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Guest post: How the left should respond to financial crises

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, August 27th, 2015 - 136 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, Politics - Tags:

Keep calm vote left

Apparently we’re in another crisis.

Both the left and the right often use capitalism’s regular crises to legitimize political changes. (That’s politics).  With enough crisis-borne anxiety within a population, politicians can gain as much power as they want. And they do.

Many political movements will escalate the crisis so an imagined New Order replaces the Old Order. Citizens can smell such misanthropy. They can smell when they are being played. The Crisis Button gets pressed too often.

If it wants to get back into government, the left must show they are ready to govern. In a crisis that does not mean patronizing charm, soporific calm, or conservative quietism. But in a democracy nor does it mean promising the overthrow of the order of things. Overthrow within crisis only perpetuates crisis.

A difference is this. The left understands the need for the state to regulate markets and to improve society. The right does not see the need for such plans.

Within a crisis, the left needs to show that it has a plan that can stabilize the crisis (within the powers of the remaining state). That you can allay our anxiety better than the others. Show us we can face it and we can change it. The left needs to show us it can handle crisis better than the right.

If the left wants to gain power other than through public fear – and it should –  it will need to gain confidence. The left must re-convince themselves that they are superior governors. To each other, they must look like they can govern. First regain themselves, then they’ll regain the people.

The left will look like it can govern when it it looks like it has a plan: you look like you know what you’re doing.

The plan tells citizens that they have a vital role in a greater effort.

The plan invites the greater good. The plan will defy fear, and generate public confidence. That greater good gives meaning to our lives, and obliterates the anxiety from crisis.

It’s cliche to say that the best way to predict the future is to make it happen.

It’s a cliche of leftie governments because it’s true. Especially in a crisis.

If the left want to get back into government, they have to show that they are ready to govern.

With a plan – and not with amplifying apocalypse – the left will defy the fear within crisis, gain the people, and show they are ready to govern again.


136 comments on “Guest post: How the left should respond to financial crises ”

  1. There is no left or right.

    There is the 0.01% against the 99.99%.

    The 0.01% control the currency supply and hence just about everything. The banking cartel is privately owned and responsible for 97% of all “money” available in the world. They are counterfeiting it in truly apocalyptic numbers and causing the collapse of the global economy while buying everything in the “real” world with their worthless digital numbers.

    The left/right discussion just divides us into two groups fighting each other while we should be educating ourselves and each other about the perils of a privately owned printing press in the hands of a minute amount of people.

    If you want the “left” to be ready to govern, this is the issue they must address!

    • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 1.1

      I think the left already has the nutty conspiracy vote.

      • thatguynz 1.1.1

        That surprises me TGF – I thought you’d indicated quite clearly that your voting patterns were more to the right.

      • weka 1.1.2

        “I think the left already has the nutty conspiracy vote.”


    • Nessalt 1.2

      Heard about this thing called the internet? it’s kind of destroying the privately owned printing presses owned by the minority.


      • thatguynz 1.2.1

        Huh? Ev is talking about the metaphorical money printing press – not the media printing press.

        • Nessalt

          the one the greens were going to use to lift us out of the burden of foreign debt with? the one that commentators like CV and DTB on the standard think should be used in this manner? in that case I agree that it should be taken out of control of the hands of a small minority of people as that’s an argument about power.

          But i think the preceding sentence to the statement of control of the printing press shows us that Rev means the actual printing press / newsroom style. I may be wrong though.

          I’ve always thought that the left should create a market place where all progressive news and opinion could be disseminated with little editorial control or larger-than-life personalities creating a left slanted multi-author site to big their own profile up. Bomber. netflix the news and opinion if you will. make it so that you can access whatever you like for small monthly fee so that contributors get paid and marketing can expand the reach. a site where the popularity of your contribution gets you the most reward.

          sounds suspiciously like capitalism though. but it would remedy the crises of the lefts ability to get mainstream traction. which would mirror what a government has to do to fix macro level financial crises. oh shit, it is capitalism. hahaha cursed to being on the outside because the medicine is more painful to ideology than the reality of the cure.

      • AmaKiwi 1.2.2

        The news is now fragmented into hundreds of audiences.

        Once upon a time we had one television station, a handful of radio stations and newspapers. We had one or two big news stories per day. In those times the headline TV news story could be a one car crash on a rural road. Everyone talked about the same thing.

        The problem is, “How do we get to such varied news audiences?”

        I wish I had an answer. It’s a completely new communications era.

        • Ad

          And yet here you are on this Interweb Thing.

        • Draco T Bastard

          In those times the headline TV news story could be a one car crash on a rural road. Everyone talked about the same thing.

          Nope. In those days we actually had local news and a car crash on a rural road would only be reported in the local rag and only talked about by the local people. Now local news goes national and international and the important stories are getting buried in the overflow of information.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.3


  2. Atiawa 2

    So the plan is to tell the people that the “Left” is capable of running the capitalist system better than the “Right”, and how they intend to do it?

