Polity by Rob Salmond

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Polity: A wilting rose

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  • martinb,

    Just to confirm Rob- are you endorsing the idea that Bernie Sanders is an extremist not a social democrat? If so, could you perhaps explain that a bit, as I believe you are closer to the US political scene than us muggles?

    I agree that redistribution seems like a good idea to people when it isn’t seen as taking any off your plate.

    However, the left also have to come in to fix structural imbalances, because the steady as she goes, no need to change anything conservatism is a bad idea in the face of changing circumstances.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2010 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I would argue that politicians like Sanders and Corbyn as well as parties such as Syrisa and Podemos are merely re-establishing a left-of-centre alternative that had disappeared.

    The Attlee government, for instance, introduced a comprehensive health service, free education, welfare benefits and nationalised the key industries of the day. They did this in a country that had been brought to the edge of bankruptcy by the costs of fighting WW2, and they weren’t afraid to take the wealth of the aristocracy to fund these social programs.

    Those politics were mainstream in 1945, and for some years afterward. While the right may have got away with imposing a settlement where electors have the choice of two hard right ideologies (Cameron/Blair), they haven’t and can’t destroy the concept of democratic socialism.

    (One could make the same points in a US context around FDR vs Clinton/Obama).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Bold, eh. that would be nice. Because Labour too often come across as - "We don't know what we believe in but if you tell us what you want maybe we'll send out a researcher to write a prelimimnary report ..."
    (Also - lumping Sanders with Trump and Le Pen? I hope you felt a bit queasy doing that. He's strident and radical about universal healthcare, higher taxes on the wealthy, free college, controlling money in politics - the status quo in NZ and/or Labour policy.)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2109 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Whats gone wrong? The collapse of the waged class in the face of globalisation, recession, fraud and corruption. The people who work for an hourly wage (the cleaners, the shop workers, council workmen, you know who I mean) were Labour´s grassroots. The people who will turn out to Jerry Collins funeral, who used to open the halls and provide the tea and biscuits and sweep up afterwards. And when things turned to shit, they discovered Labour´s salaried class professionals preferred clinking champagne flutes with the investment class and kissing the asses of bankers to doing anything to help them.

    So they left Labour, leaving it a shrivelled urban rump of screeching identity politics factions, salaried trade unionists and self serving professional politicians. When people who have lost everything support Trump or Le Pen, or people who want an alternative to neoliberalism go for Corbyn and Sanders what they are also saying is that they see the soft as chickenshit social democratic parties of the establishment are as big a part of the problem as wall street bankers. Trump isn´t an irrational vote if you are part of the American wage class, he is the only politician who you can vote for for own self interest.

    So what is to be done? Well I would suggest growing some balls and actually having the guts to say what you stand for. Working for Families was a disgrace. Who would have ever thought they would see the day a Labour government would use taxpayers money to subsidise middle class incomes andimpose crushing discrimination against poor beneficiaries while they were at it all because they lacked the balls to take on the boss class? A better policy to define Labour cowardice would be hard to devise.

    Labour first needs to convince its one time supporters it isn´t just a shrunken rump of pastel pink Nats by doing things that might be actually socially democratic to convince waged people they are social democratic, and that voting for them might actually be in their interest.

    Getting rid of the 1980s and 1990s deadwood parliament collecting an obscene salary to blow smoke out of their asses would a good start.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Mr Mark, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Yep. The 2011 New Zealand Election Study found that, for the first time since such polling began, Labour was no longer the pre-eminent Party of "Blue Collar" voters. In other words, the Nats managed to win a slightly larger proportion of skilled and unskilled workers than Labour. Unprecedented.

    But (as you've rightly implied) this wasn't a corollary of workers moving Right - indeed National's share of the Blue Collar vote actually declined by one or two points. Rather, it was first and foremost a consequence of working-class voters swinging heavily from Labour into Non-Voting.

    Haven't seen the Class voting stats for 2014 but - given Labour's on-going electoral decline - you'd have to assume the trend's continued. I doubt the small increase in overall turnout in 2014 would have reversed anything.

