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The Election That Left One Third of Us Behind

Written By: - Date published: 5:32 pm, September 23rd, 2014 - 171 comments
Categories: assets, Deep stuff, democracy under attack, democratic participation, election 2014, labour, national, Politics, poverty - Tags:

No one should begrudge John Key and the National party the right to celebrate an impressive election victory. It is little consolation to those who opposed them that the win is very much a personal triumph for the Prime Minister rather than for the party and government he leads.

As the tumult and the shouting die away, however, and there is time for more mature reflection, we can register a number of reasons as to why even the victors might feel a sense of unease about the outcome.

The triumphalism in some parts of the media would have us believe that everybody loves John Key and that the country is united behind him. Let us simply observe, as an antidote to such an illusion, that only one in three of eligible voters actually voted National; more than 60% of us did not join the bandwagon.

John Key himself, in his warning to his colleagues that they are not to show any arrogance, seems to understand this very well.

It will quickly be observed that other parties, and particularly Labour, did much worse. Agreed – they certainly have their own problems, but that is not the particular point I am making.

A democratic political process in which nearly a third do not participate is not in good health – especially in a country with a traditionally enviable record in terms of voter turnout.

We need to know who the nearly one million eligible voters who did not vote are, and why they stayed at home on polling day. It is not good enough for the rest of us to say that it was up to them and that, if they couldn’t be bothered, they have only themselves to blame.

We know, of course, who did make it to the polls. They identified themselves as soon as the election result became clear. They certainly included those who – against the wishes of the majority of Kiwis – bought shares in the partly privatised electricity companies and who immediately celebrated a surge in the value of their shareholdings.

It is a reasonable assumption that it also included others who saw their other shareholdings and other financial assets elsewhere immediately rise in value after the election. And those who have seen the value of their houses go up week by week, especially in Auckland, by more than some of our fellow-citizens can earn in six months – and those with good jobs and incomes, able to afford foreign holidays and fees at private schools for their children – they will also have had good reason to get to vote in favour of continuing and extending the good times represented by the status quo.

They all knew very clearly what they were voting for and had good reason to do so. But why did the nearly one million non-voters stay at home? Did they not have an even stronger reason to vote?

We have a pretty good idea of who the non-voters were. They were poor, often unemployed, poorly educated, with worse health than the rest of us, often brown-skinned, living in sub-standard housing and bringing up their children in poverty.

Did they not have everything to gain from change – a change that would not leave them languishing and invisible and falling further behind while the triumphant one in three amongst us celebrated their victory?

Why did they not do at least something to ward off the changes promised by a re-elected National government? Are they really content with the prospect of a next three years that will see their rights at work severely curtailed, that will mean their being “moved off benefits”, that will produce further cuts in the public services on which they especially depend?

The answer to these questions is disarmingly simple – but should nonetheless be of fundamental concern to all those who care about our country. They did not vote because they did not see the point.

They had no confidence that the political process took any account of their interests. They had ceased to believe anything that politicians said. They felt disengaged and confused, and convinced that there was nothing they could do to improve matters.

They are the people who are powerless and literally without hope, to whom things are done by faceless forces who have little idea of how life is for them. People who are without hope do not vote. Hopelessness has, in practical terms, disenfranchised them.

The National party might, if they are unwise, treat this with equanimity. But the party with real questions to answer is the Labour party.

How is it that the Labour party has failed to engage with what many would see as their natural constituency? What has led the Labour party to let down a million people who in earlier times would have looked to Labour to defend their interests?

As the entrails of the election are picked over, these are the questions that, for their own sake – but even more for the sake of the disenfranchised and the country as a whole – Labour must now answer. Our country cannot afford to leave so many of our fellow-citizens behind.

Bryan Gould

24 September 2014

171 comments on “The Election That Left One Third of Us Behind ”

  1. adam 2

    Thanks Bryan, I think you missed the anger that those who did not vote feel. The quiet rage. They feel it for both side of the house, they feel let down. I’ve dealt with grown men crying about the impotence they feel and I tell you the disgust that they feel towards our so called leaders is something to behold.

    Labour is dead. They are gone. They failed in their role and responsibility when the unleased capitalism untethered on working people. They opened the door to hell, and people have gone there. Working people will never forgive, and they will never forget. They will, in all probability, never vote again.

    As a Libertarian communalist I think it’s great people don’t vote, when they chose to – in a considered and thoughtful manner. When they have the ability to be reflexive and take the political process into account. We are getting anarchy by default – this is not the road to freedom, liberty and community. This is the road to civil war.

    • Clearly working people do forgive as evidenced by the Maori and Pasifika vot for Labour and if Labour stood up more clearly and sensibly for working people they would vote for it again.

      A defeatist attitude is not going to be much help to desperate working people.

      Labour was hijacked and used as the vehicle for the test run of monetarist policies in the 1980s and its problem is that it has never divested itself of that legacy.

      A party is what its members and those who vote for it make it. The fact that a bunch of entryists, cynics and opportunists took over the party of the working class 30 years ago and used it to open the gates to a resurgent corporate capitalism that has hammered sections of the working class doesn’t mean the party is dead – and if you accept it is, you confirm they’ve won.

      • adam 2.1.1

        Those electorates had appalling turnouts TeWhareWhero and you know it.

        I’m not defeatist, I just calling a dead dog, dead.

        The hijacked argument would have worked if the 5th Labour government pulled away from this economic hell. But, they did not. And why have the so called 5th column not been dealt with?

        I’m arguing for another way – one that does not carry the stench of a broken party unable to fix itself in 30 year.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.2

        The fact that a bunch of entryists, cynics and opportunists took over the party of the working class 30 years ago and used it to open the gates to a resurgent corporate capitalism that has hammered sections of the working class doesn’t mean the party is dead

        When that party is supposed to be working for the working class and not against it? Yes it does.

        • TeWhareWhero

          So – abandon the Labour Party – with all it meant and could still mean – to the right wingers who are happy to become the Democratic Party to National’s Republican Party? And then what?

          • Colonial Viper

            The time and effort would be better spent to build grassroots left wing movements, capabilities and infrastructure, instead of playing into Labour Party palace politics in Wellington.

            • TeWhareWhero

              Why hasn’t that been done in the past?

              • Draco T Bastard

                Because people still believed in the labour Party. They don’t any more which is why new parties (Mana, IP) are starting to come out now. But recall, it took Labour from its formation in 1916 through to 1935 to achieve power against the prevailing RWNJs of the time. And even then it took a depression to get them that far.

                • Pat O'Dea

                  “Because people still believed in the labour Party. They don’t any more which is why new parties (Mana, IP) are starting to come out now. But recall, it took Labour from its formation in 1916 through to 1935 to achieve power against the prevailing RWNJs of the time. And even then it took a depression to get them that far.”

                  This is correct Draco. In fact the first decade that the Labour party stood in elections they were completely wiped out.

                  One of the factors that led to this depressing lack of traction for Labour in its early days, was the fact that all the main (supposedly) contending parties of the time, the Liberal Party, the United Party, and the Reform Party all ganged up on them to keep them from gaining seats.

                  You could almost say that history is being repeated.

              • Colonial Viper

                Why hasn’t that been done in the past?

                It was. From the ~1915s onwards. That’s how the original Labour Party came into being and won its first election.

                BUT the Labour Party totally fucked itself in the 80’s 90’s 00’s (including selling off property assets in Wellington which would be worth a motherlode today, and destroying its reach into hundreds of thousands of working class homes by decimating NZ manufacturing and unions, and also by corporatising TVNZ).

                The fifth Labour Govt managed to stave off the inevitable results of this self-knee capping due to the very sharp political and operational management of Helen Clark’s team.

                But now, the problems and weaknesses Labour set up for itself a generation ago and have never really come to terms with (and in fact usually outright denies eg TRP who keeps saying that the betrayal of the 4th Labour Govt via Rogernomics is irrelevant to any electoral results today) have come home to roost and its fucked Labour.

                I did the maths. Fewer than 1 in 6 NZ adults voted for NZ Labour these last elections.

                John Key is not being arrogant when he’s talking a fourth term. Him and English have a definite, non-negligible chance of pulling it off.

                • I was talking about the immediate past CV. There’ve been attempts to establish alternative parties to Labour since the 1980s and they’ve all folded and none managed to build anything like a mass base of support.

                  How much has the on-going attachment to Labour’s ‘damaged brand’ hampered the growth of a viable alternative party? Do we need to consider different ways of organising? Is there even any point in trying to build a parliamentary road to socialism?

                  I don’t pretend to have the answers – no one person does. What I do know from years of being involved in left wing politics is how readily the Left splinters and how destructive sectarianism is.

                  If people had stayed inside the Labour Party or joined it and worked to take it back from the hijackers, careerists and opportunists etc would that have made a difference?

                  • Colonial Viper

                    A political version of Gresham’s Dynamic has been in play in NZ Labour for many years. Shitty bad behaviour drives away good MPs, good organisers, good activists, good staff. The ratio of bad behaviour remaining increases, causing another round of good people to leave while everyone remaining gets worse.

