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Labour needs to get back to its roots

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, September 12th, 2009 - 107 comments
Categories: labour, socialism - Tags:

Goff is using Labour’s national conference to swallow some dead rats, distancing himself and the party from the social reform agenda of the previous Labour government. Good.

People like the socialist element of Labour’s agenda – retention of public assets, nationalisation of important infrastructure (Kiwirail), intervention in failing markets (eg Kiwibank), redistribution of wealth, stronger work rights (eg paid parental leave, four weeks annual leave), a higher minimum wage.

What the public tired of was the liberal stuff, what became known as the ‘nanny state’. Labour expended far too much public goodwill on relatively trifling issues. The obvious example – Labour was willing to die in a ditch over s59 that, we hope, will make a long-term culture change but was basically a pretty small change to the law that certainly hasn’t led to lots more child bashers getting locked up (just as it hasn’t seen good parents locked up). In contrast, Labour significantly weakened its reformation of employment relations law because it was unwilling to get into a fight with business.

I’m not saying that Labour’s liberal social agenda was wrong – civil unions, legalised prostitution, and ending the right to assault children for correction will be remembered as major achievements in developing a better society – but I don’t think it should have been a priority over the socialistic economic agenda.

Key was willing to put aside previous National objectives that he clearly believes in himself (nuclear ships, privatisation, abolishing WFF etc) because he recognised them as relatively low importance issues from National’s point of view that were losing them a lot of votes. Without selling out its principles, Labour can learn the lesson from Key about prioritisation.

Goff’s opportunity is to redirect Labour towards its popular (soft) socialist economic agenda. It’s what people want from Labour. It would set up a clear contrast between them and National.

107 comments on “Labour needs to get back to its roots ”

  1. RedLogix 1

    Shorter version: Populism gets your butt on the Treasury Benches.

    As it has done for countless leaders whom history has subsequently turned it’s back on.

    Social reform will always be contentious, especially ones like the S59 Repeal that are perceived to affect Mr and Mrs Ordinary. If such changes are always put to the bottom of the list as ‘low priority’, they would never get done.

    The fact remains that once Sue Bradford’s Private Member’s Bill was drawn from the ballot, the underlying force of it’s moral argument was so strong that almost the whole of Parliament was inexorably compelled to support it. Indeed if the whole of Parliament had unaminously and whole heartedly backed the measure (instead of indulging in white-anting and dog-whistling), it would have likely passed with as little fuss as it has in other more enlightened countries.

    John Key’s stroke of populist genius was to position himself and National, so as to simultaneously put one foot onto the moral high ground by supporting the Bill, while at the same time dangling the other foot back into the anti-camp.. offering them just enough reason to think that once in power he might repeal the Bill, or water it down. The end result was to divert the resentment onto Helen Clark. Clever politics yes, something I admire… no.

    • Zetetic 1.1

      I don’t think it’s mere populism. It’s a matter of doing things that you believe in that are worthwhile and that the public want you to do, rather than things you believe in that are pretty trivial and will make you unpopular.

      It’s not merely twisting in the wind, following whatever grips the popular mood – it’s making choices from the range of things you want to get done. You don’t have time to do them all, so do the ones that matter and won’t get you kicked out of power.

      • Ari 1.1.1

        It’s a matter of doing things that you believe in that are worthwhile and that the public want you to do, rather than things you believe in that are pretty trivial and will make you unpopular.

        Bad comparison. Labour is both a social-democratic and a liberal* party, it believes in both these kinds of changes. A lot of the liberal laws that it passed that were unpopular actually really mattered and made big change for the country, like say the EFA, even if they were not perfectly executed or marketed.

        The problem is not liberalism. The problem is that Labour aren’t good enough at it. 😛 For that they need to practice with things that aren’t going to turn into hot potatoes, and that means ceding that Labour executed these laws wrongly, but not that they had a negative outcome.

        I don’t mind calling for less market and more social focus from Labour, but that doesn’t require less liberalism unless you want to have Labour veer sharply to the left and take the former place of the Alliance on the political spectrum. And that would probably be a strategic mistake for Labour, even if it might be good for the country in the long term by allowing the development of a real centre swing party.

        *(social-liberal, not classical liberal)

    • Swampy 1.2

      The fact remains that Bradford was and is the wrong person to have spearheaded that debate. Labour should have taken on her Bill, only on the condition that she had nothing more to do with the matter and kept her mouth shut. Plenty of people were turned off that debate because of Bradford’s well known background, if she had all the right credentials why isn’t she in the Labour party.

  2. Herodotus 2

    Sorry to disagree, but WFF was a synicial way to give the middle clases the tax cut that was not delivered to their expectations. Otherwise why do almost 10,000 families receive WFF and yet own rentals. Where was the analysis of threasholds. Why did at the time a family of 4 earning over $65k become allegeable. No recognition of income splitting why did a school teacher earning 100% of income on $70k not able to receice,yet a 2 income family earing $65k end up with more disposable income? To help those who needed it, their assistance was diluted by the already mentioned “gifting” to the middle classes.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      WfF is a business subsidy as they just aren’t paying enough. The real response to poverty is higher wages but the businesses won’t pay them so we end up with WfF. Income splitting won’t actually work – it’s far too expensive in administration and open to abuse.

      This isn’t to say the present system is perfect but it’s better than nothing.

      • Herodotus 2.1.1

        There are better ways to target. “Free” under 5 doctors visitis (One thing Winny did do”) should have been increased. That is one way to target great utilisation of public funds. Ask any parent about the shock you get when you child turns 7 and they then visit the doctor. Why is it that tertiary students get a large amount of $ from the govt (Yes I know they vote) but if we want to move people upwardly with incomes, increase the bottom end pre & primary. Increase the ability of the least able.

        • George D

          Free dental care.

          I mean it. By free, I mean as free as possible for as much as possible for as many as possible. A “Teeth for Families” perhaps.

          It would be bloody expensive, in the realm of billions, but it would be a sure vote winner, and good for everybody. New Zealand has terrible dental health, because many people feel they can’t afford to fix their teeth. I said to Labour people many times in the last few years that people care much much more about their teeth than saving a few minutes down the motorway, where Labour and now National have thrown billions and billions towards. Cut new road spending, put it into their mouths.

          Rudd is very seriously looking at how to do this in Australia, so it’s not some pie in the sky idea that only flakes consider.

          • Noko

            If I read correctly, the British National Health System provides free dental care.

            Under eighteens here in New Zealand get free dental care (as long as the dentist is cooperative with the scheme, too many aren’t). It rocks going into the dentist and not fill out any billing information.