    - Mr Mark/Swordfish
    (give my regards to Sevilla, Sanc, - traditionally one of Espana's more Left-leaning Cities)

    Wellington • Since Dec 2009 • 128 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens, in reply to Mr Mark,

    If Labour's deadwood were just a bunch of has been reactionaries determined to resist any move back to left and determined to keep their overwise miserably unemployable asses off the dole queue, they might not be a problem. But they are also the rotting corpse of Labour's betrayal grining grotesquely down on the public Betrayed. Labour needs to get them underground, for the sake of sanitation and so the stink doesnt keep reminding people not to vote for them. Then start doing something about the low wage economy.

    One of the amusing aspects of the middle class left's debate around the missing million voters is none of them seemed to have much idea who they actually are, and it never seemed to occur to them that if you want the missing million to vote, it might be a good idea to have some policies that appealed to them, like protecting their wages and conditions.

    Also, I challenge as glib the assertion that tough financial times lead to conservative government. Michael Joseph Savage hardly won at the height of dizzying boom. What people vote for is a coherent solution. The reason in recent times that has translated to "conservative" is because the establishment left is so fucking useless.

    And out of left field we suddenly get "the new middle class" who the fuck are they? I guess he means the casualised contract middle class? Well sure I guess. Labour can get to wave something meaningless at them on their way down to, all the time happily signing free trade deals and and letting migration drive wages down.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • SHG,

    Au contraire, Labour needs to keep Mallard, King, Goff, Cosgrove, and all the other troughers around so the voting public can be reminded what the party stands for.

    nup • Since Oct 2010 • 77 posts Report Reply

  • Bob Mason,

    (applauds)

    Excellent post, Rob. And I am glad that you acknowledge that the current Nat government has had to swallow a number of rats (from its perspective) due to the success and popularity of the previous Labour government. John Key said WFF was "communism by stealth" when in opposition, and yet he is too scared to do away with it. ACC privatisation was tried a bit, but has been rolled back. The recent 'sale' of Kiwibank to another crown entity is symptomatic of a party that would love to flog SOEs to the highest bidder for ideological reasons, but whose internal polling and common sense tell them that the centre-left orthodoxy that our assets are best served by keeping them within public control is right. Even David Farrar was deeply suspicious of the raising of benefits in the last budget.

    If the centre-left decline was due to a collapse in support for our policies I would be more concerned, but it isn't. Labour's best strategy at the moment would be to egg on Key and see how socially and fiscally liberal he is prepared to go. It means there is less to roll back when we return to government, and it is storing up a huge ideological stoush on the right when Key eventually goes.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Mar 2016 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to SHG,

    Au contraire, Labour needs to keep Mallard, King, Goff, Cosgrove, and all the other troughers around so the voting public can be reminded what the party stands for

    I'm not sure "trougher" is actually a word - my spell check complains, so does my dictionary - perhaps you are speaking a private language the rest of us are not party to?

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    "Tough financial times are, in general, more likely to lead to conservative government."

    Is that during a garden-variety recession, or a major fiscal cataclysm like a bubble burst? The latter often proves to be a catalyst for meaningful change, as happened with the Great Depression.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5430 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to SHG,

    Au contraire, Labour needs to keep Mallard, King, Goff, Cosgrove, and all the other troughers around so the voting public can be reminded what the party stands for.

    And there are still a fair few hangers-on from the error that was the Shipley era.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5430 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Wasn't Shipley "Coke" and Mallard et al "Pepsi"?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Even though the progress is much slower than I’d prefer, it’s good to see progressive change happening even when the progressives are out of power.

    Absolutely. To me this is a sign that the debate has been captured by progressives. It could even be that more progress is made under those circumstances, because it actually moves people of right wing persuasion to the left, as they flock around a banner like National as it chases the middle.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Of course the big question for progressives here is less “where did it come from,” and more “how do we fix it?”

