A policy focusing on increasing state housing and affordable rents would be a good start. However, my criticism of the current Labour leadership focuses more on the policy direction of the leadership team, rather than solely being on the leader. The neoliberal scam is falling apart, the global economy is struggling, and the global environmental and resource base is under threat, while those with least power, resources and income are being scapegoated. A bold new left wing plan is needed to deal with the difficult challenges ahead.
So it looks like David Shearer is aiming to win over left wing critics by taking the opportunity at the Labour conference to announce a policy on affordable housing. This is a welcome plan, but is it just a one-off bone thrown to the nay-sayers? Some of us on the left, would like Labour to decisively move away from the soft-neoliberalism of the past. That means not just one isolated policy, nor one that provides a bit more government intervention, but one designed to tackle the vast challenges of the early 21st century. This requires a new narrative and framework: one that works for all kiwis, not just the well-off middleclasses, bankers and property speculators.
The good thing about the pre-announced policy is that it just doesn’t focus on home-buying. There is also mention of increasing state housing and improving private rentals.
Details of the policy, seen as appealing to core Labour voters, are closely guarded to ensure maximum impact by Mr Shearer in his keynote speech in Auckland on Sunday.
But sources suggest it will see a big push on affordable housing as well as more cash to upgrade state housing stock.
Annette King is reported to have said:
“It’s time for a long-term housing policy, which includes a real partnership with local government, starting by including housing as part of their core services.
“We need to have more houses in the $350,000 to $450,000 range built, have quality and efficiency standards in rentals, have more social housing and introduce a capital gains tax to deter property speculation.”
I will be looking at the small print to see if the policy lives up to such promises, and doesn’t still prioritise house buying and speculation.
I am hoping for some bold moves from the oldest left wing party in NZ, but it is not just their policies, framework and narrative that I will be watching closely. I am also critical of the shift towards the centre recently from the Green Party. I am looking for the Greens to move away from soft-neoliberalism, as, for instance expressed in the focus on endless growth.
Update: and a new left direction, doesn’t involve these moves suggested by Josie Pagani:
“If we don’t win the debate about responsibility, the responsibility when you are on a benefit to make yourself work-ready as much as possible, then we’re not going to win the debate on increasing benefit levels – and there are people out there living on a benefit in absolute poverty.” ..
But he needs to be bolder, she says, such as condemning those in the party resisting moves by former Cabinet minister John Tamihere to rejoin Labour.
She still doesn’t understand that bennie-bashing dog whistles play to the neoliberal agenda.
On Tamihere: becoming a party member is about conforming to the Labour Party rules; but becoming a Labour candidate is a step too far. It’s an insult to women, especially feminists and lesbians/gays. Labour does need to reconnect with people struggling on low incomes, but not by embracing bigotry.