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New Left Party coming, or is it?

Written By: - Date published: 12:29 pm, November 29th, 2010 - 99 comments
Categories: election 2011, Left - Tags: , ,

Matt McCarten is doing the dance of the seven veils on the issue of a new Left Party. He and the other players have been denying they have anything planned but, at the same time, have spoken of the need for such a party, as Labour paddles around in circles, and said they might join were such a party to eventuate. I say go for it.

I broke the story of the new Left party involving McCarten, Hone Harawira, and Sue Bradford during the Mana campaign on the back of several credible rumours from different sources. When Harawira turned out in Mana to endorse McCarten’s candidacy (in opposition to Tariana Turia, who publicly backed Hekia Parata). Harawira and McCarten denied the story but Harawira pointedly said “Anybody would be a fool to rule out the future”.

In the weekend, McCarten addressed the prospect of a new party in his Herald column:

“This brings me to whether there’s a space for a new party if Labour continues to drift. This idea was surprisingly raised on the Labour Party-aligned Standard Blog during the Mana by-election. It suggested I’d been in cahoots with Hone Harawira and Sue Bradford in planning such a project.

Please, Matt, drop the prejudice that comes with the baseless ‘Labour-aligned’ (as if we get orders from the 3rd floor, what a joke) and you would see my piece is totally supportive of the concept.

That is nonsense. I’ve never had any conversations about such a thing with either Harawira or Bradford. However, I do have enormous respect for both and, if such a coming together of people like them did happen, I wouldn’t stay away.

I believe in a strong progressive force within the Labour Party but my experience as the president of the New Labour Party and its successor, the Alliance, is that it’s also necessary to have a strong force outside that party.

Without such a presence outside, Labour tends to swing to the right to compete with National for the so-called centre vote. Labour’s been doing that for the past two and a half decades and trying to be National-lite won’t get Phil Goff into government next year.

So here’s my advice to Labour. If you don’t look after your left flank then it may well create an opportunity for another progressive party to appeal to people who were once reliably in your camp.

In the Mana campaign I promoted traditional Labour policies to working class people who loved them. Fortunately for you, enough of them went back to you last Saturday to save your party from humiliation.

Next year they may not. That’s the real lesson of the Mana by-election.”

Indeed. So, no plans but a good idea that he would be part of. Then, from NZPA the next night:

Activists spent two hours discussing the merits of a new left-wing party in Auckland yesterday, but no concrete moves have been made to take such a step.

Former MP Sue Bradford and former Alliance president Matt McCarten were among those at the Unite Union annual meeting yesterday discussing whether the time had arrived for a party to be set up towards the left of Labour.

Bradford and McCarten raised the concept of a new party at the beginning of the discussion and sought feedback on what should be done rather than telling those present that a new party should definitely be launched.

Bradford, the former Green MP, said any such party had to be broad-based and its momentum needed to come from a large groundswell of people rather than a few high-profile leaders.

Most people at the session said it was unclear if the time was right for any such party to emerge, but many thought it was ultimately a good idea.

At the end of the session, Bradford said she hoped the left would take advantage of any window of opportunity should one come up.

So, we’ve got Matt, Hone, and Sue appearing together and openly talking about the possibility of such a party forming. Sounds like they’re planning something to me.

Let me go on record: I think it’s a great idea. With Hone’s safe seat, there’s a credible base for attracting Left votes dissatisfied with Goff’s lacklustre and seemingly visionless leadership. I’d probably vgive you my party vote, Matt.

Just don’t leave it to the last three weeks this time.

99 comments on “New Left Party coming, or is it?”

  1. anarcho 1

    Surely those three, of all the politicans out there, know that representative democracy is a festering sore?

    Don’t do it guys! We need you on the streets, not kissing corporate arse.

    • Bored 1.1

      Beat me to it Anarcho, the current power structures are incapable of change from inside without activist intervention from outside.

      We will need people recognised and untainted by the present process as the perfect “Peak” storm engulfs and delegitimises todays paradigm.

      • just saying 1.1.1

        Well that’s a nice idea Bored.
        I assume you and your loved ones aren’t likely to be collateral damage on the way through the ‘perfect storm’. ‘Cause there’s gonna be a whole lot of suffering at the bottom of the heap, and all the more if the most vulnerable continue to have no voice in our house of representatives.
        At what point as that suffering moves up the heap would it start to matter? Or is it all just one big darwinian adventure?

        • Bored

          JS, Who knows, the only thing you can say with any certainty is that we will all be collateral damage. A historian would hark back to known events, 1784 is a good start, then 1848, 1871, 1905, 1917, 1989. Future prediction based upon the past is notoriously inaccurate in a precise sense, however the broad trends tend to remain true.

          In this case of all of the above dates, the collateral damage done to the citizens of their polities reached a critical mass that was ignored by theithe ruling institutions: at each of the above dates the damaged collateral parties attempted to (or did) overthrow the newly illegitmate regimes. It is not Darwinian, it is not a Marxian historic dialectic, it is merely that a critical mass rejecting the status quo will remove legitimacy from defunct institutions.

          That will be the fate of our parliament if it does not reform itself and become truly representative of the electors, and responsive to their needs (as opposed to that of finance and corporate interests).

