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NZF members are lefties – will they get a say in choosing government?

Written By: - Date published: 7:03 am, August 1st, 2017 - 19 comments
Categories: class war, election 2017, nz first, winston peters - Tags: , , , ,

Current polls leave National/minor and Labour/Green both short of majority. I had fond hopes that the left might get there without NZF, but we’re running out of time for that. Like it or not (I don’t) the chances of NZF determining the shape of the next government are increasing:

Newshub poll: Winston Peters cements position as kingmaker

Things are looking grim for both Labour and National ahead of the election, with the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll showing nasty drops.

National’s on 45.2 percent, down 2.2 percent. It’s now in the ‘danger zone’, unable to put a Government together on that.

Meanwhile Labour’s dropped 2.3 percent to 24.1 percent – the lowest ever on this poll in nine years.

Those votes have to go somewhere, and they’ve gone to New Zealand First and Winston Peters. It’s up 3.6 percent to 13 percent – its highest ever on this poll.

The Greens are also up, by 0.5 percent, bringing them to 13 percent too. It’s a strong result and the first time New Zealand First and Greens have been equal. …

‘We’ve got a lot of work to do’: English says new poll shows current govt would lose election

“On that poll last night, the current Government would lose the election, so we’ve got a lot of hard work to do over the next two months, because we’ve got to get our support up.” …

I’ve always assumed that Peters would go with National, but maybe not, if NZF members get a say. There was a fascinating piece by Branko Marcetic on The Spinoff earlier this month:

I joined NZ First and went to their conference to find out what they’re really up to

To its supporters, NZ First is the only party that truly gives a damn about the average Kiwi, and its policies are born of fairness and common sense. To its detractors, it’s a hotbed of racism and intolerance that threatens to bring Trump-like authoritarianism to New Zealand.

In an attempt to cut through the noise and get a sense of what the party truly is about in 2017, I decided to immerse myself, and look at the party as an insider. I paid the $10 fee to join the party, and signed up to attend the conference …

Despite the party’s association with anti-foreigner sentiment, immigration was rarely touched on across the weekend. In fact, if there was a prevailing theme weaving through the various speeches, discussions and debates at the 2017 conference, it was a steadfast opposition to neoliberal economics, a belief that New Zealand had gravely erred in the embrace of deregulation and globalised trade since the days of Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson.

Although it continues to see itself as a party of the centre, the New Zealand First on display at the conference often sounded like it had been founded by Jim Anderton when it came to economic issues. The running theme was that New Zealanders are caught in the clutches of the unscrupulous, wealthy and often foreign; in the thrall of the failed post-1984 neoliberal experiment. The ordinary working Kiwi is getting shafted – particularly in the regions – runs the message.

The party’s MPs, swept into power with a surprise resurgence in 2014, hit the same note in their speeches. Fletcher Tabuteau railed against the economic inequality that had been “caused by a failed neoliberal order”, which had made business, not people, the centre of political conversation. It was time for “trickle-up economics”, said the MP, that would build an economy from the bottom up.Denis O’Rourke complained that the National government had failed on housing and public transport, and bemoaned the state of Auckland’s transport infrastructure. Clayton Mitchell said that his reason for being in New Zealand First was the “growing gap in inequality”, and called for a renewed focus on getting workers “a fair day’s wage”. Ria Bond spoke about the urgency of taking better care of the mentally ill, a point that would be returned to again the next day in a guest speech by comedian Mike King.

Mahesh Bindra, the party’s spokesperson on corrections, called for the re-nationalisation of privatised prisons and for prisoners to be put to work in order “to earn their stay, like everyone else”.

Economic populism was evident in the party-wide debate over proposed remits. … Similarly, while NZ First is hardly renowned for its environmental policies, several remits related to environmental protection passed, including one to look into subsidising renewable energy installation in homes. Another called for a review of the strategy for minimising “contamination poisoning and unsustainability”.

Peters’ speech continued this theme. “Some of us know what poverty smells, tastes and feels like,” he remarked, in between assailing the government for housing, mental health, education, policing and other policies that failed ordinary New Zealanders. He charged that “the poor have been bypassed and the middle-class have been left behind,” that “people are sick of worrying about bills,” that middle class families “were barely treading water”. Kiwis “want to know why as working men and women they are so damn poor.” He called National the “Robin Hood party in reverse” and railed against zero-hour contracts.

“The 33-year-old model of Douglas and Richardson is utterly broken,” he later said to more audible agreement.

Peters’ railing against post-1980s neoliberalism isn’t something he just introduced to the stump. As Bill Ralston pointed out last month, he’s been criticising the “neoliberal experiment” in front of other audiences. But as Ralston also (somewhat unwittingly) points out, it’s a significant departure from current New Zealand political orthodoxy, which since the 1980s has meant both major parties tacitly agree that Labour’s reforms in the 1980s are essentially permanent.

The view of NZ First from the inside may similarly help to explain Labour’s polling doldrums this election. It looks clear enough that many formerly reliable Labour voters have been swayed by the Winston Peters’ open rejection of the “neoliberal experiment”.  …

It’s a long and fascinating piece – go read the whole thing on The Spinoff.

I don’t understand NZF voters, because I can’t imagine voting for a party whose basic alignment isn’t clear. It’s still obvious that Peters himself could swing either way, and the political left should in no way be relying on him. But as to his party, it’s a lot further to the left than I thought. If NZF members get a say, that’s hopeful.

