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Break Left!

Written By: - Date published: 1:01 pm, July 20th, 2017 - 109 comments
Categories: election 2017, elections, greens, liberalism, social democracy - Tags: , , ,

Hillary Clinton is currently less popular then Donald Trump. Yup. Not surprisingly, Bernie Sanders is still the most popular politician in the US.

In the UK, Jeremy“unelectable”Corbyn would apparently become PM if a general election was to be held tomorrow.

In pre-Corbyn Scotland, the SNP rocketed from 6 seats to 56 seats in the 2015 UK general election and then almost won an outright majority for a second time in the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary elections under a system specifically designed to prevent outright majorities.

In the French Presidential election, Melenchon came from nowhere to secure just shy of 20% support in the first round of voting.

The common thread that runs through all the above is a campaign platform that’s decidedly Social Democratic and a message that’s an explicit rejection of Liberalism.

Even in the case of Trump in the US, or Trudeau in Canada, a faux rejection of Liberalism worked just fine in terms of securing office or cabinet. It’s a powerful meme.

Meanwhile, the fortunes of those who have remained wedded to the broad Liberal framework continue to get ever bleaker.

The US Democratic Party remains more or less dead in the water. And while Corbyn’s Social Democratic priorities and concomitant rejection of Liberalism might be giving UK Labour a huge boost, the same can’t be said for Scottish Labour that essentially remains a party of Blairism. Scottish Labour will only gain the ascendancy in Scottish politics again when Dugdale and her cohorts depart the stage. Until then, and allowing for a slight lift from the Corbyn effect, they will continue to play second fiddle to both the SNP and the Tories. (Scottish Labour is currently the third party behind the SNP and the Tories at Holyrood in terms of seats)

Coming closer to home, NZ Labour, that has successfully resisted pressure to call out Liberalism and adopt a Social Democratic platform these past few years is, lets face it, in the doldrums. From the leaked NZ Labour internal polling, it seems that NZF are the ones enjoying the most traction in the polls. (Look at the trajectory)

And what does Winston Peters keep dropping into his commentary? Yup. He keeps reminding people that the neo-liberal experiment of these past 30 years in NZ has failed.

Now, NZF are a genuine social democratic party. But that doesn’t make them ‘left’, and I’d really rather not see them with significant influence after the 23rd of September.

And that brings us to the Green Party.

This is the only other party aside from NZF that isn’t instantly recognisable by both policy and stated priority as being Liberal. But then again, it’s just not clear what they are. I’ve previously referred to the Greens as the TEDTalks party. And I’ve used that label, because although they say nice things and suggest good stuff, they seem to exist in some nowhere world that straddles social democracy, liberalism and some strange a-political new age space.

Look. I’ve never voted for the Greens before, but I’ll be voting for the Greens come September. And the reason I’ll be voting for them is because I recognise that their policies are Social Democratic, and unlike Winston Peters and NZF, those policies are to the left of the the Social Democratic spectrum.

But I find it maddening that the party itself doesn’t seem to recognise this, or that if it does recognise it, feels unable to stand firmly and squarely on a Social Democratic platform and speak to both us and Liberalism from that vantage.

I mean, why didn’t Metiria state the obvious as a part of her launch of the Greens Social Security policy – that the Liberal experiment of the past 30 years in NZ has failed? It’s one line. A signal. A signpost. And it works (Just ask Winston…or Trump…or Sanders…or Corbyn…or the SNP…or Melenchon…or Trudeau..)

So could the Greens ‘break left’ and emulate Corbyn or the SNP or Sanders?

Well, the SNP had an influx of some 100 000 members prior to their astonishing UK election result in 2015. Corbyn had Momentum and a couple of hundred thousand members to knock on doors and flood social media prior to the UK Election just been. Sanders had a huge grassroots organisation propelling him in his bid for Democratic nominee.

So being realistic, it’s probably sensible to caution that the Greens lack the necessary ‘party machine’ to ‘do a Corbyn’. And two months probably isn’t enough time to create any such machine. But then, Winston Peters and NZF have no such machine either, and there’s no denying the rate of the traction they are getting in the polls.

So lets say the Greens call it. Let’s say they stand proud on Social Democratic values and “call a spade a spade” insofar as Liberalism goes. Maybe they lose some support to TOPs, who will then sit on the cross benches after 23rd September. And aside from that? Well, they’ll hoover up votes. And who knows? They just might end up giving NZ Labour a run for their money to occupy that space as NZs second largest party in Parliament. They’ve certainly got nothing to lose.

Also, any challenge to Winston on that field where he’s currently enjoying a free run can only be a good thing. He absolutely will be gathering up misguided votes from people who think of themselves as left – who know in their gut that the past 30 years of Liberalism constitute a disaster, and so with that in mind, are reticent about voting for NZ Labour.

There are only two distinct platforms a parliamentary party can stand on in a capitalist context that contains a representative parliament. One is Social Democratic (putting people and society first). The other is Liberal (putting markets and finance first).

So Greens. Break left. By your policies, you already stand somewhat on the first of those two possible platforms mentioned above. All you need to do now is plant your feet squarely and firmly and speak from that place. You won’t live to regret it.

109 comments on “Break Left! ”

  1. weka 1

    For those reading who don’t use classical analysis of politics, replace ‘Liberal’ with ‘Neoliberal’ in the post .

  2. Sigh 2

    Yes there’s a minority of the electorate who want a sharp break to the left. It does not seem obvious to me that the people voting National who need to go across to the other side of the aisle for a progressive electoral majority are doing so because Labour isn’t left-wing enough for them.

    Also, I’d have thought Labour’s commitment to $17b of social spending yesterday, paid for by cancelling tax cuts and cracking down on multinationals and property speculators might have earned some credit from you, but apparently not.

    • YNWA 2.1

      Yesterday’s announcement from Labour is the most coherent, anti-National policy I can remember over the last 3 election. If it doesn’t wake up those wavering voters, I fear nothing short of full Corbyn will.

  3. Siobhan 3

    A pretty valid argument there Bill.
    I admit I once briefly joined the Greens…just in time for Bradford to jump ship, followed by what seemed to be some pretty blue/green type carry on.
    But let’s not hold a grudge…and while a few of us champion the call of “Turn Labour Left”, and always will, life goes on, and meantime the Greens could just lead the way.