          • Tiger Mountain

            “it is not a Marxian historic dialectic, it is merely that a critical mass rejecting the status quo will remove legitimacy from defunct institutions”

            On the surface that may appear to some to be so–oh look at all those guys smashing that wall down. But the old “it will just happen regardless” theory makes little sense if you conduct an investigation of the facts and forces involved.

            A materialist view is required to make sense of change unless you happen to be a post modernist intent on disappearing up your own rear end. Little happens in society without action, reaction, and most importantly organisation. Do you think a bourgeois parliament is going to vote or reform itself out of existence and its true role in life? Heh.

            • Bored

              Tig, I used to think in logical materialist constructs, and to a large degree they hold true. The problem I find with them is that they depend upon the premise / bases being correct…which in an imperfect world they never will be. It is a problem Marxists share with free market fundamentalists, they consequently (to use your beautiful term) dissappear up their own rear ends. My take is that it is better to admit imperfect knowledge and allow the possibility of doubt, other factors etc. No monopoly on the truth.

              Will a bourgeois parliament vote itself out of existence? Hell no. Will the people walk away? Quite likely. Will a vacuum of power be filled with a viable alternative? Thats another thing altogether.

  2. The Voice of Reason 2

    “So, we’ve got Matt, Hone, and Sue appearing together and openly talking about the possibility of such a party forming.”

    No, we haven’t Eddie. Nothing in your post or in a quick search online can find the three of them together, talking about such a party forming. In fact, Matt says just the opposite. But leaving aside your fanciful language, what would be the point of such a party? A racist, an ex MP hated by middle NZ and a one man brains trust who has never succesfully acheived anything long term are linked together by their hatred of the Labour Party. Big deal.

    I’ve no doubt at all that they will get plenty of encouragement from the right and tiny levels of support from deluded lefties and that’ll be it. Another McCarten pipe dream will evaporate like all the others.

    • Bright Red 2.1

      VoR, read what’s written. not what you think you’re reading. eddie’s not saying ‘all three together at once saying they’ll form a party’ he’s saying ‘we’ve got Matt, Hone, and Sue appearing together and openly talking about the possibility of such a party forming”

      he’s quoted Hone and Matt talking about it and

      “Former MP Sue Bradford and former Alliance president Matt McCarten were among those at the Unite Union annual meeting yesterday discussing whether the time had arrived for a party to be set up towards the left of Labour”

      the fact all three of them are engaging in this topic is indication enough for me. the story could have beem unambigiously shut down when Hone and Matt were asked. It wasn’t.

      • The Voice of Reason 2.1.1

        I did read it, BR. Here it is again:

        “So, we’ve got Matt, Hone, and Sue appearing together and openly talking about the possibility of such a party forming. Sounds like they’re planning something to me.”

        As I said, it’s incorrect. They’re not appearing together to talk about a new party or anything else. If Eddie wanted to distinguish between Matt and Hone, Matt and Sue, or Hone and Sue, then it would have been laid out as I have just done. It’s Eddie’s fanciful construct, not mine and the sentence that follows (‘Sounds like they’re planning something to me’) is designed to reinforce the idea.

        It started as a beat up and with Matt adding to Eddie’s original post, and Eddie replying, it’s now moved to the next stage, the circle jerk.

        • Bright Red

          you’re arguing semantics. They have appeared together (it doesn’t say ‘all together’) and they have talked about the idea of such a party (and failed to firmly dismiss the idea).

          • The Voice of Reason

            Nope, not semantics. Nor pedantry. Just the correct reading of what Eddie wrote, which was factually wrong in its statement that the 3 were “appearing together”. They’re not, according to Matt, and Eddie constructed the sentence to give the impression that they were, as the following sentence makes clear. Without those two sentences, the whole premise of the post collapses, so excuse me for banging on about it.

    • lprent 2.2

      Personally I think that it is just a bit of a beltway paranoia fluff myself. But what is interesting is looking at the reactions here to the idea. It is probably useful internally for Labour to get goosed. Probably aids in the continual (and interminably boring IMHO) internal debates.

    • Jenny 2.3

      -Hone Harawira is a racist-

      -Sue Bradford is hated by middle New Zealand-

      -Matt McCarten never succesfully acheived anything long term-

      -All three are linked together by their hatred of the Labour Party-

      Hopefully VOR, you are not just indulging in another one of your ‘unreasoning’ hate fuelled sectarian rants, and can show us a link to evidence that backs up even just one of your allegations?

      • Rob A 2.3.1

        Oh come on Jenny

        IMO Matt is one of the smartest political operators in NZ who isn’t sitting in the house.

        But Sue Bradford is one of those love them or hate them characters

        And if a white politician said half the things about the other race that Hone has they would’ve been chased out of NZ years ago

        • Jenny

          Rob A.

          Less sectarian but still just opinion. Maybe I would be more impressed Rob, if you included some of the quotes from Hone that a white politician would have been chased out of the country for. And then maybe we could put them besides John Key’s after dinner joke about Tuhoe being cannibals.

          But let’s just wait and see if VOR can give any evidence to back up his opinions, or does he just like to spew sectarian invective off the top of his head.