                    This is a death spiral.

                • Vaughan Little

                  Campaigning for Labour in 2011 I came across a lot of people who were really angry – seriously angry – at labour because of the 80s. Labour needs to publicly apologize to the people who got burned, and it needs to publicly acknowledge the damage it did. History doesn’t go away, and you need to face up to it.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    I came across those people while campaigning in 2011 as well. Often people in their late 40s, 50s. Their hate and disdain for Labour is palpable. They usually don’t vote National though as far as I can tell; the thing is that they usually don’t vote at all.

                    History doesn’t go away, and you need to face up to it.

                    Yes. One way or another, Labour is being made to do exactly that.

                  • Alex

                    I wonder why people are not so angry at National and the Ruth Richardson “experience” in the 1990s. I would suggest National’s social and employment reforms were at the very least the same if not more damaging than Labour’s.

                    People are forgetting that in 1984 New Zealand was the Albania of the South Pacific, we were on the verge of bankruptcy. We tend to look backwards with rose tinted glasses. We needed the reforms, what we didn’t need was the speed and manner of them.

                    I’m gutted that Labour lost by such a margin, but we need to examine where the Labour’s base is, what it represents, who it represents and who is best to lead it. That is discussion for all Labour members to be part of.

    • annie 2.2

      Oh for goodness sake … BOO HOO

      • AmaKiwi 2.2.1

        Anger. The reason non-voters do not vote in anger, not apathy. This according to a UK study reported recently in The Guardian. (Sorry, I cannot give an exact reference.)

        A million angry adult New Zealanders is damning and frightening.

        Violent revolutions begin this way. They rarely end with a new democracy.

    • Tracey 2.3

      my “son” was a first timevoter. He registered but didnt vote.

      Queued on friday, was in wrong queue got to the front, pointed to new queue. Queued for 15 minutes, got to the front and they had run out of forms. RUN OUT OF FORMS. On saturday morning he had some work then had cricket all day. He didnt vote. Not out of anger but cos of bizarre failings at the booth.

      Not saying people are all not voting cos of this. But is it likely he was the only one. He said there were people queued behind him.

      • Peter Matthews 2.3.1

        Agree Tracey, unexpected events must also make up some of these numbers. My wife’s grandfather had a stroke late last week (thankfully he’s okay) and four members of her family didn’t vote simply because being at the hospital with him was more important

  2. I posted this earlier today on another story – “In order to win the next election Labour has to be an effective opposition to this government which, now it has a clear mandate, will show its real colours.

    Labour HAS to start connecting with those Kiwis who are so turned off from politics they don’t bother to vote. It failed utterly and miserably in that task – and a diversion into yet another clash of male egos over who gets to be sheriff is the last thing we need – and is precisely what the rightwing is hoping will happen.

    National’s propagandists used Labour’s failure to build a strategic alliance with its political partners and its internal divisions – to create a nasty but very effective image – one that resonated with a lot of Kiwis. It was about ‘winners’ and ‘losers’. And an awful lot of Kiwis love – no, NEED – to be on the wining side.

    Right wingers on this blog have been unable to resist gloating – which is fair enough as we’d be doing a bit of that if we’d won – but more worrying is the widespread tendency among National supporters to write off 1 in 3 of their fellow Kiwis as ‘losers’.

    That’s unforgivable.”

    • Jenny Kirk 3.1

      You are talking a lot of sense, TeWhareWhero. Yes – I’d agree. Labour has failed with those voters who are turned off from politics, or who have never seen the point of politics in their own lives.
      We’ve made some headway – South Auckland, some Maori seats – so someone along the way has managed to get through to a few – and maybe those in charge of the campaign in Wellington need to take heed of this fact, work out why, and perhaps emulate it in other districts.

      • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 3.1.1

        We’ve made some headway. If we’re counting 1922 as the starting point, your headway is a full 0.6%. 92 years for 0.6% headway.

        At this rate of progress, Labour will be in government in a mere 172 years.

        Focus in the positives though, champ.

        • higherstandard

          Gormless good to see you old chap.

          I had hopes that the Labour party/movement might learn something from this election loss but the behaviour of their caucus/activists and intelligentsia like Gould have me despairing.

          Can’t be good for a democracy like ours to have such a very weak opposition who spend all their energies pandering to an activist base and itemising the lint in their navels.

          • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

            HS: I thought you had preventative detention. Lynn’s getting soft.

            • higherstandard

              I think I may self ban, even the more moderate of the commenters here are getting more and more barking mad, one used to be able to have a considered and sensible discussion at this site over the years but now it appears to be drowned out by fringe loonies.

    • word 3.2

      +1 TeWhareWhero.

  3. Dont worry. Be happy 4

    Civil war is the natural end to thwarted democratic processes.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Civil unrest first. Civil war is what happens when the military and security forces start taking sides against themselves.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.2

      Revolution is the ultimate expression of the resurgence of oppressed democratic society.

      If we continue to follow the path that Labour put us on thirty years ago then we will have societal collapse followed by revolution.

      • Chooky 4.2.1

        How about a new grassroots umbrella group called the ‘Left Cooperative Group’ ?( or similar)…which includes Greens, Int/Mana, NZF and a new Red-Labour Party ? (smile )

        …this would get rid of the ABCs because no one would vote for the old Rogered- Labour Party anymore…Cunliffe could lead the Red- Labour Party (if voted)

        ….the ‘Left Cooperative Group’ would have some super smart and cooperative strategists from each of the constituent parties with a mandate to help advise and co-ordinate the Election campaign for all the parties so they did not conflict in an MMP electoral system and at the same time maximised the system for their parties

        • You mean like… an Alliance? LOL

          This thing has literally happened before.

          • Chooky

            yes i thought it had lol….back in the mists of time…and I seem to recall it ended a bit of a fizzer ( over Afghanistan)

            ….but you got any better solutions? ( personally i dont fancy civil unrest , societal collapse, civil war and revolution …suggested as where we are heading , above)

            …there needs to be something to bind all the Left parties together so they are working with each other for a Left win under MMP

            …rather than knee capping each other , allowing the right wing to run their msm and PR dirty ops tanks through their defence and attack lines , decimating the Left and bringing in another f..king Nact government.( united we stand , divided we fall )

  4. karol 5

    There’s a problem with the link in the middle of the post.

    [B] – No such wording or link in the original. Have deleted it from the post.

  5. JeffRo 6

    National or Labour? Who will make a change for the poorer people of NZ?

    The difference between the two in respect to the people at the bottom end. Pretty much nothing. A Labour government won’t change these peoples lives. The issues run a bit deeper than that.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1

      Oh yeah? Pray continue, oh deep one.

      The facts, by the way, please have a glance over them in support of your assertions. Relative* growth in GDP, employment levels, wage levels, that sort of thing.

      Don’t hold back.

      *Labour-led vs. Owned party government.

  6. BM 7

    We have a pretty good idea of who the non-voters were. They were poor, often unemployed, poorly educated, with worse health than the rest of us, often brown-skinned, living in sub-standard housing and bringing up their children in poverty.

    I reckon maybe half are that.

    The rest are just normal people who can’t be fucked, don’t care, don’t know enough or were too busy.

    Give up on the non voters, they’re not your path to power.

    • wtl 7.1

      This comment pretty much tells us a lot about attitudes about those on the left and those on the right. The original post has Bryan Gould despairing that 1/3 of New Zealanders are not voting, probably because they don’t feel like it will change anything or make their lives better. It says nothing about non-voters being the “path-to-power” but rather it says that we have the responsibility to ensure that all New Zealanders are a part of this country and are not left behind.

      To you, obviously power is all that matters and voters are only there to give you power. To others, there are far more important things than power in and of itself.

      • BM 7.1.1

        Why do you care if people don’t vote?

        The only reason, I can see is that the left see these people as their meal ticket.

        Problem is the more you bribe the people who don’t vote, the more you drive existing voters into the arms of National.

        It’s a zero sum game at best.

        • wtl

          I care that people don’t vote because these people deserved to be represented. Even if they would vote for someone I oppose, I would rather they voted than didn’t.

          I care because these people have the right to have as much say as you or I, but instead choose not exercise that right.

          I care because I know that a democracy as about more than just voting, yet if so many people aren’t exercising the simplest and most basic democratic right, than our democracy is deeply unhealthy.

          At the most basic level, I care because I believe in the system and the system itself is more important that who actually wins.

          The fact that you can’t see any reason for caring about non-voters apart from ‘getting their votes’ really just reinforces my point.

          • Potato


          • Tracey


            A big difference between BM and bryan gould is bryan understands how important getting people represented is to a thriving society, BM is happy to discourage voters who dont vote for his world view. hence nats strategy

    • kiwigunner 7.2

      I agree with this. The missing voters are non voters. The target must be the new working class. Many of these people earn $50 to $70k and still struggle to make ends meet. They are asking themselves why when they have done well to get this far their lives are stalling whilst others are skyrocketing. Somehow they need to have their hope and life uplifted or at least the prospects of it. I don’t know what the policy are that will do this but I sure do know that the promise of more tax (regardless if it is appropriate or not) and an increased working life (same) will not excite them.