            It seems a matter of gradually applying this to everyone, rather than an all-in-one hit to the coffers. Maybe extend it to 21, and then to parents with children and then to adults above 21 ad nauseum.

          • Zaphod Beeblebrox

            Free pre-school education would be just as useful. This is where we learn to learn. If you don’t get that at the start you start school behind the eight-ball.

            • George D

              Indeed. Government spending isn’t limitless, of course, and decisions have to be made.

              But big ideas tend to work better than incremental ones, because they give people a sense of purpose, that something bold is being done.

              I think this is one (there are others, of course) reason why Labour lost last year. No sense of boldness, and new plans, like they’d engendered in previous years. It was all – keep things as they are – when for many people things as they are are still pretty hard, even with a better economy than in the past.

        • Draco T Bastard

          GP visits should be free for everyone but it’s certainly not a better way to target poverty. Poverty is every week and nobody goes to the doctor every week so decreasing doctors fees isn’t going to help those in need.

          I have NFI what you’re rambling on about in regards to tertiary students.

  3. RedLogix 3

    Otherwise why do almost 10,000 families receive WFF and yet own rentals.

    Or own any other form of business? Exactly what is it that you find so offensive about landlords?

    Last I saw it costs about $250,000 to raise the average child from birth to age 20, and I can’t see why that’s any less for landlords than anyone else.

    • aj 3.1

      I seem to recall the opposition at the time clamouring for help for working families. Labour delivered so whats the beef? I’m still waiting for the north of $50 tax cuts for the average worker that never materialised, meantime English happily rorts the allowance system.

    • Michael Foxglove 3.2

      I’ll tell you the problem Redlogix. No citizen should have to pay a fee to another citizen just to live in the land in which they are born. It’s an absolute disgrace that all habitable land has been appropriated as private property, leaving the landless to squirm and forced to pay to occupy a space.

      We have a right to living space, by virtue of our humanity and existence on this planet.

      I don’t think individual landlords are to blame, because it’s the system which is inherently unjust. But surely we as socialists should do all we can to stop perpetuating this injustice?

      • Noko 3.2.1

        I think I’m in love.

      • Ari 3.2.2

        See, this is why we need another left party. I’d love to see someone advocating nationalising the housing industry.

        Of course, you can imagine how much worse leaky homes would have been if national had had a state building sector on its hands.

        • Sonny Blount

          It would be an environmental disaster. People look after their own land much better than public land. Have a look at the environmental records of the eastern bloc countries during the communist era.

          • Draco T Bastard

            No, they don’t. As I said elsewhere, that particular piece of tripe has been thoroughly disproven over the centuries since it was first postulated. Go check out all the pollution from the farmers.

      • RedLogix 3.2.3

        I’ve long advocated that all urban land should be leasehold, here and here.

        That alone is a radical enough suggestion, if you want to go the next step and fully nationalise the entire housing stock… I think you’re dreaming.

  4. Red Rosa 4

    Labour is in danger of caving in to the Hard Right, by default. All this soul searching and raking over the embers of 2008 are getting them nowhere. But they do distract the current MPs. They need to fight! And starting now, or the situation in 2012 will be the same or worse..

    Most voters don’t see last year’s election loss as some sort of seismic shift. They didn’t vote for much change – they voted for John Key. They got a bit tired of the Gummint and thought they would give the other guys a go.

    The question today is not what happened 12 months ago. It is whether (currently!) well paid Labour MPs have the guts and fighting spirit to take on a popular government which has some thoroughly nasty policies sneaking under the radar

  5. gargoyle 5

    “People like the socialist element of Labour’s agenda retention of public assets, nationalisation of important infrastructure (Kiwirail), intervention in failing markets (eg Kiwibank), redistribution of wealth, stronger work rights (eg paid parental leave, four weeks annual leave), a higher minimum wage.”

    While I’m in agreement with you that people do like many of these elements I’m not sure nationalisation is such a slam dunk for Labour – as Kiwirail starts to become more and more of a blackhole for the government and the public see money being flushed down the khazi this will be viewed as as one of Cullen’s biggest errors – although in fairness I think he did it as a vote gainer rather than in any belief it made sense.

    There’s an interesting discussion on Kiwirail as below


    When New Zealand’s former Minister of Finance Dr Michael Cullen announced the re-nationalisation of KiwiRail last year, Rail’s alleged ‘failure’ was presented as an example of ‘the failed policies of the past.’ The story was that selfish foreign interests had bought our rail system, stripped it off its assets, and run it down leaving the government to pick up the pieces.
    The reality was quite different. In repeated advice to Dr Cullen, the Treasury had advised against the purchase of the rail system warning that changing ownership of Rail would not cure its underlying problems. This includes the unfortunate fact that it isn’t commercially viable. It earns roughly enough to cover operating costs, but the capital costs of rail are unmet and substantial. It has too much track and not enough custom.
    The rail system required a subsidy under private ownership to operate a network of this size. This policy will continue under public ownership except that the subsidy will get larger. KiwiRail has already cost the taxpayer a billion dollars and will become a soak hole for taxpayer cash.
    In purchasing such a fraught asset, the previous Labour government demonstrated its allegiance to an ideology: that government ownership and operation of rail is inherently more desirable than private operation and ownership.

    “The government bought the asset hurriedly and went into the last election with the campaign slogan of ‘Kiwibank, Kiwisaver, KiwiRail keep it Kiwi, Vote Labour,’ as if public ownership of assets were something worth fighting for.
    There is a problem with this approach: Nationalisation of utilities and transport systems is a policy of the past. In fact, organisations such as the World Bank say that ‘privatisation is now so widespread that it is hard to find countries not using this approach: North Korea, Cuba and perhaps Myanmar make up the shrunken universe of the resistant.’

    That’s not exactly the kind of company New Zealand should keep.
    The buyback was, to use the words of Michael Cullen ironically, ‘an ideological burp.’
    Reform, rationalisation and resale of KiwiRail should be high on the Key government’s agenda. The longer Rail remains in state hands, the longer taxpayers are exposed to risk and ever-rising costs created by political meddling with what should be a private operation.”

    • Zetetic 5.1

      gargoyle. Your first mistake is using the Centre for Independent Studies as any kind of authority.

      The buy back of the rail was wildly popular. you saw the polls at the time. Not only that. It was the right thing to do.

      • gargoyle 5.1.1


        ” Your first mistake is using the Centre for Independent Studies as any kind of authority.”

        As I said it’s an interesting discussion on Kiwirail nothing more nothing less – they’re certainly no more partisan than those commenting at the Standard.