          Where’s his proof that Sue Bradford is hated by middle New Zealand?

          Or that Matt McCarten who built the Unite union from nothing to one of the most successful unions in the country, “never succesfully acheived anything long term”?

          Or that all three are united by their hatred of the Labour Party?

          This is just ludicrous stuff. This sectarian stupidity has been the bane of the left, and is particularly unhelpful when we need the widest possible unity if we are to have any chance of turfing out the Nats. at the next election.

  3. Tanz 3

    New Don Brash party coming, also? For the sake of the right, I really hope so.

    • Bright Red 3.1

      You could call it WORM –

      White, Old, Racist… I mean Rich, Men

      • Tanz 3.1.1

        Not as rich as the current PM, though, eh. I would call it MORE. More of what the people voted for when they voted blue. Good old Don, the only one with the guts to speak out…or do you prefer the status quo…yes I suppose you would, it’s everything the Left could want, without actually being in power themselves.

    • Which goes to prove ,Tanz, that its time the Left stopped looking around to start other parties. Like it or not the Labour Party is the only Left Wing , Social Democratic party able to,form a government,
      repeat, only one to be able to govern . If those three Lefties are genuine in their belief (and there is no evidence they are not) then pissing
      inside the tent is more effective than outside.The Greens are the Left’s ginger group ,they do a good job and are able to help Labour form a government under MMP lets work towards 2011 with that in mind.

  4. ghostwhowalksnz 4

    McCarten wanting a new left party – how many has he ‘been through’ ?
    There was the Alliance
    Then the Greens
    Then the Maori party

    I would have thought he has better ways to spend his time

    • The Voice of Reason 4.1

      Don’t forget New Labour, the ‘brains’ behind the Alliance (as Matt once told me!).

      • Jenny 4.1.1

        VOR if you had really met Matt McCarten you might have a higher opinion of him.

        • The Voice of Reason

          That’s not very polite, Jenny. I’ve disagreed with many of your opinions, but I’ve never called you a liar.

          • Jenny

            But you do invent a lot of stuff.

            • The Voice of Reason

              Nuh huh, Jenny. Prove I’m lying about knowing Matt or apologise and withdraw. Go on, be an adult about it.

              • Jenny

                You obviously don’t know Matt at all, like all your vitriol against people you have no clue about.

                Most people know that Matt McCarten took the Unite union from a handful to the mass member union it is today.

                Let you ignorantly and rudely claimed that Matt McCarten, “never succesfully acheived anything long term”

                You are either completely ignorant or you just simply choose to ignore the facts that don’t fit in with you narrow sectarian views.

                I don’t know, you may have bumped into him in the street once.

                But when you try and name drop by claiming you met Matt McCarten, as I said “if you had really met him” you would have a higher opinion of him, because you obviously don’t know the slightest thing about him.

                Of course in your sectarian little world everyone in the Labour Party is a saint and everyone else is the devil.

                Frankly I am getting sick and tired of your right wing views, especially the racist slur you continually regurgitate about the Maori Party only being interested in being in parliament so as to get their backsides in the back of the government LTDs.

                According to you, the only reason the Maori Party MPs are in parliament is for all the perks, that MPs get as part of the job. The only ones in parliament for sincere reasons are either Labour or National. The facts are, that the Maori Party had nothing to do with the system of perks and privilege that the majority white MPs, both National and Labour have managed to implement for themselves over the years.

                I have tried politely in the past to point out to you, despite this, you never aim this slur against other MPs not even the National Party or even ACT MPs. It seems that in your opinion the back seat of government cars is reserved for white Labour and National MPs, the only few brown faces allowed to share this privilege, must first have a patronising stamp of approval from either Labour or National.

                You ask for an apology from me, how about one from you, for your slurs and lies.

  5. Brett 5

    If this goes ahead, it will kill off the greens.

  6. As far as I can see, there is genuine debate and enthusiasm – but also uncertainty – amongst leftists around Matt McCarten about setting up a new party to fill the gaping hole on the left in New Zealand. The big question seems to be whether the time is right to launch such a party.

    The question of whether Hone Harawira is going to be involved is a crucial one. It’s a crucial question both for A) all those leftists who believe that Harawira is a radical anti-establishment leftist who can give the party a solid base within Parliament from the very beginning and thus avoid the 5% threshold, and B) all those leftists who think it would be a disaster to have Harawira involved because he’s actually a radical Maori nationalist not really a leftist or a socialist, and because they don’t want yet another very dominant figure to play the authoritarian role of Jim Anderton again.

    In terms of the Greens, it’s generally accepted that a New Left Party can easily co-exist with the Green Party without stepping on each others toes, because the Greens have very much decided to shift towards nearer the middle of the political spectrum and concentrate more on purely environmental issues.

    • Excellent analysis as always, Bryce.

      Under MMP, the only real hope any party has is to co-opt an MP with a safe seat. The 5% threshold is just too high due to the innate conservatism of the voting public (conservative in terms of their voting habits, not necessarily their politics).

      But with a safe seat usually comes an alarming degree of hubris, and Hone’s certainly no exception to that rule.