  7. Nick 8

    Good article Bryan, all that time in my home town Southampton was obviously good for you. The scary thing for Labour is that only one in six potential voters wen their way. Those two in every six who did not vote are as you say the biggest issue because they should be Labour heartland.

    My mother, a life long Labour Party member commented that people of her generation were depressed that the social and economic conditions that they and their parent struggled for have been so easily given away. So the obvious question must be what is relevant enough to the non voters that they will be motivated enough to get of their chuffs and vote? Cant be that difficult.

  8. Bill 9

    If it was post war and up through the 70s, and I was poor, I’d probably have a reason to vote. Things were getting better at an inter-generational level.

    But it hasn’t been that way for a few decades now.

    Instead, we’ve had a gradual worsening of peoples situations (sometimes slower, sometimes faster).

    Maybe we’re on an inexorable path to dictatorial governance? What reason is there for elites these days to offer any concessions by way of health, education, higher wages, a better standard of living, or by way of any other mark of social welfare?

    There are none, and with that, no reason (for many) to vote.

    Our ‘social memory’, and with that, our expectations too, has been eroded by 30 years or so of neo-classical economics presided over by politicians of all stripes, suitably aided and abetted by all major media, ever anxious to peddle the lines and rationales of their organisation’s owners – those ‘off the ropes’ elites again.

    • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 9.1

      Maybe we’re on an inexorable path to dictatorial governance?

      How do you figure?

      • Bill 9.1.1

        Growing percentage of disenfranchised voters. Managerial/professional/careerist politicians splitting hairs to define a left and a right. Policy enacted on the back of lobbying instead of with an eye to the populace….and so on.

        Actually. It could be instructive to contrast and compare with Scotland (similar population) where people engaged once there was something to engage over and where deference to neo-classical economics was off the cards.

        17000 people have joined the SNP and 3000 joined the Greens off the back of a loss in the independence referendum. Go figure. I believe Labour claimed they’d gained hundreds of new members off the back of ‘their’ win.

        • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

          OK, Bill. I’m going to let you into a little secret.

          Telling everyone we’re living in a dictatorship when we’re clearly not, makes everyone think that people on your side of politics is completely doo-lally.

          Telling everyone John Key is in the pay of Merril Lynch/the Illuminati/ill-defined American interests, makes everyone think that people on your side of politics is completely doo-lally.

          These are reasons why hardly anyone votes Labour.

          But shhhhh. Don’t tell anyone.

          (Only joking, no-one’s listening anyway, and this is why you’re doomed).

          • Bill

            Writing that I’m telling everyone we’re living in a dictatorship when were clearly not when I clearly didn’t, is what’s kinda doo-lally, no?

            Same goes for the rest of your top secret ‘hush-hush’ squirrel comment.

            • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

              Sorry. I retract. You said: Maybe we’re on an inexorable path to dictatorial governance?

              Which is nothing like that.

  9. Draco T Bastard 10

    How is it that the Labour party has failed to engage with what many would see as their natural constituency?

    Because they’re trying very hard to engage with National’s natural constituency.

    • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 10.1

      Draco: what will it take to convince you that Labour’s problem is not a failure to be more left wing? They promised 5 new taxes. They promised privatisation of the means of production of electricity. They apologised for being men. They promised to select candidates on the basis of gender. I heard the leader promise to go on tele on weekly basis until there were no more poor people.

      And they had their worst result since is Stalin was appointed General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party.

      • adam 10.1.1

        Another right wing commentator who fails to understand basic economics of the left wing politics. I know you live in VRW lala land there Gormless, but the adults are talking.

        • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

          By all means, Adam, keep talking to each other. It is working out so well.

          I remember how disappointed we all were in 1922 when Labour did so badly. I was over it by the mid-30s.

          Oh no. That’s right. I didn’t. Because 1922 is beyond living memory.

          • brian

            “Because 1922 is beyond living memory”

            Based on the dates you refer to, you probably know my Mum well, Gormless.

            My mother remembers the year 1922, quite happily. She is a fan of Annette King (in Rongotai) and Lees-Galloway (in Palmerston North), but reserves judgement on Cunliffe being the right choice for Leader. Key is a “nasty” man. She now lives in a retirement village, where 90% of people vote National, but with her voice 90% of the electioneering in the village is Labour. Now having voted in 26 elections, there cannot be many people redder than my Mum. She hopes that she will still be around for her 27th.

      • RedLogix 10.1.2

        They apologised for being men.

        Men who beat, abuse and kill the women and girls in their lives. Cunliffe rightly told us this was a shameful record and stood up to take ownership of this on behalf of all men.

        The fact that the right then lampooned this and has made it an attack meme is a matter of abhorrence and disgust to me.

        • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

          I am struggling, RL. Wherever I turn, there are examples of the cognitive dissonance of the left.

          I don’t think I am being biased (because I have always had a soft spot for you) but I think yours is the best example so far.

          • ExStatic

            You may be a right wing dork but that was an amazing comment.

          • TeWhareWhero

            Can you please explain how what RL said was an example of CD.

            • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell


              Yeah. Maybe not CD. I have done some Googling. I am going with Bizarre Delusion.

          • RedLogix

            Explain why the record of men abusing women in this country is something to be proud of?

            Is there not a moment when you saw yet another story of abuse in the media and thought – ‘that’s just god-awful’?

            If you were part of an organisation, or company, or club, or any damn thing where some of your members behaved this badly – over and over again – would you not feel some pang of conscience? Would you not have some small question about the culture and values of the organisation?

            Would it not be appropriate for someone to stand up and say to the victims – the majority of us find it shameful, we condemn it, we want it to stop – it’s way past time we took some collective responsibility and said we are sorry?

            And I’m fully aware this is a story with many dimensions. I’ve died in many ditches here exploring some of them to vociferous disapproval – but the non-negotiable bottom line has always been the same. Men must stop hurting and abusing women and take undiluted responsibility for doing so.

            The fact that so many people brought into this idea that Cunliffe was ‘apologising for being a man’ rather than expressing shame at the behaviour of some men and showing collective responsibility for changing it – tells me how very ingrained the abuse is and how much they want to deny it.

            • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

              Oh. RL: you’ve misunderstood. You have decided I am arguing that I am proud of the record of men abusing women in this country.

              When I am just not.

              I am not entirely clear how I misled you about my position on this, but I apologise for doing so.

              I wholeheartedly agree that men must stop hurting and abusing women. I am doing my bit by not now or ever hurting and abusing women. I also argue that those who do so should be subjected to the full force of the law. I think, in all of the circumstances, this is the best I can do.

              There may be lots of things I do that could be apologised for. The other week, I drank far too much sherry, and told my mother in law a ribald joke about a panzer commander and a milk maid. I urge you, RL, not to apologise for my appalling lapse of judgement.

              • RedLogix

                You were the one who repeated the line They apologised for being men. which was a cynical right-wing misrepresentation of what DC said.

                I think, in all of the circumstances, this is the best I can do.

                No it is not. Your silence makes you complicit.

                Right now I’m on a mine site in some forsaken hell-hole. Last week I politely talked with a work-mate that one of his racist jokes was not all that funny really.

                It was an awkward thing to do. I risked being ostracized and ridiculed by people I live and work with 24hrs a day for weeks on end. It would have been way easier “in the circumstances’ to have kept my mouth shut.

                • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

                  For your analogy to work, I would have had to be in a position where I was confronted by domestic violence by a man against a woman. I am sorry, but I haven’t. But if I ever am, I will try my best to stop it. And I will not consider myself to have been any sort of big hero. It just seems like the sensible thing to do.

                  Sorry about that.

                  • RedLogix

                    But if I ever am, I will try my best to stop it.

                    Best of luck with that. From experience I can tell you it can be scary and dangerous. If you do intervene you will be a hero – although you can be guaranteed no-one will thank you for it.

                    But you divert from the point. DC was making a statement of moral leadership. He was expressing the shame I frequently feel as a man, when I’m confronted not so much with the actual violence – but with the all too common attitudes, excuses and evasions that allow it to fester in our communities year after year.

                    Maybe this is where I differ completely in outlook from you Ole. It is an odd truth of my life that my closest friends were all the sons of church ministers. Maybe that’s why I ‘get’ DC and you don’t.

                    And the churches – for all their many failings – were the one place in our society where we used to expect moral and social leadership. After all it was in Baptist and Methodist church halls that the first Labour Party meetings were held. The roots of socialism in this country have more to do with a muscular, liberal Christianity than Marxism.

                    And given how few New Zealanders have anything to do with churches these days maybe this is why so many were entirely tone-deaf to DC’s ‘apology’?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      And the churches – for all their many failings – were the one place in our society where we used to expect moral and social leadership. After all it was in Baptist and Methodist church halls that the first Labour Party meetings were held. The roots of socialism in this country have more to do with a muscular, liberal Christianity than Marxism.