  4. weka 4

    Great post. Not much else to say really (other than don’t risk the left vote on TOP, and I’d still need to see a *clear statement from TOP that they wouldn’t support National on C and S).

  5. roy cartland 5

    Could LAB really pull it off if they tacked left now too? Or would it open the door to chants of hypocrisy and hollowness, given their history and a few hangers on? (Needless to say re Winston, there are plenty of phrases that espouse the orange=black concept.)

    Looks like it’s up to the Greens, alright. Sweet post!

  6. left_forward 6

    Agree entirely Bill – I have mostly voted Green, so welcome aboard.
    I like the way that they are going and am very comfortable that they seem to be pulling Labour leftwards too.

  7. red-blooded 7

    Bill, either your understanding of “social democracy” is skewed, your view of Labour is skewed, your view of NZF is skewed, or all of the above.


    “Social democracy is a political, social and economic ideology that supports economic and social interventions to promote social justice within the framework of a capitalist economy, as well as a policy regime involving a commitment to representative democracy, measures for income redistribution, and regulation of the economy in the general interest and welfare state provisions. Social democracy thus aims to create the conditions for capitalism to lead to greater democratic, egalitarian and solidaristic outcomes…”

    Well, I certainly recognise Labour’s philosophy and policies here. Remind me, though, which NZF policies do you see as most focused on promoting social justice, the welfare state and income redistribution? Looking at their website, they list “Social Development” well after “Racing” and there’s nothing there about raising benefits (inflation adjusting, yes, but then Labour is also in favour of this).

    How do you like this statement: “Ensure greater scrutiny of the benefit system for those moving from the unemployment system on to the sickness benefit. This will include random cross-checking of doctors’ recommendations and greater monitoring of Work and Income staff who may recommend such a shift.”

    Wow – real friends of the beneficiary, clearly! Or “Continue fighting to protect our social fabric and traditional family values which underpin our society.” So progressive!

    “Social democracy originated as a political ideology that advocated an evolutionary and peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism … social democrats embraced a mixed economy based on the predominance of private property, with only a minority of essential utilities and public services under public ownership. As a result, social democracy became associated with Keynesian economics, state interventionism, and the welfare state, while abandoning the prior goal of replacing the capitalist system (factor markets, private property and wage labor) with a qualitatively different socialist economic system….”

    Again, not hard to see this as a description of Labour’s approach. Think state housing, state education, state health care, ACC, Super Fund, state infrastructure like NZ Rail and Air NZ buy-backs, WFF, policies re Family Support Package, increased funding for education and health, 3 years free tertiary study, healthy homes guarantee, move back to industry-wide bottom lines re employment agreements…

    “Modern social democracy is characterized by a commitment to policies aimed at curbing inequality, oppression of underprivileged groups, and poverty; including support for universally accessible public services like care for the elderly, child care, education, health care, and workers’ compensation. The social democratic movement also has strong connections with the labour movement and trade unions, and is supportive of collective bargaining rights for workers…”

    Hmmm.. sounding pretty familiar…

    “The Third Way, which ostensibly aims to fuse right-wing economics with social democratic welfare policies, is an ideology that developed in the 1990s and is sometimes associated with social democratic parties, but some analysts have instead characterized the Third Way as an effectively neoliberal movement.”

    Thought I’d throw that bit in for you, Bill. Note though that modern Labour is ticking all the boxes for “social democratic” without the “third way” label. (And even if it wasn’t, our friends at Wikipedia say only “some analysts” seperate out the two.)

    Feel free to promote the Greens, Bill. Just get a bit more balanced in your thinking about Labour.

    [format edited for clarity – weka]

    • weka 7.1

      I also don’t think that NZF is a social democracy party, not least because of how they resist increasing democracy.

      But until Labour will treat the underclasses as first class citizens, they also cannot be seen to be ideologically committed to moving towards more egalitarianism. I think they believe NZ should be more egalitarian that but their actions speak louder than words.

      They’ve done some small, promising moves e.g. the winter energy payment is going to allbeneficiaries, and Little said he’s open to looking at the GP’s position on removing sanctions from welfare. But on their own those things are not part of a socially democratic position, and I’m starting to get nervous that we’re seeing a rerun of the Clark years where when a hostile media and RW commentariat starts protesting beneficiaries and others get shafted. It still looks ok to many because of how it’s framed, but when you look deeper it’s basically upholding some pretty fucked up bigotry values of NZ.

      You can make a list of the good things Labour are doing (and they are doing good things). But the underlying kaupapa is still that beneficiaries are second class. That’s getting to be intolerable.

      • red-blooded 7.1.1

        Egalitarianism can be promoted through a suite of policies, not all of which specifically focus only on beneficiaries. Public education benefits all, including beneficiaries and the children of beneficiaries. That includes the 3 years free tertiary education policy. Public healthcare policies benefit all. State housing programmes have a specific relevance to beneficiaries and so do the healthy homes policies.

        I agree that there’s still room for Labour to increase support that’s specifically targeted at those living on benefits, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t significant policies to increase egalitarianism and it doesn’t mean (as Bill was arguing) that they’re not a social democracy party.

  8. Adrian Thornton 8

    Good post Bill, unfortunately you are on the mark with your analysis that many misguided left voters will turn to NZF in this election cycle, I happen to know a few who are doing just that.

    I can’t say I have (over the last few years) seen any real encouraging signals from the Greens in regards to them ‘breaking Left’, I had thought Bradford leaving the Greens spelled the end of a serious Left project developing withing The Greens… but I sure hope I am wrong and you are right on this one.

  9. Dean Reynolods 9

    The solution is simple – all that Andrew & Jacinda have to do over the next 2 months is to highlight how neo liberalism has failed & promote Social Democratic philosophy & policies as the only way forward. This will stamp Labour as the driving force for Social Democracy & the Greens & NZF can fit in around that. Labour is already announcing bold, SD policies – why not put them into a philosophical framework? What’s Labour got to lose?

    • Michael 9.1

      To be credible, Labour’s bosses must front up to the people and apologise for the abuses done to them under neoliberalism. There’s no sign of that happening, with the result that people don’t believe a word of what Labour politicians say. Maybe we’ll get something better in 2020.