      The politician’s agenda becomes that of the party, or the politician takes his ball and goes home. All sorts of compromises are made to assuage his or her ego (though it’s always been a him so far) till the whole thing implodes, having achieved nothing. c.f. The Alliance and NZ First. The only way it can work is if there isn’t really a party at all, it’s just a sham to one man’s ego. c.f. whatever made-up name Peter Dunne’s using today.

      Having had to play court to Anderton I can’t imagine Matt not seeing the inherent danger. And I suspect he does, hence Bradford’s line about

      any such party had to be broad-based and its momentum needed to come from a large groundswell of people rather than a few high-profile leaders

      I could be reading too much into it, but to me that’s saying “Come on people, if you want this, then show us that there’s at least 5% of you prepared to put your vote where your vague desire is; don’t make us have to rely on Hone for survival”.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1

        I actually think that in a national/general election the policies that Matt etc propose would get 5% of the vote – probably more. Matt got 3.6% in Mana and, as he said, some people who supported his policies voted Labour anyway to help them keep the electorate. These people would probably be quite happy to vote for a party with the same policies in a general election and that would be enough to get over the 5% threshold.

        • The Voice of Reason

          I’d have to agree DTB, except you are way short on the numbers. People will happily vote for those policies and I predict the two parties who are associated with them will get 40-45% of the vote, just as they did at the last election. Hopefully the Greens and Labour will actually get more than that this time round, but one thing that will stop that happening is syphoning off votes to a no hope left party.

          • felix

            What’s the problem with a left block split between 3 parties instead of 2?

            • The Voice of Reason

              Nothing, except we’ve got 2 good parties now and a third one is just going to cannibalise the votes of other two. The third party brings no extra votes, so ultimately, the best that can happen is that the numbers and seats stay the same. More likely is it simply takes worthwhile votes and trashes them, costing the other parties some seats. Can’t build unity by division and ego is not the same as leadership.

              Sadly, Matt has never run anything politically that wasn’t already part of the Labour Party, though I accept the Alliance temporarily drew in a wider coterie of small political parties. All he knows how to do is play to the factions, offer a shoulder to cry on and lead the disgruntled into the wilderness. And consolidate the grip of the right on the treasury benches at the same time, which was what happened in the New Labour/Alliance years. And don’t get me started on the Maori party. Blind Freddy could see they would lurch to the right at the first sniff of a leather LTD seat, but Matt was presumably into it because it hurt Labour, not because it would be left wing.

              • just saying

                “we’ve got 2 good parties now”

                Care to elaborate?

              • pollywog

                we’ve got 2 good parties now and a third one is just going to cannibalise the votes of other two. The third party brings no extra votes,

                play to the factions, offer a shoulder to cry on and lead the disgruntled into the wilderness.

                forget the left/right division of the political landscape. carve out new territories from the moral highground

                thats where a new party would need to play. appeal to the disgruntled apathetic factions who don’t vote and don’t buy into the petty partisan bullshit of the two major parties

                target the extra votes who don’t belong to anybody. give us disgruntled wilderness dwellers a shoulder to cry on and lead us into the mainstream

                there has never been a better time to do it.

                develop innovative campaign strategies thru guerilla media tactics and using social media networks in a way thats never been used before to maximise impact and exposure.

                of course having a safe seat like Hone’s to build around would be most advantageous to start with.

                but im thinking more of a youth party for gen-Xers and slackers. emphasise and deny any affiliations to the left or right as a point of difference and develop policies accordingly.

                For fucks sake someone needs to give us something to believe in.

                • forget the left/right division of the political landscape. carve out new territories from the moral highground

                  Precisely. A lot of what Matt proposes isn’t redical left at all, it’s just painted that way by RWNJs. Giving empty state houses to people living in garages isn’t seen by Mr & Mrs Great Unwashed as some sort of revolutionary Marxism but simple bloody common sense.

                  thats where a new party would need to play. appeal to the disgruntled apathetic factions who don’t vote and don’t buy into the petty partisan bullshit of the two major parties

                  The fact they’re getting votes by default – by being the lesser of two clapped out ego-driven evils – is Labour’s and National’s version of the Emperor’s new clothes. They’re terrified someone will point out that, for instance, Labour’s vote is based primarily on it’s status as “party most likely to get elected and not be National”.

                  It’s certainly not getting support (other than from a shrinking core of activists) on the basis of leadership, vision, or performance.

                  NZ First toppled it from second position in 1995 with a set of basically common sense policies on everything from foreign investment to housing, and after inexorably slow growth it essentially did that in the space of about 5 months.

                  All it takes is for a party to reach the “tippng point” where enough people believe enough other people might be willing to give it a go, and the Emperor’s nakedness will be there for all to see. Hence the air of desperation and “Oh noez! Vote splitting!11!!” emanating from the Labour camp at this point.

                  Brilliant comment, pollywog. Right on the money. If the naysayers are right, so be it. But we (the country) owe it to ourselves to give it a go.

                  And while we’re at it, a new right party with some principles and integrity too… if for no other reason that the new left party would need an effective opposition with a realistic hope of toppling it, in order to keep it from morphing into Labour Mk II.