    • aerobubble 2.2

      Thirty years ago cheap middle eastern oil started the longest run of cheaper vehicle fuels than ever, the economy was set to grow without any help. So the right, like any politcal animal, got out in front and started to claim they did it, that their ideology was behind it.
      A few listened more keenly and become aware that what the new ideology was all about was geting govt out of the way and sitting on their hands the rest of the time.

      Now something happened in 2008, oil got expensive, energy and carbon costs futures look bleaker, and a return to more moderate hands on govt began.

      You’ll note that, the ideology was not all that knowledge based, or requring much ability, but that both sides endeavor to more right. Roger Douglas.

      After thirty years of all leaning off to the right, like a group of Mediterranean refugees, the finacial boat is so out of balance, its keeps wanting to tip over.
      Now a rush to the left wont help, what we need is a keen leader who can talk down the herd the right created to sit down and stop leaning to the right.

  3. les 3

    such a plan would mean nothing as it could not be enacted in opposition and theoretical outcomes are irrelevant.

    • Ad 3.1

      The point of being in opposition is not merely to oppose: it is to prepare for government.

      • les 3.1.1

        you can ‘prepare’ all you like …factors today may not apply in the future.Highlighting the govts incompetency ‘in the now’ is the oppositions priority.

        • Ad

          So here you go.
          The point of politics is to change stuff.
          You do that by organizing your thoughts into policies.
          Those policies get mandated.

          With me so far?

          Then they get tested in public.

          In case you haven’t seen it, highlighting whatever they are doing wrong hasn’t been enough for the last – oh – seven years.

          Still with me?

          The new crisis on the horizon is the right moment to start showing that there really is an alternative government. That means showing that they really can govern.

          One of the key reasons we lost the last election is that we were not able to show that we were an alternative government.

          Time to show we are.

          • les

            ‘the point of politics is to change stuff’….you can only do that by getting elected!…Labours policies had wide support even CGT …but voters as Lynton Crosby will tell you need a simple,clear message…that simple clear message should be …this govt is hopeless,we can do better…too much detail is not required.

          • BM

            I know what you’re saying.

            Sitting there throwing shit and pointing out faults without giving a workable alternative just puts peoples backs up.

            If your’re going to criticize, you have to give an alternative otherwise you just come across looking like a wanker.

            Even if National does take your policies, so what, they’re still getting implemented.

            • les

              yet when Bill English is asked what his plans are for this term…he hums and has and says theres no ‘magic bullet solutions’…and just on we go with the ‘safe pair of hands b/s swallowed by the public.

              • BM

                Then labour should be putting up an alternative
                It will soon become obvious who should be running the show.

                Or if there really isn’t anything that can be done or what the government is doing is the best option then say so.

                You’ll get so much more respect from the public.

                • Ad


                  There is no longer anything to lose.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Then labour should be putting up an alternative

                  1. Labour did put an alternative
                  2. So did every other left-wing party
                  3. The only parties that didn’t put up an alternative were the right-wing ones

                  • BM

                    They did a shit job on selling it then.

                    Which is labours problem, heaps of policy, theory wonks, but no practical make it happen types.

                    You can have the greatest ideas in the world but if no one knows about them or you can’t grab peoples attention you’re wasting your time.

            • Tracey

              “Sitting there throwing shit and pointing out faults without giving a workable alternative just puts peoples backs up.”

              Except in 2007/2008 when it worked like a charm.

          • Tracey

            Based on he last eelction we know that having policies is not the winning formula. Cos both Labour and Greens had many of them. Formulated fromt heir thoughts (as you suggested above)

            So, organizing their thoughts into policies didn’t work. Or were they the wrong policies? Or the wrong thoughts?

            Given they cannot implement any policies (and can’t prove they can govern) it is too easy for policies to be yelled down and countered by a government that people trust to run the country but don’t believe.

            maybe they should just start lying about stuff that hits voters hot buttons. Fight liars with liars?

          • AmaKiwi

            I think personalities are far more important than policies.

            I thought Little had Key dead to rights in Parliament on the government taking a $90 million dividend from public housing instead of doing $16 million in critical repairs. It should have been a slam dunk: “Greedy (Nats) landlord screws poor tenants.”

            But Key played the bully and media impression was that Little was a pathetic fool.

            It was 1,000% bully boy personality “news.” But it worked.

            The Jacinda story is similar. She rockets ahead of many Labour MPs with huge experience and impressive CVs of legislative accomplishments.

            • Ad

              So, in the absence of personality in the Opposition, we’re going to have to do something different.

              Like have a plan.

        • Kriss X

          Oh really, how is that working for you ? Look forward to more epic failure if the left persists in that sort of dirty politics and lack of vision.

          • les

            the Nats own dirty politics ….thats their only clear policy besides selling assets.

    • Ad 4.1

      And the point of the Opposition is not only to show that the government has no plan to prepare for it.

      The point of the Opposition is to show the public that their answers are better than the alternative, more credible, and more effective.

      In the current parliament, this means that they have to work together. Because that is the only way the public will believe that there really is an alternative government.

      • Tracey 4.1.1

        The point of an MP is to work for their constituency, first and foremost. Just saying.

      • AmaKiwi 4.1.2


        The point of the Opposition is to “give the impression” they have better alternatives. It’s about image, not reality.

