Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The legacy of Jim and Matt – Tales of Modern Bushwackers…

Occasionally during the downtimes at work, I go blog hopping. In doing so, I come across blogs with which I don’t agree – that’s the democratic process after all - however, the other day, I came across a blog that was just really annoying for lack of a better word. It was not just the arrogant smarminess of the blog in question, but the sheer absurdity of the argument proposed by the blogger, which was essentially that the Greens might not make it over the 5 percent threshold and therefore Green voters should vote for the Progressive Party (sorry, Jim Anderton’s Progressive Party) as a responsible partner for the Liberal (sorry) Labour Party.

Personally, I think that it is more logical to propose the converse of the argument, which is that people should vote for the Labour Party given the current polling of Jim Anderton’s Progressive Party and the more important fact that there really isn’t much of a policy difference between Labour and the Progressives. Certainly, a number of the themes (anti-drugs, lowering the drinking age etc) emphasised by the Progressives are held by some Labour MP’s such as John Tamhere, Phil Goff et al. Indeed, thinking more about the situation, Jim should really do the decent thing and rejoin Labour.

If there ever was a New Zealand political party built on cult of personality then Jim Anderton’s Progressive Party is certainly it. Even Winston has resisted the urge to call his party Winston Peter’s New Zealand First.

I can image the discussion that occurred in Jim’s Beehive office about changing the name of the party from the Progressive Party to Jim Anderton’s Progressive Party.

Phil Clearwater, Progressive Party General Secretary stands ashen faced in front of Jim. “Jim,” he intones quietly, “We’re not rating. The last poll shows us on 0.3 percent below…”.Clearwater stops and blows his nose before muttering,”The Alliance and the Revolutionary People’s Front.” Jim snarls, “Good God, Phil! You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out the problem! Just rename the Party to emphasise me and then we’ll get votes!”

However, I am reminded that the demise of the democratic left in New Zealand is not just the result of the social and economic conservatism of James Patrick Anderton. While Jim has been (rightly) criticised for his role in the Alliance’s demise, it should be remembered that Matt Mcarten is equally responsible. For years, Matt and Jim were political Siamese twins with one using the political virtues of his parliamentary office to snuff out dissent, whilst the other used the various forums of the Alliance to isolate alternative views and build up the Alliance around the cult of Jim’s personality.

So what will Jim and Matt’s legacy be? After Jim’s retirement, the Progressive’s will cease to exist as a coherent entity as they don’t have a mass membership anywhere, except maybe Wigram. More importantly, they just don’t have a political constituency. The Greens proved in 1990 (when they first stood) and in 1999 and 2002 that they do have a significant consistency and I am certain that they will be able to weather any downturn.

I am also certain that there is a Left constituency of 5 percent of voters who believe like I do in free education and health care and in public services which are fully funded through a heavily progressive taxation system, that major assets should be in public hands and that the economy should be democratically controlled and operated for the benefit of all.

Certainly, an analysis of recent election results (1990 – 2002) suggest that a separate left consistency is an actuality in New Zealand and co-exists as a separate entity along side the Green consistency. In most other Western democracies there exists a mass party of the liberal left, a green party and a left party.

I am feeling increasingly disenfranchised at the moment due to the fact that I don’t feel like supporting either Labour or the Greens. While I have sympathy and support for some of the Greens positions, I do not consider them as a party of the left and, I’m certainly not going to waste my support the various sects who argue that if only we could rid ourselves of capitalism and whom promote themselves as the way, the truth and the light…So, I have decided that I am going to support the Alliance as I would rather support something that I believe in and not get it than support something that I don’t believe in and get it…

I’m hopeful that in the near future the democratic left will be able to regroup sans Matt and Jim. Like sour milk they both need to be expunged from the fridge.

4 Comments:

At Wednesday, August 24, 2005, Blogger Ghet said...

I know this feeling very well. I've agonised over what to do with my party vote this time round. I'll probably, just to be defiant, give my candidate vote to the Alliance, given it's totally meaningless cause I live in Wigram. I find, however, that my loyalties are split between the Alliance and the Greens. I'm a socialist AND an environmentalist, and there's enough Green policy I do agree with that I feel giving them my vote isn't entirely selling out.

 
At Wednesday, August 24, 2005, Blogger span said...

my word cde I'm sure you and i must have met in real life at some stage.

you may be interested in an earlier post of mine about left parties and suchlike:
http://spanblather.blogspot.com/2005/06/which-party-should-lefties-head-to.html

:-)

 
At Monday, August 29, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I too am tending towards electorate for Alliance, and list for - gasp - Green.

Not because I support the Greens especially; it's just that they are the party I most support out of those who will be in parliament after the election.

The Progressives may have had a chance of sneaking my vote on the same basis - until the came out with conservative (and ineffective) alcohol ppolicy...

Thus a Green vote will fill the coalition seats with as much 'left' as is possible in this election.

Roll on 2008 - and Alliance building the vote!!

 
At Monday, August 29, 2005, Blogger Comrade_Tweek said...

Yes, I'm hopeful that the democratic Left in this country can rebuild itself. I note that Helen Clark said that she did not consider the Greens a left party and, in this instance, I agree with her.

I must admit though that I'm pessimistic about the future for the Alliance.

I feel that if the democratic Left, less Jim, Matt and some of the fruitcakes, is going to be rebuilt then it may need to be a new entity; in which the Alliance could play a part in creating.

I don't want to be in a similar position in three years time with people saying, "Oh, well... the Greens are the only Left option."

 

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