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Monday, October 18, 2010

Labour finally a left wing party


A touch of self-preservation to Goff's enthusiastic embrace of leftward step
OPINION: Labour's revamp of its economic policy has done enough to suggest the next election will be a real contest on at least one level.

As long as the party follows through on its signalled new direction, and yesterday's announcement of a new foreign investment policy certainly delivered on its pre-billing, it will be the first time for more than two decades that voters will have faced a real choice on the economy - not just around the margins on the 90-day workplace probation period or some tinkering with the Resource Management Act but a real clash of ideas.

It will be the first time since the late 1980s that the two parties will not be arguing from roughly the same bedrock of economic "orthodoxy" inherited from the Rogernomics and later Ruth Richardson eras.


Phil Goff and the Labour Party have just forced the next election to be about that one word that can not be discussed on mainstream news - 'ideology'. The glorious jump to the left Phil executed yesterday forces the non-ideological John Key to argue for the free market, there won't be any crowding the center ground in this election, it is a battle of ideology.

The depressing great recession inspired by the failure of deregulated free market extremism is the reason why beneficiaries are being asked to tighten their belts while the former merchant banker Prime Minister hands himself and his wealth class giant tax cuts funded by a rise in GST paid by the majority who earn under $50 000. That anger and the perception that those who have benefited from the global distortions of greed and fear, boom and bust markets molested by corporate criminals playing barely understood derivatives are doing well while the rest suffer is ripe for political representation.

The Free Market has failed and the State can offer a better deal, Keynesian Capitalism helps build strong democracies, not the greed of Milton Friedman's neoliberal fantasy and NZers can understand that concept without having to dumb it down because they are feeling the pain of the this economic collapse today, right now. They are working harder and going backwards, Key's promise they would be better each week hasn't eventuated and his hope that the recent damning NZIER report will not suggest a deteriorating economic situation because Summer is coming starts looking a bit 'boy in a bubble'.

The vacant politics of aspiration that John Key represents evaporates in a recession. The unrealistic optimism becomes perceived as medicated and out of touch, (we'd all be as positive as the Optimist Prime if we had $40million and a Hawaiian mansion), yet he has to play the Lone Ranger role because it keeps attention off National's policy agenda. The danger for National is that if Key's optimism reaches saturation point he starts to lose credibility and forcing a wealthy man to defend the free market he has so benefited from as desperately needed public services get shredded could open that credibility gap into a yawning chasm.

The Editor of Tumeke, Mr Tim Selwyn raises a good point...

How can the Labour team - and most of that Cabinet is still on the front bench - justify the flip-flop? They aren't. They are trying to ignore it and pretend that in two years in the wilderness everyone has forgotten what they've been up to since 1984.

This is a meme that Kiwiblogh has adopted as well. Both can be countered, the reason why Labour has made such a bold step to the left is because the recession we face has shown the free market doesn't provide the positive growth and strength our democracy requires, Brother Bernard Hickey has seen the light, so can Phil Goff. Demanding a full Mea Culpa misses the significance of the shift and Mr Goff can argue he is facing up to the reality that the deregulated Free Market doesn't work.

The only real issue would be if critics were to claim that Phil is lying and has no intent of turning to the left, if that were the case then more evidence than his legislative past would be needed to claim conspiracy, seeing as Kiwiblogh isn't claiming that yet, we can discount that criticism.

Phil Goff just gave all those core Labour Party voters in Auckland who didn't vote for them in 2008 making it one of the lowest turn outs, a reason to vote. Labour is a left wing party.

2011 will not be the cake walk many on the right seem to have convinced themselves of.

Armstrong explains the how Labour win narrative...

All of this happening against the backdrop of the latest Roy Morgan poll which for the first time puts the Opposition parties within reasonable striking distance of National and its allies. More tangible was the near nationwide swing to the left in last week's local government elections. Of particular note was the political rehabilitation of former Labour MPs who were crushed at the ballot box less than two years ago.

18 Comments:

At 18/10/10 2:49 pm, Blogger Fantail said...

They're not even left wing - as in, left of true centre. They're just moving left in a much-needed correction to our political sphere's far right position. So they're not "going commie". Very important distinction to make if we want to win the discourse and get that swing in 2011.

 
At 18/10/10 3:14 pm, Anonymous sdm said...

Turnout dropped 1% from 2005 to 2008. Its not why Labour lost.

If Labour want to run on a "borrow, tax and spend" platform, be my guest. What got us in the shit was not so much free marketism, but rather living beyond our means. We simply cant afford the stuff that politicians on both sides promise.

