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Could the real Labour Party please stand up

Written By: - Date published: 8:21 am, October 29th, 2020 - 35 comments
Categories: capitalism, jacinda ardern, labour, poverty, uncategorized - Tags:

Could the real Labour Party stand up please?

Every Labour Party in government has made strong moves to show that the whole country can change for good.  Including the first, the second, the third, the fourth and the fifth.

Every Labour government except this one.

Not everyone likes strong and bold government: sometimes they take risks and get voted out (as in 1960).

Sometimes idealistic and unruly characters get in there and need to be given positive things to do.

Ardern is certainly a master at making people feel like they’ve been listened to, both on the mainstream media and through her staggering Facebook and Twitter following. But when faced with a large political choice Ardern generally does as little as possible. Unless it’s an emergency: then she acts.

We do not need to get through another term on the basis of publicity about weddings, babies, and national emergencies.

We need to get the Labour government to focus on decreasing inequality and poverty in all its forms and effects. The new government needs to show that Labour has changed the country for good. Otherwise there’s no reason to vote for them in 2023.

Unlike some activist groups in the United States that have assisted Joe Biden, there’s no push for radical action such as to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, defund the police, or cancel the debts of Pacific islands. There have been no immoderate demands.

And local capitalism loves that.

A New Zealand Herald report on Tuesday headlined “Nothing to unsettle capital markets in Labour landslide,” declared that financial markets had taken the Labour Party’s victory “in their stride”. The New Zealand dollar was trading at US66.13 cents on Monday, up from US66.04 late Friday. Our sharemarket’s top 50 index was “a few points softer” at 12,418.61.

According to Shane Solly of Harbour Asset Management, Labour had widely been expected to win and there was “nothing obvious to worry the capital markets.”

This is the only time in our history that electing a Labour government has been met with applause by the capital markets. That’s a measure of the ambition of this Labour government.

The public sector’s own bank, the Reserve Bank, is writing a comedy by on the one hand saying that it might just look at reintroducing loan-to-value ratios for housing loans within an exploding housing market that they themselves formed yet on the other hand it is doing what it’s told by buying tens of billions of Government bonds and keeping interest rates at near-zero which makes it incredibly attractive for home buyers to get loans. Ta-daaaa.

Unemployment is going up well above the RB band and interest is plummeting below the band: the Reserve Bank is simply not doing its’ job. It is simply tame and ineffective.

Our most active public capitalists are NZSuperfund and ACC, and they act without apparent regard for how they damage the government (see Light Rail, KiwiBuild, and Transmission Gully).

So it’s no wonder the capital markets are happy with Labour in government: they can do what they want.

Yet the upsurge in voting for the left came from young people in electorates like Auckland Central.

That surge is going to keep growing as further fresh intakes of voters emerge in 3 years. Next time it won’t be the crusties making defensive rural vote decisions who are going to get Labour and the Greens home. The young will be the reason the left win again. So that means the young have to be listened to. And the young need economic wins that are so big they reverse inequality.

Of course, it might not be easy to prevail on Ardern and Robertson. They are defined by a simple philosophy: re-regulate nothing, low effort, lots of cash, form no new institutions, excite no one with any fresh initiative, spend no political capital, and just keep throwing public cash. And say ‘sorry it takes time’, a lot.

They could also reasonably argue that they stood with near-zero in their manifesto and that’s what people voted for: they have the mandate for doing very little.

But 2023 will come around and it will be very different to this outlier year.

The voting base that got her there in 2017 is the same voting base that will get her there in 2023: us.

It’s time to hold Prime Minister Ardern accountable from the left.

35 comments on “Could the real Labour Party please stand up ”

  1. RedLogix 1

    I absolutely agree that 'doing as little as possible' is not an option. But this doesn't imply the only alternative is to 'do a whole bunch of things as radical as possible'.

    In my view there is a great deal of centrist looking stuff to be done that if intelligently negotiated, could effectively address the urgent issue of gross inequality that is gnawing at the foundations of our small nation.

    But first we need to be able to have an informed and reasoned debate on what are the root causes of inequality. We can measure the outcomes easily enough, what we cannot seem to address honestly are the myriad causes of it, and even more intractably, we really don't know where the most efficient levers to change it are located.

    At least a large part of the answer lies in a simple question of incomes. But the post-WW2 era when NZ last had a relatively tolerable income distribution, was also embedded in a society, both local and global, that looked very different to the one we have now.

    If I'm reading the mood at the moment, I believe there is an opportunity for this govt to engage on this, there is widespread consensus that none of the political systems we have inherited from the 20th century and by themselves adequate for our new 21st purposes.