        Sorry to be cynical but no one ever got elected by revealing their true intentions.

        That’s why the capital gains tax was a fiasco. Labour could have said, “We are open to suggestions that adjustments to the tax code might make it fairer.”

        • Ad

          There have been good concrete initiatives that the parties have worked on in the previous term.

          They need to re-find that common ground.

          Unless they do that Labour in particular will be as harshly punished as it was the last three times.

  4. dv 5

    Lets see
    1987 crash
    2000 crash
    2008 crash
    2015 crash

    Missing is 1995 – or was there one

    That is sort of every 8 years!!

    [lprent: 1997 “asian flu”. There was no crash in 2000 that I am aware of. ]

  5. save NZ 6

    If the left want to get back into government, they have to show that they are ready to govern.


    But Labour and the Greens are clearly are not ready as the they still do not seem to realise why they have lost 3 elections and what people want.

    The 20% of left voters they need, are not happy with their conduct or policies of Labour which so far presenting as Nat Lite with more taxes.

    What is Labour’s plan? To me it looks like, pretend to change, do nothing apart from good speeches and petitions, and wait for the population to get tired of National.

    What they don’t realise is that people who are sick of National are not going to vote for a party which has the same look and feel as National but has higher taxes and has not used the last 7 years to prepare to govern and have a clear and strategic plan.

    My concern as well, is that Labour MP’s are so complacent they are going to start losing their electorate seats. In fact their doesn’t even seem to be much interest in the electorate seat (just the stupid public) but more the list, where they impress the other MP’s and get promoted rather than doing hard graft in their electorate. This is called Careerism and will be punished in the election by the public who never saw them.

    • Ad 6.1

      I think we can help pressure them to work together.
      They are clearly going to need all the encouragement and support around to do this.

      They’ve done it before, they can do it again.

      • Tracey 6.1.1

        “we can help pressure them to work together”


        • Ad

          Always joyous when people propose that we don’t just have to tell them to change direction, we actually have to pour the petrol in the tank, pay for the car, chart the course, set the satnav, steer, change gears, change the wheels, and otherwise do what professional politicians who are paid handsomely out of our taxes are employed to do.

          The Opposition are not making so much as a dent out of this government, and have not for some time.

          There is a crisis with China losing. Time to plan, show that something is possible, and change the discourse.

          • Tracey

            you said “we” can pressure them and when asked “how” reply with

            It’s for them to respond to pressure form “we” that we aren’t applying cos you haven’t outlined how you think that pressure can be applied? Or do you mean by not “voting” for them in elections or in polls?

            I gett that you think the expensive politicians need to find all the answers to the how, but you also seem to be suggesting that the answers they currently have are wrong, so to assume they will find the right answers seems a little contradictory?

            So again, HOW do you propose that the “we” you referred to above apply this pressure to make them work together?

            • Ad

              That is a whole other post: the tactics of how you get to a coherent plan.

              Members and activists do have a role to play. Just a role.
              Most of the work of forming common policy platforms and initiatives is rightly done within and across parties.

              But from the influence that we do have, here’s a few things that can be done.

              In no particular order. And not all of these will work by themselves.

              – Have dinner with your local opposition MP. Bring friends. Explain that simply opposing is not enough. That there is a crisis to face, that the Opposition can uniquely respond to. Give them a paper to take away.
              Then book another dinner with another MP. Then do three at a time. It can be done, with sufficient inclination.

              – Fundraise, and/or be a donor. Parties really do listen when there is a cheque attached. Sad but true. Let them know what you want for your money.

              – Write popular posts that set it out. This site is well monitored by Opposition staff. They hear it. Send those same posts directly to the relevant party leaders. Get others to do the same, in their own way.

              – Form fresh activist groups. Don’t have to be within the party. There are some fantastic new ones occurring in Auckland, who are really getting momentum, results and influence.

              – Get activist NGOs to say the same thing as you are saying. A well trodden path. Seminars and conferences in particular are useful.

              – Get lucky with the MSM on stories. A particular case in point is the person whose electricity was cut off in south Auckland two years ago. From that growing story came the common platform between the Greens, Labour, and New Zealand First on power pricing.

              – Shift to Wellington. Ideally, work inside Parliament itself as a staffer.

              – Have a couple of years at least in a few Government Departments to actually get to know the machinery of government. So you know what you are talking about.

              – In some cases, change the rules. Just as Labour activists did over two years ago when they changed the Labour leadership parts of the constitution. Painful, doesn’t always work. But who knows, maybe Corbyn will get there.

              – Learn how it was done before. They all have their own historical contexts, but the things they have in common about how to form policy platforms is not dumb.

              – If you are feeling particularly inclined, stand for selection towards election.

              Not sure if any of this is new to you.

              • Hanswurst

                IMO, this would have been the basis of a good guest post. I appreciate that you were aiming for a straightforward message, but the actual guest post reads like a lot of words to say, “In order to govern, it helps to be electable and able to govern.”

              • Tracey

                Clarity is good in a discussion, and so when you wrote we need to pressure them, now people know what you were talking about.