    • weka 9.2

      Well they’d have to rewrite all their policy and replan their whole election strategy, but yeah apart from that it’s simple.

      I do think they could be making bold moves in the right direction though.

  10. Nice post.

    The way I see it, first off, the Greens have an MOU with Labour.

    Labour still has many neo liberals within its caucus. So the Greens have to be cautious so as not to upset the beehive .

    NZ First IS a social democratic party . So are the Greens.

    This is why both of them have more similarities than they would both openly care to admit.

    Think of it this way :

    If both National and Labour both vanished off the face of the earth along with all other party’s and only the Greens and NZ First were left remaining , … what you would essentially have is the old conservative element in NZ First and the old progressive element with the Greens.

    IE : a type of old time Labour and National. To put it in a very simplistic and crude analogy…

    A ‘ type’ of pre 1984 social democratic choice that both advocate varying degrees of Keynesian based economic policy’s.

    And it is that Keynesian economic theory that is the common and unifying bond between the both of them.

    They BOTH reject liberalism – or , – in other parlance … ‘ neo liberalism’ .

    And this is why I believe if we can have both the Greens and NZ First forming a coalition with Labour ,.. we help to neutralize the neo liberals within Labour, decimate the National neo liberals and powerfully influence the course of NZ politics for a long time to come,… back to the original pre 1984 social democratic settings.

    As well as destroy both Act , Dunne and the Maori party ( unless the Maori party choose to get on board then all is forgiven ) which have helped to shore up the National party.

    This election is more critical than ever to affect this change.

    • Also , NZ politics is in a state of flux,… we are far from serious threats of invasion , far from our markets, and politicians know our small population are not fanatically interested in politics.

      We are the original Hobbit Shire.

      They feel they can afford to not appear too radical.

      Trends take a long time to really hit home and demand answers here in the Shire…

      However,… things are changing… we now live in the computer age and mass communication is instant . The anti neo liberal movement is growing, even here in NZ as people wake up to the fact they have been shafted big time by it. NZ politicians are living on borrowed time. They will have to confront what other large country’s are now confronting.

      Old accepted paradigms are being rejected. And once comfortable and cozy arrangements among the exploiting elite are being held up for scrutiny. And people are starting to see and be disgusted at the corruption they see. I would say we are beginning on the movements that have been sweeping the world ,… perhaps now only a year behind those trends , but rest assured , it wont be long now before we will have our own shakedown cruise in rejecting neo liberalism.

      There’s a slow train coming, … coming round the bend…

  11. Kat 11

    Unfortunately a vote in the wrong place for Green is a vote that won’t change the govt. Just like the last election the lesson is the same this time, vote unwisely against Labour at your peril. Vote strategically.

    Unless you want more of National.

    • Jenny Kirk 11.1

      +100%, Kat.

      All this anti-Labour talk is doing one thing – turning people away from Labour.
      Great ! Just what the Nats (and NZ First) want.
      So – we’ll get another three years of devastating and heartbreaking policies against ordinary New Zealanders while the rich swan around in their BMWs.

    • weka 11.2

      How is voting for the Greens not a vote for changing the govt?

    • Andre 11.3

      Do you mean hold-your-nose strategic electorate votes, like Greens voting for O’Connor in Ohariu and Labour/Greens voting Goldsmith in Epsom?

      • weka 11.3.1

        I don’t think they will affect the outcome of the election though.

        • Andre

          If the hologram, the hairdo, and Kelvin Davis hadn’t got in in 2014, the outcome would have been different. Probably.

          • weka

            of course, but I’m not sure the Green vote makes a difference.

            • Andre

              Tane Woodley (Greens) got 2764 votes, while the hairdo’s margin over Virginia Andersen was only 710.

              • weka

                hmm, you are right there. It looks like quite a few GP voters did tactically vote Labour candidate but not enough.

      • Jenny Kirk 11.3.2

        That would be good strategic voting, Andre – and could be beneficial to the outcome – if we want to have a strong Labour-Green coalition without having to rely overly much on old Win.

    • Korero Pono 11.4

      Completely disagree, this assumes that the only viable option is a Labour led Government, not sure if you noticed but under MMP it doesn’t matter if the Greens get more votes than Labour, in fact it would be preferable. Former Labour voters are looking for something more progressive, something less like National. An ideal position at this point in time is for the Greens to have a stronger voice and influence in Parliament. They’re the only ones so far coming up with any policy that is promising to the majority of voters who’ve been kicked down by successive National and Labour Governments. A vote for Greens is a vote toward changing 30 plus years of neo-liberal policy that has harmed our society and led to what we see today. Homelessness, record levels of poverty and inequality and a welfare system that is punitive, humiliating, forces people into debt, responsible for at least one suicide and if reading the #IAmMetiria tweets is anything to go by this system does more harm to people than good. This will be my first election not voting Labour, definitely voting Green.

  12. Rightly or Wrongly 12

    I wonder if the NZ First increase is more a case of a number of Labour voters considering the party is struggling this year and they would prefer to vote for Winnie in the hope that he may moderate a 4th term National government or vaguely hopeful help string together a L/NZF/GP government.

    I suspect that Turei’s polarizing statements over the last few weeks have reduced the chances of a left government considerably.

    Instead of L/NZF/GP presenting a united front against the Nats we have seen GP vs NZF, NZF vs GP, and NZF vs L. Throw into the mix Turei’s unfortunate confession and I suspect she may end up being seen as the Dotcom of 2017.

    The GP would do well to ask her to head back to her castle for a few weeks and let her co leader and other members of the GP take over the public announcements.

    • Jenny Kirk 12.1

      The seeming increase in NZF supporters is because old Win is going around the country and using every opportunity to spout some nonsensical policy or bottom line from his big black bus – which the media just love. And picking up National supporters along the way.
      If you’re hoping that NZF will form a coalition with Labour and Greens, Rightly or Wrongly – then you’d be better talking to old Win about that. It is he who will decide, and from what he’s saying he’s looking at joining up with the Nats and taking over as PM instead of Blinglish.

      • rhinocrates 12.1.1

        It has absolutely nothing to do with who’s a member of the popular clique. Not all voters are pubescent.

