Wednesday, 1 October 2014


So, those wishing to participate in the Labour leadership election (2014 edition) have until 11.59pm on Wednesday the 1st of October to join.

I won't be joining, but I've noticed an alarming number of people on The Standard announcing that they will join, because they want to vote in the election.  Fair enough.  But then they add that if David Cunliffe doesn't win they will resign their membership.

This is a particularly worrying aspect of the Cunliffe cult-of-personality that seems to have deranged too many on the left.  The really seem to think Cunliffe is something different to the other options.  Much talk is made about factions and positions and ABCs and the need for a shift to the left (as if the million voters who have studiously say out the last three elections while National assailed their quality of life will be motivated to vote if Labour just nudges a bit further left ...)

This over looks the fundamental reality.  Cunliffe, Robertson, Shearer and whoever else you care to name are just politicians.  They are all politicians. Cunliffe comes across as no different to Robertson or Shearer – he’s a professional politician, just like them, and part of the monied, highly educated elite, just like them. He doesn’t speak to the ‘missing million’ – you may have noticed they didn’t show up last week.

One is good at waving his hands about and shouting at John Key.  The other is liked by his colleagues but no-one else.  The third one has an amazing backstory and isn't shouty but possibly isn't even very talky.

But that's beside the point.  The issue is the carpetbaggers - people signing up just to vote for one candidate and intending to flounce off in a huff if he doesn't win.

For people contemplating joining and planning on leaving if their preferred candidate doesn't win ... please don't. What you are doing is profoundly undemocratic. It's tantamount to stuffing the ballot box.

Beofre you join, ask your self it you would still be willing to maintain your membership if Cunliffe (or whoever) is not elected leader? If not, don’t join. It’s a democratic process electing the leader of the party and if you aren’t willing to accept the decision of the party, you have no business joining it. People doing that are simply trying to fix the result.

(I suspect they might often be the same people signing the ludicrous ‘recount’ petition and who are claiming the election was fixed …)

If you are not willing to stick with the result of a democratically agreed decision, you have no business joining a party just to try to force the decision one way or another. If you want to join a party, fine, but it is a commitment, and you shouldn’t be resigning just because your favoured candidate didn’t win. If your loyalty is that precarious, you shouldn’t be joining that party in the first place.

What if a horde of Nats joined up with the explicit intention of voting for Robertson? Would you be happy with that?

Don’t lie and say you would be.


Anonymous said...

Agree with what you say, the Labour side-show of playing musical leadership chairs is a total distraction from the real issue,

The voters didn't vote or not vote Labour because Cunliffe was or wasn't the leader,

The voters didn't vote Labour because they didn't want the radical policies,

Radical policies???, raising the age for pensions to 67, making kiwisaver compulsory and USING the workers increased contributions to control the cost of borrowing a couple off of the top of my head...

lurgee said...

I don't think the policies are really that radical, but they are about as strong as the electorate can handle. With better presentation and an iota of sense ("Hmmm ... I wonder if Key will ask me about Capital gans Tax ... nah, why would he?") they could be sold. But it's a hard sell against Key's do nothing and don't worry platform.

Anonymous said...

You do not see the policy as radical neo-liberalism???,

First i would have to ask you where upon the income ladder you actually sit???,

Raising the age of superannuation, not radical you think, the only other party proposing to do so is the right wing radical reactionary ACT,

Why did the voters run from Labour to NZFirst if it wasn't as a reaction to the Super policy,(not to mention that to form a government it is highly likely that Labour into the forseeable future will need to do so with NZFirst and thus the policy which cost Labour large swathes of votes is a dog in every way,

Thats just the raising of the age of super part of the neo-libera;l scam being proposed by i assume David Parker,

What do you think the low paid workers think of the compulsion to be in kiwisaver, i would suggest the Labour vote circa 2014 tells you exactly what a dog of a policy that is as well...

lurgee said...

I don't really disagree with you with the contention that "The voters didn't vote Labour because they didn't want the radical policies." But you didn't specify 'radical neo-liberalism' in your first comment. I interpreted 'radical' broadly, in the sense of some significant changes.

For what it is worth, I don't see the world in Manichean terms. The ways things are currently construed, it isn't Socialism / Neo-Liberalism. Hell, even Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson didn't quite abolish the welfare state in total ... and the British Labour party in the 40s didn't completely abolish private medicine when they set up the NHS.

I don't think the policies you identify are not really screaming neo-liberalism. I'd say they were more sane centrism. A compulsory super-savings scheme, with a starting contribution from the government contribution, is hardly the stuff of Hayek's fantasies. Yes, there is a more leftwing alternative, as there usually is, and it might even be better. But that doesn't make compulsory Kiwisaver radical neo-liberalism.

As for raising the age of retirement, fortunately, we are living longer, on the whole, so the age of superannuation may need to be increased - though Labour were clear over 65s who could no longer work would be exempted.

These are not radical neo-liberal policies (unless you subscribe to the idea that raising the age of super is intended to increase the pool of labour and drive down wages). They just aren't very appealing when the alternative is someone who smiles and says we can do nothing more than trust him.

These polices should, in a sane world, have appealed to the central trache of voters we have to win over. They're fiscally responsible and offer the sort of long term socially positive outcomes middle classes like (they don't like stepping over poor people in the street as they take Tabitha and Tarquin to their Montessori kindergarten) and balance out the slightly more leftish policies, like Kiwibuild and the state buying up electricity (one day, perhaps, we could talk about nationalisation!).

But, unfortunately, the left are up against an opponent intent on winning power through irresponsibility and casual unconcern. Labour proposed change, National more of the same. Was change necessary? Of course? Was Labour's program a solution? Debatable. Was it a poor strategy? You bet!

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