                      Good point. Interestingly, these churches are also where the roots of the US abolitionist movement came from.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Chances are that you’re in that position every day and fail to notice it because of the blinders you’ve built up.

                • BM

                  Not particularly sharp there, fella.

                  You adapt to your environment or die, it’s the way of the world.

        • brian

          The lampooning of this was not just a left-right issue. If “Right” means voting for Dirty John, I’m off the page to the left.

          I was seriously stunned by the stupidity of that apology. Many many votes would have been lost with that single act, not necessarily for that particular topic, but because it instantly symbolised what a fool he (and by extension, the Labour Party) has descended to. From that instant, Labour was no longer a choice for me. Fortunately there were saner options remaining on the Left.

          Abuse (by both men and women – not just men, David and RedLogix) is a vile crime. I will certainly never take ownership for abuse that I have no responsibility for, and I do not expect anyone else to either. If Cunliffe is going to apologise on behalf of me, he can go to hell.

          • RedLogix


            You protest too much. You know perfectly well what I am saying. Nowhere has anyone asked you to accept responsibility for physical abuse you have not committed. That’s nothing more than a blatant and rather dull diversion.

            What DC was apologising for was the attitudes of men like you who pretend that it has nothing to do with them. That they can remain silent, look the other way, or sanctimoniously piffle on about ‘vile crime’ – while all the time being too cowardly to accept their part in tolerating a culture which perpetuates the abuse.

            Oh and yes I know perfectly well the abuse is a two-way street – I’ve argued that aspect many times here before, but that does not take away from your responsibility one small iota.

          • TeWhareWhero

            Did he apologise on behalf of all men? Wasn’t he was talking about himself – as a man, at that point, in a room full of women who had been giving personal testimony about male violence?

            Seems to me that anyone who fastens onto that is looking for something to pick Cunliffe up on.

            The reason it lost Labour votes was because of the media and rightwing bloggers beat up of what to any reasonable person was a non-issue.

          • framu

            your a text book example of the influence of a lazy and shitty MSM

            what you are talking about is how it was reported – not what actually happened or was said

      • framu 10.1.3

        They promised 5 new taxes.

        no they didnt

        They promised privatisation of the means of production of electricity.

        no they didnt

        They apologised for being men.

        no they didnt

        They promised to select candidates on the basis of gender.

        never eventuated

        yes labour sucked and made many problems for themselves – but all these things above are spin that the nats applied and the journos happily repeated

        Theres not much labour can do about that except run a tighter more disciplined ship (and sort their comms out) of course

  10. Anne 11

    How is it that the Labour party has failed to engage with what many would see as their natural constituency? What has led the Labour party to let down a million people who in earlier times would have looked to Labour to defend their interests?

    The rich irony of this statement is that I saw a genuine attempt by Labour to address the questions of poverty and despair that exist in such large numbers in this country. I saw a Labour leader who talked about it over and over again. I saw policies which – together with other left-of-centre parties – would have finally helped “the forgotten people” in much the same way as Michael Joseph Savage and his Labour government did – starting in 1935.

    What I see now is a group of Labour MPs (the former ABC club) ostentatiously join up with a partisan, Dirty Politics immersed MSM… in an attempt to re-establish their dominance and power over the Labour Party. Thoughts of the poorest and most disenfranchised (the reason why they don’t vote) could not be further from their mind.

    • anker 11.1

      Actually read Giovanni Tiso’s article. Labour did extremely well for the party vote in south Auckland. It also apparently did well in Cannon’s Creek polling booth.

    • RedLogix 11.2

      I’ve said this before Anne – the purpose of the Labour Party since Rogernomics is to ensure that a genuinely left government can never reach power.

      • ExStatic 11.2.1

        And didn’t they do well? The Greens are emerging as the future leaders in any left wing government. Labour’s brand is urban liberal identity politics. Expect the unions to abandon them soon.

  11. Blue 12

    In practical terms, what does Labour or any other political party have to do to get these ‘missing million’ to vote?

    Because from where I’m standing it looks like Labour had quite a few policies you would expect to appeal to the low-income non-voters you describe.

    Lifting the minimum wage, stopping National’s assault on their tea break and other work rights, bringing back case managers at WINZ, investing in the regions etc.

    Those are solid policies. There is no doubt that Labour could and would implement them if they were to form a Government.

    So why would people still refuse to vote and how would you remedy this?

    • RedLogix 12.1

      Well one approach would be for Labour to tell NZ that if they cannot be arsed voting then they do not count.

      Join National in a Grand Colation and vote to eliminate welfare, scrap the minimum wage and adopt the slew of ACT policies that there is a current political vacuum of representation for.

      Go to the right of John Key – that should suit the outlook of the ABC club. It would have emotional integrity, corporate funding would be an unstoppable tsunami, and middle NZ would vote for it in droves.

      • Blue 12.1.1

        In my darker moments I’ve had similar thoughts.

        Labour people bust their arses working for the people of New Zealand every single day, and all they need in return is for those people to toddle along to their local church, school or marae once every three years and tick two boxes on a piece of paper.

        The fact that people can’t be bothered doing even that much is hard to take sometimes.

        It’s so tempting to just say ‘hey, we’re disbanding the Labour Party. Since no one wants us we’ll just leave you to perpetual National Party rule. See ya.’

        • RedLogix

          Actually I’m serious.

          Labour – as a genuinely leftwing party – will never be in power again. For all the reasons that many others have outlined already:

          1. The cancer of Rogernomics.

          2. The fact that most New Zealander’s don’t have any faith in the ideas of fairness or social justice anymore. That thirty years of mass indoctrination has successfully delivered a population unable to organise collectively against their owners anymore.

          3. The fact that the corporate media will always subvert any signs of authentic socialist action.

          4. The fact of state mass-surveillance and all that implies.

          5. The fact that 90% of the electorate simply cannot tolerate the idea of the Green Party being anywhere near power. There is a cultural divide between the green view of the world and that of your average anti-intellectual punter which cannot be bridged.

          Unless someone can show us a path through these road-blocks, we’d be ultimately better off without the current farce of democratic choice.

          I’d suggest that at some level your missing 1 million voters instinctively understand this too.

          • weka

            Not 90%. The Greens get 10% of the vote, but there is more sympathy out there for their policies than that. I think there are people who don’t vote for them but are good with them being the smaller partner in a left wing govt.

            • RedLogix

              Yeah – I overstated the 90% but I am constantly astonished at the rabid, unreasoning hatred I constantly encounter in working people towards the Greens. It’s not universal but hell it’s a feature.

              Ask yourself why the Greens so consistently fail to poll well among Maori and Pasifika – way lower than can be reasonably explained. It’s probably the most striking cultural divide in NZ politics.

              • Colonial Viper

                Green support is highest around predominantly white middle/upper middle class booths.

                • weka

                  Red are you saying that the people that rabidly hate the GP are also Māori and Pasifika?

                  I think the reason so few Māori and Pasifika vote GP is because there is only one brown face in the top ten of the list. Despite the GP commitment to Te Tiriti, and their core policies on things like child poverty, I don’t think the Māori and Pasifika vote will change until the actual party make-up reflects them.

                  I’m not sure how much of a problem that is to be honest. What should be happening at this point is that MANA should have been in parliament and increasing their party and then eventually we would have had three strong left wing parties (and maybe IP too), who each know how to speak with and represent their core consituencies rather than having to be all things to all people. In order for that to happen, people on the left need to get past their silo mentality. The GP are already there, have been waiting, but are not infinitely patient and I can see this being eroded as we speak.

                  “but I am constantly astonished at the rabid, unreasoning hatred I constantly encounter in working people towards the Greens.”

                  Where I see it most is amongst people who hate the environmental stuff and that’s a deep seated thing going back to the early days of the ‘greenies’. Predates the GP by several decades. Conventional farmers, people who hate DOC, people who think the RMA stops the world from functioning properly, people who think nature is a resource there for our use etc, and probably most importantly that protection of the environmetn = loss of jobs. It’s cultural IMO, not to the working class per se but to that part of society that see people as more important than nature.

                  It doesn’t help that through the 80s neoliberal revolution there was a significant shift in NZ re environmental protection, so I think many people conflate those things.

                  Most people I know that are rabidly anti-GP are operating from prejudice and know very little about actual GP policy.

              • sabine

                maybe when you options is grits with sugar or grits with salt, getting a lecture as to how eating honey is cruel to the bees you understand better.

                the poor have few options. they don’t get to choose to be vegan, they get to choose what ever they can afford, and can cook if they have electricity.

                the green this year came across as sanctimonious, smug, self centered, self assured, and decidedly corporate.

                pointing out as a success of working with national on a cycle way of national importance….really? da fuck really?

                I have since 83 voted either greens (in germany, and under jeanette fitsimmons in nz) or labour. I have always voted strategically as I fully understand that every vote counts.

                But this election? The Greens blew it for me. Can’t stand the look of either of the Co Leaders and I have yet to meet the Candidate for Te Atatu South…whoever that was should be recommended for invisible campaigning.

