First up, the local body elections (1) lead to the return of John Banks in Auckland; Michael Laws in Whanganui; and Palmy, never one to miss out on an opportunity to make itself less likeable, elected Jonno Naylor. The only positives to be gained from this is that the electorate might recoil from the se rightwing gorgons, and, come the general election next year, vote for sensible, decent leftwing candidates. Banks's outburst over the Eden Park redevelopment, basically announcing he wants his ctiy to enjoy all the benefits without shouldering the cost, suggests this may not be a folorn hope.
Second, Steve Maharey announced he'd had enough (2) and that he was quitting politics. This handed the rightwingers a gift, allowing them to insinuate that Maharey thinks Labour is going to be defeated, and Maharey knows this. This suggestion doesn't stand up - Maharey had ambitions to lead the party, and a rout next year would have lead to a vacancy at the top. With Cullen too old and Shane Jones too young, the obvious choices would have been Trevor Mallard, Phil Goff and Maharey. Though I'd love to see Trevor Mallard lead the Labour Party - for entertainment, if nothing else - he's accumulated too many scars and bruises in parliamentary dog fights and from implementing unpopular polices. So it would be Maharey from the left and Goff from the right, and I'd have backed Maharey over Goff. Goff's a nice bloke, but has a quality of lightness about him. So Maharey would have had reason to look forward to a defeat. Probably, he decided to give up because he felt he'd done his stint. Providing about 30% of the total intelligence and work-rate of the Labourparty for seentten odd years probably is a bit exhausting (Trevor Mallard contributes about 40% of the total party work-rate, though less to the intelligence).
Finally, we had the raids on the alleged terrorist plotters and the arrest of the so-called "Urewera 17" (3). What was going on in the Urewera's is perhaps not important. As Chris Trotter pointed out, whether or not the 'activists' were doing anything more sinister than playing Che Guevara and shooting thier mouths off, they've made things much more difficult for the left. Protests and protestors will have a thinner time of it than previously; generally, self-righteous lefties advocating good causes have enjoyed general support, tacit or active, in New Zealand. Perhaps it is residual goodwill from the Rainbow Warrior bombing - if the French saw fit to commit a terrorist murder, then their targets can't be all bad. Against that, however, we now have the 'Urewera 17' - most of whom are probably innocent of anything other than naive association - and the lingering suspicion that, whatever emerges about the raids, there must have been something to prompt them.
On top of the raids themselves has been the venal and ridiculous reaction by the far left / activist network. Scanning the comments made on IndyMediaAotearoa, I was sickened at the venom being unleashed, against the police, Chris Tortter and Martyn 'Bomber' Bradbury- the latter two branded "the coward Trotter and the Scab Bradbury" (5) by the new McCartyites. The immediate, unquestioning acceptance of that the 'Urewera 17' were all totally innocent and should all be released immediately left me shaking my head in amzaement. Hell, I'd always assumed that those on the left were a) smarter, and b) more sexually active than those on the right. I can only hope the denizens of IndyMedia are mating like bunnies, because they don't come across as the most thoughtful people.
No questioning of the what might have been going on in the Ureweras, just an immediate assumption that the raids were a set up, part of an Illuminati backed race war (6), for Heaven's sake. Frothing, hysterical calls for violence against the police, the "white men ruing (sic) Aotearoa" (7) and the "some Kupapa who will be taken care of as well" (8). Reading this bilge, I was reminded of two places where you'll find a similar level of vituperation, and a similar lack of reason or principles - the tirades of the anti-abortionists, and the venom being directed at Kate and Gerry McCann.
Perhaps a wafer thin silver lining can be discerned. Once the hurricane eases a little, perhaps some on the left will have the memory and the courage to question their supposed fellow activists about what they are saying now. Though almost all of the posters on Indymedia lurk behind anonymity - even more so than blogging under a nickname like lurgee, I mean - I can't imagine they are limiting their berserk comments to the internet. People in the activist community will know who is saying things like this:
FREEDOM comes out of the end of a gun (9)and this:
One day we the true owners of this land will claim it back as is rightfully oursPeople who truly believe in progressive politics need to make sure that the people spewing poison like that are rousted out whatever organisations they've infiltrated. The left has no need of people attracted only by the whiff of danger, subversion and extremism. They can convert, Saul of Tarsus style, and be re-born as far right nationalists, where their howling racialism, propensity to violence and unthinking acceptance of authority will fit in far more comfortably.
and your blood will flow in the streets (10)
1 - "Local election results summary," unattributed summary of results from Fairfax Media, 13th of October, 2007. (http://www.stuff.co.nz/4236524a25305.html)
2 - "Maharey quitting Cabinet to join University," by Claire Trevett in the New Zealand Herald, 19th of October,
3 - The fact that not all of the arrests were made at Urewera doesn't seem to bother the protesters. The 'Urewera 17' label is courtesy of Aotearoa IMC. (http://indymedia.org.nz/feature/display/71723/index.php)
4 - "Actions of arrogant idiots," by Chris Trotter in the Dominion Post, 19th of October, 2007. (http://www.stuff.co.nz/4243561a1861.html)
5 - A comment made on Aotearoa AMC: http://indymedia.org.nz/mod/comments/display/82393/index.php
6 - I am not making this up. Here is it, in all it's insane glory: http://indymedia.org.nz/mod/comments/display/82026/index.php
7 - Again, a coment from the Aotearoa IMC discussion forum: http://indymedia.org.nz/mod/comments/display/82302/index.php.
8 - ibid.
9 - ibid.
10 - A comment made on Tumeke: http://tumeke.blogspot.com/2007/10/ira-styled-war-planned-target-was-nz.html