                  • pollywog

                    cheers Rex

                    regarding policies. you’d only need to identify some where both parties are failing to put forward winning options.

                    rather than fighting them on all fronts, pick and choose the battles wisely and the ground where you want to fight them.

                    just look at the housing wound McCarten opened up in Mana and look to inflict the same proactive damage in a few other key issues.

                    or look at what a one trick party like the Maori party did by campaiging on nothing more than repealing one act and promise to do the same to the sham that is the Emissions Trading Scheme.

                    keep it stupidly simple cos that’s who you’d need to get on board, the politically naive.

                    there is so much ground to be made in just filling the space and going where no party has gone before.

                    i bet it does scare the shit out of the major parties to think of one who could offer an alternative to and mobilise, not so much middle NZ but, the fringes who actually hold the balance of power by not voting.

                    thats the true lesson in the Mana by election. the majority wasn’t with Labour. it was with those who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a brown stooge or a tory hori….Andrew Little even said as much.

                    it’s one thing to give ground to Winston and his grey power fanbase or Rodders and his redneck mob in the hope of forming a coalition but a party who actively targets the younger generations with no definable left right leanings is a whole ‘nother beast and one that can’t be easily tamed.

                • Colonial Viper

                  For fucks sake someone needs to give us something to believe in.

                  Yeah channel the vibrant original Obama energy (without being the corporate sell out his administration has turned out to be).

              • felix

                TVoR it seems you don’t value representation very highly.

                If there is a constituency whose views are better represented by McCarten than by Labour or the Greens, who are you to say they should vote for second or third best fit?

                And does your argument extend to the Greens? Should Green voters just suck it up and vote Labour instead?

                If not, why should you expect anyone else to?

                • The Voice of Reason

                  Well, Felix, if the Greens or Labour couldn’t find a better candidate than Matt in a particular electorate, then I’d vote for him, too. But that’s not a likely scenario. I did electorate vote Green once, in Coromandel, when Jeanette had a decent chance of winning. Fell a few hundred short as I recall.

                  I’m not all fixed to one party tactically and I’m one of those who believe that the best way to win elections is for the left to form an electoral bloc prior to the election and to not stand locally where there is a clear chance a ‘partner’ party can win the seat.

                  I just don’t think a third party with a policy platform similar to those held by Labour or the Greens is in any way helpful.

                  • felix

                    I would pretty much agree with most of that, if only the last sentence were true.

                    But with the Greens racing for the centre and Labour racing to the right, it’s no longer realistic to say that between them they can represent the range of left wing views.

                    Of course if you’re right and they CAN represent the spectrum then no-one will vote for a 3rd party and no harm will be done, however if there is a constituency for such a party then your argument is void by definition.

                    • The Voice of Reason

                      Yeah, agree that if there is a void, then it should be filled. However I disagree that Labour is heading to the right. Since Clark took over, its gone left, as it’s legislative record confirms. Really can’t talk about the Greens, simply have no idea where they’re at, direction wise, but I assume they can still be considered to the left of Labour on most things where they don’t directly agree.

                      Either way, I think you and I owe Jim Anderton an apology, because there are actually 3 ‘left’ parties in Parliament right now and we’ve been talking as if there were only two. A small slip really, but Jim does show it’s possible to get elected on a platform that is to the left of the mainstream left parties, at least at local level. It’s the getting to 5% without harming the others that worries me. A left party that gets 4.99% of the vote would be a disaster. Two votes more and it’s a triumph!

                    • felix

                      Ha, yes sorry Jim.

                      And yeah, the threshold determines whether the whole exercise is a net loss to the “left block” (unless there’s a safe seat in play of course).

                      That whole area of the MMP system needs a rethink IMO.

                  • Voice of Reason says: ‘I disagree that Labour is heading to the right. Since Clark took over, its gone left, as it’s legislative record confirms.’

                    I think this is a very good topic for discussion and evaluation. To me there seems to be a lot of good evidence for arguing either way on the question of whether the post-2008 Labour Party has shifted left or clung to a centrist status quo position.

                    Essentially I would argue that Labour is – like most parties – playing an ideological “double game”. This involves attempting to play to different audiences all the time with a highly segmented targeting strategy. So when it’s conference time they will make public announcements that seem genuinely radical and leftward moving, but then they will consciously give another message to a business audience to say “actually we’re not departing too far from the mainstream”.

                    Also I’d argue that the political and economic environment that Labour is operating within is also creating the conditions and encouragement for a shift to a more leftwing, materialist focus. I argued this back in December last year in a blog post examining how Phil Goff was jettisoning ‘identity politics’ in favour of a bit more ‘class politics’. See: http://liberation.typepad.com/liberation/2009/12/identity-politics-vs-class-politics-4-understanding-labours-tilt-to-the-left.html

                    • Colonial Viper

                      As we have seen on the post about Cunliffe’s speech, plenty of Labour stalwarts fear that it’s 1980’s neo-con free market tendencies are not buried deep enough. Also the level of trust in the parliamentarians is not as high as it could or as it should be. Interesting times.

  7. climate justice 7

    Bryce – if there greens were to go more left and embrace eco socialism they would work with a new left party too. The biggest risk for the greens if being in govt with the labour party, who has anti enviro pro corporate polluter trading schemes etc.