19 comments on “NZF members are lefties – will they get a say in choosing government?”

  1. Tamati Tautuhi 1

    74% of NZF Voters would prefer a Labour/NZF Coalition Government if Winston & NZF went with National I would say that would be the end of NZF forever ?

    • We all thought that in 1998 as well after their spectacular fall from grace after a) going with National when they hinted that they’d go with Labour and b) their spectacular meltdown at National’s hands.

  2. I am beginning to wonder if a NZF/Green coalition could actually work. There are issues of language and the words they both use to get past, but there seems to be a common thread of policy and desire there…

    Who needs Labour?

  3. Some years back , I recall an article with a graph that showed that NZ First was ( at least at that stage ) to the left of the Greens on economic issues. I wish I could find that article , but certainly seemed to tell quite an accurate story at the time when I compared Labour , Greens etc.

    The same article also showed that the last govt of Rob Muldoon was left of Labour and the Greens ,- and was actually compared almost to Mana. The point was made , – that this was how far to the hard right NZ politics has gone.

    This is something that many right wingers seem to forget , … that not only our recent political history but its cultural , economic and social leanings ,- were based on the Keynesian model , not neo liberalism. Neo liberalism is a newcomer. And it is rather extraordinary to see people like WAYNE commenting as if this was not the case.

    It is also a lie that neo liberalism is ‘ permanent’ . That is only a scare tactic. A scare tactic used by the only ones who have something to lose if a fairer system were to be reconstructed , – with the only ones being scared being the neo liberals themselves.

    A lot of people have deliberately focused on one or two areas of NZ First policy ,- and almost conveniently ignored the most of it . The fact is , there is more similarity’s between NZ First , Greens and Labour than there are dissimilarity’s. All three working together would create a new era of change for this country.

    And that new era of change would see literally hundreds of thousands of New Zealander’s well being and that of their children lifted from despair and despondency about their future prospects and politics to seeing the wisdom of the vote and that there can be effective changes made.

    I think there needs to be a little less division and a whole lot less taking on board what the media have to say all the time . The media should just be doing their job , keeping their nose out of trying to influence the public and reporting on policy , – and cease with the constant slanting of interviews and articles designed to favor just one party .

    • lprent 3.1

      That article about the NZF members is pretty accurate. I’ve managed to find time to go to two NZF party conferences as ‘media’, and what Branko Marcetic saw was the same as what I’d seen several years before.

  4. esoteric pineapples 4

    Labour and the Greens would never agree to a referendum on the Maori seats while Winston has made this a key policy. Therefore, NZ First only has one option and that is to go into coalition with National. A vote of NZ First is simply a vote for National and this has to pointed out again and again till election day.

  5. LivinInTheBay 5

    Winston has previously said that he’d talk First with the largest party, which makes sense.

    I’m not sure MMP intended a PM to come from a party with less than 25% support with a leader with less than 10%.

    Plus Winston hates the Greens.

    • srylands 5.1

      “I’m not sure MMP intended a PM to come from a party with less than 25% support”

      I don’t understand the basis for such a conclusion. All MMP governments to date have comprised a large party plus one or more minor parties who get a few policy concessions.

      However inevitably we will see a government made up of more equal parties. For example Labour on 25 percent the Greens on 15 percent and TOP on 10 percent.

      • Tamati Tautuhi 5.1.1

        Nah definitely won’t be National you are just trolling change the bait m8.

    • Tamati Tautuhi 5.2

      NZF should get 20-25% and should be able to have some say in forming the next Government, a lot of disillusioned Nats and Labours supporters moving over to NZF.

    • I’m not sure MMP intended a PM to come from a party with less than 25% support with a leader with less than 10%.

      I’m pretty sure that MMP didn’t intend anything – abbreviations just don’t do that.

      The people who wrote the rules for MMP have allowed for such to happen.

      • Richard Christie 5.3.1

        At least MMP ought to be altered so as to ban party leaders with under 10% electoral support or, say, half a dozen seats, from holding ministerial positions.

        That’ll put a stop to the buying of support from pricks like Dunne with baubles of power and ministerial salaries.

  6. Brutus Iscariot 6

    It’s a risky strategy, but NZF could also send the country back to the polls rather than enter into a formal coalition with National. Or stay on the cross benches and pick them off slowly.

    In that scenario i believe they absorb Labour as the main opposition party, and end up the major partner in a 3 way coalition in 2020.

    • exkiwiforces 6.1

      I would like to see NZF stay on the cross bench, as I think they would have more options achieving their policy goals than with going national if it becomes a tight race and Winnie has a long memory at what happen to NZF in a national coalition. Hell they might be to push though a some Labour and possibly the odd Green policy. Just have a look at the Oz senate atm.

  7. Psych nurse 7

    Offer Peters 18 months as PM followed by Ardern when she had more experience in Goverment.Peters couldn’t pass up that opportunity, he’d die a happy man. The Greens would have to suck it up.

  8. Sable 8

    There seems to be an assumption that NZ First attracts right wing voters. I know a few who vote that way (now myself included) and many of them are ex Labour. Sick and tired of their “Blairite” attitudes and seeming inability to correct the 80’s shift to the right.

  9. Sumsuch 9

    You don’t know which way he will go? Says it all. Tiresome for ever Peters. But appreciate him speaking explicitly against the 84 free-market takeover, which no other politician does. Given the smothering of so many left wing points of view.

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