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Onward

Written By: - Date published: 12:45 pm, November 10th, 2008 - 31 comments
Categories: activism - Tags:

I am incredibly proud to have worked with some many great people during the election campaign, and to know that many times more put in the hard work as well to defend what we believe in.

Organisations like Both Eyes Open, Drinking Liberally, and The Standard have shown it is still possible to build grassroots movement in this country. All of us have shown that we still do care, that Kiwis will fight for what they believe in. Both Eyes Open operated in 29 centres around the country, incredible for an organisation that was only established about two and a half months ago. Around a hundred thousand leaflets and posters were printed off from The Standard’s Campaign Hub. You did this yourselves. We did not wait to be led by the hierarchies of the political parties, we led ourselves.

We lost but not through any fault of the all of us who put in so much work on the ground. The blame lies with the people who failed to use their time in power to build a stronger base in the working class for social democratic action and who, instead, spent political capital on largely symbolic acts like the anti-smacking law.

There’s no use in pointing fingers, however. Now, we need to gear up to oppose the National/Act government as it attacks work rights, environmental protection, and public services. We will not, cannot, stand idly by while they seek to destroy what has been built.

Together we will protest against their laws, we will spread the word as they attack the ordinary people of this country, and, most importantly, we will build consciousness by talking to our friends and families and encouraging them to oppose a government that will be acting against their interests.

This website will be there, as a hub, as a place where we can talk, learn, and organise. It will grow larger, better, and stronger every day. It will expand into new and exciting areas. During the tough times ahead, we will continue to fly The Standard high.

31 comments on “Onward”

  1. sean 1

    Some wise advice for your next effort:

    Don’t throw stones when one is in a glasshouse.

  2. sean. i don’t get it.

  3. Ben R 3

    “The blame lies with the people who failed to use their time in power to build a stronger base in the working class for social democratic action and who, instead, spent political capital on largely symbolic acts like the anti-smacking law.”

    I thought they did build a strong base with the working class?

  4. rave 4

    Steve is right about need to rebuild local working class organisation and culture.

    Key won by default. The massive Labour non-vote was what gave Key his victory, nothing that he stood for. Key could not have used the media to demoralise Labour voters if there had been a strong working class organisation and culture in the localities.

    NACTs labour rights attacks will give us lots of opportunities to build community pickets and solidarity actions to get access to jobsites and defend unions. Working class culture depends on strong unions with an active rank and file.

    If Labour wants to survive as a working class party it has to base itself on active, democratic unions, and subject its parliamentary organisation to the activist base.

    Failing that, Labour will become history and be replaced by a new working class party that is representative of its heartlands.

  5. Ari 5

    I’m going to have to disagree that the changes to §59 were largely symbolic given the increased reporting of domestic violence and the shift in attitude towards physical discipline being less acceptable.

    We certainly did fail to define the debate about these small issues though, and those to the Right of our political spectrum beat us up with them pretty badly.

  6. bobo 6

    Good stuff Steve and others I appreciate your work here is important and hope it continues over the hard times ahead. I really don’t think there was much Labour could have done to win this election as the 4th term is a brick wall for even a good government to overcome.When John Howard got voted out Australia was doing well economically but people had just got tired of him, Kevin Rudd was a fresh face without a hardline union background making him electable. NZ Labour has been lucky having such a great leader the last 15 years , I just hope that there is no in fighting and factions that rear their ugly head as was the case before the Helen Clark era.

  7. Ianmac 7

    Thanks Steve and mates for all the hard work in keeping us informed and engaged. The sorry trolls don’t help whereas the informed right do. Always interesting to understand the oppositions’s thinking. Cheers

  8. ben 8

    …The Standard have shown it is still possible to build grassroots movement in this country.

    Grassroots? Until Saturday you were supported by the party leading the New Zealand Government, itself the recipient of donations from some of New Zealand’s wealthiest individuals.

  9. Vote Geek 9

    As an American and a New Zealander (this was my first time voting in here) I spot a similarity in what has happened to the Labour / Left here to what happened to the Democratic Party in the States in 2000 to 2004. After being demolished by the Republicans the Democratic Party was in ruins and there was talk of there being a permanent Republican majority in the states.

    The Democrats were lucky to have Howard Dean. After he lost the presidential nomination he stepped up and worked grass roots side of the party’s process to get elected the chairman of the party. He aligned strongly with grass roots blogs and recognized the importance of online organizational tools. This had the two-fold result of creating a surge of small donors and giving people that had a small interest in politics ways to easily get involved. Although New Zealand electoral laws, attitudes and government are different there are a lot of ideas that can be taken from the Democratic Party’s rebuilding. Labour should start working on creating more buy-in from left leaning people that don’t currently identify with a party. Within the bounds of New Zealand electoral law we should look in to building our own dailykos.com sights and wrenching fund raising away from the wealthy. Finally the Labour Party should push to recruiting members and grooming young MPs so that there is a deep reserve of leadership to take up the mantle when the time comes.