        That’s one of the things that really disappoints me about Labour – the assumption that the voters should align themselves with it because they’re the coolest and just somehow just <i<deserve votes and those who don’t vote for them are fools.

        Think of assuring these things:




        That’s going to take a Hell of a lot of work because those are exactly the qualities that Labour has spectacularly failed to show for nine years now.

      • Korero Pono 12.1.2

        Well hopefully the Greens can pick up a good number of the voters that neither National or Labour want, maybe just maybe they can pick up some of the missing million and then Labour will be in a position to support a Green’s led government 🙂 MMP is a fantastic tool and so I daresay a party vote for Greens will only strengthen the left in the next government.

    • Sara Matthews 12.2

      “I suspect that Turei’s polarizing statements over the last few weeks have reduced the chances of a left government considerably.”, yep, for some reason several commentators here think what she did was a good thing, but if you’re listening to the general public, and reading other comments on other websites, you will soon come to the conclusion that it was a daft thing to do. People need to open their eyes and realize that The Standard is a vacuum and that it’s not reflective of the general mood of the nation. Yes we all want a progressive government, but we don’t seem to be remembering our mistakes from the past. I fear we are doomed to be in opposition for another term.

      • Sara Matthews 12.2.1

        I’ll also add that what has been the major headlines in the last week?, was it Labours alternative budget or the Greens proposals?, sadly not, the headlines generally had a title similar to this, “Turei admits to benefit fraud”. We may understand the reasoning and see the other side to that headline, but I doubt Joe Average kiwi does, I can’t see it being a vote winner.

        • Korero pono

          I disagree, I have watched people coming forward to tell their stories and speak out against the punitive and sadistic welfare regime they’re forced to endure. The usual nasty trolls are out in force but those affected are unifying and getting behind metiria for being honest and giving them a voice. This may well pull in some of those missing voters. #IAmMetiria

          • garibaldi

            To Sarah Mathews. The right wing media will circle their wagons and decry anything the left does anyway. Happens every time and is something we have to try to overcome and not give in to it.

          • Sara Matthews

            The people coming out are already supporters of the left, I’m simply saying her statement isn’t winning us any new votes, but I’m positive we will be losing some.

            • Korero Pono

              You’re entitled to your opinion, but it is just that. There are approximately 800k eligible voters who chose not to vote last election and it is highly possible that these are people who don’t vote because they don’t believe it will make a difference to them (and I have met a numerous non voters who say exactly that). I would hope that Metiria’s policy will encourage these folk to vote, they’re not Labour votes, they’re the votes of people who’ve really suffered under successive government policy and have simply given up. Sure there may well be a few moralistic, holier than though creatures who will walk away but they’re less important than the missing million who have not had a voice for so long, it looks like they may finally get a voice via the Greens. I think it is exciting times and on that basis I completely disagree with your analysis.

              • weka


                I’m also hearing leftie voters talking about excitement and I think we also need to seriously consider how L/G might govern without Peters.

  13. rhinocrates 13

    Jenny, you have to face up to the fact that Labour has unashamedly played up to racists in demonising people with ‘Chinese-sounding names’. The hypocrisy of your party over race is either stupid at best, or simply disgusting. Placing rapists’ apologists on your list doesn’t inspire confidence. Labour doesn’t deserve our votes if it’s still so obviously a party of hypocrites or fairweather friends.

    You want us to trust you? Well that takes time. You haven’t even given yourself that time. Earn our votes, prove that you’re worth trust. You’ve let us down so often before that you’re the wolf who cried ‘sheep.’

    Hillary Clinton is currently less popular then Donald Trump

    ‘For Rightly or Wrongly’: Maybe I’m a pessimist on human nature, but it doesn’t surprise me. People tend to reflexively worship the powerful, meaning the incumbent. Also, misogyny is surely a major factor.

    Populism always plays to our worst natures.

    “her castle and let the MAN…” Oh really – are you still trying to play that one? Have you heard the terms ‘fragile masculinity’ or ‘broflake’?

    We’re better than this. REAL leadership appeals to our better natures. Take note of that Jenny Kirk, and the rest of the Labour apparatchiks.

    • weka 13.1

      Jenny, you have to face up to the fact that Labour has unashamedly played up to racists in demonising people with ‘Chinese-sounding names’. The hypocrisy of your party over race is either stupid at best, or simply disgusting.

      Doesn’t quite work in this thread though, because Peters 😉

      • Jenny Kirk 13.1.1

        Rhinocrates – Labour was correct in showing up foreign speculators as being a major cause of the huge increase in housing speculation which has put the ordinary NZer well out of the home-ownership ranks, and especially younger NZers.

        And talk about racism – oh well, old Win is pretty good at that, especially with his own people !

        as for “REAL leadership appeals to our better natures” are you trying to say that old Win is showing real leadership ? It just looks like showmanship and bulldust to me.

        • rhinocrates

          are you trying to say that old Win is showing real leadership ?

          Fine, put words in my mouth. Or lie, which is what you are doing.

          ‘Old Win’ eh? Is that what your focus group has told you will work? Try ageism…

          No, I suggest no such thing. Fuck you and your lies. The fact is, Twyford tried to stir up hatred of Asian people and thus Labour tried racist tactics. It was obvious and it was and is repellant.

          Now how about justifying placing rape apologists on your list as well – I mean O’Connor and Jackson. How’s that for appealing to base nature?

          A party that promotes those scum deserves nobody’s vote. Labour is trying to appeal to racists and misogynists. Fuck you.

          • rhinocrates

            Or ‘to Hell with you’ if you want to do some language policing.

          • Jenny Kirk

            well you talked about REAL leadership, Rhino. So who is it who is showing REAL leadership in your view then ?
            You’ve just ruled out old Win (and I can call him old Win because he’s as old as I am) , and you appear to have ruled out Labour and the Greens (via your comments re Metiria) – so who do you think is showing REAL leadership right now ?

            • rhinocrates


              You really think that quasi-blackmail like ‘hey, the rest are worse than us, so vote for us’ is some kind of argument?

              Is that the best you have? Really?

              Earn my vote and stuff your entitlement or your default.

