No More. The Left Falls.
We cannot be beaten down
Because we are down already.
We can only rise up
and if you should beat us down,
We will rise again. And again. And again…
And when you tire of beating us down,
We will rise up once again,
And look our Oppressor in the eye,
and say, ‘Rise up with us, brother,
for you may yet share our pain’.
As passions settle, disappointment wanes to something approaching tolerable, and we start to look at things a bit more rationally, it’s time to review the last few days, weeks, and months…
Without a doubt, it is safe to say that the Left never expected expected the two results of the Election Night figures.
- That National would score so highly, at 48.06%, (Specials still to be counted)
- That the Left would fare so poorly that even NZ First’s credible 8.85% result would make no appreciable difference to National’s success.
Once again, it appears that the Non-Voters – traditionally mostly Labour or left supporters – gifted National the government for a third term;
Roughly a million people didn’t show up to vote for Saturday’s election, making it one of New Zealand’s worst turnouts in the last century.
An estimated 77.04 per cent of enrolled voters took part in the election, slightly higher than the 74.2 per cent turnout in 2011, which was the worst in percentage terms since before women got the right to vote in 1893.
This year’s result still ranks as the third-worst turnout in the last 100 years, with the number of non-voters almost tallying to the number of votes that went to National.
The estimated results are based on the 2,405,652 votes received before voting closed, which includes nearly 300,000 special votes that are yet to be counted.
Interestingly, in the same Fairfax article, Victoria University politics professor Jack Vowles said,
“A small increase in turnout is what we would expect. There’s been a downward trend of turnout for some time, so any increase shows something has changed.”
My suspicion is that the polarising effect of John Key may have motivated more people to engage in voting. My own experience lends some credence to this, with past non-voters this year keen to engage in the electoral system. In plain english, Key has pissed off people to such a degree that they expressed their feelings through the ballot.
Unfortunately, the Left was in no position to focus this anger in any meaningful way. Young people chanting in unison, ‘Fuck John Key‘, may have been fun and cathartic – but it ultimately failed to translate into valuable votes.
Meanwhile, I offer my post-mortem, observations, and views of events…
I am not one to pick and choose Party leaders – especially for Labour. Besides which, I’ve always been more interested in policy factors than pretty faces.
However, I will offer my ten cents + 15% GST worth.
Has it ever occurred to the Labour caucus that replacing your Leaders after every electoral loss is counterproductive? I offer three reasons for this assertion;
1. How do you test your Leader in the fires of adversity, if you keep replacing him (or her) after each electoral loss? If your Leader is proven in victory – but unknowable in defeat – are you not missing a vital measure of the man (or woman)?
2. Replacing your Leader after each defeat sends a curious message to the public. It suggests that you’ve made a mistake with your Leadership selection. In which case, if/when you choose a new Leader to replace Cunliffe – is that a mistake as well? If you have no faith in your Leader, even in dire adversity, why should we – the voting public?
3. It takes years for a Leader to become known and familiar to the public. Years to gain their trust. If you keep rotating your Leadership, you are in effect putting an Unknown Quantity before the public who will never get a chance to assess the man (or woman).
It took three terms for the public to get to know Helen Clark. After which she led three consecutive Labour-led governments.
For god sakes, learn from history.
Or be consigned to it.
I understand David Shearer’s simmering anger. I really, really do. If I was in his shoes, I would’ve gone ‘thermo-nuclear’ by now.
But he does himself and the Labour Party no favours with his behaviour in front of the media.
Shearer has every right to be angry. But dignity and self-discipline is a far better course of action than publicly under-mining his Leader. After all, when/if he assumes the Labour leadership again, he would expect a modicum of public loyalty shown to him.
Two words: Kevin Rudd.
The more times I met Hone Harawira, the more times I have been thoroughly impressed with this man. The word ‘mana’ was created to describe his real personality- not the isolated snippets chosen by the media to portray him as a “mouthy brown boy”.
Hone was condemned – mostly by the Right and a headline-seeking media and commentariat – for the ‘crime’ of having a rich benefactor.
Meanwhile, the National Party has a plethora of rick benefactors – and no one bats an eyelid.
Unfair? Of course it is.
But that’s New Zealand in the 21st Century. As a society, it seems we left fairness behind when we allowed ourselves to be tempted by neo-liberalism’s promises of “aspirationism” and shiny consumer goods.
Men and women like Hone Harawira still exist in our fair, if considerably less-than-100%-Pure, country. But their values and notions of fairness, decency, and helping one-another is something that the public view with suspicion as a quirky notion from last century (much like Queensbury rules when two men engaged in fisticuffs) – and which an increasingly cynical, lazy, and politically-captured media treat with disdain and derision.