        “The buy back of the rail was wildly popular. you saw the polls at the time. ”

        Once again read what I said ……… “as Kiwirail starts to become more and more of a blackhole for the government and the public see money being flushed down the khazi this will be viewed as as one of Cullen’s biggest errors although in fairness I think he did it as a vote gainer rather than in any belief it made sense.”

        “Not only that. It was the right thing to do.”

        Well only time will tell – what is fairly clear is that the government paid well over fair market value.

        • RedLogix

          what is fairly clear is that the government paid well over fair market value.

          What market value are you talking about?

          Toll’s initial asking price was $1b. It took 18 months of hard-knuckle barginning to get them down to $670m. That was the market price.

          Book value is really just an accounting number that has little direct relationship to market value.

          • sk

            The $1bn was all bluff. Cullen could have pointed to the polls, and said in six months time National will be in, and Toll will be left with a crap asset in a deteriorating credit environment. Toll would have sold for $200m as with a National Gov’t they would be stuck with Kiwirail for ever.

            What was wrong was not the decision to buy it, but that the price paid bore no relationship to the underlying weakness of Toll’s bargaining position.

            Zetetic, this is a fantastic post. As a traditional Labour supporter, who sits squarely in the middle, I have despairing of the recent posts / comments. These are the issues that need to thrashed out for Labour to become government again.

            • RedLogix

              but that the price paid bore no relationship to the underlying weakness of Toll’s bargaining position.

              Toll was not at all keen to unload their rail system, and sure if we had waited another six months the price would have been lower… but it’s always a pointless exercise to second guess history.

            • Swampy

              Very astute of you. I think Mr Cullen was wrong to believe he would be able to buy enough votes, or that his motivation was to blow the surplus so there would be nothing left for National to spend if they won. The hard threats that Toll made were to shut down the system, ideologically unacceptable for Labour as was the fact they were dealing with Toll, because of the general xenophobic attitude to Australian corporates, and union hatred of Toll across the ditch. To put some background into it, the Australian and NZ rail unions held a combined “Toll” conference to coordinate their campaigns.

              I’m not hugely surprised that the biggest industrial battles are being fought by Labour’s affiliate unions, against corporates that have been targeted extraordinarily by the former government. Toll and Telecom are in the same league here.

            • Draco T Bastard

              Toll wasn’t in a weak position, the government was due to the existing contract. Toll wasn’t paying as much as it should have been for using the rail lines forcing the government to subsidise them. Continued subsidy of a private company who was quite literally holding us to ransom was an untenable position – there’s no way the people would have put up with it for long. Throw in the fact that Toll wasn’t putting in enough investment into rolling stock and it all adds up to the government having to buy it back.

              It’s value will be more easily seen in the future once Peak Oil really starts to bite. $200/barrel really isn’t that far away. If oil does get that high then, IMO, NZ won’t be looking for an export led recovery as we won’t be able to afford to export anything and we certainly won’t be importing.

            • George D

              This is EXACTLY, what this post is about. Labour wasn’t willing to fight business, but it was willing to fight on other things.

              The $1billion was too much, certainly. And I don’t think Cullen got a good deal (despite it being the right thing to do). He should have brought in independent valuers instead, had the system valued, and then imposed a compulsory sale (nationalisation) on the uncooperative owners.

            • RedLogix

              Besides just how often do we have to hear of Dr Cullen paying perhaps a few hundred million over book value for the rail system (at least we now own it), when we hear nothing of the 10 billion dollar cost incurred as a direct result of the early 90’s National govt totally fracking up building standards.

            • Ari

              @Redlogix: It’s not a financial mistake if National did it. Or if it is, National didn’t do it. 😉

    • RedLogix 5.2

      The only reason why rail transport struggles to gain commercial momentum is that the big trucking companies continue to treat rail as a competitor.

      The only reason why the trucking companies stay in business is that the roads they use are massively cross-subsidised by the ordinary motorist and general taxpayer. If they had to build and maintain actual roads for their own exlusive use they wouldn’t last ten minutes.

      The last time the rail system was busy in this country was when it was a fully state owned and run as a public service. It had the added purpose of being an employer of last resort in many provincial towns. When it was privatised it was asset stripped and run down so far that it failed.

      You really are a slow learner aren’t you?

      • sk 5.2.1

        “but it’s always a pointless exercise to second guess history”

        RedLogix, I am afraid you are wrong. It is not wrong to second guess history, that is how you learn. If Labour had had better channels of communication with NZ and international business/markets, they would have found out in 30 secs how weak Toll\s position was.

        Tolls hand was incredibly weak. They were just great poker players

      • Swampy 5.2.2

        The extent of the cross subsidy is exaggerated. What is not exaggerated is the extent of anti-private loathing in Labour last term, when they tried to get through an increase in road user charges with no notice. (Which in the context of this thread, is an important consideration if you want to figure out why they really lost the election)

        • RedLogix

          The extent of the cross subsidy is exaggerated.

          How long would truckies survive if they had to build and maintain their own roads? Answer that and you understand the cross-subsidy.

        • Ari

          I’ll believe you once we pay for all roading by RUC, if truckies can still compete with rail.

          Really, truckies shouldn’t be competing at all in a market this size. They should just go places that rail doesn’t, and pick up its slack.

    • Swampy 5.3

      Kiwirail is many things – including payback for a key union affiliate which has got a sympathetic ear from Labour all throughout its 9 years in office.

      • Ari 5.3.1

        Yesss, it’s all about the unions, and not at all about Toll’s tidy profiteering while the trains and track ran down slowly and it received government subsidies that went directly to lining its pockets.

  6. Tim Ellis 6

    Very interesting thoughts zet. I don’t necessarily agree with the prescription you’ve described, but you have laid down a challenge for the socialists in the labour party to take the upper hand from the liberals. There will in my view be some internal fall-out to come, since I don’t imagine that the liberals will give up power lightly.

    Secondary to these issues however is the issue of whether Mr Goff is the right person to bring about this kind of refocus. Notwithstanding Mr Little’s endorsement of Mr Goff (of the kind you do when you don’t expect the leader to be around for much longer, any weaker and Mr Little would have said: “I support Mr Goff… for now…”), there are major issues here in my view. Mr Goff is not very socialistic economically. For the last 25 years he championed rogernomics then free trade, and is as blairite as blairites get in New Zealand.