          • Thomas_Hari

            Some honest comments:

            1. Rogernomics didn’t appear out of the ether. The left in the face of this result have to start piercing their comforting mythologies. Rogernomics was a reaction to an utterly unsustainable status quo of waste and grind and sloth and most people understand that.

            2. You have a fundamental misconception of most people’s idea of fairness. It is not ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs’ it is ‘should I not keep what I get from the sweat of my brow’. Kiwis have a deep understanding that there is no free lunch, and the left can no longer get away with telling everyone lunch is free, and the sweat of your brow belongs to everyone else. People’s ideas of social justice is modulated with regard to their sense of fairness – people will work towards social justice when it isn’t couched around this fallacious and malign rhetoric that any kind of self-enterprise is necessarily ‘greed’ to be mocked and then re-distributed. National is doing things in welfare and targeted assistance that if Labour had thought of it would be heralded as the new welfare state – Labour’s social assistance constituency is grudgingly but inexorably coming to realise that National do it better, do it smarter, from sounder principles and with a better attitude – pragmatism and recognition of incentives and costs, not this patronising ownership and mastery that Labour engages in with it’s condescending largesse.

            3. The ‘corporate media’ consist of persons who are fundamentally aligned with you in their world-view. The slightest excuse, and this shines through. You got all the coverage you could wish for around the ‘dirty politics’ and then some, and it ended up in kiwis repudiating malign and clownish foreign interests treating them like childish idiots and trying to subvert our democratic process. The media were on your side all the way through. They simply lack it in their psyche to give a National government any kind of fair coverage in the areas of health, education and social welfare. You can’t blame the media. The media are in the can for the Left and always have been.

            4. Mass-surveillance is a complete misnomer. The questions is not, can NZ’ers be spied on. They are being spied on, by foreign governments, by corporations, by individuals, and there always has been the capacity for surveillance by the NZ govt. The question is, should the GCSB be able to assist the NZSIS in its national security role spying in kiwi’s defence, and the answer is yes. Your statement represents everything that is wrong with the left on this issue ‘and all that it implies’ what exactly?

            5. Your condescension of mainstream views of the Greens as ‘anti-intellectual’ is a disgrace. The Green’s policies do not hold up to any kind of scrutiny. People need to drive places. New Zealand produces milk, people want to have the freedom to choose to eat what they want. These are not anti-intellectual positions, and the framing of them as such is why the patronising members of the Green party who are completely detached from the realities of working kiwis are never going to get more then 10-11 percent. The Greens don’t own ‘Green’ things, and ‘Green’ is not interchangeable with ‘intellectual’. This was the election they should’ve got there, and they didn’t, because their policies are silly and their message and audience is actually elitist

            The National party won because the Left has not had a new and workable idea since Helen Clark’s ‘Knowledge Wave’ which consisted of telling New Zealander’s they’re idiots doing stupid things, and why don’t they do software.

            • framu

              theres so much to say here – your using a very narrow view of so much and missing out some very important factors

              i will just start with number 1 as to answer everything would take a while

              rodgernomics – we didnt choose rodgernomics did we.
              Yes the status quo at the time had to end – but rodgernomics was imposed by stealth and the public never got a chance to have any input. It wasnt a reaction by us – it was an opportunity seized by those who had the plan in mind already.

              That might explain why so many NZers at the time went through hell and why douglas is now more at home in a party that cant get above 1%. Oddly enough Australia took a more cautious approach to the same problem – and didnt have the same brutal aftermath.

          • sabine

            and Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, Mother Jones, the Union men and women, Michael Joseph Savage, The suffragettes and the many many others that fought and died and suffered hardship so that we may have a 40 hour work with lunch breaks, that we may have not to live in Company housing, so that we may not have to compete for a job with our under 10 years old would just spin and most likely are spinning in their graves.

            We the left need to understand that the Labour Market is changing, and we need to adapt our policies accordingly.
            We need to understand that our Labour Market here in NZ is competing with the markets overseas in Asia and elsewhere. And we need to understand that Poverty of workers, abuse and exploitations of workers is universal. Do we really think that the burning factories and our cheap clothes here at Max are not related?

            We don’t have 75 % of our populations working in factories or on farms anymore, these days are gone. We have contractors, self employed, part timers, casuals, 0 hour contracts and what nots.
            It is for these people that we need to be a valid labour movement, to prevent abuse, wage theft, at will firing, unpaid overtime, sexual discrimination, age discrimination etc etc etc.

            As a last point I would like to venture that the right will splinter before the left. I look at the united states and the Tea Party, england and UKIP and i raise you the Conservatives. How long until National is bleeding votes to the hard right en masse, because their ‘reforms’ arent’ going far enough? That religion will creep into their politics and raise its ugly head in regards to the rights of women and children? That corporate money is what will dictate National politics.

            The Labour Party needs to move to the 21st century, the Greens need to be less pious and corporate, and above all the left if it wants to win needs to co-operate.

            And we need to stop crying now.

      • Clemgeopin 12.1.2

        My guess is that Key will bring in more left/centrist policies and programmes in place in order to placate and win over more votes from Labour, Greens, Mana, Maori and NZF, (thus weakening these parties) but at the same time have other more right wing policies beneficial to the wealthy and the corporates.
        He will be true to his smiling assassin nomenclature, in my opinion.

        • RedLogix

          Yes – I agree.

          John Key will not ‘lurch to the right’ except on a handful of economic/labour policies which matter to his corporate backers.

          In most other respects he will move to consolidate National’s grip on the centre. Unless Key does barbeque and eat a baby on live television I expect him to remain in power for another four or five elections. Key will jettison the damaged baggage from his government, scrub his ship clean and make sure he never sails so close to the wind again. He has no need to now.

          Labour has become entirely irrelevant. The Greens have a firm base with a small educated, liberal urban elite – denying Labour the intellectual horsepower to flourish internally. At the same time no-one thinks of themselves as a ‘labourer’ anymore – denying them a natural external support base.

          Most ordinary people are debt-slaves these days and cannot afford to stop supporting the capitalist system to which they are bonded. Most people have no sense of community or trust in a social contract – their experience is more like kick-boxing – you fight for what you can hold onto or die. When Labour tries to sell them collective solutions that appeal to the interests – all they hear is a vacuum cleaner salesman.

          And the corporates can simply withhold the purse-strings denying Labour meaningful funding. The difference in resources between the left and right is now a joke.

          If a leader as decent and capable as David Cunliffe – with plain, mostly non-contentious policies which many people approve of – cannot win an election against a visibly arrogant, sleazy and demonstrably dirty National Party then it never will.

          The alternative thesis is that DC will do an HC and recover from a bad defeat and win the next election (whenever that is) well. There is good precedent for this – but I need corroborating evidence to be convinced.

          • Distilled essence of NZ

            After Key has been in 9 years there will be more mood for “change”. Although, my thoughts are that it will be more likely for the left to win the 2020 election than the 2017. By then Key will be a stale brand. The only hope Labour has of winning the 2017 election is if it deals with the ABCs (hard to see) – who don’t represent the party membership at all.

            • RedLogix


              John Key talks to David Farrar every night. His faithful pollster will tell Key what he needs to do to freshen up his brand – long before even we know that it is stale. He probably has the outlines of the ‘refresh’ already sketched out in his mind.

              Key has no ideology or principles to protect – he will simply do what any corporate manger does when faced with changed circumstances – ruthlessly cut the old and roll-out a new program.

              It’s been said before – most New Zealanders have never encountered anything like Key before.

              • thatguynz

                I respectfully disagree Red – we see people like Key on a daily basis in the corporate world. They are dime a dozen and he’s not particularly adept nor special.

          • dave brown

            I’m a Communist but Red this talk about Labour as irrelevant is bullshit.
            Labour had two parties inside it fighting for supremacy, the right oriented to the middle class centre, and the left to the poor, urban working class. Labour lost this election because the right joined forces with the NACTs to sabotage its campaign. But the left won because it vindicated its instinct that it had to return to its core constituency or be dragged into the centrist swamp to die.
            Why is Labour relevant? Because it is the only mass party that got the big majority of poor urban workers voting for Pacifica and Maori candidates who also gave their party votes to Labour. So long as the core working class suburbs in NZ are still alive and kicking Labour has plenty of relevance.
            The Labour membership and unions have to kick out the ABC Blairites and their balanced books and spend the three years in opposition rallying the core constituency to fight back against the NACT/NSA regime. The unions can back this by building community union branches that mobilise and coordinate all the struggles to give people a taste of political action.
            This will be lost if the right takes the party back to the centre and abandons its bridgehead to the true working class.
            Here’s my take on these events. Of course I couldn’t write this without a a long winded preamble. But I wrote it as a bedtime story for children in the hope that it could be understood by alienated or politically dumbed down adults too.

            • RedLogix

              Because it is the only mass party that got the big majority of poor urban workers voting for Pacifica and Maori candidates who also gave their party votes to Labour. So long as the core working class suburbs in NZ are still alive and kicking Labour has plenty of relevance.

