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Dear NZ Labour. Listen up.

Written By: - Date published: 12:06 pm, May 12th, 2015 - 48 comments
Categories: capitalism, class, class war, corruption, labour, Left, Politics, progressives, socialism, vision, welfare - Tags: , , ,

There’s nothing I could add to this…the full text of his speech is here. (Thankyou Jane)

48 comments on “Dear NZ Labour. Listen up.”

  1. adam 1

    Hear, hear.

  2. Jane Bloore 2

    I am glad that someone else has noticed this speech by Michael Sheen. I bookmarked the transcript of the speech when I saw it in the Guardian in March, and felt then that it deserved an audience in New Zealand, as there are similiar concerns here. Unfortunately, with the return to power of the Conservative Party in the UK with a majority, albeit a slim one, it looks as if there will have to be a very determined fight there by the opposition and public to save the NHS from being transformed by privatisation.

    http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2015/mar/02/full-text-of-michael-sheens-speech

    [Thankyou for providing the link. I’ve added it to the post though, I hope people take time to watch and listen given the oratory power on display] – Bill

  3. One Anonymous Bloke 3

    Passionate and true. Well said.

  4. Michael 4

    Great stuff. I really enjoyed this.

  5. plumington 5

    Why can’t we have someone like this in our political arena
    Are they all as rotten as.each other

  6. Colonial Rawshark 6

    Labour Parties around the world pride themselves on being better managers and administrators of the neoliberal orthodoxy. They don’t see themselves as having any role in fundamentally changing or challenging that orthodoxy (and why should they, they have done very well and have a rather large stake in it), rather simply shaping and enhancing it.

  7. Dean Reynolds 7

    This clip should be compulsory viewing for every NZ Labour MP, to remind them of the time when Labour had both heart & balls.

    • Bill 7.1

      I suspect that their ‘fearful, bland neutrality’ won’t allow them to be reminded. Which leaves us with…

      To those who have discarded all principles, save that of profit before all else; to those who have turned their backs on the very idea of a truly democratic society, and aligned themselves to nothing but self-interest; to those who have betrayed the vision of equality, and justice, and compassion for all – (….) – I say to you, as Aneurin Bevan said in Trafalgar Square in 1956: you have besmirched the name of (labour); you have made us ashamed of the things of which formerly we were proud; you have offended against every principle of decency and there is only one way in which you can even begin to restore your tarnished reputation. Get out. Get out! Get … out!

  8. greywarbler 8

    Chris Trotter is pondering on the UK SNP win. He quotes an old Labour friend who feels bereft, good solid long term members have been thrown out to be replaced by mere striplings.

    Trotter points out that Tony Blair got Clause IV thrown out of their constitution. Which sets out labourites beliefs and aims very well. http://bowalleyroad.blogspot.co.nz/
    Clause IV had promised:
    To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.

    That’s what Labour used to stand for. That’s what hundreds of thousands of Scots believe a party of the working-class should still stand for. That Labour no longer stands for anything remotely resembling Clause IV is why the SNP’s derisive nickname “Red Tories” was able to wreak such historic havoc upon the electoral map of Scotland.

  9. Gerald 9

    Having been born in Tredegar I can bear witness to the passion of Nye Bevan and Michael Sheen follows big boots well.

  10. I don’t know, I can imagine many on Labour’s front bench being quite strongly behind many of the things he said in that speech: “a”, “the”, “and”, “this”, “of” for example.

  11. irascible 11

    Spent a year working in Tredegar. The passion and pride in Nye Bevan was palpable in any conversation and activity in the town. Great speech.

  12. John E 12

    Sounds like a man angry as he realizes his life’s passion is for nought. The old politics of Labour are dead and buried, the class war is over we won along time ago. The idea that the Tories are nasty and grasping and only interested in suppression is also gone as people realize they simply aren’t.

    • Dean Reynolds 12.1

      How often do you visit planet earth?

    • thatguynz 12.2

      “the class war is over we won along time ago”

      Who is “we”? I would hazard a guess that if you think you are part of the 1% you are sadly delusional.

    • Colonial Rawshark 12.3

      The idea that the Tories are nasty and grasping and only interested in suppression is also gone as people realize they simply aren’t.

      You are imagining things. Or hanging out with a crowd who earn over $80K pa.

  13. Brian 13

    As a Welshman myself it was great to hear another invoke the memory of Nye with such passion. It still holds true.

