There’s been a lot of analysis on why Labour lost the election. Which is a sign of a healthy democracy. National is gloating that it won, but it wasn’t an overwhelming victory. The split of numbers of voters in each political camp is not very different from the past. Last election was an aberration.
Peter Dunne wrote recently:
As business-as-usual resumes, many on the left, especially, will lament Labour’s failure to govern decisively during the last three years, when it had the chance to do so.
I was on The Panel on RNZ shortly after the election and I wrote as my “I’ve been thinking”. Here it is:
For the first time in my life, I did not vote Labour this election.
I couldn’t see much difference between Labour and National. When the two leaders were on TV together, many times they agreed on the same solutions.
In the South Island we were largely ignored by both major parties. We were graced with the leader’s presence from time to time but really, they both focused on Auckland with the rest of us watching on.
What’s the difference between them economically? They are both deeply embedded in neo-liberalism. Bernard Hickey defines NZ as being a property market with an economy clipped on.
Under the Labour government centralised approaches to virtually everything was the order of the day. Neither party seems to have a solution to get us out of the mess created by a combination of bureaucratic idealism, and consultants spending our money like there was no tomorrow.
The new proposed Government has few people with any experience of managing the public service. Labour appeared to have been taken over by these bureaucracies, and their centralising agenda.
I agree with what Pater Dunne wrote this morning that maybe Labour and National should consider a coalition government. Angela Merkle in Germany managed a similar coalition government for years.
I’m 72. My generation was given the chance to flourish because of a commitment to collectivism by earlier Labour and National governments. I despair for my grandchildren’s world they are inheriting. I’m a regionalist. Committed to control and decision-making being as close to where people live as is possible. We must urgently address Global Warming in our country.
Political parties committed to this Kaupapa will get my support and energy.
Now is the time for the Labour Party to pick itself up and return to representing what the Party should be promoting. Bryce Edwards wrote some good stuff recently about the Party and its challenges...
The original Labour Party was based in the trade union movement, but by the 1980s it was a middle-class party – which is why the Fourth Labour Government was so easily captured by the neoliberal economic reform programme.
According to leftwing political commentator Josie Pagani, the middle-class bias of modern leftwing parties means that more liberal or social issues are prioritised instead of fixing the problems that most materially impact working class citizens. She argued earlier this year that parties of the left still promise a lot to the working class, but once in power “they reflect the priorities of the college-educated middle classes – who now run these parties. Ban plastic bags. Subsidies for EVs. Cycleways, ban hate speech” etc. Pagani argues that although Labour is inclined to sneer at the working class, what the party really now needs to do is “recruit more candidates who are comfortable in the smoko room, not just the university common room.”
Labour currently has a contradiction whereby the party’s caucus is mostly made up of middle class or wealthy individuals, yet they are seeking to win office on the votes of largely working-class people, with whom the party doesn’t have much organic connection. Increasingly Labour is seen as a creature of the Wellington central bureaucracy rather than ordinary people in provincial or working New Zealand. This isn’t helped by the fact that a quarter of the new Labour caucus live in the capital.
Rob Campbell wrote recently somewhat on the same theme:
The lesson of the election is not that elites have financial and political power. They do, but that is not new. The real lesson is that community-based organisation and activity is the important thing. Without it a progressive political party will not achieve its goals. If it allows itself to be hollowed out at community level it is vulnerable. We cannot administrate and direct our way to positive social change. Our ability to influence any Government is driven by our ability to define objectives more clearly, involve more people in our activities, and stand up for those objectives and activities.
If we allow others to define what is important for us and we allow them to think we will meekly let them deliver that, then we will not much like the outcome.
Gordon Campbell wrote about how Labour will not address a hard questioning exercise on why they lost in this article On The Election, And Labour’s Options | Scoop News I especially liked this line:
Labour’s campaign manager Megan Woods didn’t get where she is today by displaying a capacity for self-criticism.