  10. lprent 10

    ben: Don’t be a dickhead – you are confusing us with the NZLP. You’re also confusing the NZLP with the government. Face it, statements like that just make you look totally thick.

    It costs $180/mo running costs on this site, and I pay it. There has been no funding from any other person or organization apart from 3 weeks from some ISP in Jan.

    Guess what I’m neither an organisation, the gummint, or one of the wealthy.

    I suspect you’re a troll, so I’d suggest you read Policy

  11. deemac 11

    congratulations are in order to all at The Standard who in such a short time and with such meagre resources have built a really useful asset for the progressive forces in NZ.
    Personally I’d ban all the trolls as they waste our valuable time and they have plenty of other avenues for their message of hate and fear – we don’t need to give it space here.
    I agree that grass roots organisation is the way to go, so that we are doing things with people, not for people. The Labour caucus tended to get isolated in the Beehive (an occupational hazard as there is always so much to do) and needs to rebuild its base, bottom up, not top down. Helen’s great record of work with non-NZLP forces will stand us in good stead in that respect as we regroup.
    Hasta la victoria siempre!

  12. fiona 12

    SP, you are so right about the failure to build a relationship with the working class. It is many of them who turned against Labour because of the repeal of s.59. I don’t care whether it was Labour’s bill or not – they were lumbered with it as they were with prostitution law reform and civil unions bill. Labour could have got away with some of the social reform, but they went too far. They wouldn’t listen and I don’t know whether even now they will listen.

    And what does my head in is that for the children who need our help – for the next Kahui twins who as we speak are being heinously abused – s.59 repeal doesn’t mean a flying f**k. What will help these children is addressing the poverty (which Labour was doing), and other social problems that contribute to their parents losing the plot and trashing their kids. The repeal of s.59 was a complete sop to the bleeding heart middle-classes, and it alienated the support Labour needed. So now these kids are at the mercy of a National-Act Government. Suffer the little children.

  13. ben,
    New Zealand Government, itself the recipient of donations from some of New Zealand’s wealthiest individuals.And don’t you wonder why, ben?

  14. Monty 14

    There are many and varied reasons why Labour Lost the election. I will help you out so that when Labour are returned to Government benches in nine years time you will remember

    1. Electoral Finance Act – Labour changed constitutional law for their own benefit – and without wide cross party support. The fine work of the Herald and right wing bloggers lost many votes in Auckland especially.
    2. Nanny state – I know the left are sensitive about this but generally we want the government to stay out of our lives.
    3. Third term arrogance – Too often Labour assumed they had a right to rule –
    4. Time for a change – as one person once said – Governments like nappies should be changed often and for the same reason
    5. Cullen – he was widely despised – that is why he was pretty much shut up for most of the election campaign. His “rich prick comment did nothing to help.
    6. Negative buggers – Labour were only negative for the duration of the whole campaign. I know the left try to paint it as the Nats being the negative ones – but you were wrong.
    7. The economy – Labour squandered nine good years – why should the be trusted in the bad years
    8. Winston Peters – Clark continued to protect the most corrupt politician NZ has ever had (and there have been a few ) – 95.8% of the population voted for another party – I thank every one of those voters for not voting for this parasite of NZ politics. He will be forgotten quickly and good riddance. He will not be missed. I am also grateful to the 4.2% who did vote for Winston – National now enjoys nearly half of that 4.2%.

  15. Vinsin 15

    Monty,

    1. EFA. Of course a government is going to change the rules to suit itself; however i can’t imagine you complaining if National were to do the same thing.

    2. Nanny State, this is probably true. People don’t like the words Nanny State; however i’ve yet to find decent examples of a Nanny State and in fact the only possible examples i can find seem to be reasonable and worthwhile policies.

    3. Third term arrogance, um, yeah that’s your opinion probably one that isn’t shared by a lot of people.

    4. Change, yes this is why Labour lost, fantastic rhetoric about change – even though change happens to really be ‘more of the same’.

    5. Cullen, no, lots of people like him, i’m bloody sad to see him go actually.

    6. Negativity, um maybe, this is what the media has said, but i’ve yet to find anyone really turned off by the negativity, i have found people turned on by National’s slogans but none that thought the negative campaign was worth talking about. I think most people understood that politics is a dirty game.

    7. Economy, while i don’t believe Labour has squandered anything i do believe an International recession is going to favor the opposition.

