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.