostly low income earners and beneficiaries simply because they have been abandoned by the very party that should be looking after them LABOUR!!

So why did Johnny win with such a landslide? People could not see any difference between Labour and National so they stuck with the Govt. we had. Is that so difficult to understand?

Jigsaw said...

If Hone was the 'true' left then no wonder people didn't vote left because it would be a very nasty unpleasant and racist place to be and I don't really think that is so. As for the people ONE MILLION as GS shouts again and again who didn't - they don't care! Why should voting be made easier? Its easy enough for most people. I have make an effort as the nearest polling booth is 15 km away but they give a card and I hardly have say a word to vote-just affirm who I am.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I think jigsaw, that people who don't vote at the moment would vote left simply because if there was a real left-wing party it would be in their interests to do so. I think you probably malign young people by assuming they're just materialistic and not interested in politics. As Davo said, there is no one represents their interests. So you tend to turn off. And I think a non-vote for this reason should be just as valid as a vote for any other. It's all very well to say they don't count, but who are they going to vote for? I'd say Hone but he just doesn't have the organisation and to be honest the membership to do it. It has to be labour, and they have to fucking change and start engaging with these people.

Jigsaw said...

GS - I think Chris's comment from Anderton to build footpaths where people walk is so true but often politic parties say -'here is the footpath I have built-you have to walk here'. I don't necessarily think young people are more materialistic but they certainly have a whole lot more distractions in their lives. They also expect more and sooner. Talking to my daughter in law this evening (she is 48) and she said how incredible it is to talk to young people who are just married but want a 3 or 4 bedroomed house with all mod cons-the concept of working up to what you want seems foreign to many of them.

Loz said...

Charles' belief that "the replacement for Labour will be a capitalist party that works to perfect capitalism" is simply wrong. Firstly the tense is wrong. Labour was replaced with a capitalist party working to perfect capitalism almost 30 years ago – it’s been downhill since then. The debate is actually about the non-existent support for a party that promises an "alternative" vision of society based on the same economic beliefs and promises as the Tories.

Capitalism really doesn't need perfecting - it's extremely effective in realising its goals now... that’s the problem. The core of capitalism is that private concerns should be free to accumulate capital and that decisions within society should be left to those who have wealth and means. Capitalism doesn’t limit ownership or poverty. Nor does it recognise human rights or needs. In the 1980's the interests of capitalism were set in direct conflict with the democratic will of New Zealanders and democracy lost.

The public of New Zealand continually voted against the adoption of free market capitalism but it was rammed down their throat anyway. We even threw out the electoral system in an attempt to regain democratic control over our politicians. The electorate rejected moves toward market ideology repeatedly... even dumping the government who started this process with the worst defeat of any government in New Zealand's history. The "Chicago Boys" and others of that ilk simply didn't give a damn about the voices of New Zealanders. It’s no wonder people stopped voting when they are given the clear message "they simply do not count".

Is it any wonder that ordinary people consider the whole system to be a circus? Participation in western democracy has be dying as the adoption of market ideology by opposition political parties has increased.

The National party did not have particular high percentage of the available vote in the last election. It has a core constituency but the overall percentage of possible votes is not historically impressive.

Labour was unable to rid itself of its 1980's trickle down baggage in the last election although there were signs of the rift between the party and its free market politicians. Until Labour can collectively mount an argument against the overwhelming failure of the trickle-down theory and deregulated corporations its chance of winning back disillusioned supporters remains low.
If it returns to where it came from there is the potential to regain the trust of hundreds of thousands of kiwis who have grown cynical toward the promises of politicians. It's only potential but it is better than the slow death its undergoing now.

Trying to be more appealing to the meagre third of electors who voted for John Key is a strategy to ensure Labour slips into complete irrelevancy.

Davo Stevens said...


Again you misinterpreted what I said before. I said that Hone's Bunch was the only true 'Left' party available. I said nothing about his so-called "Racism" or his rants. The Constitution of Mana is Socialist, a very dirty word in modern parlance.

Why would people go and vote for parties that do absolutely nothing for them at all? They simply have nothing to vote for. Except more attacks on them and their families.

If this Friedman doctrine is so bloody good how is it that there are still 12% or more un-employed here? Why is it that two thirds of the full time workforce earns less that $30,000? Why is it that the Govt. is trying to force people to go out and take on jobs that don't exist? Is it because the Govt. wants Kiwis to work for less and less?

If those questions are the case then why doesn't the gubbies say so instead of constantly lying?

Remember Jigsaw and others, those low paid workers are the ones who make sure that there are goodies on the supermarket shelves, they clean up after your lattes, the sweep the streets and malls, they take away your rubbish, they clean your toilets -- do I need to go on? Our society simply could not function without them and we would be drowning in our own filth.

Wake up People!!

Anonymous said...

Davo Stevens is right, I must say! Labour's leadership and the larger part of caucus have fallen right into the trap of self doubt now, and are running around like headless chickens. It appears to the public as if the perceptions created by selective, biased media reporting, working to undermine every Labour leader since Helen Clark resigned, is now self fulfilling and evident.

The public must think, hey here we go, they are all a bunch of divisive, selfish egos, who are only in it for themselves, to further their personal careers within the party.

The MSM has a lot to answer for, and they are feeding the frenzy that is going on, all now focused on the leadership contest and the rushed call for a "review" of Labour's failure in the election.

For damned f***'s sake, it is not so much policy and the leader that are the main problem Labour have. We had an campaign where Labour showed inconsistency, first refusing to reject working with Internet Mana, and leaving options open, and only in the last couple of weeks firmly rejecting this. First they wanted to run "their" campaign for Labour, and focused on 40 percent or more, then they suddenly changed tune and in the last week or so talked about working with Greens (who they first arrogantly refused to cooperate with) and even New Zealand First, to form a new government.

That was a show of flip floping, of a loss of the initial direction, and displayed much weakness, which was also the result of abysmal polling.

Now Labour is considering a move to the "centre", which really means to the "right", as the centre has over years shifted towards right wing policies and views. They seem to ignore the elephant in the room, the million out there NOT voting, who would make all the difference, would they bother offering convincing policy, and sticking to their own roots.

Labour is now in danger of falling into the trap the right and their players in the media have set them, into self denial and questioning itself, and into trying to be a better "National Light" party, only focusing on the committed "centrist" or rather middle and upper middle class voters.

This is dangerous, I wish Labour members at the top would wake up, and jump quickly out of this trap again.


Guerilla Surgeon said...

You are wasting your time with jigsaw Davo. I put a number of specific questions to him a few columns ago, very similar to yours. He completely ignored them. He doesn't argue on logic or reason. He basically works off confirmation bias. He is blind to anything that contradicts his own vision of what he thinks is right.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Jigsaw, if somebody wants a 3 to 4 bedroom house with all the mod cons right away, they're almost certainly middle-class. Many of the people I work with know damn fine they have little chance of getting any house at all.