    8. Winston, yes National and Act did a good job carving up Winston, it was a dirty and fantastic move which got them across.

    I’m not going to miss Winston either – oh wait i am. Winston and Cullen are the best entertainers in politics and i will miss them a great deal. Seriously when am i ever going to hear someone say, ‘i apologize and withdraw those balls.’

  16. Felix 16

    Monty it’s fascinating to have your opinions in list form but seriously, most of those reasons only apply to the extreme right wing which you represent.

    The Nats most likely won because they identified a “mood for a change” and exploited it well.

    Most of the rest of your list is shit that most kiwis haven’t heard of, don’t care about or frankly disagree with.

    (hint: most kiwis don’t read slater or hooten and wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire so don’t pretend to speak for country, the electorate or any of the rest of us you stuck up elitist goon)

  17. keith 17

    Monty – go back to beating off over your Roger Douglas posters

  18. Carol 18

    Building a grassroots movement sounds good to me. The Vote with Eyes Open + Drinking Liberally, seem like a good mix of campaigning, socialising and fun. But I think “Drinking Liberally” sounds a bit middleclass liberal. Maybe more community events could be in order? Some outdoor festivals, live entertaninment if it can be organised free (or at least cheaply)? Might be a good community builder and focus in times of recession.

    I think it’s a good idea to do protests against any government actions that would undermine social justice. But also there needs to be a focus in building a movement with a positive focus and/or direction – like with some kind of slogan that diverse people can identify with….. not “yes we can” but something along those lines.

    I think the government spent so much time defending itself from right wing attacks over the last term, it was hard to develop a more positive direction. Now we have the chance to do that.

  19. RedLogix 19

    Thanks to VoteGeek above for your thoughtful comment. The line that particuarly struck me was this:

    Labour should start working on creating more buy-in from left leaning people that don’t currently identify with a party.

    NZ society is changing; while the Labour heartland started in the under median wage working class, these people are changing. We are gradually moving up into the middle classes. (Hell by my income and asset base I should be voting National.) Many of us come from working class roots, our fathers and grandfathers voted Labour, but now cloth caps have gone out of fashion, we do feel so identified any more. Lots of us were not really that unhappy with Helen Clark, but for lack of any solid connection with the Left we felt that “it was time for a change” and gave the other guys a turn.

    It wasn’t particularly malice or stupidity that made us vote for John Key, it was just the easy thing to do given years of incessant prodding by the media and not a lot of strong reasons why we should have resisted.

    This had the two-fold result of creating a surge of small donors and giving people that had a small interest in politics ways to easily get involved.

    And yes, nothing like putting a little money on the table to get people motivated.

    And in common with so many of the others on here today; this election defeat, while dissapointing, has also energised me. We’ve taken a bit of a kicking, but it was not a thrashing. All it’s done is get us wound up.

    It’s too soon to express this clearly, but I think some radical and vital renewal is going to happen to the broader left movement over the next few years… and part of me really wants to be a bigger part of it.

    Learn, don’t blame.

  20. RedLogix 20

    Monty,

    And 96.3% of the voters voted for some party other than ACT.

    On the basis of your reasoning I trust you will be happy for Mr Key to tell Mr Hide to something that involves both travel and sex at the same time?

    (And what of the 99.2% who didn’t vote for Mr Dunne?. Why should we tolerate that sad man in Cabinet?)

  21. Lampie 21

    Sorry but I would dispute the class system here. I’m middle class and always have been but there really is not a strong class structure in NZ, it is why people left England all those years ago to live here. If there was, majority in NZ would be middle class.

    Don’t build a party on a class system.

  22. And when New Zealanders are in better shape than we are now in three years time, would you say sorry to Prime Minister Key.

  23. Lampie 23

    If not when Brett

  24. Lew 24

    RL: Learn, don’t blame.

    Single wisest thing posted on this website since the election.

    L

  25. RedLogix 25

    Lampie,

    Fair enough. I used the term ‘working class’ myself with some reservation. I only did because it was a short hand term.

    But I agree, there is no essential connection between being left leaning and having a low income. In my own life I would point to the example of the man who taught me a great deal about life and politics, and he is probably wealthier than John Key.

    Wealth is nothing more than a tool. It is neither good nor bad in itself, but there are two aspects that determine this:

    1. That it was earned morally and justly.

    2. That it is spent wisely on ourselves, our families and others in our communities.

    The great trap of wealth, is that it creates an illusion of our own personal merit. Because it reduces our dependence on others, it tempts us to to imagne that somehow it also disconnects us from them. This is why so many well-off people are suckered into the cult of individualism, because their money has built a wall around them so high, their moral horizon is reduced to just themselves.