  14. Peter 14

    Labour will loose the next election Because none of the Labour mps have any passion for the workers in this country, there is no fire in there belly’s they do not know what it’s like to live on $35-40,000 a year. I have just retired and watched all that we fought for being taken away. They have done nothing to change the employment contract bill and every working person is worse of because of it ,they are just red Tory’s and I will never vote Labour again.

    • Atiawa 14.1

      What did you fight for exactly?

      • Sable 14.1.1

        If you don’t know Atiawa then you need a history lesson. My dad was part of the 1950’s watersiders strikes and my grandfather took on Massey’s Cossacks.

        Lots of ordinary working class people fought hard for the rights pampered wretches like Lange and co began to blithely throw away. And have continued to throw away to this day….

        • te reo putake 14.1.1.1

          Interesting reply to a question specifically asking what you personally had done, sable. Good on your rellies, though.

          Btw, ironic that you reckon Atiawa needs a history lessen when you vaguely refer to “1950’s watersiders strikes”. It was 1951 and it was a lockout.

          • Colonial Rawshark 14.1.1.1.1

            You might try reading TRP. That question wasn’t put to Sable, it was put to Peter. And it suits Labour perfectly to have unions defanged and their members unable to strike except in the most limited circumstances.

            • te reo putake 14.1.1.1.1.1

              You might try comprehending, CV. The question was put to Peter, but Sable answered it.

              • Colonial Rawshark

                People can see for themselves who the question was put to, mate. You yourself said that Sable did NOT answer the question; Sable merely made a comment.

                • Really haven’t got time to teach you how language works, CV, but I’ll give it a quick crack.

                  Sable replied to the question as if it were rhetorical (ie as if it was asked of all of us, not just Peter). Sable replied personally, giving examples from her own family history. Sable replied directly to Atiawa (“if you don’t know, Atiawa”). The response was as if it was a question directly put to Sable.

                  Hope this helps.

                  • Sable

                    Yes Teo Reo I know it was 1951. My old man always called it a strike. Sounds better than a lock out and maybe he has a point politically speaking. It was hard for him to work there after that but he was fairly sharp and left for Australia (Sydney). Worked in power and then became foreman of a power company back in NZ…..

        • Colonial Rawshark 14.1.1.2

          NZ Labour needs to examine the annhilation of Scottish Labour very closely. And how even in the seats that were won by UK Labour, the ‘did not vote’ party outnumbered Labour votes.

    • Sable 14.2

      100% right Peter. Good on you mate.

  15. peterlepaysan 15

    Once upon a time there were nz labour mps who felt and acted like that, or at least, aligned themselves with that passionate concern.

    Where are they now?

    Where is the labour party now?

    Where are the non voters?

    I would have been about 12 yrs old when Bevan made that speech, and so do not remember it. I do recall overhearing adults from “home” (ie pomgolia) having heated debates about him.

    I also recall his name frequently appearing the press.

    Having played the clip I can understand the attention.

    Hopefully the lp caucus might now start paying attention to its long neglected roots.

    The nats have an endless source of funds from its business mates and pump out ct puffery to their supporters about aspiration, personal responsibility to cover up their two, only, values, profit and greed.

    Surely labour can do better than that.

    • Atiawa 15.1

      A friend who at the end of last year was made redundant along with 40 of his work mates from an engineering firm – blue collar workers – due to the closure of the business. They were covered by a collective employment agreement that contained a six & 2 redundancy compensation provision with no yearly service limit, that is the longer they were employed for the greater their compensation, and some of them had 20+ years service.
      Because of their skills some of them have managed to find similar work in the area.
      None of them have rejoined the union, albeit it seems most have gone to non unionised workshops. Their new terms & conditions are inferior to the t&c they enjoyed when employed prior to being made redundant.
      I’m not talking about new workers to the work force. These people are grown men who know the value of acting collectively to improve their lot.
      The race to the bottom is well underway and seemingly supported by those who should know better.
      What the fuck is wrong with Kiwi workers?
      Labours support base has become weak kneed.

      • Descendant Of Sssmith 15.1.1

        Aye firstly Labour is shite.

        They have no working class policies of any substance.

        8 hour working day, 40 hour working week would be a good and simple start. Time and a half for everyone working more than 8 hours a day and for those working on weekends.

        The laws around striking are shite and need changing. When you can only go on strike at the end of an expired contract and unions keep negotiating three year contracts it’s no wonder most people have no idea what a strike is or the power that a strike holds.

