Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


To The Front - Why is Labour struggling in the campaign?

To The Front - Why is Labour struggling in the campaign?

Column – By John Minto.

One would think that with a global recession caused by corporate greed and stupidity and with persistent high unemployment and families struggling, a Tory government which had just increased GST and given massive tax cuts to the wealthy would be easy meat for Labour.

Especially when that government has been selling state houses, just launched a program of beneficiary bashing and announced a highly unpopular plan to privatise strategic state assets.

All the ground is in Labour's direction but instead of facing a sure bet win the party is floundering and facing a massive electoral defeat later this month.

What on earth is going on? The style of John Key may suit the mood of the country and the personal attacks on Key and less than stellar performance of Phil Goff in televised debates may have made Labour less attractive but none of these explain the more fundamental issue.

Voters may well prefer the direction of Labour policy but the differences with National are really so minor as to make the choice almost irrelevant. In fact Labour is campaigning on National-lite policies which are still grounded in Labour's 1984 economic blitzkrieg which ushered in the biggest wealth redistribution (from the poor to the rich) the country has ever seen and in the 20 years after 1984 inequality rose faster in New Zealand than in any other country in the OECD.

And even as Labour tries to distinguish itself by shuffling a little to the left of National its attacks are blunted because it's hopelessly compromised at every turn and the problem is personified in Labour leader Phil Goff.

When Goff attacks the rise in GST, the ghost of Goff reminds us it was the man himself who introduced GST at 10% in the first place and then increased it to 12.5% back in the 1980s. It was also Goff who brought in tertiary student fees and again it was Goff who sat at the Labour cabinet while it sold our key state assets for a song to the rich mates of senior Labour politicians of the time. We've been paying the price ever since.

And even now National is outflanking Labour on the left.

Take loan sharks for example. For nine years Labour could have moved to regulate loan sharking but it refused to act despite the overwhelming evidence of hugely damaging impacts on Labour's core constituency - the Pacific Island community.

National is now moving to put in place rules whereby a loan shark has to show a person is able to pay back a loan without undue hardship. It's not the whole answer but it's a good first step in an industry which is based on profits from people who default on paying back loans.

The retirement age is another example where Labour is to the right of National. Labour is happy for the hardest-working New Zealanders on low wages to work another two years before receiving national superannuation rather than rebalancing the economy so the 1% no longer dominate economic policy and political decision making.

My prediction for this election is a comprehensive win to National. Labour will dump Goff in the new year and shift significantly to the left as it tries to reposition itself as the party of the 99% rather that the party which has done more than National in the past 27 years to enrich the 1%.

But the real problem Labour faces is not defeat in this election but finding anyone in their new caucus who has an economic backbone rather than a corporate-moulded artificial brace.

John Minto is a Mana Party candidate and is campaigning in the Manukau East Electorate. He is also number 3 on the Mana Party list.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Keith Rankin: Basic Universal Income And Economic Rights
"Broad growth is only going to come when you put money in the hands of people, and that's why we talk about a Universal Basic Income". [Ritu Dewan, Indian Society of Labour Economics]. (From How long before India's economy recovers, 'Context India', Al Jazeera, 31 Oct 2021.) India may be to the 'Revolution of the twenty-first century' that Russia was to the 'Revolution of the twentieth century'... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Foreseeable Risk: Omicron Makes Its Viral Debut
It has been written about more times than any care to remember. Pliny the Elder, that old cheek, told us that Africa always tended to bring forth something new: Semper aliquid novi Africam adferre. The suggestion was directed to hybrid animals, but in the weird pandemic wonderland that is COVID-19, all continents now find themselves bringing forth their types, making their contributions. It just so happens that it’s southern Africa’s turn... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Totalitarian Cyber-Creep: Mark Zuckerberg In The Metaverse

Never leave matters of maturity to the Peter Panners of Silicon Valley. At their most benign, they are easily dismissed as potty and keyboard mad. At their worst, their fantasies assume the noxious, demonic forms that reduce all users of their technology to units of information and flashes of data... More>>

Gasbagging In Glasgow: COP26 And Phasing Down Coal

Words can provide sharp traps, fettering language and caging definitions. They can also speak to freedom of action and permissiveness. At COP26, that permissiveness was all the more present in the haggling ahead of what would become the Glasgow Climate Pact... More>>

Globetrotter: Why Julian Assange’s Inhumane Prosecution Imperils Justice For Us All

When I first saw Julian Assange in Belmarsh prison, in 2019, shortly after he had been dragged from his refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy, he said, “I think I am losing my mind.”
He was gaunt and emaciated, his eyes hollow and the thinness of his arms was emphasized by a yellow identifying cloth tied around his left arm... More>>

Dunne Speaks: Labour's High Water Mark
If I were still a member of the Labour Party I would be feeling a little concerned after this week’s Colmar Brunton public opinion poll. Not because the poll suggested Labour is going to lose office any time soon – it did not – nor because it showed other parties doing better – they are not... More>>