 
At 18/10/10 3:16 pm, Blogger Bomber said...

Fantail, I'm not suggesting Phil Goff has resurrected Marx, but Labour are making a clear departure from the Free Market dictates of the past. Labour doesn't need to 'swing the vote' they don't have to fight for the middle ground, their aim is 35% of solid red core liberal labour vote, Armstrong explains the way Labour win...

All of this happening against the backdrop of the latest Roy Morgan poll which for the first time puts the Opposition parties within reasonable striking distance of National and its allies. More tangible was the near nationwide swing to the left in last week's local government elections. Of particular note was the political rehabilitation of former Labour MPs who were crushed at the ballot box less than two years ago.

 
At 18/10/10 3:50 pm, Blogger Bomber said...

Turnout dropped 1% from 2005 to 2008. Its not why Labour lost.

More terrible lies from the right wing, In 2005 80.9% of 2, 847 396 enrolled voters voted where as in 2008, 79.46% of 2 761 093 enrolled voters voted. It isn't simply the 1% difference the right wing sell it as, it is 1% less of a smaller electorate, a large chunk of core Auckland labour left didn't bother enrolling after watching old Labour lose it's way.

 
At 18/10/10 4:02 pm, Blogger Fantail said...

Yep, I know you didn't mean Marx, Bomber. Just we should be careful about framing them as "left-wing" so they don't get tarred with inappropriate connotations. They're still good, market-oriented democrats, who have observed and learned from their own mistakes and the by now (26 years) obvious flaws in the architecture of market extremism.

I say swing, because the Clark govt left a sour taste in the mouths of forgotten middle NZ, who have the top tax rate hovering not that far above a family's cost of living, which in turn is above the median household income. As has been pointed out, NZ has been waiting 26 years for this "change", which they mistakenly took to be that nice Mr. Key. But when you consider that <20% of the population possess 80% of the wealth, there is a broad base for a decisive shift, left, to a more just economy. Labour may only need 35%, but there's potential for more.

 
At 18/10/10 5:10 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

15% ? NZIER

 
At 18/10/10 7:11 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Both can be countered, the reason why Labour has made such a bold step to the left is because the recession we face has shown the free market doesn't provide the positive growth and strength of our democracy"

So Bomber, explain to us how the govnt can create growth.

If its as easy as hiring more state employees then why not employ 100,000 more policy analysts?

I really don't think you have a clue how the economy works.

 
At 18/10/10 7:32 pm, Anonymous sdm said...

Why cant you just come out and say, the country shifted right in 2008? Do you not believe that?

 
At 18/10/10 8:53 pm, Anonymous Relic said...

Sdm: that was then, this is now! Aspirational dreams and identification may have shifted for a layer of fuck faces in 08, but the reality is 75% of kiwis are on 48k or less per year income. Why be a right winger if you don’t actually get rich? Heh.

 
At 18/10/10 9:18 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When the Government assumes responsibility for individuals decisions , an inevitable consequence is the reduction of freedom of speech and of individuals to make up their own minds and to make their own choices...In formulating social policy to improve welfare outcomes, considerable attention has to be given to the reasonableness of this presumption.The more doubt is attached to this proposition, the stronger the case for untied assistance like whanua ora or for not intervening at all for delivering untied assistance.

18/10/10 4:08 PM


Anonymous said...
Not if you are an elderly pensioner over eighty I believe and a three hundred pounds winter heating rebate all being scrapped by the tories including a universal child benefit.But they have to "make savings" and we've heard it all before like a broken needle fixed on trickle down a rising tide floats all boats.Meanwhile assets get cherry-picked for privatisation and the real redistribution of income upwards not downwards.Ten to eleven billion sold under labour and half that after the ones that share power in a left-right conspiracy to keep us all dumb-downed (despite 3000 extra funding for places not specifically targetted at locals first and foremost ahead of racial minority quotas and foreign students).

Personally, I tend to disagree with all the talk of saving the public broadcaster when that privilege has already well and truly been usurped.The three new free to air channels my aerial receives are prime, maori and triangle all good value to boot.The movie tonight was particularly enjoyable with intermission included.Neopolitan and lemonade sundaes in the fridge and freezer.

As with all addicts the radio only reinforces someone elses rumour or innuendo to the nth degree.Laws and co repeat ad infinitum about fat brown slugs and turds etc.Then the truckies stage a protest and drive around in circles as the rumour had it that banksy was going to address them at the town hall.Laws fell for that one.He never made it.One lasting impression though was of a young maori boy standing in front of the curtains as the trucks drove through the night making their deliveries and staying tuned into the hosts.What of his future?