    • Bored 7.1

      You could get the feeling that any new “Left” party would merely take votes from the left of the Labour spectrum, the Greens being ideologically stuck with those who place environment first but are centrist or apolitical.

      There is a danger for the Greens here, their mision to save the environment may suffer at the hands of the “new” left as well. Any “new” left party would be judged by how it delivers to the material needs of its core supporters, which in all probability will necessitate environmental exploitation. Catch 22 for the Greens.

  8. Climate justice – I’m sure you’re right in terms of that hypothetical situation.

    But do you really think that the Greens could go left and embrace “eco socialism”? Most of the Greens seem allergic to such words, and if you search through any of their thousands of speeches and media releases, you’d hardly be likely to even find the word mentioned. The momentum around the world is for political environmentalism to become more pro-capitalist, and I can’t see any reason that the NZ Greens are any different.

    • Gotham 8.1

      I would think ‘pro-capitalist’ is more of a shudder-inducer to most Greens than ‘eco-socialist’.

      • Colonial Viper 8.1.1

        Whats the bet that the Greens are going to take their activist grassroots supporters for granted as they head to the Right. We’ve never seen that before huh :rolleyes:

        • Gotham

          Worse, in my opinion, would be a situation where the Greens alienate their grassroots activists/supporters AND fail to inspire new voters to turn Green (or, Beige, as Bryce Edwards (lovingly) points out in his blog).

  9. Tiger Mountain 9

    Eddie’s speculative post is ‘deja vue all over again’ as Americans say.

    There are several political questions raised by this matter re desirability/practical formation and parliamentary aims. Such a new party, which until someone who knows something says something, can only be regarded likely to be another ‘left’ social democratic party similar to the New Labour dept. of the Alliance.
    • Left social democrats: The Alliance is still around albeit in abbreviated form, those of that bent could join it, relaunch it, it is a registered party.
    • Hard left: The Workers Party is registered as political party, or at least was in 08 and stood a full platform of candidates. The WP being the only parliamentary contender that does not claim to represent ‘everyone’ in society, just the working class and opressed peoples. Anti imperialist, anti capitalist.
    I do not claim the above two are a simple answer to a complex set of concerns from people but a lot of time could expended on a new party project that really could take long years to get a result in terms of parliamentary representation. For another reformist party. Do people really want to go there?

    Genuine lefties are out and about being activists anyway, but in terms of the time constaints of a 2011 election, it is probably more effective to ‘work with and struggle against’ the existing parties.
    Voters are so well known for getting shaky hands in the booth, and the big black marker pen heads to Natz or Lab. Organising around that phenomenon is not a quick fix.

  10. Sean 10

    In an electorate that should have been supportive of his position, McCarten got 3.6% of the vote. This would indicate that any party he got off the ground would be lucky to reach that level Nation-wide.

    This would make this party dependent on Hone Harawira holding his electorate. And of course, should Mr Harawira commit to changing to this left party (big “should” there), he would then have to convince the electorate of Te Tai Tokerau that:
    a) He was doing the right thing personally leaving the Maori Party; and,
    b) his voters should support his move by backing him, and his new party.

    That doesn’t seem a likely thing for Harawira to do.

    I don’t think there is going to be a new left party, and if there is, it will electorally fail in 2011 because it will not have an electorate lifeboat.

    • outofbed 10.1

      When people mention the Greens is that the people who vote for them or their activists?
      The two groups differ widely in their views IMHO
      So any moves by the Greens have to be pragmatic because the Green vote is very fickle
      Many of the activist despise the National Party and only marginal less the labour party. seeing them as both two sides of that growth at all costs paradigm.
      For the Greens to prosper they have to convince people that the new Green way of thinking, Green economics if you like is the way to go.
      Right ,or Left? The two parties who are most similar in the economic policies over the last 2o years have been National and Labour. Take Cunlifs’s backing of PPP’s recently or there Emission trading schemes for example. Phill Goff or John key take your choice, not much of one is it?

      • Sean 10.1.1

        I understand your views of the Labour Party and National Party not offering a voting choice for Activists of the Green or to the left of Jim Anderton. And that the idea of a McCarten/Bradford/Harawira party would appeal to them.

        I just saying that those Activist don’t add up to 5% of the vote, and Harawira can not be counted on to bring his electorate with him if he moves from the Maori party.

        In 1995, United New Zealand formed with seven sitting MPs who defected from National and Labour, they were trying to build a middle party, and were working against a Labour party still unpopular from the Douglas/Prebble years, and a National party which had brought Ruthenasia to the country

        In the 1996 election, only one of United New Zealand’s MPs remained in the house – Peter Dunne, who was united by himself. Based on that I feel that giving Hone Harawira a one in seven chance of moving from the Maori party and still keeping his electorate is fair, and if the McCarten/Bradford/Harawira party doesn’t make the threshold it will be all over.

    • Oscar 10.2

      McCarten got a lot more support than the 3.6%. Unfortunately, his support base couldn’t vote by virtue of being on the Maori Roll.