        • save NZ

          We pressure them by telling them to do it and then we vote for them. Pretty simple.

          It worked for Northland. To send the Nats out of Northland other parties told their members to vote strategically. Not split it.

          That is issue 1.

          Issue 2 is that Labour has all the bad policies of the Nats but all the negative policies of the Greens. Ie right wing neoliberalism with higher taxes. That is not a winner.

          They need to have better policy OR a visionary leader who people trust.

          Corbyn in the UK can be classed as the latter, Little will have to go with plan A, better policies.

          Nothing bad about Little who has restored some order as a leader, but he’s no visionary, more a Clark style leader but not as good. He needs to restructure Labour policy which is as screwed up and Nat lite as ever.

          The other thing about Labour MP’s is my guess is that they are great and hardworking individually, but together they are developing group think in/out dumb decisions that are meaningless like the stance on TPP. Just say NO for F’s sake.

  6. infused 7

    Like weve been saying. Problem is labour has no one believable or trusting on the matter. Little? No

    Little should have flushed the front bench.

    The.public just see same old people assume same old policy.

    Simple really

    • les 7.1

      what ‘matter’ are you referring to?

    • Tracey 7.2

      Less than 25% of polled NZers believed things Key said by 2013. being believed is clearly not an important factor in getting elected to government.

    • Ad 7.3

      To every really complex political problem, there is a really simple answer.

      And it is the wrong one.

      • infused 7.3.1

        You make them complex, but they really aren’t. Fact is, the left in general don’t understand the voter.

        • Colonial Rawshark

          For ages I have been framing it this way: modern Labour has a cultural disconnect with ordinary Kiwis.

          • BM

            Never been to a labour meeting, how would you describe the membership, is it a good cross section of society?

            Or is it quite narrowly focused?

            • Colonial Rawshark

              The vast majority of Labour Party members hardly ever go to Labour Party meeting.

              • BM

                How is policy developed within Labour, how much input do the members get?
                I could be wrong but from what I understand most policy is membership driven?

                • Colonial Rawshark

                  Its a highly convoluted system; the key is not that members drive policy formation, the key is that a very small number of members drive policy formation, and the general membership gets a very limited number of filtered choices to finally vote on.

                  • BM

                    That may explain the disconnect.

                    Nationals system of members donating money and then leaving it to party to formulate policy seems to be quite a good idea.

                    Obviously this wouldn’t work with the labour “grass roots” approach, which is a bit of problem for labour.

                    How do you get around that.?

                  • Ad

                    and then about four months out from the election there’s a great carve-up of what Policy Council has generated. It gets minced into political saleability.

  7. Tracey 8

    Cool. A Plan is the answer.

    is that like policy or a flow chart or something different again?

    • Ad 8.1

      It’s a functioning coalition that is sufficiently stable well before election year.

      • Tracey 8.1.1

        That is the “what” not the how. You are describing a solution not proposing a way to get there.

        • Ad

          Not my job.
          Covered this above.

          • Tracey

            yeah I get that you don’t have a how just a description of the end result. It is your “job” if you want something different to what you have now. That is how democracy works. Sitting back and waiting for the representatives to magic what you want seems very self defeating.

        • Colonial Rawshark

          Let’s start with evidence that the leaders of the various Opposition parties even want to “get there.”

          • Ad

            Indeed. Possibly too early in the electoral cycle for the proposal.

            But I don’t think the Chinese impact is going to wait for the election.

  8. adam 9

    Neoliberalism, and it’s many faces. A right winger trying desperately to deal with his liberal concious I suspect.

    I thought you were a person who was after power for powers sake. Now it has been confirmed, to me at least. What a sad position, almost as amoral as the current lot in power.

    How about moral leadership? How about realising that capitalism thrives on crisis, or how about some history? Freedom, liberty or the people? Nope, better to be the better technocrat and tinker.

    Play the neoliberal game, embrace right wing orthodoxy, go for power. Pretend working people are a pawn that should be moved around the board. You sound little different from the punters on Whale oil, oh and look the right wing trolls who inhabit here, love it.

    No going and asking people what the want, what they see for their children and grandchildren. No listening to their hopes and fear.

    Judgemental, paternalist crap I’ve come to expect from those who worship at the alter of power. Shame on you, for not offering a better future – even if it is only a utopian vision to pin hopes and best wishes on.

    Oh and for “greater good” – you might want to watch Hot Fuzz.

  9. greywarshark 10

    Sounds good Ad. But is there a way to produce policy statements to the public without having the government run them before focus groups and adopt the ones that seem to have traction?

    Would it be a good idea of having a number of really well-informed policy groups within the Party and not leaking everything to mates in the other Party who like the same wine.
    Then refer to concerns to the public about what needs tackling and what the mission statement should be by government. Without revealing all the details. But having enough costings and rational plans to produce stats to rebut the government, without revealing close details. Neither sounding too optimistic, nor lacking in ambition and spirit.

    • Ad 10.1

      That’s definitely the usual way. Tried, tested and failed for three elections.

      This is the optimum moment for the parties to show that there is a functioning and coherent Opposition that have common interests and common fronting to the public, precisely because there is a clear slowdown in front of New Zealand.