Well.

The move to a market model of social policy in N.Z is complete.The phase of political liberalism has passed us by.Core public sector assets including the sale of telecom for just over $4 Billion a record at the time involved massive state assets sales of some $9 Billion and a wholesale attack on benefits in 1991 by National.Finally, a phase of perpetual restructuring has been established.
It will be the first time since the late 1980s that the two parties will not be arguing from roughly the same bedrock of economic "orthodoxy" inherited from the Rogernomics and later Ruth Richardson eras.

It is not surprising to most informed commentators that the Treasury had detailed plans in place once Mr.Muldoon had left the building replaced by the young turks of labour.They had clearly formulated an economic agenda for selling social policy down the river dating right back to 1984.The set of refoms in the late eighties included health and education and these essentials for the reform of social policy was already part of their agenda.All cabinet committees became answerable to treasury and their claims of middle class capture.Treasury's power quadrupled with a budget which climbed more dramatically than any others who might have resisted their central tenets or thesis for change.From $32 million to $161 million in 1991, and in the absence of any resistance from weaker departments they not only set the agenda for reform but they were rarely questioned.

18/10/10 4:25 PM

 
At 18/10/10 9:26 pm, Anonymous SB said...

SDM said "What got us in the shit was not so much free marketism, but rather living beyond our means."

Yet Government debt fell under the last Labour government. So it wasn't the Government living beyond its means but 'consenting adults' in the private sector.

Australia too has lived beyond its means for at least the last 15 years but continues to grow faster than the OECD average.

Maybe what got us 'into the shit' was a series of poor policy responses to the very difficult problem of being a small and isolated producer of commodities.

Maintaining demand when commodity prices fall and helping workers move between industries might be one way to do it.

 
At 19/10/10 8:47 am, Blogger Bomber said...

Why cant you just come out and say, the country shifted right in 2008? Do you not believe that?

This is the best come back you have after pointing out that you were wrong with your claim that the turn out was much lower than the measly 1% you were claiming because you hadn't taken into account the numbers enrolled? Well at least you are trying Scott.

I've told you a thousand bloody times what I think - Core Labour Party Auckland voters didn't bother voting or enrolling for Labour in 2008, the country was gripped in the 'change' mantra without having any idea what that 'change' actually was, the media did a pathetic job explaining what the 'change' was and National did all they could to hide it with Policy that was a mere page long in some cases and as for their media policy, it was a mere 350 words long (that a text message Scot, not a political policy). So the media did a crap job of holding to account and National did all they could to hide their actual agenda. Voters who went with Labour in 2005, went with the change stuff in 2008, first time voters who had lived most of their adult lives under Helen as leader with no experience of National joined forces with a reactionary right wing who felt power saving lightbulbs, water saving showerheads and the repeal of section 59 all meant the end of western civilization as we knew it which all combined to produce one of the lowest turn outs and a massive lurch to the right.

You claim Right wing Policy motivated voters, I denounce that.

People have now seen what the right are like, they see ACC counselling denied to rape victims, they see a Government trying to mine conservation land, they see a tax cut for the rich, they see flawed national standards that are failing their kids so that and they see (despite your claims it would just be a power aimed at the small bosses like yourself) a 90 day right to sack implemented on the entire economy at the behest of a fringe political party of hypocrites.

This is an idealogical battle, and if you want to win this time the right are going to have to be honest about their policies rather than slip them under the 'change' mantra. You go fly away now agent starling and try and con the middle ground into believing the Free Market that collapsed so corruptly in 2008 will help those feeling the pain right now, Labour don't need that middle ground, they have to win back those who want an alternative to the failed low tax, de-regulated, free market Milton Friedman dogma.

I look forward to you selling your defence of merchant bankers to voters Scott

 
At 19/10/10 12:51 pm, Anonymous sdm said...

You spin a good tale Bomber.

NZ has always put governments in, given them a few terms, and changed. There is nothing overly intellectual about it, its how we vote. After nine years of Labour, with little front bench rejuvenation (Clark, Cullen, Goff, Mallard, King, Maharey) etc, the country thought it wanted something different. It was less about what National offered, but rather we were tired with the same old. Voters around the world vote for "freshness" irrespective of ideology.

The problem for Labour is that it looks awfully the same as it did in 2008.

As I have said before - NZ doesnt reject first term governments unless something drastic happens (like the death of a leader - Kirk). We don't do it. This is a government that is relatively centrist, and I see no reason why it cant win 45% of the vote.

