I’m not a Labour Party member. I don’t leaflet or campaign on their behalf. And I won’t be exercising any vote at any conference or whatever. But that doesn’t make me or my opinions irrelevant. It simply makes me a left leaning person whose vote is up for grabs. But see, my vote shouldn’t be ‘up for grabs’. Given my political leanings, I should have an easy and somewhat ‘natural’ inclination to cast a vote for the Labour Party.
But the Labour Party in NZ is all tangled up in neo-classical or neo-liberal apologist bindings. And it has been that way for nearly 30 years. Through those years there has been the constant refrain of TINA (There Is No Alternative) offered as justification for their policies.
So, when in office, they have done as the unabashed neoliberal Tories do. But they do it ‘nicer’. And they have, by and large, ‘cleansed’ the party of all and sundry who don’t or won’t ‘get it’. Meaning that dissent has been silenced and people and ideas ostracised. End result? The electorate get a choice between tweedle dee and tweedle dum fighting over a so called centre ground that has moved so far to the right that it’s just not funny.
And, naturally enough, people stop voting. In their droves. Because there is nothing for them in the voting game. It’s disconnected.
I’m not going to run through the policies that have come and gone through the years from the Nats and Labour where a cigarette paper wouldn’t have slipped in the gap between their positions. And I’m not going to run through the legislative ‘roll backs’ that only go in one direction, that are never reversed and that are, at best, stationary while the ‘nice guys’ exercise their managerial remit while murmering the TINA mantra.
The upshot is that we have elections as personality contests now. Is anyone really surprised? Is there anyone who in all seriousness would argue that they don’t know why this is? Just in case such people exist, here’s a hint. In a world that lacks policy alternatives, difference in personality is all that remains, ie the choice can only be between styles when the content remains the same.
And for all the managers, careerists and neoliberal apologists who have occupied our electoral spaces for so long, here’s a wee heads up. Neo-liberalism or monetarism is dead. It died with the global financial collapse. And the rising stench of austerity you want us to breathe in, is an expression of its decay. But we don’t need this stuff. We don’t need to be told (again) that we need to suffer pain to enjoy the gain somewhere off down the track.
And so two questions arise. Firstly, what is the NZ Labour Party in its current configuration able to offer beyond the TINA policies of monetarism? Well, obviously nothing… TINA afterall. And secondly, what could the NZ Labour Party offer up that was beyond the cruel defeatism of TINA? Well, unlike the first question, only the Labour Party itself can offer can answer.
But it’s obviously not a question we can ever possibly have an answer to while David Shearer or any of the coterie of neoliberal apologists, careerists or managerial types hold the reins of power in Labour.
And we really do need that question answered. We need a Labour Party that is willing to break for the future. So to the ABCers, David Shearer and by association, the Labour Party of the past 30 years – please be big enough to respond in kind when we say to you : – “Goodbye, ta-ra (there are real alternatives) and cheerio.”
And then just go.