      They have done it before, they need to do it again.

      And in case we worry about smaller parties getting squashed along the way, check out how well Act has played Charter Schools and Rugby World Cup policies. It can be done. Pretty good coalition operation, both.

      This Opposition have to show that their their version of a coalition is functioning early, and even better than the current government’s.

  10. Colonial Viper 11

    It strikes me as funny that people can’t see that we are well on the way past “capitalism” towards cronyistic security/surveillance state feudalism.

    The “Left” can’t manage the financial markets any different to the right – except around the very margins – because the billion dollar financial institutions which are in charge, will not allow it.

    • Ad 11.1

      So the point of the parties currently in parliament is what?

      I believe the Opposition is there to change the government.

      • Tracey 11.1.1

        “I believe the Opposition is there to change the government”

        into what?

        Same thing different pants? But “my” pants so it’s all good?

        • Ad

          To change the government by getting into power.
          You are getting mighty close to trolling.

          • adam

            Did you miss the memo Tracey, one should never question authoritarian males.

            What were your thinking? 😉

          • Tracey

            I beg your pardon? I am challenging your circular thinking and that makes me a troll?

            You wrote that to change the government needed NZF, GP and LP to work together and that would only happen if “we pressure” them. I asked how we pressure them and you said that wasn’t your job , it’s theirs.

      • Colonial Rawshark 11.1.2

        So the point of the parties currently in parliament is what?


        The most extreme example of this is the USA where up to 45% of people do not bother voting in Presidential elections. And those people were not disappointed – Obama has conducted a pretty good imitation of GW Bush’s 4th term.

        I believe the Opposition is there to change the government.

        So the job of the Opposition is to take power.

        But power to do what??? Manage the details more competently than National?

        • Ad

          I know you’re hungry for content, but this post isn’t designing a manifesto, or indeed exploring political content at all.

          It’s describing a national risk, and a political response that is needed.

          This post is about the instruments, and the timing, not the policy outcomes.

    • weka 11.2

      “The “Left” can’t manage the financial markets any different to the right – except around the very margins – because the billion dollar financial institutions which are in charge, will not allow it.”

      Maybe, but the left could manage the crisis quite differently (than the right). By that I mean our responses to the things we can control and can’t control. In this sense I agree with Ad, the mainstream left needs to present itself as credible. Unfortunately we have Labour, who are quite capable of running the country but… [insert theory of choice as to why they don’t get their shit together].

      • Tracey 11.2.1

        what have they done recently to suggest they don’t get their shit together? It needs to be something “worse” than national MPs, or are we back to perception is everything?

        MORE National and ACT Mps have fucked up governance, honesty, integrity, management-wise than any Labour MP, yet labour don’t get their shit together?

        • weka

          sorry, are you agreeing with me, or suggesting that they have got their shit together?

          Two things would convince me. One is some visible sign of moving past the ABC/Rogernome control of the party. The other is a clear signal to the electorate of how Labour will work with the GP leading up to the next election and/or how they will work with the GP in govt.

          • Tracey

            I am trying to ascertain HOW they make themselves credible in Opposition. They may not have their shit together BUT they have fucked up far less than National’s MPs so credibility must be something different from being incompetent in public, if you see what I mean? Cos National rates 50% in a recent polls and there is oodles of evidence of fuck ups and mismanagement… BUT they, apparently, have their shit together.

            • Colonial Rawshark


              You’ve raised a good point and I will answer it with this.

              With regards to Labour, it is not “credibility” that is the root issue that the public has with them. It is “authenticity.”

              Without “authenticity”, Labour will therefore never have “credibility” as the latter naturally flows from the former.

              • Tracey

                Passion and sincerity… people do care and behaving like they don’t is stupid.
                Key mastered the fake sincerity bit very early on.

  11. Barbara 12

    When the middle class crash and burn seriously and are on their knees, then we will see a change of government and Labour as usual will then spend years cleaning up a disgusting mess National has left us in. It will not happen until then – or a lighter note when we lose the Rugby World Cup and Key won’t get his regular drool in the changing rooms with the boys.

    • maui 12.1

      Maybe, but it involves the middle class admitting they’ve bought into a failed ideology. Most will just want to get back to a comfortable life as soon as possible and will probably put their trust back in National after say trialing Labour for a 2017 term who might not be able to turn things around fast enough, especially if they’re relying on the global economy to come right. I’m using a fair amount of crstal ball gazing, but I see a hard road ahead for the left to convince people away from the current way our economy runs.

      I heard a good comment the other day, that whoever is in power will get the blame for the state of the economy. If the left are given a hospital pass which is highly likely, it could be ugly.

    • Anne 12.2

      … on a lighter note when we lose the Rugby World Cup and Key won’t get his regular drool in the changing rooms with the boys.

      Fingers crossed!

      Hang on… off to batten down the windows, bolt the doors and hide in the cupboard.

  12. SPC 13

    There is no new crisis. There is still the post GFC struggle – banks needing to recapitalise and governments highly indebted resorting to cheap money.

    Cheap money can be poorly allocated and lead to continuing economic instability.

