Why the left is failing to defeat the National government?

Minto Mana Vice president John Minto


It’s not because John Key is a great Prime Minister. It’s not because National has policies that New Zealand loves and it’s not even that the right wing media give John Key a free ride.

It’s none of these. The reason the left fails to defeat National is because the main “left” party, Labour, has failed to provide any reason, either in policy or vision, why anyone would change their vote away from John Key.

Look at it from the point of view of ordinary New Zealanders. In the 2011 election Labour moved a small way to the left promising

  • GST off fruit and Vegetables
  • The first $5000 of income would be tax free
  • A 15% tax on capital gains

After that election defeat the party abandoned the first two policies and went into the 2014 election with the only significant policy difference with National being a capital gains tax.

After that election the capital gains tax was abandoned and Labour has floundered since. Not surprisingly National out-manoeuvred Labour on the left in the budget by introducing a partial capital gains tax and increasing benefits for beneficiaries. Yes it was all cynical politics and National has nothing but contempt for anyone on a low-income but why would any voter change from John Key when Labour presents nothing of significance in its place?

The Green Party under James Shaw will inevitably move to the right and occupy the crowded place where parties like National and Labour vie for middle-class voters. Shaw’s first speech when he says free market capitalism died in the 2008 financial crisis was as stupid as it was revealing. Shaw has no idea of the day-to-day struggles of families under capitalism.

I wrote elsewhere about the new members Shaw wants to add to the Greens –

“So who will these new Green Party members be? They will be mostly blue-greens – Remuera mums who are genuinely concerned for the future of their kids and the environment but who are also wedded to living off unearned income from capitalism. This promised influx would shift the centre of gravity of the greens so that while the party wouldn’t go into formal coalition with National it is more likely than at present to do a confidence and supply agreement with John Key – a couple of high-profile policy wins and some greater environmental regulation while backing National when push comes to shove in parliament”

MANA has solid policies which will make a huge difference for low-income families struggling under the yoke of capitalism – te pani me te rawakore (the poor and the dispossessed) – and we carry a huge responsibility to campaign for real change, promote our policies and keep faith with those who vote for us.

  • Ovicula

    Good points, John. Kia kaha.
    The old acronym Tina has been shown to be true by Labour, who have no alternative on offer. It should be modified to Tinawl – there is no alternative with Labour.

  • Kieran

    Clearly you are deluded and out of touch, John. The pundits and wonks in the US have been pointing out for years that every poor electoral performance by the Democrats is because they are far too left-wing. Likewise, all of the papers in the UK have pointed out quite confidently that Labour were trounced because Miliband is an obvious radical extremist. You can’t argue with all of that collected wisdom. And in Aotearoa? With all of her PR expertise, Michelle Boag has said exactly the same thing – almost word for word. Boag has spoken, John, and she knows more about “messaging” than the likes of you. Labour needs to move more to the “centre” and that is an inarguable “Truth” that focus groups have shown to be credible.

    • Anna

      I like to imagine John Key facing David Lange in the election debates

      • Anna

        Lange being bigger, smarter, wittier, louder, humane and vastly more articulate. Bugger your right-wing focus groups.

        • Kieran

          Sorry, that was bitter irony not my real opinion. In my defence you should probably have guessed that I wasn’t serious when I used the phrase “Boag has spoken”.

          • Anna

            Ha, I’m sorry! Must have been very tired from hours of pain, trying to get incremental improvement on New Zealand Centre for Political Research.
            Lol, facepalm

          • Lloyd

            BS he is a nat troll

          • Kieran

            That is the most hilarious thing I have ever heard! I think you have mistaken me for another Kieran. Besides which, as well as using the phrase “Boag has spoken” I also wrote “Truth” in speech marks. I thought that would be enough for people to see I wasn’t serious. Do you want to second Anna’s facepalm? 🙂

        • Gary Baigent

          Shonkey would deficate obscene amounts if confronted by someone like Lange?

    • Lloyd

      ohh look who is here…Kieran… nice to see you still got a roster spot on the Nats trolling regime.. hope they have upped the pay level from $1 to $2… thats dbling your income how nice and only get called up 1 hr a week .. shesh what you going to spend it all on Kieran

  • Fraser Williams

    I don’t know much about Shaw – but see little evidence to suggest a blue-green direction will emerge, or actually work. Also, need to remember he is only 50% of the leadership.

    What remains an issue, however, is the continued division and partisanship of the left in Aotearoa – and that is on full display here. Labour is definitely a centre-right solution at this point and largely out of the picture. But the true left needs to pull together in a big way if they actually want to present what can be perceived as a stable alternative to the train wreck Key has currently led us on.

  • A pretty simplistic viewpoint. More to it than that. At the last elections Labour had effectively a crap leader and policies not really understood.

    • Gerry Radt

      And nothing has changed!

  • Anna

    That is really excellent. I can’t vote Greens anymore, because it is far too late to try to mitigate climate change, which will overwhelm all the environmental goals they have. And they are no longer the leftist party with integrity, and a chance. I would vote Labour, but am endlessly seething at the way they try to please everybody, abandoning all principle, in the manner of Hillary Clinton.

  • Luke

    scarily accurate.

  • Graham Townsend

    Agree with all of this except the negative comment about the Greens. They seem to be the only party who grasp the harsh reality that a stable climate and fully functioning environment – including healthy fish stocks, non-fossil energy, healthy soil and clean water are absolutely fundamental to social justice. Every bit of our economy depends on a stable and functioning environment. A modicum of science education tells us that human society does not exist in a vacuum. You can’t have a fair society where everyone gets enough to eat and a roof over their heads when climate change looks like it will create more frequent and severe hits to the economy (via floods, sea-level rise and droughts) and hence more unemployment, more refugees and more social unrest. The real enemy is the self-serving lies created by neoliberalism, spread around by the mainstream media, and lapped up by complacent, ignorant Kiwis who are addicted to their diet of rugby and reality TV.