Could the real Labour Party stand up please?
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.