    The real issue is to confront the meme that the right are more appropriate managers for the long hard struggle post GFC.

    The left should claim, to be as least as able (taking options ideology prevents the right from taking – the CGT in Auckland, and insulation of rentals should be claimed as wins for the left already) and fairer.

  13. Gabby 14

    Sure, Labour should set out their plans nice and clearly so that Nazianal can take their time over picking out the bits to run with, and the bits to fabricate objections to. Good thinking.
    Also, they should move on from tired old scandals where Ponyboy looks bad because chipping away at weakness is no way to bring down a party.

    • Ad 14.1

      …because after GFC, Christchuch, 3 consecutive electoral losses, and the impending Chinese trade crisis, the Opposition should just go on and do exactly what it’s been doing.

      Yeah right.

      • Colonial Rawshark 14.1.1

        I wonder, what makes you think that these Opposition MPs are capable of acting differently – and being different – than they have been?

        • Ad

          Not hope, that’s for sure.

          Only necessity.

        • Deadsmurf

          I really hope they get the need to act differently. Labour had a very good policy platform at the last election, but the parliamentary branch was fractured and too many were campaigning in their own own electorate while ignoring the party’s policies.

          National have no real policy positions but they all sing from the same song sheet and have complete devotion, almost like a cult.

          Until the MPs can start working together constructively it will make it difficult to have the swinging voter take us seriously.

  14. greywarshark 15

    I spent a bit of time building a comment touching on the country’s financial situation and household debt in the hope that I would gain more understanding and others too.
    It’s in Open Mike and I’ll transfer some useful links to here which would be more permanent than Open Mike I think. Here it is while still available.

    Open mike 27/08/2015

    There is a Reserve Bank link and Treasury too.

    But also there is a good, long informative piece from Brian Gaynor, Financial Columnist for the NZ Herald written in June 2015.

    Draco TB has put in the point that it is still very involved with the present financial situation and it would be better to raise funds differently. I think his point is that they should be raised by government bonds from NZs or by creating a fund direct to build infrastructure in the country. This would keep all gains and interest and spending very largely, internally, ensure that we have the system that we need, and there would be employment but there wouldn’t be largesse, no big wages, and the effect on inflation would be slight.

  15. BLiP 16

    Nice post, Ad. Thanks.

  16. Colonial Rawshark 17

    Better management of business as usual, in ways approved of by the MSM and mainstream economists.

    This isn’t going to work.

    • Ad 17.1

      I generally have a disposition to make things work.
      Call it a fault, a lack of ideals, an old tool box, a Social Democrat rather than radical disposition. I don’t mind. Not everyone’s instrumentally inclined.

      I’m political enough to agree with Jim Anderton that a day in government is better than a whole year in Opposition. Russell Norman and Jeanette Fitzsimmons know the cost of this more than many.

      This post is more about getting there, than why you get there.

      • Colonial Rawshark 17.1.1

        This post is more about getting there, than why you get there.

        But that leaves the single most critical question hanging in the air for the undecided voter…WHY should I vote Labour (instead of National)?

        • Ad

          I think that’s a misunderstanding about the motivations of many voters.
          Part of voting is about the content of policies. Just a part.

          But a lot of it is in form:
          – Do they look, feel and act coherent?
          – Could they really run a country?
          – Are they believable?
          and under MMP:
          – Are they really going to hang together?
          – Do they have what it takes to do this?
          – Do they really agree, or is this just a facade of a relationship that won’t last?

          That’s what would be delivered by showing that the Opposition can prepare better that the existing government for an impending crisis.

          I’m not presuming to tell you who you should vote for.

          • The Chairman

            While policies are part of voting, policies are largely the substance (albeit lacking) behind what you prescribe, thus not only are policies imperative, but it’s also vital they resonate.

            Policies are what define an alternative government . Without them, you’re delivery is little more than a facade.

            Your plan to create a perception (if coupled with good policy) would have merit. However, the perception will be ripped apart once voters discover there is no substance (resonating policy) behind it.

            • Ad

              I think writing the actual plan is the thing you do once you agree that a plan is something that can and should be done.

              Check out the Auckland Transport Alignment Group terms of reference launched yesterday. That took a lot of work to form. It took a complete breakdown between the state and Auckland to even agree that maybe they need to start again.

              The Terms of Reference is the thing that says: yes we have no choice but to work on a plan, and here’s how we are going to get to the plan, and when we are going to delver it.

              The simple stake in the ground would look like this: the Greens, Labour and NZFirst hold a press conference in which they say: by 7 months from the 2017 election, we will have government ready to go from Day 1. We will respond to the growing crisis, and we will show you we are more ready than the current lot for it, straight out of the blocks.

              Imagine what that would do for political debate, for the media, for voter choice, and for the terms on which all political argument is focussed from that point on.

              • The Chairman

                Policy is fundamental in forming a plan and securing an alliance.

                Getting NZ First to commit before the election is going to be a challenge.

                Moreover, Labour don’t seem overly keen to form a united front and work as a left wing block.

