With the Labour-New Zealand First coalition government already showing its dismally centrist colours, Labour Party supporters have had little to say about a series of political backtracks by the Jacinda Ardern -led government.

ALTHOUGH THE year still has a few days to go and this Labour-New Zealand First (NZF) coalition government isn't even a 100 days old, the political character and direction of this government has already largely been determined.

Under the vanilla banner of 'centrism', the Jacinda Ardern-led government will chart a conservative course. Waving the fiscally draconian 'Budget Responsibility Rules' about, Finance Minister Grant Robertson has already underlined that this government represents no threat to the political and economic status quo. If you listen hard enough, you can hear the former finance minister Steven Joyce expressing the same kind of sentiments. Robertson and Joyce have far more in common than Labour liberals like to admit.

So the Labour-NZF coalition government will be a National lite government. Or was the last National-led government a Labour lite government? These days its all a question of emphasis, rather than substance. They merge into one neoliberal blob.

But even if this government does sign the corporate-friendly Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and even though Jacinda Ardern has already backtracked on her election campaign commitment to fight tackle climate change "head on", Labour liberals will mostly say nothing and they are saying nothing.

While they loudly complained  about the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement when National was in power that hasn't been the case  since Labour was installed in government. And while they have been quick to praise Labour's Families Package they have  had little  to say about the plight of those ineligible for any assistance. They have not protested  Jacinda Ardern rejecting the Green's policy proposal to increase all main benefits by $20 a week.

While they waxed lyrical about Jacinda Ardern's declaration that climate change was her generation's 'nuclear free moment' they have had rather a lot less to say about Ardern now saying that applications for further coal mining, fracking and oil exploration will be considered on a 'case by case' basis. I don't think another Labour Prime Minister, David Lange, argued that he would consider the viability of New Zealand's nuclear free zone on a 'case by case business'.

While Jacinda Ardern is already proving to be a bit of a show pony, Labour supporters are mostly a useless lot and she can count on their continued uncritical and docile support. So while they claim they support the working class, they will continue to support a coalition government determined to maintain the neoliberal orthodoxy. They will continue to insist that they 'concerned' about New Zealand 's level of economic and social inequality but won't venture from out of their comfort zones to fight it. They will be the first to say that they are concerned about climate change but will say nothing when the government allows further fossil fuel extraction. And when they get criticised for being useless and gutless they will whine that this government has to be 'given a chance', as if the last thirty years of slavish devotion to neoliberalism never happened.

One individual who suffers from this selective political amnesia is the erratic Chris Trotter. This week he has decided that New Zealand "has a progressive government, of sorts, and its young prime minister has already set about enchanting the world. What’s not to be hopeful about?'

But only last week he was berating this government, declaring " IT’S OFFICIAL – there is now no prospect of this government living up to its promises of introducing “transformational” change. "

But anyone who genuinely cares for progressive and working class politics would have walked out of the Labour Party decades ago, and stayed out. We can look forward to more of this dismally muddled political thinking from Chris Trotter and his Labour Party chums in 2018.

Meanwhile, while Trotter muses about his "progressive government" , food banks around the country are barely able to cope with the demand for their services. In my hometown, Christchurch City Missioner Matthew Mark says that food parcel demand is up more than 25 per cent on last year.

"The majority of those people in that increase have been working families.' he told The Press. "It's mum and dad both working, on average have just over two kids and they are just struggling to make ends meet. The additional pressure that's come on with Christmas time is already coming to the fore."

This country needs a revolution but this government is giving us more of the same.


Post a Comment

Comments are moderated.