      Chances are, those on the Maori Roll would be more likely to give McCarten their party vote given most of the Maori Seats are no longer politically aligned and are a complete mashup.

  11. Bryce: But do you really think that the Greens could go left and embrace “eco socialism”?

    I would imagine the greens wld be split somewhere near 50/50

    I also know the majority of the greens (including their leadership) would never support a greens national government.

    In my view the most rightwing policy the green party has at the moment is support for the pollution subside policy of carbon trading: the Emissions Trading Scheme. The greens are pro union and say they are anti neoliberal, policies like the ETS undermine Norman’s rhetoric.

  12. Sue Bradford has mentioned eco socialism in some of her speeches. Chris Trotter has said he has an interest in eco socialism and mentioned it in blog posts. Evo Morales is the ecosocialist indigenous president of Bolivia. I believe figures like him is where more of the left should be looking to for leadership.

    Some of the youth section of the greens, the Young Greens are into ecosocialism. The greens would go more left if they could also increase their vote I think. The management section of the green party is very vote and branding focused.

  13. Jenny 13

    Just on the results from the Mana by-election.
    I think the ability of a new left party to affect ongoing events would be limited.

    Still, there must be some democratic way of turning back the right wing neo-liberalism, market first policies, that are hurting the lives of so many flax roots New Zealanders, while ripping up the environment.

    To weaken neo-liberalism an agreement to work together around a common set of policies between the existing Political Parties on the left and centre, may be a more realistic goal.

    Obviously the first step in reversing neo-liberal polices, would be to work together to oust the present right wing National Government from the Treasury Benches.

    Could everyone on the left at least agree on this?

    Rather than these parties continually point scoring off each other. How about agreeing to work together to achieve a limited programme of common aims that they could all agree on?

    Apart from agreeing to oust the Nats, what other common aims could the left agree on:

    Here is my suggested short list.

    Obviously such a list would have to be agreed by all the parties. It may be bigger or smaller, or not resemble my list at all. (This is just my idea to kick off the debate on what, a common programme that, The Greens, The Maori Party and The Labour Party, could all agree on, might look like).

    Poverty Reduction.

    1. That on taking power a Labour led Government will immediately raise the legal Minimum wage to $15p/h.

    2. That fruit and vegetables and staples like meat and bread and milk be exempted from GST.


    1. That emissions trading scheme be dumped and a legally enforceable sinking lid of carbon emissions be imposed on industry, and transport by legislation.

    2. That public transport be favoured over roading and motorway expansion.

    Foreshore and seabed:

    1. All foreshore and offshore marine resources be subject to article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi.

    2. Any disputes on exploitation ownership and customary usage and rights between Maori and the Crown or private interests to be decided in hearings heard before the Waitangi Tribunal, with a further right of appeal to the Supreme Court of New Zealand.

    3. That no citizen of this country will be excluded by any other interest, whether public or private, from the seas or shores of Aotearoa. That public access to coastal areas and waterways for leisure and recreation to be guaranteed and protected by statute.

    4. That exploitation of the coast and foreshore for commercial gain be open to legal challenge by any citizen, also decided before the Waitangi Tribunal with a further right of appeal to the Supreme Court.

    In exchange for agreeing to a common programme, the smaller parties commit to give their votes on confidence and supply to the Labour Party.

    On all other issues outside of confidence and supply and the minimum programme of agreed aims. Each party would be free to argue and vote for their differing party programmes and policies.

    • Colonial Viper 13.1

      If we are to roll back neo-liberalism we must start a conversation empowering ordinary voters with alternative ideas and a new language.

      e.g. economics isn’t simply about inflation, deficits and balance of payments, it is about activity which gives people real jobs, with good pay, which helps our society grow stronger from the inside out.

    • g says 13.2

      jenny, thats a great start. i have another proposal. the nurses, teachers and police on pay parity.

      • KJT 13.2.1

        Why should the police, who have 9 weeks training, have parity with Teachers.

        How about Teachers and Nurses having pay parity with Lawyers and accountants?

        • Colonial Viper

          Well, for starters, teachers don’t have to put up with the everyday risk of being assaulted and verbally abused like sworn police officers do.

          (There, I’ve given you the ball) 😎

          • Pascal's bookie

            Police get; mace, handcuffs, tasers, billy clubs, cable ties, radio coms, firearms. And their union is still more sookie about danger than the teachers.

            • swordfish

              “Police get: mace, handcuffs, tasers, billy clubs, cable ties, radio coms, firearms. And their union is still more sookie about danger than the teachers.”

              I think you’ll find it’s standard practice these days to issue most teachers with the first four items on your list.

          • KJT

            Don’t they?

  14. I support these suggestions:

    Poverty Reduction.

    1. That on taking power a Labour led Government will immediately raise the legal Minimum wage to $15p/h.

    2. That fruit and vegetables and staples like meat and bread and milk be exempted from GST.


    1. That emissions trading scheme be dumped and a legally enforceable sinking lid of carbon emissions be imposed on industry, and transport by legislation.

    2. That public transport be favoured over roading and motorway expansion.

    as a good start point

    • Jenny 14.1

      C.J. in your comment, I notice you don’t say anything about the Foreshore and Seabed.