              • rhinocrates

                For what it’s worth, my family were Labour voters for generations. I was a loyal Labour voter too. Now, one except perhaps one of my family vote Labour (I haven’t been rude enough to ask specifically).

                I don’t hate what Labour stood for – I love it, but the Labour caucus as it is now does not.

              • Jenny Kirk

                Nope – I was just genuinely curious as to whom you thought was showing REAL leadership. Not quasi-blackmail – just curiosity. And now you’ve answered my question.

                • rhinocrates

                  It’s not a zero-sum game. Either you rise to the challenge and raise the overall level of the argument, or you race to the bottom and drag everyone down.

                  So far, you’re doing the latter. Labour can be better than this. Forget your point-scoring and ask yourself what you’re standing for.

                  Labour thinks that it’s an institution. It should start thinking that’s it a movement again.

                  • Jenny Kirk

                    Well – Rhino – possibly you and I have different definitions of real leadership.
                    I’m inclined towards the view that a showman who goes after the popularity vote is not necessarily a good real leader.
                    A real leader to me is one who takes up the challenge of pulling difficult and different peoples together, succeeds at that and then gets those different peoples working together to agree on a number of policies and strategies – all without making too much of a public fuss about it. And that’s what I’ve watched Andrew Little do over the past 2.5 years.
                    And at the same time he’s moved his Party to the Left – much more than has happened before in the last 30-odd years.
                    And telling NZers they’re not going to get their promised tax cuts, but that money will be spent instead of rebuilding the social services which the National Govt has so drastically torn down also shows real leadership to me.

                    • rhinocrates

                      Fine, whatever.

                      ‘National bad, Labour good, – not good enough. Brands need substance.

                      Little has done none of what you say. Sure, National is bad, no argument there, but Labour has not earned my vote. There are other alternatives and I want to see them have leverage to keep Labour honest, since it surely can’t keep itself honest.

                      much more than has happened before in the last 30-odd years.

                      Haha, very nice. Can’t quite say that Douglas, Goff and so on are a problem, can you, or that Parker thought that somehow getting a better deal on TTPA was a good thing when your real constituents hated it? You see, that’s the mealy-mouthed cowardice I despise Labour for. That’s what leads me to think that you’ll run back to the bankers and real estate agents again.

                      Once upon upon a time your party had principles it would die for. Now it’s just interested in meals at Bellamy’s.

                      Competence, integrity, determination. You can promise these, but try to prove it. Until then, the phone’s off the hook, as Michael Moore said (remember him?). Too many lies, too many broken promises.

                      RISE to the challenge!

        • Stuart Munro

          Labour was (and is) correct about foreign speculators.

          Winston sails closer to the wind – strongly opposing Asian migrants back when they were not arriving in problematic numbers. But immigration invariably involves a mixture of costs and benefits, and choosing a more conservative level is not intrinsically racist.

          • rhinocrates

            If it’s about infrastructure, then talk about infrastructure. Otherwise it’s racism.

            • Anne

              It is about infrastructure rhinocrates and Andrew Little has made that abundantly clear many times. He is not talking about reducing or stopping immigration on a permanent basis but reducing the levels until such a time as the infrastructure has caught up with demand. That of course also includes solving the housing crisis which is deteriorating on a daily basis.

              There’s no racism… just plain commonsense.

              • rhinocrates

                ‘Commonsense’ has been too often in practise an excuse. I want to see a coherent, systematic PLAN for infrastructure if they think that it really matters.

                Beware of ‘commonsense’ – that word only means an unquestioned assumption.

                Infrastructure development would benefit us all. It needs to be framed in the terms of the common good.

            • Stuart Munro

              I don’t think so.

              I hang out on a few different forums, and my impression is that a pro-immigration stance correlates with secure jobs and housing. As larger numbers of NZers find themselves in insecure jobs and paying exorbitant rent, they naturally seek to reduce competition for these important resources.

              And they have a perfect right to do so without being labelled ‘racist’.

              • rhinocrates

                A larger population equals a larger market, which means more opportunities. The arts community has been a prime example – much of our talent has gone to Australia when they could have stayed here if they had a viable market. In the end, it still comes down to whether the country can support that, and that means infrastructure, which means more work opportunities building it, which means better support for everyone.

                • Stuart Munro

                  A larger market does not ineffably produce critical resources – as drosophilia and poorly regulated countries tend to find out the hard way.

    • Rightly or Wrongly 13.2

      It has nothing to do with Turei’s gender.

      It has to do with her stirring up public strife with NZ First.

      This was followed by an admission of deliberate alleged benefit fraud over several years.

      Finally she headlines a benefit policy which details that benefits will jump 20%, recipients may be remain on benefits for as long as they feel like it, and with no/little obligation to look for work.

      Now on all these points the party faithful are able to justify her actions and words.

      However to potential Green Party voters – perhaps many of them on low wages and struggling to pay bills – there is potential to rub them up the wrong way.

      They work hard and find it hard to pay bills and feed their kids. They may find it hard to understand why folks on the benefit should get a large pay rise and get free $$$ in return for nothing.

      All I am saying is that a party hoping to garner as many votes as possible should have a visible leader who is inclusive in their views not devisive – time will tell.

      • rhinocrates 13.2.1

        They work hard and find it hard to pay bills and feed their kids. They may find it hard to understand why folks on the benefit should get a large pay rise and get free $$$ in return for nothing.


        Misogynists always say, immediately after attacking a woman, that it has ‘nothing’ to do with her sex. As for that ‘castle’ nonsense, are you fucking stupid? No, don’t answer that – it wasn’t even a rhetorical question. You’re trying a slur that backfired spectacularly in Tolley’s face already, so you’re obviously an idiot.

      • Korero Pono 13.2.2

        Rightly or wrongly, probably wrongly is my guess. I think you have misrepresented Metiria’s announcement. Yes she has announced 20 percent increase on benefits (and rightly so given they are currently set at least 20 percent below minimum living standards and have been since the early 1990s). You imply that this increase will somehow make people lazy, less willing to work which is another right wing fallacy not supported by evidence. Then you make assumptions about the poor low waged hard working kiwi getting miffed about all this, but fail to recognise that Metiria’s policy targets these people too, with increases to minimum wage, Working for Families so I doubt these voters will be ‘rubbed the wrong way’.

