Bruce Bisset says “Labour no longer has a transformative bone in its collective body”
This opinion piece was in the “Hawkes Bay Today” last Saturday. By Bruce Bisset https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/an-open-letter-to-labour-from-a-climate-activist/E7DHZCGJW5CB7KQTHEFH3SJVYU/
You are about to lose an election that should have been locked in, and it’s your own fault.
Despite the fact you handled Covid-19 and its economic impacts better than any comparable nation, no-one is extending you credit for it via a third term.
Why not? Because, that aside, you let us all down.
Oh, I know you’ve worked wonders trying to fix health and education and a myriad of other things broken almost to dysfunction under John Key’s no-care government, and I realise the pandemic and its flow-on effects stopped those things being better than they would otherwise have been by now.
And I do really appreciate your social focus in supporting workers and their families to be as well-paid as they could be against a global cost-of-living crisis that threatened to tip us into depression.
But it hasn’t been enough. See, you promised to be transformational, and you failed to even start.
Back in 2017, Jacinda Ardern spoke of climate change as being her generation’s “nuclear-free moment”, and we were uplifted and inspired by what that promised, because climate change is not just New Zealand’s, but the human race’s, most pressing problem.
Placing it front and centre of the political will using the touchstone of our famous anti-nuclear stance that brought an end to atomic bomb testing in the Pacific indicated a willingness to lead the world in addressing this even more dire conundrum.
Then, nothing happened. If it hadn’t been for the Greens prodding along the formation of the Climate Commission we might not have gotten even the soft targets and incremental changes made in this sphere. The disappointment, among those of us awake enough to recognise the catastrophic consequences of delay, was palpable. It still is, and we are six years closer to extinction.
Instead, you embarked on a laudable but messy attempt at social uplift by focusing on housing, health, and education, with varying and generally (even in context with Covid) below-par results.
You did not, however, attempt to redress the inequality at the base of these problems: the need for a redistribution of wealth. Indeed you categorically ruled out such an attempt when you took any effective capital gains tax off the table.
Hope that this stance might change, and you would recognise the deep-felt hurt and desperation so many of our citizens suffer just to keep a roof over their heads, was dashed when Chris Hipkins became leader and repeated this mistake.
Clearly, Labour no longer has a transformative bone in its collective body. That is a disappointment – indeed, a betrayal – that must make even the most ardent supporter despair.
So, the Right is about to win again and remove any doubt about our ability to withstand the coming double-tsunami of inescapable climate change and disempowering inequality.
National in coalition with (shudder) Act will destroy our environmental protections and escalate rent and house prices while selling off what little is left of our public property to foreigners, all for the sake of excessive short-term profit.
Which only the already wealthy will benefit from. Those in the “squeezed middle” who fantasise this may help them are seriously disconnected.
But nevertheless, people will vote for this madness simply because they think – wrongly – that a change might improve things overall. As if “trickle down” has ever worked.
All because you, the Labour Government, have failed to live up to your promised mission statement.
Oh, and because the alt-Right-led confuse-and-confront “protest” campaign has sucked in fringe left-wingers and further distanced non-voters, undermining the whole basis of democracy – to the Right’s exclusive benefit.
That’s a sad yet eminently avoidable legacy.
Meanwhile, the minor parties who have solid policies to address these most crucial issues – the Greens, Te Pāti Māori, and also TOP – will once more be left out of the mix. They may well be the future, if we have one, but the electorate is not sophisticated or wise enough to recognise that yet.
More’s the pity. So, back to business as usual, eh? And we end in tears.
Bruce Bisset is a member of Extinction Rebellion NZ and has appeared in Hawke’s Bay Today previously as a columnist on issues from the left wing of politics.