    • Ad 1.1

      Right now any sturdy plan would suffice. Currently not evident.

      I've got a little post coming on some concrete suggestions on climate change by the Sustainable Business Council, who are sensibly targeting the Climate Commission.

      • RedLogix 1.1.1

        Here's an interesting program from over the ditch that would address a huge need in NZ's disability sector:

        http://www.sdahousingaustralia.com.au/

        (Random link, there is a whole bunch of other material available.)

        Housing specifically designed for community living, what these people want and where they want it. A truckload of money is being put into this; yet amazingly enough in the long run they believe it will be far more cost effective.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.2

      In my view there is a great deal of centrist looking stuff to be done that if intelligently negotiated, could effectively address the urgent issue of gross inequality that is gnawing at the foundations of our small nation.

      Considering that centrism is pretty much holding on to BAU then no there isn't.

      We can measure the outcomes easily enough, what we cannot seem to address honestly are the myriad causes of it , and even more intractably, we really don't know where the most efficient levers to change it are located.

      Well, you're certainly not willing to accept the main cause. And until we do that as a nation then there's nothing that's going to happen to all the minor causes that are a direct result of that main cause.

      The main cause and the main lever is ownership. We really do have to get rid of capitalism.

      At least a large part of the answer lies in a simple question of incomes.

      Yes. People shouldn't get an income from the work of others through ownership.

      But the post-WW2 era when NZ last had a relatively tolerable income distribution, was also embedded in a society, both local and global, that looked very different to the one we have now.

      But still didn't really work which is how we got taken back to the 19th century by the 4th Labour government.

      If I'm reading the mood at the moment, I believe there is an opportunity for this govt to engage on this, there is widespread consensus that none of the political systems we have inherited from the 20th century and by themselves adequate for our new 21st purposes.

      I believe that you're reading that mood correctly but all indications are that the government aren't willing to listen as they want to keep the failed policies of last century in place.

  2. Incognito 2

    For the People, by Labour, about the People?

    That would have been the title of my post on this that I’ve been mulling since the day after Election Day.

    You expressed many of my sentiments in your post that is bold and brave and you nailed your colours to the mast. They are a much brighter hue than those of the incumbent Government, which looks like a timid team tippy-toeing around treacherous topics.

    Edit: I see that the authorship changed 😉

  3. Sabine 3

    that holding to account should have happened before the election.,

    They now get to run the show for the next three years and that is it.

    Besides, Labour ruled out benefit increases, did not mention in any words other then 'learn the value of work' the unemployed and other unfortunates (specifically the 90% of covid unemployed that are women – who often don't get a benefit cause their partner still holds a job, or the beneficiaries that live below the poverty line), but people were really really afraid that Judith Collins would win, even tho that women never stood a chance in hell.

    Btw, where is Bill, he was always quite good in talking about these things.

    But yeah, good luck holding Labour to account.

    • RedLogix 3.1

      who often don't get a benefit cause their partner still holds a job

      That's one very easy thing this govt could do, is to raise the partner qualifying income. It's absurdly low.

      • Chris 3.1.1

        Or be serious about individual entitlement. The insidious requirement to determine relationship status in terms of financial dependence on another person, and the indebtedness and criminalisation that comes with this needs to be removed.

  4. RedLogix 5

    and they act without apparent regard for how they damage the government (see Light Rail, KiwiBuild, and Transmission Gully).

    Last night I had a few drinkies with a person who was a construction consultant to the Transmission Gully project in the early days. In his view it was doomed from the start, incompetent people were making critical decisions from which the project will never really recover.

    • Ad 5.1

      The investigation should come out soon.

      There was some pretty bad geotech and BIM modelling to get the initial cut and cut-to-fill ratio so wrong.

      • Cricklewood 5.1.1

        I strongly suspect the initial numbers we see with these projects are essentially just a figure that is politically palatable enough to get the project approved and underway.

        Once committed you start to hear of 'exclusions and miscalculations' that give the appearance of incompetence when in actual fact it was deliberate.

        Watch the Crl continue to blow out of the next four years. From what I understand the bulkage rate used in early calculations was um 'incompetently' low.

    • Anne 5.2

      Redlogix @ 5.

      NZ has suffered incompetency in the upper levels of the Public Service for decades. Some of it grew out of WW2 and its reliance on authoritarian type rule over the masses during a time of crisis. Unfortunately it produced a bunch of little Hitlers who continued the authoritarian attitude within their respective fiefdoms for decades to come.

      Add to that the desire of many public servants to lick the boots of their masters in the interest of personal promotion, and the level of incompetency was sure to become widespread.

