Labour Party supporters regularly berated the corporate media for its friendly coverage of the National-led government. Now they are behaving in exactly the same way toward the new Labour-New Zealand First coalition government.

Shane Jones: Labour criticism of his 'work for the dole' policy  has been muted.
IMAGINE IF A NEW GOVERNMENT minister announces that not only does he propose to introduce 'work for the dole' schemes but he also suggests that, as long as they meet certain standards, they are likely to be supported by cabinet itself. Imagine too, the howls of outrage that would erupt from within the blogosphere and the social media that such a politically regressive policy is already on the cabinet table.

This week the Minister for Regional Economic Development Shane Jones said he'd been 'encouraged' to look at  'work for the dole' schemes. He added that cabinet were not opposed to such schemes as long as they met certain 'criteria'.

In an interview with an approving Mike Hosking at Newstalk ZB, Jones said: “As we plant indigenous trees I’m going to get my indigenous nephews off their nono and they’re going to go to work.” It seems Jones is not adverse to racially discriminatory 'work for the dole' schemes either.

Such schemes have long been opposed by left wing activists, the union movement and by most Labour Party supporters. While activists and the union movement were  quick to attack the plan of Shane Jones, criticism has been less forthcoming from Labour Party supporters.

Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) denounced the policy as did, to his credit, First Union general secretary Robert Reid. He said the entire union movement was opposed to 'work for the dole' schemes

"It's long-standing policy for the union movement right from when it was tried by the National Government in the 1990s. What we are in favour of is work-for-wages schemes for unemployed people, even on a temporary basis like the 1970s and '80s schemes." he said.

However Labour Party supporters have largely gone missing in action over Jones' proposal. This  prompted one National Party supporter to tweet: 'Shane Jones floats #workfordole and @Twitter is silent. Compare and contrast whenever Nats suggest same."

The 'cone of silence' has descended on Labour supporters.
He does have a point. You will have to search hard for Labour Party criticism of 'work for the dole" schemes. On The Daily Blog, mostly a mouthpiece for Labour Party supporters , it hasn't rated a mention. On another Labour Party website, The Standard,any criticism has been confined to its 'Mic On' comments section. And support has also been expressed for the policy.

While the reluctance to criticise the Labour-New Zealand First coalition might be explained as a product of election victory euphoria, it does not excuse what amounts to political censorship. It is ironic that the very same individuals and websites that regularly attacked the corporate media for its benevolent coverage of the National-led government, are now behaving in exactly the same way themselves. The 'cone of silence' has descended on Labour supporters and criticism of the Labour-NZF coalition.

It might be rationalised if a left wing government was being defended from the reactionary forces of capital. But Labour isn't the United Socialist Party of Venezuela and New Zealand isn't Venezuela. The Labour - NZF coalition is a determinedly centrist government that represents no threat  at all to the rule of capital. Indeed, much of the business sector has welcomed the change in government.

There has not been a revolution in the Beehive, merely a change in the seating arrangements.

The lesson to be drawn, which Labour Party supporters will no doubt mostly ignore, is that we must be politically engaged in the world as it is, not a world we have invented in our own heads. In the words of revolutionary socialist Rosa Luxemburg, “The most revolutionary thing one can do is always to proclaim loudly what is happening.”


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