    But not all. It is not at all hard to find many examples of people who employ their wealth to benefit others, or even just ordinarily comfortable people, who contribute to the world around them in all sorts of simple unspectacular ways. You find them in churches, sports clubs, community groups, trade and social associations of all sorts. Lots of people serve local govt, DHB’s, school trusts and for relatively little in the way of renumeration. But they are rewarded by the act of selflessness itself. Being of service and help to others is in fact one of the most ‘happy making’ things a human being can do.

    To wrap: I agree totally. Socialism, or the sense of a fair and just society, is not the monopoly of any kind of ‘working class’. It is an ideal all sincere people connect with, if only it offered to them in a manner that is both congruent with their identity and values.

  26. mike 26

    “by talking to our friends and families and encouraging them to oppose a government that will be acting against their interests”

    Nice to see you have an open mind to the fresh administration SP

    Good luck with your underground hatefest mate, a few try-hard activists who take themselves far to seriously will not stop the new right taking this country to the next level.

  27. r0b 27

    During the tough times ahead, we will continue to fly The Standard high.

    Excellent.

  28. rave 28

    Learn, don’t blame?
    I would say learn before blaming.
    I blame John Key for being a ruling class flunky who spouts egalitarian crap to fool the masses.
    I blame his mate Lord Arsehole for being an egoistical stuck up Tory scrounger.
    I blame Roger Douglas for betraying the party that stood for the workers.
    I blame Wodney for being a egoistic self righteous boring tiresome yellow turd.

    I have no problem with identifying people’s class even if they are in denial.
    Class is not about what appears on the surface its about who produces the wealth.
    If your employed by a boss even on high pay and supposedly middle class you are still a worker.

    The class reality is the hidden agenda of Shonkey and Co.
    Every time Shonkey talks about raising productivity what he means is exploiting workers more.
    Every time Roger Douglas talks about falling capital productivity he means falling profits.

    Its a great shame that most Labour supporters don’t identify collectively as working class like they used to a generation or so ago, because if they did, Key would never get anywhere near government as a Labour-lite poseur.

    The problem is that a lot of workers believe the rags to riches hype and want to escape the working class as individuals trampling over their mates on the way.
    Key plays up to these self-seeking individuals.

    It seems the Standardistas have gone into stiff upper lip mode and are loath to be seen as sore losers but National didnt win this election, Labour lost it, so I think we should take it on the chin and tell the righties to fuck off.

    I don’t forgive the right for ripping off the people of this country in their own name. Fortunately hard times means they can’t fool most of the people most of the time.

    Socialism is the answer, it will come from workers organising as a class, but when it arrives and if it works properly it will eliminate classes.

  29. Lampie 29

    yeah I get you Red, I think it is more a polite media term for the Polynesians and Maori communities which leads to stereotyping. See Herald this morning agggghh

  30. slightlyrighty 30

    As an outsider, looking in, I have my own reasons as to why the Labour party has lost it’s way, and it’s identity.

    Society in the mid ’50’s was much more stratified than it is now, with clearer delineations between groups. With our larger post war industrial base growing, there was a mood for change that moved with society.

    A larger immigrant population in the ’60’s and ’70’s was required to fuel the new industries that grew and began to equal the primary industries that were the backbone of Conservative support.

    The working class began to assert itself more and we had the Kirk Government.

    Since ’84, Labour lost it’s way with workers giving way to intellectuals with ideals diverging from the true labour movement. This is why we had Rogernomics.

    This Outgoing Labour Govt has also diverged from the party of the worker, to the party of the political scientist and the covert feminist movement. The imagery of Helen’s Concession speech, flanked by a stage full of women, with only 2 men on the periphery, said more to me than the contents of her speech.

  31. I liken Labour’s defeat in some ways to the All Blacks loss against France (ironically in blue) in the 2007 World Cup (helps me cope).

    Labour, like the All Blacks, had huge experience and skills, but it largely didnt come together on the day. They chose the wrong game plan attacking Key when nothing seemed to stick to him, rather than playing to their strengths and highlighting the good things they’d delivered. Much like the All Blacks, being at the top for so long gave them an over hyped sense of their own superiority that manifested into a perception that the government was arrogant and passing whatever laws it wanted to.

    You had the referee, the media, obviously on the side of the French/Blue team. They let the forward pass (i.e. secret tapes/dirt digging/lying in public) go un-noticed and handed out the yellow card to Winston Peters, ejecting him from the field.

    In the end though the French/National blue team wanted it more than All Blacks/Labour, maybe being the underdog (dogs a rather apt description) for so long made them hungry for it, more so than Labour.

    Who says sport and politics dont go together?

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