      NB. I was a public servant for 34 years in three different capacities, so had ample time to observe the nature of the beast.

  5. greywarshark 6

    I think that many of us think hard about politics and the way that we run ours, and how the country finds itself being run after politicians’ machinations. It seems obvious that our political setup has failed us, and that we have allowed ourselves to be lulled by complacency and been 'Sunday' citizens as so many are 'Sunday Christians' which will apply to any religious follower.

    It is time to set up participatory democracy in a formal way, with people who are informed and practical but with an ideal of a country that takes not only rights but responsibilities to each citizen and animal, as well as the environment as an automatic requirement. Everybody can't have what they want, but we should be ensuring that all have more than what they need, enough for everyday living at a reasonable level, and then opportunities for enjoyment, fostering relationships etc. (People who haven't been close to the pre-superannuation welfare methods would not know that management of individuals is often hostile to them having any enjoyment in life, very unpleasant, even hateful attitudes can prevail.)

    I would like to see in each major town a group set up to be Participatory Democracy Pledger Group with different lines of interest among its members who follow world developments, knowledge, practices in their interest and specialty and exchange information with other Pledgers throughout this country. And who would interact with politicians and with officials and heads of departments and agencies. And being informed they would interact with academics and researchers, and bring the perspective of citizens seeking good outcomes from action or inaction of government.

    It wouldn't be a set committee that would be voted in or out by random others, but an egregious member would be noted as being too far away from practical, or having an agenda which would lead to deterioration of good standards and balance.

    If there is such a thing already behind the scenes, it should be extended. It needs talking about and the way that The Standard has developed and is performing as a discussion centre, it could be similar to this. It would look at all aspects of any matter, with different perspectives from a range of thinkers with a range of experiences who would be able to foresee ways to deal with present and future problems that would ensure that finaglers didn't get hold of our lives and future.

    Of course they are well on their way to doing just that but those who question and want real answers, once melded into an effective phalanx might ameliorate the destruction that is bound to occur from the present barely restrained obsessive urges to tinker and take control of everything there is.

    I would like to know people's thoughts about this, which should include a 'why' within them.

  6. Draco T Bastard 7

    Every Labour Party in government has made strong moves to show that the whole country can change for good. Including the first, the second, the third, the fourth and the fifth.

    WTF?

    The fourth Labour government was the government that started the slide back into the dystopian past of unregulated capitalism. The fifth slowed the slide somewhat until the fifth National government stepped in.

    And now this government has, so far, slowed the slide again.

    This is the only time in our history that electing a Labour government has been met with applause by the capital markets.

    No, they were quite happy in 1984 as well. Its pretty much why Bob Jones stepped aside just before the election ensuring that Labour would win.

    and keeping interest rates at near-zero which makes it incredibly attractive for home buyers to get loans.

    If we have a look at history we can easily see that interest rates don't make any damned difference to the amount of money that the private banks get to create through housing loans.

    Unemployment is going up well above the RB band and interest is plummeting below the band:

    Pretty sure that neither of those are in the RBNZ's job description. Their job is to keep inflation between two and three percent. Its dropping below that and so they're using the major tool that they have to try and push inflation higher and that's low interest rates.

    And the young need economic wins that are so big they reverse inequality.

    They need more than that. They also need jobs that they want to do. I recall one time, years ago, I was on a bus and the two students in front of me were talking about which country they were moving to after graduation as there were no jobs here for them in the subjects that they had just studied.

    Of course, it might not be easy to prevail on Ardern and Robertson. They are defined by a simple philosophy: re-regulate nothing, low effort, lots of cash, form no new institutions, excite no one with any fresh initiative, spend no political capital, and just keep throwing public cash. And say ‘sorry it takes time’, a lot.

    It does take time and money but you're right in that they're not looking to take a hand in developing the economy and that they're just going to continue to let the capitalists bludge off of the rest of us.

    That's pretty much always going to happen with a government that's supportive of capitalism – which Labour has always been.

    It’s time to hold Prime Minister Ardern accountable from the left.

    Yes but there's actually no processes for us to do that and never has been. In fact, legislation specifically ensures that our politicians only have to do what they want to do and not what the people want.

    So, how do you suggest we do it?

    • Nic the NZer 7.1

      Your considering how the post is constructed wrong. First Ad writes the spine of the narrative and only then are the relevant facts selected and tailored to support the lesson to be presented. This makes it irrelevant that the first and fourth labour governments altered the country in ideologically opposite ways, both of which we are to assume were improvements.