              And I see a diminishing sector of people who are willing to label themselves ‘working class’. Sure the middle classes are really nothing more than affluent workers with pretensions – but that doesn’t stop them voting National.

              And the remaining working class suburbs are increasingly rendered helpless by marginal, part-time, casualised work that is deliberately designed to prevent them from organising.

              Marxism is only one lens to view history through, and while it provided an economic justification for socialism – it failed to provide a moral one. And for this reason always carried with it the seed of it’s own failures.

              • Red, capitalism has its own laws. The do not operate on morality unless you believe that the act of exploiting labour is a moral choice. That is a bourgeois concept that morality is ultimately a rational choice of individuals.
                Marx argued class exploitation was a social force beyond the control of individuals and therefore amoral in terms of bourgeois morality.
                However, its clear that it is anti-human and anti-nature in its effects and the struggle for human survival through solidarity and cooperation with nature is inherently moral in a more universal sense.
                Only the working class has the capacity to act morally and overthrow capitalism as a class not as a collection of bourgeois individuals. Therefore its struggle to survive means that its interests are the interests are that of humanity.
                The deviations of Marxism popularly understood are about corrupt leaders who become the agents of capital. Stalinism for example. Of course those deviations are immoral because they are conscious actions of individuals to destroy the revolutionary capacity of the working class.
                There is nothing inevitable about the corruption of Marxism as it results from the actions of capitalist counter-revolution to destroy it as a moral enemy.
                So rather than writing the working class off on the basis of elections, we need to focus on the big changes that are thrusting the working class into struggle.
                The Syrian revolutionaries who are fighting both Assad and IS make my point. Few of them are avowed Marxists, but their collective actions for human survival make them the agents for the survival of humanity.
                The longterm ambition of workers in NZ to escape the working class into a middle class has proved a dead end for most as the classes polarise between the 1% and the 99% shares of wealth.
                Social class once more becomes the visible basis of what was always class politics.
                Labour has to chose the class that stands for humanity.

                • Mark

                  You people really do live in a fantasy world. You wonder what happened to the 1,000,000 plus who didn’t vote.? Well I am one of them and my reason is simple. I refuse to vote for Labour while it still contains rabid right wingers like Goff, Mallard, Shearer, Hipkins. To vote for the left is to only improve the chances of those arses being in power. I use to believe in the left but not any more. The Labour Party of 2014 looks like the PSA of 1991 when we were fighting the Employment Contracts Act. The PSA management of 1991 weren’t committed unionists, it was just another job for them. They sold us out. Just like those right wing arses in Labour have since 1984.
                  Someone earlier on this subject said that there is real anger and hatred out there towards Labour. Absolutely. I hate them with a passion. The only reason I would ever vote again is to help stop the Labour Party in its present form from forming a government. I would even vote National if necessary to stop them.

            • karol

              Large numbers of Maori and Pasifika people voted for a parliamentary Labour Party dominated by Pakeha men.

              Large numbers of Maori and Pasifika people didn’t vote.

              Increasing numbers of Maori and Pasifika women in Auckland are supporting the Greens.

    • Kiwisaver 12.2

      The Dotcom debacle confused them. The MSM defended John Key against Dirty Politics. Labour had too many policies which also confused people. John Key has moved left to dethrone Labour. Labour needs to stay left and work with the Greens which Cunliffe now realises.

    • Clemgeopin 12.3

      One reason is that the public did not know MUCH about all the other great policies of Labour, at least not as much as the CGT and retirement age increase fears.

      Among several other factors, I also suspect that the Aussie raids on suspected terrorists two days before our election, validating mass surveillance, had a bearing in increasing National’s support. Just my guess. The cynic in me even suspects that the raids could have been a cunning coordinated plan between our govt and Abbots to help Key’s chances at the election to counter Snowden/Greenwald revelations. Just a nagging doubt in my mind. Who knows!

      • Anne 12.3.1


        Given my own experiences in the past its more than possible there was some co-ordination between Key and Abbott. My first thought when that raid occurred was… OMG another Urewera in the making. I read somewhere that some of those ‘captured’ have already been released so that makes it all the more questionable.

        Nothing like a few semi-fake raids to scare the horses into believing we need to have mass surveillance of the entire population eh?!

        • Colonial Viper

          Ahhhh very good points

          I also read that the planned “beheading” thing pushed through the MSM was bullshit i.e. authorities thought the guy was planning to kill someone, and because of the recent ISIS beheadings ASSUMED that was what the alleged perps arrested were going to do as well.

          Total scare job.

  12. Dont worry. Be happy 13

    John Key was in coalition with a man accused and eventually found guilty of trying to hide donations and perhaps, subsequently favours….a man who stuck his finger in his ear, removed wax, looked at it and then ate it. The Election Fairy gave that footage to the opposition on national tv and they did nothing with it……..

  13. philj 14

    Or are the Nats just smarter at winning at all costs?

  14. pollywog 15

    Dunno eh.

    Poor, dumb, jobless, brown and lacking hope seems a bit too stereotypical.

    I’m picking a lot of young feel disenfranchised enough to have not voted either.

    Online/txt voting would improve that, i reckon, and im picking that would bolster the left wing vote also, hence the reluctance to upset the status quo.

    • RedBaronCV 15.1

      Online voting too easily fiddled . I would look at traveling booths for advance voting. The rain bucketing down, no shoes, no car no money for buses – voting ain’t necesarily easy for those with limited resources.

  15. shona 16

    +1000 Anne

  16. Autonomouse 17

    Plenty of campaigning aimed directly towards the poor & impoverish. Mana, Greens & Labour all touting for their vote and for what they believed to be the betterment of those individuals personal situation. Opposition parties called out to these people, and they chose not to respond to that call, therefore mobilising these folk must surely be an impossible task.

    As for Joe Average, I know of at least three individuals that didn’t vote (a builder, young teacher and an office administrator), none of them felt engaged sufficiently by any parties campaign efforts, but more to the point, they just didn’t really give a toss either way and couldn’t be arsed going out of their way to vote.

    Political apathy is rife in this country, and it’s not just the cliched “poor, often unemployed, poorly educated, with worse health than the rest of us” that don’t bother voting.

    My personal belief is that the simple ability to vote online will increase voter turnout amongst the apathetic Joe Average. As for those mentioned in Bryan’s post, if you’re not motivated by the offer of an increased minimum wage, increased benefits, more state housing, greater protection for vulnerable workers etc etc etc, then what the hell is going to motivate you to vote.

  17. RedBaronCV 18

    If I could roll back time three weeks I would suggest turning the minimum wage raises into a per week figure and the printing a card with
    “Earn only $ per hour want a wage rise of $x per week this year.$y next year ” turn over the other side “Vote Labour/ Greens”.
    A lot of people have voted themselves out of money to make their lives better.

  18. unpcnzcougar 19

    1 million adults decide not to vote. I find that extraordinary but doubt that they are all left voters. One should also consider that they are adults and that is a choice they made and this time maybe there was far too much noise and they just decided to get on with their lives as normal. Given 717,000 advance votes there was plenty of opportunity for the 1 million.

    I don’t think there is anything fundamentally wrong with NZer’s in this election vote or non-vote. There is however something fundamentally wrong with Labour and that is what the organisation needs to recognise – it’s not the public, it’s us.

    • RedLogix 19.1

      I find that extraordinary but doubt that they are all left voters.

      So does every other grown-up in the room.

      But the fact that the right has made it a strategy to suppress these voters by undermining their faith and belief in the democratic system – tells you where they think the majority of their votes would likely have been cast.

  19. rain33 20

    Excellent commentary from Bryan. Unfortunately Anne decided to ignore some quite illuminating insight by the writer, and chose to turn it into another analysis of the ABCer’s. Oh well….you can lead a horse to water….

  20. Harry Holland 21

    The fates of new labour and mana and to some extent the greens suggest that moving left does not engage the missing million. That strategy is a proven failure.
    I have come to the conclusion that the missing million are missing because they choose to disengage, not because they’re waiting for the right policy mix.
    Labour needs to focus on the center and leave minor parties to mop up voters further left.
    That statement is not an attack on labour or on the left. It’s just common sense.

    • thatguynz 21.1

      Fuck that. Over the last 30 years “centre” has moved so far right it would make Muldoon blush. Sure, let’s squabble over “centre” but the one that was in existence in the early 80’s NOT what it has now transformed into.

  21. Julz 22

    Thanks Bryan. Meanwhile so many of the centre left commentators -Pagani etc – are urging the party to move further to the Centre

  22. weka 23

    I think it’s unwise to talk about the non-vote as one amorphous group.

    “We have a pretty good idea of who the non-voters were. They were poor, often unemployed, poorly educated, with worse health than the rest of us, often brown-skinned, living in sub-standard housing and bringing up their children in poverty.”

    What’s your source for that Bryan? Or anyone? I’m guessing that some of it at least comes from Statistics NZ. However StatsNZ doesn’t tell us the % of people that didn’t vote that are say unemployed.