        Let’s look at Metiria’s admission of fraud over several years, and perhaps compare that to say Bill English’s 32k fraud, where he deliberately lied to claim accommodation costs, more than likely set up his trust to secure this rort and then when caught with his hand in the cookie jar goes into deny deny deny. This of course was all white washed and went by the wayside. Meritia’s admission details some housing arrangements in which she did not declare flatmates, thus potentially leading to an over-payment of accommodation allowance. This omission was a lie, which she admits, a lie of desperation to feed her daughter, to keep her head above water, to survive. This lie may have led to over-payment of a few thousand (just guessing based on accommodation payments at the time). Bill English on the other hand deliberately arranged his affairs to collect 32K of benefits to which he was not entitled, he and his family were well off, not hungry, not struggling to pay the rent and certainly not struggling to feed their children. Therefore one can only conclude that his motivation was greed. I certainly know which person I’d rather have as a Prime Minister. #IAmMetiria #GoGreens

        • Jenny Kirk

          Good comments Korero Pono re Meritia. She has done a brave thing to highlight the extreme difficulties beneficiaries have trying to live – with their families – on a miserly benefit, all the while being vilified for being on it.

  14. Ross 14

    Not sure I follow your logic…if voters want to the left of Labour and if the Greens are indeed – as you suggest – to the left of Labour, then the Greens should be doing very, very well. But 13% is hardly earth shattering.

    • weka 14.1

      Bill is suggesting that if the Greens broke left by speaking out against neoliberalism and for social democracy they would do better. They haven’t done that yet and many on the left still consider them with distrust because they don’t understand them.

      This policy shift of theirs is pretty significant for lefties, because we haven’t had a left wing party do that since Kirk. Bill is suggesting that on its own it might not be enough.

      • rhinocrates 14.1.1

        Well, I was a child at the time when he died, but Norman Kirk and even Bill Rowling have always had my heart, from my family’s memories.

        The problem the Greens have is that few right now think that they’ll have dominance and the sad fact about human nature is that people want to be seen to be on the side of the absolute winners. The Greens at the moment can only govern in coalition with a larger party. At the moment, that’s the decadent Labour Party. One day soon, Labour will die as it’s in a seemingly inexorable intellectual and moral decline. Maybe the Greens will seem more attractive to larger numbers.

        • weka

          Yes, it’s down to Labour. I’ve been of the option that this election was hinging on Labour appearing competent. And I think they are although it’s too soon to say given most of the election campaign is still to come. But Peters as always is the wild card and I fear that unless Labour do bold it won’t be enough and we will end up with a clusterfuck at best or a 4th National at worst.

          I don’t think the Greens will go back from this shift though. And if a movement is to arise it’s as much up to us as them.

          • RedLogix

            In truth I’ve long believed that while Labour is the proud heritage of the left; the Greens are it’s future. Within a generation, maybe even sooner, it could be Labour who is the minor party… unless it is willing to completely reform it’s internal processes.

            Updates, upgrades, and polls

            And searching back into The Standard, I’ve said similar things going back almost a decade.

            But, and there always is one, the Greens still have a bit of a Marxist whiff about them. It’s not that they express it openly, but there is still an embedded distrust of markets and economics that holds them back from going from tolerated outsiders to accepted insiders in the political process.

            This inability to project a coherent economic vision that makes sense to the 85% of voters who don’t vote Green, is what keeps them in the third/fourth party ghetto.

            You know it’s just some of TOP’s ideas that appeal to me. It’s not that I especially want to see Gareth Morgan sitting on his arse in Parliament. (I doubt even he particularly wants that either.)

            • weka

              Maybe. I think lots of people in NZ don’t understand economics very well and instead go off the dominant narrative. In that sense I agree that the Greens need to tell their story better.

              I think the real point of tension is between the push to the mainstream and the need to honour the kaupapa of the 4 principles esp true sustainability which basically means a steady state economy. Good luck reconciling that with contemporary understandings of economics and market forces.

              I like quite a lot of TOP and Morgan’s ideas too, or at least find them interesting. I just think it would have been better for NZ if he’d used his money and influence to bring them to the people outside of parliament and the election. Plus the underlying principles are problematic and no amount of good ideas can make up for that.

              • RedLogix

                Plus the underlying principles are problematic and no amount of good ideas can make up for that.

                There goes that distrust buzzer again. It’s not surprising given the Greens in this country at least, have their origins in a period of intense reaction against the Douglas era neo-liberal betrayal. In the aftermath too many on the left pulled back from engaging the modern economic argument. It hasn’t served us well.

                (I shouldn’t be too sweeping on this. I recall seeing Russel Norman in the front row listening intently to an especially dense Steven Keen lecture in Wellington some years back.)

                So when an economist comes along and parks his party plonk in the middle of some of the Greens environmental and social space I can understand their visceral unwillingness to share it.

                I know this seems quite wrong to you, but I think the Greens would have been well advised to swallow some of their pride and paranoia … and made much better use of this complementary alignment with TOP, to forge a new, fresh economic narrative. I think it could have gotten you well over the 20% mark.

                • weka

                  (I’m not the GP, so ‘you’ is the wrong pronoun).

                  I don’t distrust Morgan because I’m a GP voter. I distrust him because of my analysis of his ideas. I also don’t go ‘oh economist, he must be untrustworthy’.

                  To characterise the GP as predominantly environmental and social as if economics is a missing 3rd leg misses some fundamental points. One is that the rise of Green politics is intrinsically tied to economic analyses in the 1970s. Notably work like Schumacher’s Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, and also the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth report. Those are investigations of economics, the problems and what should be done differently.

                  The other issue is that while you are possibly positioning economics alongside social and environmental, Morgan is positioning social and environmental as subsets of economics, and the Greens are saying that all those things are subsets of the natural world. It’s not that the Greens are agin economics, it’s that they don’t use it as the starting point. When you position human endeavour within the natural world, everything changes including one’s relationship to economics.

                  So sure, there is antipathy to Rogernomics and I’m sure classical leftist views are still there somewhere, I don’t think the Greens are averse to economics because of those things. I don’t think they averse to economics at all. I think they are saying that economics is this other thing and lots of people haven’t understand what they mean yet. That’s their real dilemma right there.