Jon Johnansen said something interesting on Q&A. He said that Labour has to win its base back first, before it will govern. In 2005 National won its base back - and it set up a pretty simple victory in 2008. Labour, if it wants to play a long smart game, needs to win its base in 2011, to bring 2014 into play. By which stage the country will be tired of Key - if he is still the leader, and labour have a real shot.

 
At 19/10/10 3:01 pm, Blogger Bomber said...

I'm so glad you finally agreed with my point Scott, you are 100% right, something drastic did just happen, it's called the great recession and it is unlike any global recession since 1929.

 
At 19/10/10 4:35 pm, Anonymous Simon said...

I love the fact that the right wing are relying on the tendency of Kiwis to vote a govt in more than once. If that's the best hope you've got start learning 'The Peoples flag'!

 
At 19/10/10 4:55 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What can we say about the electorate since the 1980s

They hate radical economic change; which is what 'new' labour are claiming to offer while national have repudiated a large part of their raidcal agenda despite Bombers constant harping.

First the economic conditions are not as bad as 1930s. We've got maybe 7% unemplyment vs 30%+ in the 1930s. Anybody who thinks that its as bad is simply talking it up for their own partisan interest without looking at the factual comparison.

Growth has flatlined but we're not in deflation territory which was a mark of the 1930s.

Interest rates are low while they were high in the 30s.

I don't see thousands on the streets congregating in shanty towns, soup kitchens and work gangs.

Maybe you should stop reading all those doomsday economic blogs Bomber and get out of central auckland. Clearly sitting in front of a computer all day has totally warped your sense of reality.

 
At 19/10/10 8:12 pm, Anonymous sdm said...

Simon - you may find history irrelevant but I don't. Bomber doesnt seem particually concerned with history either, given he advocates a new "new-deal" - a policy that prolonged the great depression (the irony being of course Bomber says we havent hit the bottom of this recession because the 1930's crisis was prolonged - but fails to address the Keynesian causes thereof).

This crisis has been caused primarily by debt. If you earn $1, dont spend $2.

 
At 19/10/10 9:06 pm, Blogger Bomber said...

What can we say about the electorate since the 1980s

They hate radical economic change; which is what 'new' labour are claiming to offer while national have repudiated a large part of their raidcal agenda despite Bombers constant harping.

That's half right anon, you are right about the Public not liking radical lurches to the right, but we have pioneered radical moves to the left (universal suffrage, the welfare state, nuclear free country). Next election National are promising hard right policy post 2011, this contradicts your 'bombers harping' crap, it's what Key said before the 2008 election, he ruled out privatization until after 2011.

First the economic conditions are not as bad as 1930s. We've got maybe 7% unemplyment vs 30%+ in the 1930s. Anybody who thinks that its as bad is simply talking it up for their own partisan interest without looking at the factual comparison.

As I point out in my post We are facing a crises of capitalism in the same way the 1929 collapse was a crises of capitalism.
What your analysis misses is that trhe crash occurred in 1929, the full social impact wasn't felt until 1935. Our collapse occurred in 2008.

I'm surprised you have missed this point anon as you were able to note I was harping about National's hard right post 2011 policy yet seemed to miss out my noting of the 29 crash and the full social impact.

Growth has flatlined but we're not in deflation territory which was a mark of the 1930s.
Again, we are seeing that deflation territory now, 2 years on from the 2008 collapse.

Interest rates are low while they were high in the 30s.
They are predicted to jump from where they are now to 4% in NZ within a year.

I don't see thousands on the streets congregating in shanty towns, soup kitchens and work gangs.
That's right anon, those infamous sites weren't seen until unemployment reached about 20% in America in 1935.

Maybe you should stop reading all those doomsday economic blogs Bomber and get out of central auckland. Clearly sitting in front of a computer all day has totally warped your sense of reality.
Ahhh, nice attempt at an insult but seeing as you've missed several important facts in your analysis, I think I'll stick to my reading lists while you need to update yours.

The funny thing I always find about right wing is that they seem to know so little about the history of capitalism.

Labour knows how to work best for capitalism, National always know how to work best for capitalists. There is a big difference.

Scott, I think you need to read up on your Keynesian vs Milton Friedman capitalism - you're going to need it to defend all those merchant banker profits the unregulated free market coughed up in the last couple of years a hell of a lot better than 'bomber doesn't understand Keyensian theory held back the recession' bullshit. Scott would prefer to see the poor stacked ten high and burnt in the town square than actually interfere in his blessed free market. It wasn't the response that prolonged the depression, it was the unregulated free market that was allowed to build to such bubble levels in the first place. Blaming the fireman for the amount of time it takes to put out the fire is churlish.

 

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