        Unions should stop negotiating long contracts and strike every year if need be to get better wages and conditions. If house prices and the sharemarket collapses like 87, interest rates go up and inflation runs rampant it’s no use being tied up in a 3 year contract that’s just been negotiated. Under current law you’re just screwed for 3 years.

        Just like pre-87 some of the wealthy are starting to divest themselves of these assets. Buy em up mum and dad investors, you’ll own em when the fall occurs and the wealthy will get em back with your own cash. The real estate agents, the property developers, the banks – they’ll all be saying it’s OK – keep buying, keep buying – but the ones in the know will be getting out.

        The baby boomers are not just getting NZS they are also starting to die off. Slowly now then faster and faster. It’s inevitable and can be forecast. Who will buy and live in their houses?

        When the crash comes the workers will be hardest hit – partly cause they always are, partly because while times have been semi-good for business the workers were legislatively stopped from getting their share.

        So yeah Labour should very clearly give workers back their legal right to withdraw their labour in order to improve their lot. Particularly as most businesses now are multi-country corporate entities who don’t give a rats arse about NZ.

      • Colonial Rawshark 15.1.2

        Labours support base has become weak kneed.

        Fuck that; Labour eviscerated its own support base in the 80’s, Labour used to have hundreds of thousands of members and it ended up firing most of them; the right wing of Labour was pleased to toss out all the left wingers with Jim Anderton leaving behind a cadre of useless NZ red Tories who were quite happy to vote in favour of raising the retirement age at Labour Party Conference.

        So Labour has exactly the support base it wanted and deserves and don’t you forget that.

        As for these older workers no longer being part of the union: well, that’s part of the attitude we see in our society now isn’t it. The older ones who are more established are quite happy to gain the fruits of their rapid house price increases and move the nation in a direction which fucks the young.

        • Atiawa 15.1.2.1

          Did ye have a wee snooze between ’99 & 2008? I remember the 80’s well, trying to bring up a young family back then was a hard slog. The 90’s though was the date-knocker. I spent more time on the dole then in work during that decade. Would have loved to have had children (and a job) in the 2000’s. Working for Families must have been a god send for young couples & their families. Thanks Labour. Had four different jobs during those times to present day (2000 – 2015). All had Collective Employment Agreements and negotiated annual pay increases, thanks to the Employment Relations Act 2000 and the newly elected Labour government. Thanks Helen. Oh, thats right, one of the better pay settlements was brought about through Andrew Little’s union leadership and the EPMU’s FIVE in 05 campaign. Thanks Andrew.
          Live in the past if you must. We could all be bitter and feeling betrayed by the actions of Lange, Douglas, Prebble, Caygill, Tapsill (who was the lawyer MP from Palmerston North) etc etc. But remember this – you allowed it to happen as much as I did.

          • Colonial Rawshark 15.1.2.1.1

            I was pointing out why Labour members left in the hundreds of thousands in the 1980s and why Labour has so few members today. Now you can choose to ignore the reasons why, or claim that the reasons should be forgotten as bygones. But the fact remains that Labour eviscerated their own regional/provincial support base and that support base is never, ever coming back to them.

            By the way, it sounds like you did OK through Labour 5. Good for you. But for others who lived through Rogernomics and the Ruthanasia that Labour opened the nation up to, they lost homes, lost factories, lost marriages, lost children, lost friends, lost their careers, lost their futures.

            And by the way, the Labour hierarchy and the Labour caucus think exactly like you – that these matters are irrelevant and not worth mentioning.

            • Atiawa 15.1.2.1.1.1

              And I was pointing out that we had a Labour led government for nine years post the Labour era of the 80’s (NZ’s 4th Labour govt) who enacted worker friendly – comparatively speaking – policies i.e. 5 days sick leave, 4 weeks annual holidays, bereavement leave, WFF, the ERA, Kiwi Saver etc.
              I agree that many NZers were cruelly affected by government policies of the 80’s & 90’s including myself, family members, friends. However I don’t blame todays Labour for the errors of the past and I acknowledge and salute our most recent representatives of Labour.
              What concerns me is the attitude of todays working class, many of whom were unlikely to be wage earners (30 years ago) when Roger Douglas and his cohorts were doing the damage you refer to in your 2nd paragraph but were the benefactors of the policies of the 5th Labour governments policies – some are listed above -.
              The Labour MP for PN i couldn’t recall in my 15.1.2.1 post was Trevor de Cleene. Trevor according to Wikipedia joined the NZLP in 1952. Thirty years later he became an MP. He was to become one of the more fervent supporters of Rogernomic’s and the free market. He was a highly successful lawyer and unlikely to be short of a $. Like todays PM he was raised in a house provided by the state. His parents were poor and were Labour party activists, thankful for a political party who met the needs of the people ahead of those with privilege and power.
              Could/do we blame de Cleene’s parents for his being a turncoat? Hardly. Nor should we blame or tar with the same brush today’s Labour leaders for the sins of the de Cleene’s and Douglas’s of the past.

