This morning on Q&A I had an unusual experience. I heard one of the panellists talk sense and passionately advocate a left wing view. The video is here. Apologies but there is an ad before and I do not know if there is a youtube version that can be embedded.
Robert Reid is the secretary of the First Union
National Distribution Union. Hopefully we will see his particular skills used more often.
The debate posted an interesting contrast. Political Scientist Ray Miller laughed when Moira Coatesworth said that Labour was in good shape. She was referring to membership and activism which is as good now as it has been for many years, and he was talking about media perception which admittedly is poor. Labour is losing the media framing battle. Given the owners and heads of the media organisations as well as the front persons are aligned with or sympathetic to National this is not surprising.
Deborah Coddington was also on the panel. Why a member of a 1% party should be used regularly is a bit weird. She chose to use her time to repeat National attack lines.
Robert then spoke. He started off by rubbishing the myth making that was occurring. Shane Jones, bless him, does not represent the working class in Parliament. Reid mentioned that Jones had very few links to the trade unions. Reid noted that the overwhelming support in his union, which is not aligned, was with Labour. He emphasised the need and desire for change present amongst ordinary people and thought that Jones’ resignation would have little effect.
Then the mantra that elections are won in the centre was trotted out by Millar. Reid’s response, that the problem was that people who tend to be on the edge of society were the ones not voting, essentially because they felt they were unrepresented. He rubbished the suggestion that the working class are all rednecks and have reactionary views. He pointed out that half of the working class are women and that there are many different ethnicities involved.
The discussion was jarring in that Reid was talking about policies that affect ordinary people and the others were talking about how well the game of politics was being played.
Reid finished off by refuting Susan Woods’ claim that the economy was going reasonably well. He said that for working people it was a disaster and that New Zealand has more poverty now than it has had for many years. He rebuffed a suggestion that Labour was not talking about the issues and mentioned the launch of the manufacturing policy which was well received even by employers organisations.
All in all it was a very good performance by Reid and he showed very well what Labour and the Greens have to do to win the election this year.
Our MPs and our activists need to talk with passion. They need to talk about the issues that really matter such as jobs, poverty and the environment. And they need to refute the right wing framing of issues that is and will continue to occur.