He finishes up with a summary of what is in front of us politically over the next three years. The list gives me a sense that the public response to this political agenda is going to be contentious. Here’s his list:
Christopher Luxon will now wear the mantle of being the nation’s leader – and if need be, can exert the power that comes with it – as he attempts to make reality conform to National’s slogans and soundbites. He’s promising to govern for all New Zealanders, including everyone who didn’t vote for him. Good soundbite.
That noble sentiment though, is hard to square with the centre-right’s publicly stated plans to freeze the minimum wage for three years, to re-introduce 90 day fire-at-will employment trials, to reduce personal grievance protections against workplace harassment, to give landlords a multi-billion dollar tax break by letting them write off the interest payments on their rental properties, to allow landlords to evict tenants with needing a reason, to invite people to rob their future by using their KiwiSaver savings to pay their housing rental bonds, to spend extra billions on Defence, to impose a five year lifetime limit on welfare support for the jobless, to lower corporate taxes, impose cashless welfare cards on long term beneficiaries, to create more charter schools able to expose kids to unqualified teachers, to permanently lower the tax burden on the wealthy, to scrap Fair Pay Agreements, to abolish the Māori Health Authority, to spend millions on sending young offenders to punitive boot camps known to fail, to bring back Three Strikes, to escalate the culture wars over gender fluidity, to re-open the export trade in live animals, to reduce the sentencing discretion of judges, to raise the retirement age, to give farmers an extra five year holiday from changing their climate damaging practices, to remove sanctions on dairy farming’s pollution of our lakes and rivers, and to reduce healthy homes protections.
New Zealand is going to be subject to change alright. It is going to involve a Great Leap Backwards to the early 1990s. Right on cue, Ruth Richardson has re-emerged into daylight.
Max Rashbrooke wrote in Spinoff:
Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest men, is this: “Only when the tide goes out do you learn who has been swimming naked.” Labour’s 2020 Covid-inspired victory was like an immense tide running in, and as it has swept out, the bare backside of the party’s intellectual platform has been cruelly exposed.
Figuring out what fills the void is the task now facing Labour. As the philosopher G. A. Cohen once said, the job of political parties is to constantly return to their eternal values and apply them to the present moment. Deceptively simple in theory, but hard in practice. For Labour, those values must surely include old standbys of economic security, solidarity, egalitarianism, and positive liberty – that is, the freedom to achieve one’s goals with the support of others – as well as the newer commitment to respecting the environment.
The political analyst Colin James likes to point out that big change in New Zealand comes every 40-50 years: the Liberals creating a skeleton welfare state in the 1890s, the first Labour government fleshing that out in the 1930s and 40s, and the fourth Labour government undoing much of that in the 1980s. On that view, 2017 might have been too soon for radical change; the seismic policy shifts may lie ahead. But if Labour is to lead that charge, it will need, like any successful party, to re-establish its core programme – and stick to it. And that is no small task.
In the Guardian it was interesting to note the following comment:
Yet political disasters, or even just the threat of them, can also create new possibilities: the abandonment of old taboos and assumptions; the rise of new ideas, personalities, messages, and alliances.
What needs to change is how new ideas on every front can be debated and challenged by those of us who have a passion for a decent society. In every political party.
One major issue is that our major political parties no longer reflect what is needed in society. Many of the people the parties stand for elections appear to not have the skills which are needed in this century. The very structure of Parliament of “government” on one side and “opposition” on the other represents thinking which may be past its use-by date. I really question how many of the last Labour cabinet, or the incoming National/Act/NZ First cabinet have sufficient skills to manage central government departments.
In an interview on RNZ last week Mark Todd a very good sideways thinker (and a large donator to the Labour Party election campaign) said that he is increasingly feeling like a political orphan. I can relate to that. His comment that I found interesting was that it’s time for us to build new institutions based around change.
Now is not the time to sit back and relax. We need to think and debate. There are far too many individuals with quite extreme right-wing ideas in the back seats within National, Act and NZ First parties. We clear values based leadership.