  7. randal 7

    Yes the party does need some reengineering. I find it hard to believe that OUR party completely lost touch with the anger and frustration caused by the suburbs being turned into private racetracks by legions of pimply faced youths. Meanwhile media advisers like Brian Edwards were in the cook islands in their summer houses devising plans to ace his nemisis boag while she just grinned and wiped the floor with him. Helen misjudged that one badly. furthermore no notice was taken of the 24/7 attack on democracy by radio ritalin and the drunks on radio squawkback. just because the professors up there on the hill call it political science does not make it so. Its about people and their antics and staying in touch. not about the agenda set up by geeks on the beltway. ignore this at your peril.p.s. Fire Brian Edwards. oh I forgot. He has taken hi ill gotten gains and decamped back to the cook islands.

  8. Ag 8

    Labour’s problem is pretty simple. Since the end of the Soviet Union, left wing political parties no longer have an alternative economic platform to offer. Hence we get all this social policy and a bunch of weak moral arguments in favour of equality.

    The problem is that moral arguments are “soft”. 50 years ago most New Zealanders shared a common religious tradition, which sufficed to ground moral arguments in some sort of shared value structure. Contemporary capitalist societies are radically pluralist, so people tend to think that government moralizing is inappropriate. I’m not saying they are right, but it’s just like that right now.

    The Labour Party does almost nothing to make the economic case for social democracy. I personally find this astonishing, since the countries with the world’s highest standards of human development are almost all heavily social democratic countries. Economic arguments are perceived as “hard” arguments, and the right currently monopolizes these, which is ironic given that the right are mostly clueless about basic economic concepts such as market failure.

    In the end, if we want a social democratic country, the Labour Party will have to make the case for higher personal taxation. There is no avoiding this. That being said, it will be a difficult and lengthy task, but it has been done before.

    • George D 8.1

      Yep. It’s stupid Anglosphere thinking (prevalent in NZ) that worsens this problem. If they looked further afield they could point to the places which have the highest standards of living, which all adopted socialist policies before they became rich. Instead, our thinking is dominated by the US and UK, which have relatively low median incomes which have stagnated and even declined for decades, but plenty of billionaires. Australia has strong labour and wage protections, but nobody in “Labour” seems interested in considering reimplementing these seriously in NZ.

    • RedLogix 8.2


      That’s the single best comment I’ve read all month. Congrats.

      • Ag 8.2.1

        Thanks. I guess all I can say for myself is that even the worst batsman hits a few sixes in his career.

        The fact that you said it means much. 🙂

  9. Bill 9

    If ‘labour needs to get back to it’s roots’ then labour needs to be rid of the labour party.

  10. Tom Semmens 10

    “…Sorry to disagree, but WFF was a synicial (sic) way to give the middle clases the tax cut that was not delivered to their expectations…”

    Complete rubbish. WFF gives tax cuts to people who mostly need them, whilst making sure the undeserving rich continue paying their fair share. That is why rich right wingers hate WFF – they pretend it is because it is “midle class welfare”, but really it is because they think that they are the only ones who shouldn’t pay any tax.

    • Tim Ellis 10.1

      Extra welfare distribution isn’t a tax cut Mr Semmens. Dr Cullen railed against tax cuts for a long time, saying that WFF was preferable to tax cuts. Labour only started calling it a tax cut after they realised that the public wanted tax cuts.

      Whatever you think about WFF, it was never thought of as a tax cut until it was rebranded as such after the fact.

      • RedLogix 10.1.1

        Dr Cullen railed against tax cuts for a long time, saying that WFF was preferable to tax cuts.

        Another misdirection. WFF is targetted tax reduction.

        Whether WFF was achieved by WINZ giving a benefit/refund, or IRD applying a lower rate of tax is largely a question of administrative efficiency. Ultimately it is WINZ who have the people and the infrastructure to deal with public in terms of all the changing dynamics of families and caregivers and who is properly eligible for WFF, whereas IRD has a much smaller public footprint these days.

        Calling WFF a tax cut or benefit is just political wheel spinning.

        • sk

          Actually, WFF is income support. Very complex and hard to make work equitably, but a fine concept – particularly when child poverty is a major concern. That is why National will not get rid of it, because they know it makes sense.

          An example where Labour won’t simply and clearly stand for what it is. An inferiority complex at work

          • George D

            Except, it’s income support that deliberately excludes the poorest in NZ. Those without incomes.

            It buys into the right-wing idea of deserving poor and undeserving poor. If you don’t work (for whatever reason), then you don’t deserve WFF.

      • Jum 10.1.2

        Tim Ellis
        Just to illustrate who the real manipulators are:

        Labour said in 2000: “”Tax cuts are a path to inequality and underdevelopment in today’s circumstances. They are the promises of vision-less and intellectually bankrupt people’

        National lied once by John Key, the National leader and again by Bill English just before the 2008 election: “In 2000 Helen Clark was saying: ‘tax cuts are the promises of a visionless and bankrupt people’.

        She was right about the character of NAct. They have no vision apart from manipulating the desperate unemployed – that’s come to fruition – and to ensure both unemployed, women and the working poor have no support systems.

        But, they actually do have support systems. The Standard is just one of them.

    • Herodotus 10.2

      Where is/was the debate on what is a substainable disposable living income for a family, I ask any one in parliament “What is a level of income a traditional family of 4 should be able to live off with any assistance from govt?”. No one wants to enter this topic. Why because it would reiterate that the welfare system is NOT providing for those whom it should. With tax creep, price gouging for state owned power coys, the cost of health, provide for retirement to name a few.
      If you do not know what this level is then how can you provided the needed help to those that really need it. As you may be under providing and excluding some who do need it, or providing to some that are above the level. Then the money spent on those who do not need it could be better utilised on essential services

    • Swampy 10.3

      What a load of rubbish. It is completely biased against single people and only pays out to families.

      • Herodotus 10.3.1

        Welfare is based on family earnings, yet PAYE is by the individual. The 2 do not make a complete fit. Then you can complicate it by getting cash that is not considered income. Any financial person knows continual cashflow is what counts not where it is sourced from.
        My point re WFF is that is was poorly setup for what it was conveyed to achieve. If Labour wanted to target there were better mechanisms to achieve this.
        They wanted welfare for the middle class but could not say they were tax cuts. Tax cuts to Cullen was like getting sorry out of Winston !

        • RedLogix

          If Labour wanted to target there were better mechanisms to achieve this.

          Enlighten us.

          • Herodotus

            As only a pleb voter I have only basic ideas but here is a few from the top of my head
            Oral Health for primary school children, increasing subsidy for doctors visits for under 6, a PLAN for reducing the bottom tax rate (either reduce tax rate or increase threasholds), increase stamp duty for non primary residential address (It is currently 0%). Not increasing fuel tax (as labour has done). Should have incorp the insulating homes as Nat/Green has done. Not allowing poor to pay top marginal rate for power (Prepaid basis). Greater controls on small south Ak type Fin Coys. Supporting the likes of Otara Budget group.