      By ignoring this issue you give away any chance of action on Poverty Reduction and the Environment, which then become mere pipe dreams.

      Because without making some concessions to the Maori Party, a Labour Led, left leaning administration will not be possible in 2011.

      And even in 2015 when people are so disgusted with a National Led administration that they give Labour an overwhelming majority. Because Labour will then be able to rule alone they won’t be making concessions to the left out side their comfort zone.

      So C.J. by not addressing this issue you are ensuring, business as usual.

      capcha – “changing” let’s

  15. Jenny 15

    Tatou Tatou

    The Greens, Labour and the Maori Party are all fighting this odorous piece of legislation that aims to allow privatisation of water, amongst other attacks on local democracy.

    In every city now, there are people on the left, starting to realise that they need to work together beyond their separate groups.


    • So why doesn’t Turia admitt that the alliance with National is a bulls up and that Maori are being taken for granted. working class Tories are bad enough, Maori Tories are worse still. Its rather sad than Turia has led this promising party well away from what was hoped by most Socialists and Social Democrats .

  16. Swampy 16

    What’s a new left party needed for, what is wrong with all the old ones?

    The greens and Alliance should be enough.

  17. Jeremy Harris 17

    I broke the story of the new Left party involving McCarten, Hone Harawira, and Sue Bradford during the Mana campaign

    In the weekend, McCarten addressed the prospect of a new party in his Herald column:

    “That is nonsense. I’ve never had any conversations about such a thing with either Harawira or Bradford.”

    New Left Party..? Ah, no…

  18. What Matt said is there had not been a meeting to discuss such a party, @ the Unite conference on Saturday, what he said is that he is open to such an idea, if the time is right. Sue Bradford when she spoke before Matt, said that she is also open to the idea.

  19. deemac 19

    why not start a new left party? after all, it’s never been done before has it? oh wait a minute…
    V I Lenin (“Left Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder”) must be revolving on his sarcophagus!

  20. Missy Poo 20

    Oh come on you lot. Stop spouting all your socialist rhetoric.

    Middle NZ swing voters will NEVER vote for a break-away party with Hone in. He is seen as too much of a Maori Radical – far too scary for many. Sue B is too controversial for many ‘mum and dad’ voters and the younger voters just don’t get her. Nobody knows the other chap you are talking about – he is not headline material … yet!

    Middle NZ and young swing voters vote for personality not policy these days. It is the new trend and it will continue to be the way of the new politics in NZ: Too much American influence in our society is intruding on our style of politics.

    If anyone is going to invest time, money, resources and sheer sweat into a new political party it needs someone who has personality to drive it, along with good, sound and logical policy … I can’t see that happening in the near future.

    • Marty G 20.1

      A true Left party isn’t after the middle NZ swing vote, just as the Greens and ACT aren’t.

      • Missy Poo 20.1.1

        But they are the biggest block of undecided voters so having a party that will appeal to them will give the swing to the left that is needed.

        We need to understand that under MMP this huge block of swing voters will be the ones who vote in the governing party, not the die-hard right, left or green voters. Politics in NZ has changed forever and we cannot focus on what was but on what is and will be.

        • felix

          But they are the biggest block of undecided voters so having a party that will appeal to them will give the swing to the left that is needed.

          It wouldn’t be a move to the left at all then.

          • Colonial Viper

            Yeah depending on the decade both Labour and NAT end up pretending to be all centrist and middle NZ.

            While middle NZ gets decimated, but thats another discussion.

  21. Jenny 21

    Bomber Bradbury on the value and possibilities for a new Left Party

    The left must have room for aspiration

    “I find it the most disgusting of ethical molestations that the weakest and most vulnerable in society are being asked to do with less because the global economy was crashed by the greedy and corrupt, yet that is exactly what the ideologically stacked Welfare Razor Gang are proposing with their despicable bennie bashing attack on the welfare state.”

    Bomber Bradbury

  22. Missy Poo 22

    Why would it not?

    That is what is wrong with politics, especially leftist politics, in this country right now. We are being one -eyed and dismissive and making judgements, not considering what middle NZ wants/needs/is demanding.

    That is precisely why the conservatives are reaping the benefits right now. The left are not looking in the right places for the answers to the blight they are facing right now. Labour is losing ground rapidly and needs to get their wounded egos out of the place where the sun don’t shine and start thinking what the people of NZ need and want and woo those voters who are ready to be persuaded.

    I have always been a left voter, but am seriously thinking that perhaps the next election my vote will not be cast because I find the left are stuck in the past and not a party for NZ’s future with forward thinking policies or people for the future and are stuck in focusing on ideology … and many of those I socialise with and know who are also left of centre voters have the same thoughts too.

    Maybe my thinking is too simplistic for those who are die-hard leftists but these are my personal thoughts but they are reflected in middle NZ if only you choose to look.

    • felix 22.1

      *It’s much easier for everyone if you use the reply function instead of writing a new comment.

      But to your question: “Why would it not

      Well, you say you want to capture the centrist vote because it’s the biggest group of undecideds, and you say the way to do this is to drop the left-wing talk and be more centrist.

      I think the onus is on you to explain how on earth that qualifies as moving anything to the left.

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