  17. Within a crisis, the left needs to show that it has a plan that can stabilize the crisis (within the powers of the remaining state). That you can allay our anxiety better than the others. Show us we can face it and we can change it. The left needs to show us it can handle crisis better than the right.

    I think there’s a step that comes before this.

    It matters greatly who gets to define what the crisis is.

    That definition then constrains what counts as a solution.

    Currently, all crises are defined in terms of neoliberal and right-wing terms (e.g., share markets need to be stroked, corporations need to have ‘confidence’ to invest here, etc.).

    That means the solutions (the policies that make up ‘the plan’) have to be cast in the same terms.

    There may be some wiggle room (by perhaps being a bit vague on policy) at the margins but, to my mind, that’s the problem.

    In essence, the problem is that ‘the left’ is – by definition – seen as never being able to have solutions to the crises that we face.

    For example, there is not a crisis of child poverty, there is only a crisis of poor parenting.

    There is not a crisis of inequality, there is only a crisis of a lack of aspiration (and probably, again, poor parenting in relation to educational opportunities in the home).

    There is not a crisis of housing affordability there is only a crisis of (local government determined) land supply.

    Etc., etc..

    Unless ‘the left’ is happy to say one thing to get elected and, then, do another once elected the only way to make progress from ‘the left’ is to alter the discourse about what the problems/crises are.

    Then it is possible to show that you have better solutions – because just what the crisis is has been recast.

    So far that effort has been unsuccessful.

    • Ad 18.1

      Fair, but I was writing the post in the context of the crisis in the Chinese share market which had generated a number of other posts. Crises, as I pointed out in the post, are exceedingly overused as political rationales in society. So when you can see a fresh one coming, may as well prepare.

      • Puddleglum 18.1.1

        Thanks for responding Ad.

        I see a link between responding to (and defining) crises and the point of the post – which I take to be to advocate that ‘the left’ get a ‘plan’ and look like a government in waiting.

        That link is that for a concerted and coordinated approach from the left to occur it must be – to use one of Colonial Viper’s words – ‘authentic’ (and perceived/depicted as such).

        That is, it must be based on a clear (if still broad) sense of what such a coalition would do, or at least the basic principles it advocates and the assumptions upon which it would operate.

        Those principles and assumptions then also get enrolled into how this current crisis (or any other) gets defined by ‘the left’, overall.

        Part of the problem in the past has been that Labour’s positions, in particular, have been perceived, rightly or wrongly, as having no fixed abode and – issue by issue – varying from state intervention to market-led solutions to populism. That easily gets spun as Labour being a party without principle whose MPs simply want to get back into cushy jobs in Parliament and doing whatever they think it takes to get there.

        It might seem unfair that such policy ‘flexibility’ by Labour gets portrayed as opportunism (a sing of unreliability and possible incompetence) while similar ‘flexibility’ by National is characterised as being sensible, centrist and pragmatic (a sign of reliability and competence) but that, I’m afraid, has been the story so far.

        In terms of ‘the left’ getting a ‘plan’, it’s also quite hard to coordinate and stand in solidarity with a moving target – or one that the public, at least, perceives as moving (i.e., fundamentally unprincipled).

        The election advertising by National last time depicted the opposition in a dinghy with everyone rowing in different directions.

        There’s a sense in which that dinghy – even if the Greens and NZ First were not in it – could still be depicted as being rowed in multiple directions at once (a little bit neoliberal, a little bit social democratic, a little bit populist, a little bit ABC, a little bit ‘identity politics’).

        So, in my view, your point about the need for a ‘plan’ that involves projecting a coordinated and stable ‘government in waiting’ can’t be separated from the question of clarity and commonality of political purpose (the ‘why’ and ‘what’ of being in politics). And I don’t think the public will buy the raw, unadorned purpose of ‘being in government’ no matter how central to parliamentary party politics it may be.

        Looking ‘credible’, ‘competent’ and viable as a government in waiting pretty much depends on knowing just what you stand for or, at least, why you’re playing the game.

        Knowing what you stand for – in very simple and straightforward terms – also has the advantage of making each party of the putative coalition predictable both for the public and for the other parties in the coalition.

        It’s amazing how much confidence and competence you can project when you know what you believe and why you’re playing the game – and can predict how those on your ‘team’ will act and respond.

        It is, of course, possible to temporarily suppress differences for the sake of gaining power. But even then there has to be agreement over at least the rhetoric around which you will rally together for the sake of appearances.

        But when you have (the perception of) an ideologically loose cannon rolling around the deck (especially if it’s your biggest cannon) then even that might be a stretch too far.

        Clarity of purpose is the essential and central part of any ‘plan’.

        Here’s an example of what I’d see as a clear and simple slogan that might work: ‘Courage to take the lead’. (In the economy, in relation to social and environmental issues, in foreign policy, etc.).

        That might suggest a left that is at least not afraid of its own shadow.

        • Ad

          So just to take a step back.
          There is a fixed target, not a moving target. It’s the rapid slowdown of the Chinese economy and the reliance of the New Zealand economy upon it and all it will affect (like Australia’s).

          Chris Trotter’s column today just carries on my theme. There’s a crisis coming, we can prepare for it. In the US, they had the New Deal to respond to the Great Depression. New Zealand and Australia had similar programs, which lasted well into the 1970s.