              • Macro

                In the early 2000’s Labour had the chance to take back the ECA but chose not to. Sops such as you list were all well and good, but only the fortunate few (sounds like you were one) actually got to enjoy them. WFF was, and still remains a subsidy for inefficient and mean spirited employers who cannot /will not pay a decent wage, and was NEVER given to those who needed it most, but left scavenging on benefits reduced by Ruth and not restored by Clark. Even now we have Barnett attacking the unemployed and the dispossessed for not registering for elections (usually because of the fear of loan sharks.) Labour never controlled these parasitic loan sharks in the first place and created the problem with their poverty designed welfare. Sure there was a little more humanity under Clark ,but quite frankly not enough; allowing the situation for when she was replaced to be easily exacerbated by Key and Bennett. The dispossessed see no point in voting because neither Labour nor National offer them any hope whatsoever.

                • Atiawa

                  …………. take back the ECA” What do you mean?
                  I’ve been lucky to work in unionised workplaces.
                  Every worker is entitled to 5 days sick leave, 4 weeks annual leave, 1 or 3 days bereavement leave (depends on closeness of association & like sick leave having 6 months in the job), to be enrolled in Kiwi Saver, WFF.
                  Yes WFF is a subsidy for poor paying employers but even if Helen reinstated compulsory unionism it would still be needed by many workers and their families
                  I spent half the 90’s unemployed and had benefits reduced & had fictitious addresses.
                  Loan sharks are not the creation of Labour governments.
                  The reason why the dispossessed don’t vote is because they choose not to.

                  • Macro

                    Prior to the ECA every worker was entitled to at least 10 days sick leave per year – an erosion not restored by Labour.
                    Prior to the ECA there was no need for Kiwisaver. If one did contribute to a Super scheme that was tax deducible. Employers contributed equally as well. Nothing new in Kiwi saver – it is far less beneficial than the scheme I was fortunate to belong to.
                    Prior to the ECA one worked 40 hours a week. Not what ever the employer thinks he might give you this week.
                    Prior to the ECA one had a permanent job – not a contract for a month/ week or year.
                    I pity the workers of today – they have no idea what were once decent working conditions.
                    Yes the 90 were bad – started by Labour and finished off by Richardson’s “mother of all budgets”. Unfortunately the cruelties introduced in 91 have never been overturned, and are still in existence today. No loan sharks are not the creation of the Labour, – but they have done nothing to rectify them either.
                    The dispossessed choose not to vote because neither Labour nor National offer them any hope at all, and to enroll they give away their address or they haven’t got one.

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      Surely the logical thing to do is to blame the dispossessed and the indigent for not voting Labour – the miserable state that NZ is in today is clearly the fault of the poorest and the most powerless in the nation.

  16. Pat 16

    any chance he’d emigrate to NZ?

  17. Pat 17

    so was Reagan…and not a very good one

  18. Stuart Munro 18

    Yes – this is what we want.

    Key’s head on a pike is secondary.

  19. Sable 19

    Listen up? Labour in NZ? Good luck with that. Increasingly they look like a liability that actually pushes people into Nationals camp. If there is a future for the left in no way does it lie with Labour.

  20. Peter 20

    You asked what did I fight for.
    1 Better working conditions
    2 better wages
    3 more holidays
    4 health and safety
    and I have been on strike from 1 hour to 4 1/2 weeks ,worked to rule, marched and raised money for others who have been on strike. I have been a union rep, I have gone into the office with people who were very scared and could not speak for themselves and helped save there jobs, and spoken up when no body else would.

  21. Jones 21

    Only just managed to listen to this… wonderful, passionate speech and beautifully spoken.

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  • Funding to restore significant Māori sites in the Far North
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