      Other irrelevant facts include that the 4th Labour government didn't vet its reforms with the electorate during its campaign (meaning it didn't get elected having a mandate for them). Its also irrelevant that it used international institutions including the IMF to push through reforms without taking direct responsibility for implementing them. And its also irrelevant that the government knew in advance the reforms would be unpopular and as a result moved quickly before popular resistance could be mobilised.

  7. Byd0nz 8

    The election is barely over, votes still to be counted before the new Government can start implementing its course, yea sure it's an instant world, but draw breath, give them a chance to get started and if they dont live up to the expectations we have of a landslide Labour win, then they will be toast. I think they will deliver and despite Jacinda having worked for that fraud Blair, she may be more left than most realise.

    • greywarshark 8.1

      If they are toast, I don't want it dry – put butter and marmalade on please. I want good vittles from this gummint.

    • Corey Humm 8.2

      Blair deserves a lot of hate but his govt in many ways was far more progressive than any nz LP govt since 1972.

      For the first term benifits went up every single year and hardship allocations were massively increased. In NZ welfare rates haven't gone up in any meaningful way (apart from the covid response which was temporary) since Ruths days in the 90s other than inflation and when uk Labour, aussie Labour or the canadian liberals talk about poverty they talk about poverty in general they don't do NZLP and the us democrats trick of only talking about poverty if the word child is in front of the word poverty.

      NZs system is so broken that during the biggest economic and unemployment crisis not one journalist, not one, even asked the question of the major party leaders about adult poverty because apparently we live in a world where kids are poor but their parents at home are living it up. Labour couldn't even commit to raising benefits for the disabled or increasing hardship grants hell they couldn't even commit to losening restrictions on people who flat or are in relationships so they could get the full benefit and not one Journo bothered to ask… IN THE BIGGEST UNEMPLOYMENT AND ECONOMIC CRISIS IN GENERATIONS

      No no, labours big plan is allow you to earn more money part time in jobs that don't exist, bugger the disabled people who can't work or people who can't find jobs that aren't there.

      Id rather be unemployed under Blair in the UK or any Aussie Labour govt any day of the week.

      In a lot of ways NZLP is more like the Liberal democrats or the centerist alliance in aussie than it's sister parties

  8. Chris 9

    "Every Labour Party in government has made strong moves to show that the whole country can change for good. Including the first, the second, the third, the fourth and the fifth. Every Labour government except this one."

    This is the most preposterous statement I've heard this week, probably this month.

    The fourth set about destroying the caring society New Zealand had enjoyed since 1938, and then almost ceremoniously handed the baton to the next nat government to finish the job. The fifth pretended that it'd re-established traditional Labour values but did the opposite, often under the radar and proving themselves to be the filthy right-wing liars they were.

    I agree that the sixth isn't much better and its collusion with the status quo is treacherous. But at least it's not actively and forcefully pushing so hard to the right that it's indistinguishable from every government we've had since 1984. The last two Labour governments acted like filthy right-wing scum. I'm not saying that what Ardern's doing is great, but to say it's worse than what the last two Labour governments did is just wrong.

  9. greywarshark 10

    Pretty sure that neither of those are in the RBNZ's job description. Their job is to keep inflation between two and three percent. Its dropping below that and so they're using the major tool that they have to try and push inflation higher and that's low interest rates. – from DTB above.

    It would be safe to bring in a series of small wage rises, then tax and penalty shifts that enable the poorer to keep more of the money they earn. That would cause the economy to warm up. Raise the inflation band after a while then more small wage rises, same effect. Keep low interest but above 1.5 OCR and keep incrementally raising the interest rate. Try and keep it above inflation.

    • Pat 10.1

      Expect the RBNZ dosnt control wage levels (or very little else) AND they also are required to ensure the banking system remains sound…may be why theyve been calling for fiscal assistance, no?

  10. Stuart Munro 11

    Well someone had to say it, however uncomfortable it may have made some party insiders.

    It wouldn't hurt to get an explanation out of Faafoi either, in respect of his rubberstamping the latest fraudulent application for a tranche of slave fishermen.

    There is enormous scope in NZ for an active Labour party, with decades of poor economic decisions to correct, so that we move into a positive and more united phase as we confront the challenges of the 21st century.

    Or they could just hide under a rock and hope someone else addresses the issues.

  11. Infused 12

    Good luck with that.

    Next year is going to kick the economy in the ass. There will be no big changes

  12. SPC 13

    There is no hope.

    Little will not even decriminalise marijuana – even the Sallies who campaigned for a no vote want it decriminalised.

    If that is any indication, do not expect anything.

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