            • RedLogix

              All those are fine ideas in themselves, but don’t address the question; how to target working families with children for income support? Raising the average child costs around $250,000 from birth to 20 yrs.. a burden that falls on all parents, regardless of their income. Even National have accepted that it makes sense.

              The main reason why WFF was implemented as a benefit via WINZ, rather than a tax cut via IRD, was that the latter organisation is setup to deal with individual taxpayers. By contrast WINZ is far better placed to work with families/households. It was largely a matter of administrative efficiency. You’ve more or less identified this important distinction in your own comment above.

  11. Pat 11

    It seems to me that Goff and Little are deliberately drawing a line between Labour and the Greens. Look what they are saying Labour got distracted by – smacking debate, showerheads, lightbulbs. All Green initiatives.

    It also explains why Labour lay down over the RMA reforms – Goff didn’t want an anti- tree pruning label pinned on him the very week he is heading into the Labour Party conference denouncing the Nanny state.

    • Tim Ellis 11.1

      Interesting point, Pat. Why would Mr Goff try and do that? When Labour’s support is south of 30%, why would the leadership try and alienate the liberals of the party so that they defect to the Greens?

      I’m not sure Mr Goff really knows what he wants Labour to stand for. I don’t think he knows what he wants Labour to apologise for, except he knows he has to apologise for something.

      It is quite disingenuous of Mr Goff to try and infer that Labour got side-tracked by Green liberal policies though when they never included Greens in government.

      • Pat 11.1.1

        Goff knows he has got only one shot at the title. Taking the party left won’t win in 2011. He has to take Key head on for the centre vote.

        And this is where Goff is most comfotable anyway. A stong NZ economy, business, farming, trade. That’s what he truly believes in. If he is going to go down, he may as well go down fighting as the centrist he really is.

        • sweetd

          But does the labour party want to move to the centre? Goff is the last of the mohicans in the labour party, that is the last of the socialist right. Look around at the front bench, all clark loyalists, not one a member of the fish and chip brigade.

          Feck knows how he got the job over one of them.

          As for the strong nz economy yada yada yada, there is already a party that represents them, its called national.

      • sk 11.1.2

        The problem for Labour is that the right faction of Labour got gutted in the 1990’s, and that those who took over had no concept of what a big church traditional Labour was, as they were all from (Waikato) National families who interest was the liberal bias that lost the last election.

        That is why Labour are now lost. Goff has no idea what policies a modern centre-left party (with a right faction which has the leadership) should stand for. He is floundering around coming up with Blairite/ Alastair Campbell-lite positioning.

        What was lost within Labour was an interest in economics, and any substantive debate on economy policy. Cullen was allowed to run the whole show. And Cullen had clear ideas and was not interested in debate. (For instance, how did selling National Bank to the Aussies make sense. He could have blocked that .. . within a fews years Lloyds was bust and NZ gov’t could have bought it for a song).

        The paradox of the last Labour gov’t is that they were contemptuous of anyone associated with business, and yet pathetically weak in negotiating with them.

        • sk

          And another point, Labour has no fundamental interest in environmental issues, which makes no sense

          As an example, the way the wind resource was so completely mismanaged that we still do not have a national strategy in place, just a bunch of ad hoc applications under the RMA

  12. Macro 12

    Normally I agree with your posts Zeltic – but today I couldn’t disagree more. I agree that the defining difference between left and right in this country should be “social justice”. The last labour led government had 9 years on the treasury benches and apart from WFF baulked at the hurdle of improving the working poor’s lot; who were firstly Rogered by the Lange Govt, and then Mothered by Ruth Richardson, and Jenny.
    But social justice doesn’t just end with improving ones economic lot. Equality and fairness in society are also paramount. The main problem was not that the last govt worked on improving social equity and fairness – but that they failed miserably to redress the imbalance in wealth created under the two previous administrations.

    • Swampy 12.1

      The problem is that you can’t sell that policy to a majority of the electorate. It is not a symptom of our times, or anything other than the stark reality: most voters don’t accept that viewpoint. There has to be a clear message in here.

      • RedLogix 12.1.1

        The problem is that you can’t sell that policy to a majority of the electorate.

        True, but it will be easier after a few years of rape and pillage by the Nats; just as it was in 1999.

  13. burt 13

    So what was so wrong with robbing peter to pay peter and making sure rich kids in $750,000 houses had new iPods while claiming there was no underclass. Out of touch – pfffft.

    Labour were well in touch with how to win elections and what else matters ?

    • Tim Ellis 13.1

      That’s a very good point Burt.

      As much as Labour might want to paint WFF as a social justice measure, it was welfare for the middle class for nothing more than to shore up middle class votes. So too the student loans announcement in 2005. The fact Labour resisted tax cuts and went around saying: “we don’t need tax cuts, we need working for families” and then called them “targeted tax cuts” after the fact shows how cynical and manipulative that they are.

      I remember Labour spending millions upon millions of dollars promoting working for families in the year of the 2005 election.

    • Macro 13.2

      Social just matters burt – but you are so out of touch with morality that you wouldn’t understand such a concept.

      captcha borrowing – just what the kids in the $750,000 houses are doing

  14. Swampy 14

    You will not sell socialism to the electorate. Everyone knows the connotations of it, which is why it is a creature of a small faction within Labour. Labour “going back to its roots” implies to me the original party formation around 100 years ago when they called for the nationalisation of land. Or maybe you mean the strong trade union roots of that era. But you won’t sell that kind of militancy to the public either. Labour has spent most of its history steadily moving away from those roots, as the voting public considers them irrelevant. A party has to be able to evolve, it does not want to die in a ditch over ideology. After decades the Alliance/Greens still only have around 5% support for their hard left agenda.

  15. coge 15

    Redlogix, the last time Rail was fully state run, it was losing $1 million per day for NZ. That was an enormous sum in those days. The Labour govt of the day understood that situation was unsustainable.

    In order for democratic govt to be successful, effectual opposition in a must. Labour needs to urgently reinvent itself. The toll rail purchase was just another symptom of yearning for the early 1970’s, by senior Labour MPs. Labour needs to present new faces & new workable ideas. A general clean out will eventually occur, the more time passes the bigger it will need to be.

    • RedLogix 15.1

      Redlogix, the last time Rail was fully state run, it was losing $1 million per day for NZ. That was an enormous sum in those days. The Labour govt of the day understood that situation was unsustainable.

      So what. All it needed was a bit of a scrub up at management level, some new blood and fresh thinking. Besides, you omit the costs that have been incurred as a result of privatisation. In the long run it would have been much cheaper to have never sold it.