                  I know this seems quite wrong to you, but I think the Greens would have been well advised to swallow some of their pride and paranoia … and made much better use of this complementary alignment with TOP, to forge a new, fresh economic narrative. I think it could have gotten you well over the 20% mark.

                  Not sure what you mean there. TOP look to me like they’ve always intended to set themselves up in open conflict with the Greens as part of their positioning to get votes. As for the Greens, this isn’t their first rodeo with small parties after the left vote, so I’m good with their appraisal and how to handle it (didn’t approve so much over their position on Mana, but Mana were much more their natural allies than TOP).

                  • RedLogix

                    I also don’t go ‘oh economist, he must be untrustworthy’.

                    You do actually. All along this is exactly how you have been expressing your objection.

                    • weka

                      No it’s not and this tells me that yet again you’re not hearing what I’ve been saying.

              • Stuart Munro

                “I think lots of people in NZ don’t understand economics very well”

                Treasury certainly don’t, or their blue-eyed boy Bill’s efforts would’ve produced prosperity instead of poverty, idleness, and vice.

                Treasury predictions have less statistical confidence than chance – their ideology has eaten their professionalism.

          • rhinocrates

            I’m afraid that from long experience, one should never underestimate Labour’s ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Their greatest weakness has always to assume that their brand was so wonderful that they deserved victory, even if they had no idea what was behind that brand.

            I don’t hate the principles of Labour – quite the contrary – but it is still the party of Douglas in the minds of those who remember and the party of a succession of lacklustre leaders and troughing nonentities and backstabbers for those with more recent experience. It’s perception as a party able to lead a competent, progressive government is going to depend on demonstration, not declaration of ability and intention. They’ve left it late.

            • weka

              “demonstration, not declaration”

              Very good.

              I quite liked Clark despite the terrible things she did. In that sense if we are to have a neoliberal govt then that one’s better than many. But it amazes me she left the party in such bad shape. Or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention at the time and this was inevitable.

              • rhinocrates

                Indeed – Helen Clark was enormously capable and had good intentions and I respected her for that, but her two biggest mistakes were the Foreshore and Seabed Act and the 2008/9 Party List. The second left Labour unable to form an effective opposition/government-in-waiting and the first created an opposition force – the Maori Party – that sapped the party’s base which should have always been part of Labour’s base.

                • weka

                  what happened with the List? ie. what should she/they have done differently?

                  • rhinocrates

                    Well, it’s been a while now… but she left no-one of any ability or integrity to replace her, or on the path to do so. Her selection of Goff was a reflection of internal politics blind to external politics. Goff was an incompetent still beholden to Rogernomics and it showed. When Key said that he’d like to pork Elizabeth Hurley and Goff’s response was “Me too, after I’ve done my wife’ was both disgusting and embarrassing. Since then, Labour has stuffed its front bench to appease the seat warmers who have no ability or principles.

                    Jenny Kirk, understandably as a party functionary, has to shake her pom poms for the home team, but ‘What would you do?’ is a cop-out. A real leader has to say, “I will d this, you can believe in me.”

                    Anyway, Clark missed an opportunity. Labour as an ‘institution’ has taken Maori for granted and failed to articulate convincingly that NZ is a bicultural society, not as ACT and Nat would have it, another outpost of neoliberal colonialism. NZF is, for all its nationalist pretensions, still peddling that neocolonialism because there is no convincingly articulated alternative. They’ve made it a competition between late capitalist globalism and nationalism. The true ‘Third Way’ is neither, and Labour needs to articulate that and bloody well LEAD.

                    • rhinocrates

                      Kirk’s childish, petulant, ‘what would you do’ attitude is reflective of Labour’s lack of ideas.

                      This is not about who wins the argument between the mean girls in the Beverly Hills High School and has everything to do with which party would be the credible leader of government.

        • Korero Pono

          Why do people keep assuming that Labour are the only option on the supposed left? They’re not, eventually people will understand that another party is a viable option and with enough votes they do not need to be submissive to Labour in a coalition. Labour is not the only viable alternative to National, we get to choose who the viable alternative is, not Labour. So if you don’t like Labour, don’t choose them, “break left” instead 🙂

          • Louis

            Labour is left and if you want to change the government Labour is part of that whether you like it or not.

            • rhinocrates

              They’re part of it… but they’re not all of it. This is MMP.

            • Korero Pono

              Ummmm if Labour is left they’ll have to prove it. Meanwhile, I am voting on progressive policy that lifts children and families out of poverty, thus far the Greens are the only ones coming up with anything that aims to do that once and for all. Looking forward to strengthening the Green’s position so that they have a good chance at getting their policy over the line. Who know’s maybe Labour can be part of a progressive Green’s led Government 🙂

              • rhinocrates

                Cheers! We need real progressivism, not a party too cowardly to practice the principles that it still claims to be its real constitution, but will trade them away to curry favour with those who’ll never vote for them.

                Labour’s claim that it was ‘open’ to ‘parts’ of the Green Party social policy told me all I needed to know – it was going to sell out as much as it could get away with, and that meant that it had forgotten all it had originally stood for.

                • Louis

                  I disagree with your cut and dried assumptions. Labour has policies it would like to implement and want to implement some of Greens too. Whats wrong with both parties negotiating to get the best of both worlds? Andrew Little has said he wants Greens in government not on the side lines, which shows the opposite of what you are suggesting.

              • Louis

                Labour’s policies announced so far prove it. Here is a reality check, without Labour Greens wont be in government, and they have no intention of supporting National to form one either.

                • Korero Pono

                  Louis perhaps you should read what I wrote, you are assuming that Labour are the only viable alternative to National. Labour is not the only party we can vote for. It’s presumptuous to think that we must vote Labour to achieve a change in Government. Ideally Greens will achieve higher numbers of support with their brave policy announcement and then Labour will be the submissive partner in the relationship so that this progressive policy isn’t beaten down by them.

                  • Louis

                    I never said Labour is the only party to vote for, but if you want to change the government then Labour has to be part of that. Its MMP. I am not going to pre-empt election results, but what if Labour does not become the submissive partner in the relationship”? “Why do you think a party has to be submissive anyway? Both parties have progressive polices, both parties have merit.