          The slogan or the strap line is the last thing you worry about.

          And it doesn’t have to be a massive over-arching plan. Baby steps would be great. For example, NZF, Labour and Greens plan for a comprehensive review of Fonterra – it’s interdependence with the interests of the state, impact on the land, impact on the economy, and how to legally review its founding legislation so that it is no longer allowed to destabilize whole regions and societies in New Zealand.

          They have done it before with electricity regulation, and with the asset sales campaigns, they really have to show the country that they can govern together.

          Or the Opposition simply will not get into power.

          • Puddleglum

            Hi Ad,

            That clarification helps.

            What I was talking about was not a coordinated response on the left to a particular crisis.

            On that I think you’re right. It would be excellent to see some specific proposals about how to respond to the current sharemarket and economic issues in China that, say, the Greens, Labour and NZF fronted jointly.

            What I thought you had been suggesting was a ‘plan’ that went beyond a specific crisis but that, instead, showed a ‘government in waiting’ that was more or less aligned to a similar fundamental approach to governmental responses to the full range of areas and issues that a government (in office) has to deal with. That, if you like, might disagree on the degree of response but not on type of response.

            Not just that they can work together on particular crises but that they can work together full stop just because they see social and economic issues in pretty similar terms.

            Something like why it is feasible to say that National and ACT can work together – they see the world in a similar manner but might disagree over the speed of change or even the necessity of going to a certain degree of change.

            So when I mentioned a ‘moving target’ I wasn’t thinking of the current crisis but, instead, the unpredictable positions that, in particular, Labour may have been seen to be adopting.

            My point was that it is hard for potential coalition partners to coalesce around a centre-left party that moved quite radically along the political spectrum from issue to issue and policy to policy – because it was a ‘moving target’.

            Sure, one-off ‘united fronts’ on particular issues shows some ability to ‘work together’ but is that the real perception problem? After all, John Key worked together with Helen Clark but nobody thought that was a basis for a coalition.

            I thought the problem was that, across the range of policy areas, the three potential coalition partners were seen to be at loggerheads on some pretty important issues and therefore would not be stable in government.

            Perhaps I’m wrong.

            And, yes, the tagline was simply me suggesting a broad philosophical position that ‘the left’ (including NZF) could see themselves as, rhetorically at least, being able to coalesce around. It’s a reworking of the ‘hands on’ tagline Labour used in order to contrast itself with National.

            I wasn’t suggesting billboard themes quite yet 🙂

            • Ad

              You are right that coalitions are hard. I wasn’t proposing actually forming a “united front” on everything beforehand. Everyone’s entitled to keep their own market segments before an election.

              But coalitions are the total basis for MMP government.

              The ability to show that they can work together has been a major reason why voters have kept the current government. They don’t yet believe we can run a country.

              In the face of impending crisis, there is a highly significant moment arriving to show the public that they really can work together.

              Unless the Opposition can show that they can work together on practical stuff, there will not be a change of government.

              • The Chairman

                Continuing to appeal solely to their own market share merely reinforces the rowing in different directions perception.

                Therefore, showing unity on one issue (which has been done before) will do little to turn that annihilating perception around.

                United we stand, divided we fall.

                • Ad

                  Got to start somewhere. It’s all you can do.
                  Crisis is the reason to cooperate.

                  • The Chairman

                    Attempting to maintain their own market share, solidifying the division, thus annihilating perception, is clearly the first hurdle to overcome.

                    In a time of crisis, a sense of direction is imperative.

                    And with that said, the opposition is on the back-foot.

  18. gsays 19

    hi ad, great post,
    agree with most of it.

    unity on the ‘left’ is a must. (forgive past trespasses, look forward)

    a severe prune of the senior mps, especially those who can seemingly only criticize.

    do you think the left find another crosby textor and fight fire with fire, or take a higher more honourable route? (state a vision and announce policies to get there, and trust the sheeple can look past hoskings, gower, plunkett etc).

    is a circuit breaker policy an option? eg ubi.

    good post, needed conversation.

    • Ad 19.1

      Cheers Gsays.

      – On the first question, I agree that the mainstream media commentators overall have an inherent bias against the left. The mainstream media also expect the left to come up with more policy ideas than the right. My view is this: presume that there wil be more crises coming, and show that as an Opposition you have a plan that’s better than the current government. Stand for something, and stand strong.

      – On circuit-breaker policies, I confess I’m not a social policy expert. But personally a Universal Benefit would not be my first choice. If I was going to go for a Big Idea, it would be something like: “By Thirty, Everyone Gets To Buy Their First House”. As a promise.
      Do it through several means: build tens of thousands of apartments (using state owned Urban Development Authorities), make Kiwisaver “Opt Out” only (to increase the deposit), increase the proposed “Housing Investor Capital Gains” tax by a big step, deliver the finance through Kiwibank alone so the state profits from each loan at state’s rates, and being able to capitalize Working For Families towards the deposit.

      Voters want results, results that give their lives money and progress, and the state should crank it out. Random thought, since you asked.

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