  16. Bill 16

    Once upon a time there was a battle between labour and capital over who should own or manage the means of production. Labour lost. And we got a Party that 90 odd years later has adopted a neo-liberal economic perspective.

    Nowadays the battle lines have moved and (broadly speaking) the issue is about either a) preserving some form of capitalist production, or b) saving ecologies.

    The Labour Party advocates a) and as such is deeply conservative…ie, not a vehicle for our future.

    Which goes back to my comment at 10:55 which I suspect most people mistakenly assumed was just a facetious throw-a-way line.

    • Draco T Bastard 16.1


      Although, I’d put your b) as saving ecologies and communities. That can’t be done under capitalism because the whole point of capitalism is to tear communities apart so that a few benefit at the expense of the many.

      • Macro 16.1.1

        Ahem to that!
        And is why I have not voted Labour for a very long time and could never support them under their present guise either.
        The market economy is flawed and has lead the western world to the mess it is now in. I’m talking about the unbridled pollution of our atmosphere and environment here – not so much the financial malaise of today. If we as a human race are to save ourselves from the impeding disaster of runaway climate change, then we are going to have governments that see themselves as part of the solution – not more “government is part of the problem” ideology of neo liberalism.

        • gargoyle

          “The market economy is flawed and has lead the western world to the mess it is now in. I’m talking about the unbridled pollution of our atmosphere and environment here.”

          Are you suggesting that those bastions of socialism the USSR and China hAD a better environmental record than the “western economies”

          The largest problem with the environment has more to do with the fact we have twice as many humans pottering around the planet than when Neil Armstrong was pottering about on the moon than the market economy.

          • Draco T Bastard

            And yet if you asked Karl Marx or Engles about the USSR and China they wouldn’t call either of them communist. IMO, capitalism itself is the problem. Partially for two reasons
            1.) The same reason why USSR failed, dictatorship is always a failure
            2.) Eternal exponential growth is impossible and the capitalism requires that growth to pay the interest

            The free-market could work* if we realise that it isn’t a growth model but stable state model.

            * Not for everything as it’s far too expensive but certainly for some things where competition brings progress.

            • Macro

              The free Market Model for an economy has many problems – not the least of which is that it is based on false assumptions – such as – unlimited growth. Secondly the concept of Private Ownership goes back to the ethics of John Locke – developed for Britain in the Georgian era and the initial colonisation of America. Again the notion is seriously out dated – assumes unlimited existence of land and ignores indigenous rights. Today I was listening to a PhD student in Agriculture describe the farming practices in Botswana – most farmers use COMMON land to graze their herds. We in the west are so wedded to the free market model we cannot think outside the square anymore.
              Western economies are based on sand. As a mathematics/philosophy major student studying a few economics papers 40 years ago I realised that what I was being presented with was pure fiction, with little correlation to reality. I fear that the mystical “science ” of economics has not progressed much since.

            • Draco T Bastard

              not the least of which is that it is based on false assumptions

              And if you look real close you’ll notice that all of those false assumptions support capitalism. Remove those and the model starts to make a bit more sense. It’s still not perfect and probably shouldn’t be used for modeling the real world but it does show an interesting point.

              In the perfect market with infinite competition and perfect knowledge there is always someone who will sell you the same item cheaper but nothing can be supplied at less than cost price. Everything has a cost, labour, resources, everything. In a perfect market these costs will be more or less constant and can’t be cut. So the person who is willing to sell you the same item cheaper must be cutting something else and there’s only one thing that can be cut – profit. The real value of financial capital in a perfect market is zero.

              I’m pretty sure the capitalists are quite happy that the market is highly restricted and owned by them.

              Private ownership is the heart of capitalism and is the true source of poverty in the world.

              Growth is required to cover the interest charged and no other reason. Our productivity is already such that we could probably support ourselves on about 2 hours work per day each. Everything above that is make work.

              Tragedy of the Commons Revisited

              A commons is destroyed by uncontrolled use—neither intent of the user, nor ownership are important. An example of uncontrolled use is when one can use land (part of our commons) any way one wants.

              The argument that people who own the land/water/resource will take better care of it than common land has been disproved time and time again over the centuries. As you say, it’s an outdated concept and one that is a complete failure.

              Talking about the term free-market I believe that I may be using a slightly different meaning than the one generally accepted. I should probably get around to defining my terminology and think up another phrase for it.

          • Bill

            Neither the command economies nor the market economy has taken the environment into consideration.

            A command economy could.

            A market economy won’t and can’t because it twists production and technological advances in strange and irreversable directions. It only takes a moments thought to figure out why we did not move away from fossil fuels many, many years ago….deliberately and ridiculously mis-priced crude shutting out R&D in other technologies …industry lobbyists ensuring that our lifestyles and oil became ever more entwined , eg the automobile, rubber and oil industries in cahoots to bury public transport systems and foist a world of individualised transport options on us.

            Beyond oil and regardless of population levels, there is the primacy of the profit motive and a ‘compete or die’ culture that doesn’t just rob us of our dignity, but compels us to partake in the production and consumption of unnecessary crap that, although really good for profit margins, is often deeply damaging to us and our ecosystems.

            In sharp contrast to the Labour Party, Labour once railed against the pointless and dehumanising aspects of Capitalist production. Labour needs to get back to those defiant roots, move beyond the irrelevant strategies and visions of the old left ( of which the Labour Party is a vestige) and formulate new visions and workable strategies for a future flowing from today’s realities rather than yesteryears ideologies.

      • George D 16.1.2

        Saving communities is very important. If Labour does this (and it should because it is right), it will gain the support of those communities. Just look at how the current Government is taking away funding for clean water for small communities – a perfect opportunity to stand up for them.

  17. Pat 17

    If I was Goff, I would confisgate all mobile phones at the door to make it a Helen-free conference.

  18. gobsmacked 18

    It is complete nonsense to characterise Goff’s necessary (and overdue) tactical / communications moves as some kind of harbinger of a soft right sellout government under Labour.

    Clark had to (or chose to) accommodate Peters and Dunne. So she shifted to the centre.

    Goff will have to accommodate the Greens. There won’t be any other options in Parliament.

    He will also have to deal with a caucus which is well to the left of the one Clark inherited from Mike Moore.

    A Labour-led government under Goff would not be any more “right wing” than it was under Clark.

    BUT the Labour Party *does* need to distance itself from the Greens. In the same way that John Key ringingly declared he wouldn’t have Roger Douglas in his Cabinet, and positioned National well away from nasty old ACT

    … before happily giving Rodney Hide a major role in his government, after the election. Gosh, what a surprise!