  15. patricia bremner 15

    Where you are going to put your vote while you nurse your deep rooted sense of anger towards some in Labour? Green? ok …Or gamble on Winnie?

    There is a desire for change social justice and more government services.
    People realise and are saying they can not change everything at once (facebook).

    We need to be careful we don’t leap on band wagons. Winnie has his agenda which he doesn’t always make plain, so his outlandish positions capture attention.

    I don’t think there is any sense of entitlement displayed on the left.
    That is a position Barclay English and quite a few national party people have been displaying!!
    Mind you, Winnie wanting to be PM where ever, well? Frustrated entitlement?? imo.

  16. Louis 16

    Is constantly shitting on Labour ultimately shitting on the Greens? Is this not self defeating? Fact is without Labour Greens wont be in government. Martyn Bradbury who doesn’t give praise lightly when it comes to Labour is enthusiastic about Labour’s 29billion increase in much needed social spending announced so far, cant see how anyone can say that’s not adopting a social democratic platform. Didn’t Grant Robertson say on the release of Labour’s changing nature of work report that the days of neoliberalism are over? Doesn’t the Roy Morgan poll released on the same day, counter the leaked UMR poll?

    • Korero Pono 16.1

      It is great you know who you’re voting for and good that you are so loyal to Labour. Doesn’t mean we all have to be and doesn’t mean we have to assume that Labour is the only viable alternative to National, they’re not. I am voting on policy this election and thus far Greens are ticking all the correct boxes with the most progressive policy I have seen in over thirty years. I want to change the government and I’m proud to be voting Green come Sept 23rd.

      • Louis 16.1.1

        Good that you are loyal to the Greens. I see Labour and Greens as a team and like policies of both. I am not saying Labour is the only party, just stating a political fact that if you want to change the government then Labour is part of that.

        • Korero Pono

          And there we go again, the presumptuous thinking that Labour is the most viable alternative party, that thinking is what sets us apart. Greens are a viable alternative and I hope that enough people stop listening to this “you must vote Labour to change the government” nonsense. We don’t have to vote Labour to change the government, it’s a lie that is being perpetuated by Labour supporters and frankly it just smacks of arrogance and superiority. If enough people vote Greens, it gives us a real opportunity to get in the most progressive policy that I have witnessed in my voting life (some 30 years). It will be a real attempt to lift children and families out of poverty. It will make a real difference to society, not this tinkering at the edges bullshit that’s been happening for over 30 years.

          • Louis

            Vote for who you want to. Again I am not saying Labour is the most viable alternative party, I never said Greens weren’t a viable alternative either, but the fact remains if you want to change the government you do need Labour, you need both Labour and the Greens. I dont see whats hard about that to understand. Its not a lie, has nothing to do with arrogance or superiority, its just political reality of an MMP environment.

          • McFlock

            If enough people vote Greens,[…]

            Aye, there’s the rub, though, innit?
            The Greens aren’t likely to get 47% this election, are they? Nowhere close. They’ll need a coalition partner, at best.

            Which party is most likely to get the greens into the Cabinet room to make meaningful social and environmental change, even at a level of coalition agreement compromise?

            That’s not a rhetorical question: who do you think the greens are likely to need to form a coalition with in order to get into government?

            • weka

              Labour obviously. Previously I thought the Mp, but even I’ve gone off them now. Previously I also thought Mana, but HH also appears to have jumped the shark. Slim pickings.

              • McFlock

                Yup. Pretty slim.

                • weka

                  Which is annoying because I think we would have a better govt with L/G/Mp/Mana than with L/G alone or even G/L alone. I love the potential of MMP to increase representation and co-operative politics. Can’t wait until Peters is out of the picture.

            • Korero Pono

              Labour aren’t likely to get 47%, are they? Nowhere close. They’ll also need a coalition partner, at best.

              Which party is most likely to get Labour into the cabinet room?

              Who do YOU think Labour are likely to need to form a coalition with in order to get into government?

              These of are of course rhetorical questions because I want to make a point.
              Labour and Greens need each other, it is mostly rhetorical, however we cannot presume that Labour will always hold the dominant position…i.e. more votes.

              The Greens social policy announcement has potential to draw in votes from some of the missing million (and for that reason I will promote the hell out of the policy and the party) – Labour will always have its die hard voting base, who will always vote Labour because that is what they’ve always done (I used to be one of these) but people are not so content with more of the same tinkering, the same acquiescence to neo-liberal policy and they’re looking for something better. I honestly believe Greens are providing a viable and exciting alternative this election…I only made up my mind on Greens in the last couple of weeks and what tipped me was the announcement to support the most vulnerable with a promise to undo some of the most destructive social policy this country has seen.

              Regardless who has the dominant position in regards to a coalition agreement (and I hope like hell that is the Greens), we should not assume the dominant position will belong to Labour, not when the Greens now have the drawing power to bring in the disenfranchised, the non-voting but eligible voting base who haven’t bothered previously because they didn’t see the point. Now there may just be a point.

              • McFlock


                If I were a shitstirrer I’d say maybe NZ1 😉

                But I’m not sure how many people are “presuming” anything say three elections down the line – just this one, at best.

  17. Louis 17

    I want to change the government and I’m proud to be voting Labour come Sept 23rd. So bring it on, here’s for a Labour Green coalition government.

    • rhinocrates 17.1

      Labour, or any party, is not going to form a majority on its own. Like National, it will have to find partners. You are free to vote for a likely coalition partner under MMP.

      That said, if Labour represents your principles, go ahead.

      My own opinion is that Labour espouses fine principles, but I doubt its ability or intention to implement them. Ultimately, we should all vote for parties that are determined to put them into practice. I will vote for a party that will be likely to be part of a government and able to keep Labour honest.

      Good luck to you. I mean that sincerely.

      • Louis 17.1.1

        I know its MMP and re your opinion on Labour, its your choice to assume what you like and vote for whom you like. I see Labour and Greens as a team to change the government but each party must shore up its own votes to achieve that goal. Thank you and I wish you all the best too. At the end of the day its all about getting rid of this godawful National government. It would be a dereliction of civic responsibility to allow these clowns one more day in power let alone another 3 years. 9 years has been more than enough.

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