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.