Monday, October 17, 2005

And, so they danced with the Devil….

Well, it’s out, we now have a Labour/Progressive/United Future and New Zealand First Government with Winston Peters and Peter Dunne as Ministers outside of Cabinet.

Peters, is of course, trying to portray his decision as pragmatic and principled, while Peter Dunne is of course trumpeting his re-promotion back into cabinet as ‘promoting stability’ and ‘commonsense.’ The last time he was a Minister was under Bolger and he was Minister of Revenue then as well.

Already, the political calls are being made. Dunne is promoting a lower company tax rate, a move that Jim Anderton would support, considering the economic flip-flop that he has done over the issue now that the Alliance has ceased to exist as a coherent entity. It remains to be seen as to what other deals and delights Winston will deliver to the Cabinet table and the populace over the next term (assuming that the Government holds together that long). In case, anyone is thinking that Winston might hold fast to his principles, he hasn’t so far, why ruin a prefect run.

On his “I See Red” Blog, Tony Milne, past Labour candidate for Rakaia quotes Helen Clark as stating that the Government will be “… durable, strong, stable and progressive…” Hmmm…I’ve been hearing lots of different definitions of the word ‘progressive’ recently. However, I can’t help agreeing with the Greens, who are obviously disappointed with the way in which the Government has been formulated, and are worried about the Government's future progressive nature.

The one thing that is certain is that this is not a Left Government, a fact that will no doubt please the old ‘Rogernomes’ in the Labour Caucus. Jim Sutton, Annette King and Phil Goff will no doubt be secretly delighted that they do not have to water down some of their policies and that a conservative agenda, particularly on social and economic issues will continue to go ahead.

It does raise the question as to what would the Government have been like if there had been another party to Labour’s Left? The demise of the Alliance as a coherent and cogent political actor has meant that the Greens are the only option that Labour has for a left partner (and not a very left partner at that). With a Left Party and a Green Party supporting Labour, then the road could have been open for a hegemonic shift in the political spectrum of the country. It is less likely now that the right is essentially in bed with a liberal administration in the Asquith meaning of the term.

In one sense, Labour can only blame itself. It set out to destroy the parliamentary left in this country and has largely succeeded. If you don’t have choices, then you have to do a deal with the Devil and doing a deal with the Devil brings its own troubles.


At Monday, October 17, 2005, Anonymous Tony Milne said...

Not that I disagree with you about the demise of the Alliance (I wish they were still in Parliament too).

But the other perspective is that if the Alliance were there this time they would have simply (for example) taken 5% off Labour. That would have meant National was the biggest party and would be forming a government as we speak.

There are lots of 'what ifs' but we need to focus on the future and building the left (Labour, Greens, Maori Party?, Progressives). That means more co-operation, joint campaigns on a progressive agenda etc. so that we have a left government in 2008.

At Monday, October 17, 2005, Blogger Comrade_Tweek said...

Well, the problem I have with that explanation is it could be used as an example of why we need to return to First Past the Post or why all voters should vote Labour with their Party Vote (i.e. defacto First past the Post)because a failure not to, means that your opponent gets in through default. However, in this case I think that the opponents have got through and not by default.

The idea of Proportinal Representation is to maximise the vote of your block, not necessarily the vote of your party, which is what ultimately sunk National. The left needs to maximise it's own vote - i.e. it needs to create Left wingers and the only way it can do that is to have left administrations and the only way that can occur is to promote left parties and left ideals ie. create a left hegemony.

I do agree with your comments about the need to cooperate together at various issues. I feel that this could become more pressing this term.

At Monday, October 17, 2005, Blogger Comrade_Tweek said...

opps...I meant on various issues...

At Monday, October 17, 2005, Anonymous Tony Milne said...

Again I agree, but dissagree. The problem this election is that United Future and NZ First (who Labour looked like they might need) were both saying that they would go with the biggest major party. That meant lots of Greens switched over the Labour. But I also know of Labour people who switched to the Greens because they were worried they might be under the 5% (including Labour Party members).

At Monday, October 17, 2005, Blogger Comrade_Tweek said...

But, Tony, not a significant number of those voters voted Green. Like in 2002, 15 percent of Labour Voters in an exit poll said that they should have voted for the Alliance, but didn't. (It also brings to mind a disquieting discussion that I was having with Joe Hendren prior to the election as to the right shift in the left - the Alliance rump voting Green and Greens voting Labour).

Plus, you've proved my point to a degree, if the Left had grown its vote since 1999, then the role of NZF and United Future would have been as opposition parties. But, the Left vote has not significantly grown.

Secondly, if Labour had given Lalia Harre and the Alliance Waitakere in 2002, then chances are the Alliance would have remained in parliament and offered, along with the Greens, a progressive counterpoint to the right wing shift over the past three terms.i.e. 1999 - Labour/Alliance Government with Green Support; 2002 - Labour/Progressive/United Future Government and now this...

At Monday, October 17, 2005, Blogger Joe Hendren said...

I can only hope UF and NZF realise their stategy of 'voting for the largest party' completely cannibilised their own vote, as well as the vote for all the minor parties. Thus we had the bizzare sight in 2005 of third parties turning the campaign into a FPP style election!

Prior to the election I did some research on the electoral stats from the last election. It demonstrated nearly 43% of the people who voted for the Alliance in 1999 voted for Labour in 2002, the Greens only picked up 7% of the 1999 alliance vote. I strongly suspect most old Alliance voters again voted Labour in 2005, as the interest free loans policy would have appealed. But its this section of the electorate which will feel the most disenfranchised by the latest deal with Peters and the UFOs.


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