    If you want to win, vote Labour. If you want to define the win, vote Green.

    And if, after five MMP elections, you still don’t understand how this game works …. well, I give up.

  19. burt 19

    The best possible outcome from Labour’s recognition that they put themselves ahead of the voters in the cynical self serving pursuit of power would be the empowerment of the minor parties and a shift away from the two horse race that has dominated NZ politics. “Two ticks Labour” is going to look bloody funny when they are polling so poorly and clearly need to work with other parties to get back into govt.

    Imagine how much more parliament would be representing the people if the dinosaur major parties were only holding 25-30 seats each. Bring it on I say.

    • Ari 19.1

      …is going to look bloody funny when they are polling so poorly and clearly need to work with other parties to get back into govt.

      National is highly unlikely to get enough support at the election to govern alone. Give it up. It’s not happened under MMP and it seems most voters don’t want it to happen, as there tends to be large drops in polling after parties start hitting 49-50%. And it’s a bloody good thing too, as National with Act is bad enough.

      Relying on coalition partners is a strength, not a weakness, and it’s one that National is still not as strong in as Labour- although Labour could certainly improve, too, as it’s essentially their fault that the Maori Party is in such a weak position.

    • burt 19.2


      I think you misunderstood what I was saying. I’m very please that National didn’t (and are unlikely in the future) to get enough votes to govern alone.

      My point is that the major parties have solidly campaigned “Two ticks [insert_party_name_here]” since they first had delusions of representing the view of the people. These organisations (both the red one and the blue one) are self serving enough to actually believe their BS that one size fits all.

      Relying on coalition partners is indeed a good thing but the major parties remember the good old days of FPP and with their “two ticks” policy clearly don’t want to share anything.

      When I said “dinosaur major parties were only holding 25-30 seats each” I was meaning both major parties. I don’t care for a blue FPP style parliament anymore than I care for a red FPP style parliament.

  20. Zaphod Beeblebrox 20

    Why are we all arguing about the past? The future will look nothing like the past. Climate change, oil dependence, the new global economic environment will put huge pressure on society and individuals within it not to waste resources and to ditch dependence upon stuff produced and made elsewhere.
    If I were Goff I would be looking at the 5-10 year time frame not just next year or 2011 but beyond. Put the groundwork in now and reap the benefits later.
    Everyone said that Obama was too green and radical to win last year, talking about climate change, nuclear reduction targets, face to face talks with Iran, Venezuala etc.. In the end though even an electorate as right wing as the U.S. saw that he was the only realistic option for the future.
    Just because the Nats opearte in the 1980s mindset doesn’t mean we all have to.

  21. Quoth the Raven 21

    I don’t think Labour’s economic policies differentiate them that greatly from National. There is a difference, but it’s not great and it’s the same with their social policies. I used to support Labour. My political views are a million miles from that now and I’m quite disgusted in myself for ever having supported them. Their social liberalism is just relative to National. They’re still pretty socially conservative. No doubt that the repeal of s59 and the legalization of prositition were commendable, but civil unions were a cop out so as not to irate the traditionalists and go for full gay marriage. The ideal, of course, should be to get the state out of the marriage business altogether. Today they’ve shown again how sickeningly socially conservative they are. What about all the things these purported “social liberals” didn’t do in nine years like abortion on demand and same sex adoption. Then there are all the things they did do like putting BZP in some ludicrous drug class, jumping on the law and order bandwagon and overseeing a balooning in our prison population, enacting the terrorism suppression act, arming police with tasers and so on.

    Someone who is an exponent of individual liberty, is egalitarian, supports economic freedom, is opposed to violence, and is anti-capitalist like myself can hardly find a thing worth supporting in labour.

    • Draco T Bastard 21.1

      Considering the damage that the Undie 500 does I don’t think that it’s too much social conservatism to ban it. If the students showed that they were more responsible then it wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, they completely fail to do this so don’t blame the government for banning it – blame the students for being stupid.

      • Quoth the Raven 21.1.1

        I would think you could see fit to do both. Burning some couches in the street, drinking and having fun is doing no harm. There’s no reason for the state to bring it’s violence upon people going about peacful civil activities. If violence is occuring that is unacceptable. However, there’s no reason for the gangsters in blue to break up a party merely for burning couches. I don’t know the details and one wouldn’t unless one was present. If you could detail the “damage” they were doing that would be good. But it is simply unacceptable to ban it. It flies in the face of liberty. Something labour has ample experience in.

        “Those who suppress freedom always do so in the name of law and order.” John V. Lindsay

        • Draco T Bastard

          Burning couches in the street has the possibility of setting the neighborhood alight. Peaceful? Getting extremely drunk and loud, rowdy, smashing bottles everywhere, couple of punch ups here and there, smashing windows, burnouts in the cars etc etc. No, peaceful doesn’t come into it.

          Your liberty ends at the tip of your nose. If anything you do impacts upon others they have a right to stop you.

          • Quoth the Raven

            I agree with that last sentence that relates to the law of equal liberty and no government in existence adheres to it. I put it to you that you weren’t there and getting extremely drunk loud and making a mess is not violent, nor is damaging your own property and burning couches does not put the neighbourhood at risk. I do not condone damaging others property nor commiting violence (though statists neccessarily do). One would hope they would be considerate of others and that others would considerate of them and their right to enjoy themselves. I have yet to see anything so bad that it required the intervention of riot police (hired government thugs) and neccesitates the infringement of basic civil liberties in order to ban such an event.

            • Draco T Bastard

              Making a mess isn’t violent but it does impact on others who have to pay to clean it up afterward. Being loud also impacts others especially @ 2am.

              Burning couches produces lots of sparks that can start a fire which then burns a house down. Then there’s the poisonous fumes that the burning foam in the couch gives off.

              I wasn’t there this year and I’ve never participated in it but I have seen the results. It’s a mess and it’s expensive. Like I said before – if the students weren’t being stupid it wouldn’t be a problem.

              I agree with that last sentence that relates to the law of equal liberty and no government in existence adheres to it.

              And that’s just something else we need to work on then as a society then isn’t it?

            • Quoth the Raven

              We certainly do need to work on it and that’s my whole point. We can have a non-violent, peaceful, free, egalitarian society. It’s not utopianism . We won’t say one day “we’ve arrived” it’s a constant process. But it is a process in which no one in parliament and none of their supporters are commited to. It’s something that cannot be gifted from on high and is in fact incompatible with the whole system as it currently is. Each time you support an increase in state power you move in the opposite direction. Gandhi understood this.