    Yes! The Future of Work Commission seems like a good idea, and I very much appreciate your insider insights to it. For the first time that I can remember, it genuinely looks like actual thinking going on there, rather than opportunistic following of the usual talking points. That a UBI is being considered is extremely encouraging.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    "that during a garden-variety recession, or a major fiscal cataclysm like a bubble"

    To me that is the distinction of voting conservatively (which can actually either be right or left) for fear of losing what you have, and voting radically (which can either be right or left) because you have nothing to lose.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    That Economist graph. The plunge of the left follows the rise if ISIS and the GFC is a short slippery plateau on the way down, which is odd as it is the equivalent to the Berlin Wall coming down for capitalism. It seems to prove that the fall of the left is not economic.

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to SHG,

    Au contraire, Labour needs to keep Mallard, King, Goff, Cosgrove, and all the other troughers around so the voting public

    The problem is that the people who most revile the troughers are giving up on voting. If those people were still voting, and voting vaguely green/left then Labour hanging on to its hacks would be a major win. But since those people are just not voting, Labour keeping the hacks means ceding government to the right.

    I am not as optimistic as Rob about what's happening. Key is committing NZ to long term problems while spreading enough soft left nonsense around to keep the peasants from revolting. It doesn't matter how you dress it up, ever-increasing pollution, increasing poverty and falling living standards outside the 1% are not "wins for the left", but they are core business for the right.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1232 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Hooton, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    The people who work for an hourly wage (the cleaners, the shop workers, council workmen, you know who I mean) were Labour´s grassroots. The people who will turn out to Jerry Collins funeral, who used to open the halls and provide the tea and biscuits and sweep up afterwards. And when things turned to shit, they discovered Labour´s salaried class professionals preferred clinking champagne flutes with the investment class and kissing the asses of bankers to doing anything to help them.

    So they left Labour, leaving it a shrivelled urban rump of screeching identity politics factions, salaried trade unionists and self serving professional politicians

    I think this is one of the best summaries, in the fewest words, of Labour's problem. Only thing I think I'd change is that it's not the investment class and bankers whose spell Labour has fallen under but the Wellington upper-middle class liberal elite.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2007 • 194 posts Report Reply

  • Kevin McCready,

    Rob, there's a huge difference between National saying the words people like to hear and National actually doing what people want. I'm surprised you think saying the words cuts the mustard. But then again, maybe I'm not surprised.

    Auckland • Since Jun 2013 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Attachment

    If Andrew Little would only turn up dressed like this instead of looking just like all the other stuffed shirts in pinstriped suits that pass for politicians these days the boot would be on the other foot I can tell you and that foot would be put down with a firm hand, I will tell you that for nothing so you can put your wallet away and get on with putting things straight and stop your blathering on about these so called leaders of our once great nation.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Mr Mark, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    So, Steve, basically your solution to the Left's electoral woes is for Andrew Little to grow a hipster beard, wear a shirt/tie/suit (as the young Keir Hardie is clearly doing here) and, presumably most important of all, be seen about town in a Sherlock Holmes-style Deer-stalker hat ?

    Wellington • Since Dec 2009 • 128 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Mr Mark,

    Couldn’t hurt.
    Could it?

    Hardie won the election and became the country’s first socialist M.P. The tradition at that time was for MPs to wear top hats and long black coats. Hardie created a sensation by entering Parliament wearing a cloth cap and tweed suit.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Moz,

    It doesn’t matter how you dress it up, ever-increasing pollution, increasing poverty and falling living standards outside the 1% are not “wins for the left”, but they are core business for the right.

    Yeah. This 'we're winning, really!' just seems daft. "They're flogging off everything they can get away with and moving the money offshore" feels more like it.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2109 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Listening to Andrew Little this afternoon was interesting. He said almost all the right things. And he seems decent and smart. But there was an audience who, given a little sauce, would have lapped it up; given a little fire, would have exploded. Little was wry and thoughtful but also a bit apologetic and diffident.
    I don’t think I’m a mob-frenzy sort of person, but I found myself yearning wistfully for a bit of rabble-rousing.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2109 posts Report Reply

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