    I had a look the other day for some research and the best I came up with was the Statistics NZ data, and some news reports on that.




    While it makes sense that people who are the most marginalised in NZ are the least likely to vote, I think we also have to prepare ourselves for the fact that there are also some people who just don’t care or are really uninterested in politics. There are also people who don’t see any point who aren’t poor.

  23. Reddelusion 24

    Brian Brian you old champaign socialist you, can’t you just accept that most nz kiwi don’t accept your world view or narrative be it defining the problem and or more so your perceived solution The tired old leftie excuses are getting boring I.e. only if we could get the message across, the MSM, the missing million, John key was the only factor, to the more bizarre the GCSB and the U.S. hacked the the electronic count etc etc. Time to get a grip and move on from 19th century socialism to solve 21st centry problems, redistribution, negativity won’t cut it with the nz voter.

  24. joe90 26

    Laura Nyro – Poverty Train

    Oh baby, it looks good and dirty
    Them shiny lights glow
    A million night tramps
    Tricks and tracks
    Will come and go
    You’re starvin’ today
    But who cares anyway?

  25. GRiM 27

    It’s more effort to register to vote, than to actually vote,

    so what motivated the missing million to register? a $100 fine.

    There is your answer, figure out how you can demonstate to the missing million how they will be $100’s better off if they vote Left.

    Not a big ask is it, a demonstratable benefit on a personal level, that is all.

  26. Clemgeopin 28

    I agree!
    There needs to be
    [1] A member’s bill in parliament to make (a) registering and/or (b) voting compulsory.
    [2] If that fails, initiate a referendum on that issue.

    • Richard 28.1

      I thought voting was compulsory? Is it not? Yes maybe it should be. then again 48% voted National they should be protected from their stupidity as they are obviously do not have the intelligence to vote.

      I say a good policy would be free psychiatric care for all National voters. Sure it might swing them over to the left. 🙂

  27. Jay 29

    Listen to you all, deciding for the poor brown uneducated and jobless what they want, have you considered that maybe more of them than you all realize trust and like the current government? You assume it must be they are angry, disillusioned, and that’s why “they” didn’t vote, how do you even know this? Maybe they’re actually happy? We all know that Money doesn’t buy happiness. Colombia is the happiest country in the world, I’ve been there twice and the poverty is incredible. You don’t realise it but most of you sound so superior, trying to cynically mobilise the poor and brown who are just too thick or lazy or ignorant to walk down the road and vote. Let’s bring in online voting, or even better, turn it into a playstation game, then these people will finally bother to vote for the government we know they need, even if they don’t know it or particularly care anyway. Who do you think voted national? The rich? 48% of those who voted are the selfish rich? New Zealand voted the government back in. People who are poor, were poor, and have family that are poor, as well as the rich, the not so rich, small business owners, etc. . . You all need to realise. The people have spoken. They like the other sides people, policy, language and track record better. And they were right to. Look at the bloody mess Labour are in, they simply aren’t fit to lead! If it’s true that the poor and brown didn’t bother to vote this election, then perhaps it was because they could see this simple truth as well as the 48% did.

  28. Observer (Tokoroa) 30

    Hi Bryan

    The Labour Party is in the very fortunate position of having shared in bringing 56 chairs into Parliament, This is five chairs fewer than National, who brought in 61 seats.

    Ref: The NZ Electoral Commission 21/9/2014.

    National had the advantage of a well groomed Leader, with an easy going cliche personality, and a gift for vagueness as well as a wonderful ability to misrepresent what his opponents were presenting. At the end of the Day.

    He also had the constant backing of all Print Media, all Television Media and all Radio Media from Cape Reinga to Bluff. We do not live in an age when Media presents balanced views.

    The Media belongs to the very wealthy. It lobbies tirelessly for more money and reward for the already extremely wealthy few. It’s a stocks and shares counting house, pure and simple. With a bit of rugby thrown in.

    Apart from the delicious yet frequently malicious vagueness of John Key, the Nationalists under the office of the Prime Minister, had and still has a gross collection of Attack Dogs carrying out their savagery without constraint or limit. The target was anybody who refused to go along with John Key.

    Farrar with his excellent polls but lugubrious “Princess Parties” et al, and Slater with his unbelievable foulness will be granted Knighthoods in due course. Hooton and others of the PM’s animal attack cadre will also qualify.

    Make no mistake, a portrait of Key or of National, or of their supporters, cannot be complete unless this destructive 6 year warfare is not fully included. Key seems even to have encouraged his own Ministers to take a robust role in the filth that will forever tarnish National. Herald journos also got sucked into the squalor.

    Key carries with him wherever he goes, that which is described as “something rotten in the State of Denmark.” Or more simply, “Dirty Politics”.

    The Labour Party it seems to me is now sharing an MMP Parliament with the Greens, NZ First and the elected Maori. The collective wisdom, integrity and perspectives of these Groups have the capacity to win over the majority of NZ voters.

    National stands for making the already wealthy, more wealthy. It is obscenely easy to do that by keeping vast numbers of citizens on Struggle Street. John Key is certainly the right man for that job.

    Labour, Maori, Greens and NZ First I would think, can easily lift 56 seats into the high 60s. Integrity and Respect for each other will be the determinant.

    • mickysavage 30.1


    • Richard 30.2


      Well said my fellow Tokoroian.

      I see Armstrong’s now got the cheek to throw his opinion in on what’s best for Labour, what went wrong etc. The bare faced sassin frassin grumble moan audacious twat.

      O’Sullivan even posted here, she couldn’t stop herself gloating smugly on what she accomplished on behalf of her TPPA stars.

      These two are 70% the reason the public is poisoned towards Labour. To much power held by these two. If Labour ever get in again fettling the Herald should be Labours dirty tricks come back. Consider making defamation and the media laws around political reporting tighter, never mind the PC crowd and the perception of media meddling, if National can attack employment laws which are the working parties thing, we can attack the media’s bias as that’s their thing.

      Fight fire with fire I say!!

    • sabine 30.3


    • Bill 30.4

      Just punting, that in my opinion, that precise commentary should be a post. Lynn?

    • weka 30.5

      “Labour, Maori, Greens and NZ First I would think, can easily lift 56 seats into the high 60s. Integrity and Respect for each other will be the determinant.”

      Quite. However the problem remains that Labour are still mostly in FPP mentality and are only now just getting to the point where they might consider working together with the GP. They’re still a long way from being able to work with the pan-left though (look at how they just treate the IMP). And until Peters is gone from the political scene any chance at integrity and respect will play second fiddle to power and control. Peters doesn’t want to share, and he certainly doesn’t want representative democracy.

  29. tc 31

    Voting needs to be compulsory with fines if not done.

    You want to be part of society then you must vote, simple as and been enforced for decades in Oz at state and federal level.
    Gets better levels of involvement as folk pay attention knowing they have to vote and can’t play the apathy card.

    • chris73 31.1

      No I disagree, people may have valid reasons for not voting so I don’t believe fining people if they don’t vote is the answer

    • Ford 31.2

      In a true democracy, there should be right NOT to vote. If a government brought in compulsory voting, there would be a huge number of spoiled votes or votes for ‘McGillicuddy Serious’ type parties. There have been a couple of times in the past when no party represented my political views so I deliberately spoiled my votes, effectively making them protest votes. Democracy allows this.

  30. Ross 32


    You seem to be saying that many Nat voters voted out of self interest. I imagine that will always be true of some voters. But there is a proportion of voters who presumably didn’t vote out of self interest who might have been persuaded to vote Left. The question is: what would that persuasion have needed to be?

  31. Scott1 33

    Not voting can be a rational decision for an individual – in fact it is probably rational for most individuals (because the odds of their vote in itself making a difference are about 0).

    You can convince some people to vote out of civic duty and others to vote because politics is interesting – but there is a section of society where in the debate as to whether they rationally should be voting – you are simply wrong.

    The only way to significantly change that is to tell them it is illegal not to vote. And to do that you need to be in power. Otherwise (as this election proves), the get out the non voters strategy just isn’t significant.

  32. Observer (Tokoroa) 34

    Hi MickySavage

    Thankyou for your valued endorsement !

    Modern Labour, along with the Maori, the Greens and NZ First, finds itself battling against the worldwide problem of greed. The cult of self. The clique of the Selfie.

    We have become the despicable species that is not its brothers keeper.

    Ref: The major insane ramblings of Ayn Rand, and her supporters Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Alan Greenspan, Wall St and London’s Ftse money manipulators.

    There is only one slogan operating in the world today: it is the pathetic creed of “Greed is good”.

    But if greed were so wonderful, why do we have in New Zealand and around the world so many people and families who cannot afford to buy a modest house; why do we have countless jobless?; why do we have ultra expensive Education. Why do we have innumerable people unable to afford Health Care whilst being placed on endless meaningless lists?

    We are in the age of “no future” for the masses. It is the heartfelt wish of the putrid media that the fewest possible numbers of people do well. It is the heartfelt intent of the so called Right, that only the wealthy shall be allowed the green light of success.