              People can clean up their mess, they submit themselves to the fumes and the noise is something that has to be worked out by the poeple involved. Like I said criticise them if you wish, but I still see no excuse for state violence and absolutely no justification for banning it.

  22. Quoth the Raven 22

    There is a brilliant article at Salon. I think it can apply in part to labour as well:

    Why has the Democratic Party become so arrogantly detached from ordinary Americans? Though they claim to speak for the poor and dispossessed, Democrats have increasingly become the party of an upper-middle-class professional elite, top-heavy with journalists, academics and lawyers (one reason for the hypocritical absence of tort reform in the healthcare bills). Weirdly, given their worship of highly individualistic, secularized self-actualization, such professionals are as a whole amazingly credulous these days about big-government solutions to every social problem. They see no danger in expanding government authority and intrusive, wasteful bureaucracy. This is, I submit, a stunning turn away from the anti-authority and anti-establishment principles of authentic 1960s leftism.

    But affluent middle-class Democrats now seem to be complacently servile toward authority and automatically believe everything party leaders tell them. Why? Is it because the new professional class is a glossy product of generically institutionalized learning? Independent thought and logical analysis of argument are no longer taught. Elite education in the U.S. has become a frenetic assembly line of competitive college application to schools where ideological brainwashing is so pandemic that it’s invisible.

  23. Galeandra 23

    Well, a great thread so far, with a lots of sense from all sides. The point I take from this is that we need relevant in-touch parties to make up governnments or oppositions, and that we need leadership that thinks on its feet and isn’t afraid to take decisions that help future proof the country, whatever critics say.
    I think Kiwirail was such a decision, and that a lot of the critics are using 20 20 hindsight. Time will tell how much of an opportunity it will provide in the future..
    The tensions regarding capitalistic- socialistic branding will not be resolved philosophically, so much as pragmatically. The severe problems we (and the rest of the world) face will inevitable produce pragmatic ‘solutions’ that may well not please many of us individually. What remains to be seen is whether the ‘me ‘ generation (as implied by Swampy, Ag and others) will insist on playing ‘beggar the neighbours’ in order to ensure the survival of their own standards of living.

  24. Ruth 24

    If Labour try to buy into the conservative line that will be a mistake.

    You can’t solidify your position by selling out the very people who elected you, or by pursuing the votes of people who will never vote for you.

    • Daveo 24.1

      You should read the post more carefully. Zet’s not suggesting a move to conservatism, the point is that Labour should get its priorities right. Its concentration on liberal social issues lost them a lot of support, while it ignored or watered down many progressive economic policies to keep onside with people who’d never vote for them anyway.

  25. Jum 25

    “Tim Ellis
    September 12, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Extra welfare distribution isn’t a tax cut Mr Semmens. Dr Cullen railed against tax cuts for a long time,”

    Just to illustrate who the real manipulators are and they aint Labour:

    Labour said in 2000: “”Tax cuts are a path to inequality and underdevelopment in today’s circumstances. They are the promises of vision-less and intellectually bankrupt people’

    National lied once by John Key, the National leader and again by Bill English just before the 2008 election: “In 2000 Helen Clark was saying: ‘tax cuts are the promises of a visionless and bankrupt people’.

    She was right about the character of NAct. They have no vision apart from manipulating the desperate unemployed that’s come to fruition and to ensure both unemployed, all women and the working poor have no support systems.

    But, they actually do have support systems. The Standard is just one of them.

  26. Jum 26

    I think we insult people at our peril by assuming that just because they support Labour they are poor, working class (whatever that means!) and not intellectual. It is the thinking intellectuals that see the merits of equalising society in order for it to move forward and not break down in to a lawless society which is always the end result of NAct’s policies that breed enmity, jealousy and fear.

    Labour on the other hand extends the hand to all people. National can’t because it is all about selling out the poor to pay out to the rich. They ensure by their 90day probation and their lower wages that there will always be a gap and many desperate unemployed to clean their mansions. That’s the ‘key’ to National’s psyche.

    Key won the last election because he did the joe bloggs act. He did the Bill English accent with the moneyman’s financial gamble and the wife and two kids, which are nothing like the average wife and two kids. He is a consummate liar and a puppet of overseas. He will do whatever is required to win the next election whereby he can enact the wishlist of his benefactors. He is not a nice man. His ‘act’ is brilliant. His public face is perfect. Kiwis have always been swayed by the family man – I find that personally disgraceful when we have such a terrible domestic violence legacy from the rugby/racing/beer mentality.

    Labour rejects its Helen Clark years for the blokey years now. I’d watch that if I were them. The ‘it’s time for a change’ only came about because Key intimated he was a Clark think-a-like – another lie from him and his backers.

    I almost think NZers should be led to the slaughter one final time to understand what National is all about. In 2011 they will vote for ownership by the (NZ)Business Roundtable or vote for a life. Ownership of their own assets or the yoke of foreign ownership. I thought the obvious choice would be owning ourselves. Since Kiwis voted in National I am no longer certain.

    The Nanny State was a NAct invention. The fascist global freemarket state will be a National/Act reality.

    • snoozer 26.1

      jum. of course, the post doesn’t assume that the only people who support Labour are working class but it’s dillusional (and politically suicidal) to think that isn’t the base of a mass Leftwing party. There aren’t enough wealthy urban liberals to be the base of a mass party. Maybe you don’t realise it but most people in this country are working class.

      “working class (whatever that means!)”

      if your political analysis does not include an understanding of class and the power relations inherent in a class-based system like capitalism you are out of touch.

  27. Jum 27

    How rich/evolved academically, politically do you have to be before you leave the ‘working class’ label behind and join the NActs?

    Roger Douglas?
    John Key?
    Paula Bennett?
    John Banks?
    Mike Lee?
    Theresa Gattung?

    The trouble with the term ‘working class’ is the use of it, usually by the left, to describe themselves. The NActs don’t. They refer to their individual working title as if to infer it is not working class but rather the ruling class. My national supporter friend would never call herself working class even though she works to pay her bills, just like everyone else. A great disservice is done when people place themselves at a disadvantage by accepting a name tag which ties them to a particular group, because it plays into the right’s hands. Thinking people respect the working ethos. The right disrespect the worker. The right has deliberately insulted the term ‘working class’ and unthinking Kiwis absorb that myth. Unthinking Kiwis want to improve their lot and being described as ‘working class’ by the media and the NActs reduces their ambition for themselves. Perception is everything, Snoozer.

    • burt 27.1


      And the people behind Labour are impoverished…. You have gone on about Labour supporters as being thinking intellectuals then listed a whole bunch of stereotypes. Umm, how smart is Jum…..

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