    In contrast, The Maori cooperated man with man in the Waka, and on the Marae.
    The Labour Party emerged at a time when human beings (from the masses) delighted in cooperation and the party transformed New Zealand. The Green Party fights on pleading us to care for the planet! Does the media give a fig about that? Not on your selfish media nellie! NZ First, fights on to acknowledge the elderly as well as the rights of NZ born to have the dignity of new Zealand land and opportunity. You already know what Key and the putrid Media think of the elderly.

    National and the all the putrid Media in New Zealand fight for more wealth for the already wealthy. Whilst viciously attacking any opponents.

    Cooperation will be the ultimate saviour of the masses.

    Labour MUST see to it that in our MMP Parliament, Cooperation with fellow other Parties is the standing Order.

  33. sabine 35

    you want to know who did not vote?

    the young ones – because not one of the Party actually had policies that would have affected them apart maybe the raise in minimum wage. age group 20 – 26, not university educated, call center workers on temp, casual contracts, day workers on 0 hour contracts. etc. The ones that have given up on full time work, that are too afraid to study because of the student loans, that can’t find apprentice ships and that house 20 to a three bedroom because they try to live of 300 a week.

    the middle aged ones that don’t care, and they don’t even care enough to vote for their children.

    some of the old hippie because Labour has lost it, the greens are gone corporate etc.

    these were the reasons given to me for not voting by people that I know, and I tried.

    the ones that I could get to vote voted left, got disappointed, but were also pleased that they participated. One of my customers a singly 50+ year old Maori bloke voted for the first time in his life. He is now thinking about getting involved in Community Organizing and supporting a Grassroots movement as he wants Mana back in full force.
    One of them a mother with an 8 year old daughter again a first time voters. She came to see me and told me that “I voted for Labour”. You know what she will vote again from now on. She understands that this is her way of fighting back, and she took the daughter with her.

    I would like to know why a few 100.000+peeps were not even enrolled. That would be the first question to ask.
    Then I would ask for a breakdown of vote by gender, race, age, income group, region, to get an idea of who is voting for whom and why we lost them.

    One thing that stood out for me were the young Nats, every Saturday I had the shop full of blue shirts. Where were the Young labour? .The young Greens? do they have any young ones?

    • Karen 35.1

      I have also been wondering about the lack of young activists on the left, and part of the reason is, I think, what a commentator (Tony) on another thread said – that labour is no longer cool. The Greens do a bit better but not by much any more. There are organisations like Generation Zero that do attract young people concerned about climate change, but they struggle with getting enough funding to raise their profile. They are also a very middle class, highly educated group, and are unlikely to attract working class youth.

      One of Tony’s ideas was music events. I think this could work, and I know that there are some great musicians on the left who would be happy to be involved. Steal the IMP idea of getting people signed up on the electoral roll at the same time.

      The policies the Greens and Labour don’t need to change, but the way they are communicated does. We live in a celebrity culture – don’t fight it, use it.

      In the electorate I live in there was a 30 something Tongan solo mum that helped enrol voters in her state housing area. She herself had never enrolled before let alone voted. She was recruited by an enthusiastic Labour candidate and threw herself into the campaign.

      We need to find more people like her.

    • Chooky 35.3

      @Sabine+100..”you want to know who did not vote?…the young ones – because not one of the Party actually had policies that would have affected them apart maybe the raise in minimum wage”

      …unfortunately this is the way they saw it

      i see radio as particularly reaching youth who were contaminated in this last election by the likes of Sean Plunket and Paul Henry…and there have been many other msm journalists of various shades in between

      …it would be great to have a television station as well

  34. Observer (Tokoroa) 36

    Hello Richard

    Thankyou for your kind remarks fellow Tokoroian. It is so important that we speak our mind and, I think, acknowledge our Fellow Parties.

    It used to be said that many hands make light work.

    I hope that the parties of the Left will cooperate together, and call the masses to their side in massive major demonstrations every 6 months demanding affordable housing, free education, jobs, and full access to medical care.

    If you think about, the very wealthy effectively get everything free by virtue of their wealth. Why not the rest of us?

    The rallies should be held not where the wealthy live; but where the people live. And if the media snaps your pic, demand payment man.

    Onya Richard

  35. Observer (Tokoroa) 37


    I like your writing.

    Venezia I like yours too

    To generalise, I like everyone who promotes the common man and creative man.

    The selfishly wealthy are a non full taxpaying swill, blatantly showing off their swindles . They are as putrid as the media they own. They are determined to destroy our planet and our species. Wantonly. Not just our sky and land; but our wonderful oceans too. The bastards.

    The very wealthy are a total millstone around our necks.

  36. Gosman 38

    You’ve had three years to find out who this ‘missing million’ is yet you are still banging on about them. Instead of actually doing some research all I saw were people making gross assumptions about they must be the poor and oppressed who have lost faith in any political party to help them. I call BS on that. It is as if the left need this ‘missing million’ as a crutch to explain away their failure to convince enough voters.

  37. North 39

    As a ‘Tokoroian’ 45 years ago I well recall the vibrant community sense which prevailed in that town. It was magnificent. “Trouble at mill” ? Pffft ! Such trouble as occurred reflected a broad acceptance of the legitimacy more or less of meaningful expression of interests, across-the-board. Then, empowered by the muscled-up greed of a few, came the obscene lie of ‘trickle down’.

    Nightmarish really that Douglas, Prebble et al who disseminated the lie as proxies for the few, were licensed with the power to do so by the very people on whom the lie was then turned.

    My despair is that it’s maybe already too late. The ‘selfie’ psyche, if only vicariously entertained, is too well entrenched. Vulgar displays of public fervour we regularly see on the release of iPhone number whatever for instance are no longer very remarkable. Except as to nauseate.

  38. North 40

    Sorry people – overtaken by nostalgia about Tok’ and missed the edit of my comment above. To connect if only vaguely to Bryan Gould’s post: doesn’t the ‘selfie’ society present a threat to widespread exercise of the popular vote as the essential foundation of democracy ? In that it distracts from “by the people for the people”. In that it focuses assiduously on ‘things’ for ‘me’.

    Relatively, those with the ‘things’ or having reasonable hope of attaining them will of course vote in the name of capture, retention, maximisation. Those without the ‘things’ and having no reasonable hope of attaining them are marginalised in their hopelessness. And truly disenfranchised. “Voting won’t help me !”

    Those more cynical than me would say that the political proxies of the ‘haves’ are well advantaged by maintaining a population of ‘have-nots’. As disenfranchised slaves more or less. While all the time professing “We care !” to anaesthetise.

    Following this thread, how will a primary political focus on and pursuit of the ‘haves’, viz. the centre, give hope to and enfranchise the ‘have-nots’ ? Who, remember, do have a vote.

    As suggested by others above, the Left must organise to present a multi-faceted political force. That did not happen in this election campaign. Seems like some have missed that we’re long past FPP.

  39. vto 41

    there is an option for these people … the Vote Them Out Party


    No elected candidates of the party take up their seats in Parliament. They do not participate. They do not receive their salary, do not go on select committees, do not do anything.

    This cancels out a seat in Parliament and reduces its legitimacy. It is a protest party to shake the system. The system which one third of the electorate clearly do not like.

    Looks like we might be able to grab a similar proportion of the electorate as Key…

  40. Chooky 42

    Great post-election analysis and the case for a united Left

    ‘One Party State’

    By Wayne Hope / September 24, 2014

    “In years to come this election will be seen as a historic turning point towards one party rule….

    – See more at: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2014/09/24/one-party-state/#sthash.FgjntQ65.dpuf

  41. Crunchtime 43

    Inaccurate and misleading byline.

    National’s victory was not “impressive”. LESS PEOPLE VOTED FOR NATIONAL than last election.

    Last election: 1.058 million. This election: 1.01 million.

    Once again, more eligible voters did not vote than voted for National.

    This is a victory for apathy, voter disengagement, voter disempowerment, voter discouragement.

    All we need to do to gain an “impressive victory” for opposition is inspire people to vote again.

    Labour needs to clear out all this pale blue rubbish and ensure the caucus is actually representative of the wider membership. And keep Cunliffe for the time being. He just needs a new staff and a new caucus who will support him properly.

  42. SeanExile 44

    Ah the non voters. And we still think that they in 2014 are brown skinned, living in substandard housing and raising their kids in poverty.
    Well some of them are, have been that way for centuries, but another large group are migrants and they don’t vote either. Do most of them live in substandard housing? Are they raising their kids in poverty? Should we apply the preconceived perceptions of a non voter to all of them too?

    Id say that one issue the Labour party has is that to many thinks that its still 1982. How about this, we take our old perceptions and bury them and look at things from a new 2014 angle. Where the old industrial battle lines of the 20th century isnt always true anymore.

    My friend owns a pretty large Asian restaurant in Auckland. he has close to 50 staff, most temps. 34 of them are allowed to vote, 1 did. Food for thought.
    40% of Aucklands population are immigrants and its here we see most that dont vote today.

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