The media subtext of Hone’s relationship with Kim Dotcom was simple; “You can be a ‘champion of the poor’ as much as you like. We’ll write patronising (if somewhat racist) stories about you to paint you as a loud-mouthed radical engaging in ‘envy politics’.”
But the moment Hone’s Mana Movement got all cashed up, things changed.
National is allowed money.
NZ First and the Greens rely on branding for success.
But parties representing the poor? No way. The rule from On High was simple: You want to represent the Poor and the Powerless? Fine, but you stay poor and powerless.
Hone broke that rule.
Key’s victory speech was par-for-course, and well scripted for him by his tax-payer funded spin-doctors and media minders. The speech was a mix of humility and delight in his victory.
Part of Key’s election night victory speech referred to “serving all New Zealanders”,
“I can pledge this to you, that I will a government that governs for all New Zealanders.”
In fact, it seemed a re-hash of his 2011 victory speech,
“I will lead a government that serves the interests of all New Zealanders…”
Key’s sentiments were repeated in a John Campbell interview on 22 September, (the interview is worthwhile watching) where he spoke at length about his concerns for the most vulnerable in our society. He pledged a third term Key-led government to improve their lives.
Trouble is –
- His government has spent the first two terms doing very little about rising child poverty,
- tax cuts have benefitted the most well off,
- Increases in GST, prescription charges, and others costs-of-living have impacted on the poorest,
- Inequality has increased,
- Wages have fallen even further behind Australia
If Key failed to address the lot of the poor in the first six years of his governance – why should we take his word for the next three? Especially as National has lined up new legislation to further cut back worker’s rights; the Employment Relations Amendment Bill.
Marginalising workers’ rights will not reduce poverty; create jobs; or lift wages. It will only maximise profits for companies at the expense of workers.
As the editorial for the Otago Daily Times stated on 22 September,
“But while he is rapidly becoming one of this country’s most ”popular” prime ministers, there remains a gulf before he can go down in history as a ”great” prime minister. If that is Mr Key’s ambition, he is going to have to show that his role is, indeed, to serve all New Zealanders.
He and his Cabinet will have to strive to care for families, to try to ensure the poor are supported and not consigned to a demeaning and destructive underclass future. As well, alongside pursuit of economic development, this Government is going to have to protect the environment.”
Talk is cheap.
Actions count. So far, we’ve seen precious little of it.
I look forward to being proved wrong.
The day after Election Night, my feelings were running high and my views coloured by my passions. I may have written some things that, as my passions cooled, I reflect more wisely on matters in the clear light of day.
Not so with Kelvin Davis.
I stand by my initial statements;
Davis did not “win” Te Tai Tokerau. It was “gifted” to him as a dirty little rort, when John Key, Winston Peters, and the Maori Party told their supporters to vote for Davis, over Hone Harawira.
This was a disgusting, shabby example of dirty politics.
Kelvin Davis is “Labour” in name only and, like Peter Dunne and David Seymour, he should not forget who his political patron really is: John Key. Davis is John Key’s errand boy.
Who knows – one day Key may call in the debt David owes him?
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”
Kim Dotcom has been vilified and made the scape-goat of the election by many. As if Hone Harawira’s defeat has validated the views of the Right Wing, and those who see Kim Dotcom as the villain of the piece.
I offer a counter-view, and one I believe equally as valid.
Let us not forget a few pertinent facts about Dotcom;
- He was allowed entry into New Zealand by John Key’s government.
- Dotcom has committed no crime in this country. He has yet to be tried for copyright infringements – a civil matter, not a criminal offense. And his convictions in Germany happened when he was 19 years old – a time when young people often fall foul of the law with drugs, alcohol, violence, driving offenses, teen pregnancies, etc. He is no criminal “mastermind”, despite the obsessive rantings of the Right. Dotcom’s past criminal record is only an affront to Right Wingers because he supports the Left.
- Dotcom was instrumental in uncovering the fact that the GCSB had illegally spied on eighty eight New Zealand citizens or Permanent Residents. Until then, we had no idea what had been happening under successive Labour and National governments.
- Dotcom has also uncovered the very real likelihood that the NSA/GCSB has been engaging in mass surveillance in this country – despite protestations to the contrary by our Prime Minister (not noted for his scrupulous honesty) and the former GCSB director Sir Bruce Ferguson (under whom illegal spying had been taking place for years).
- And Dotcom uncovered John Banks’ own dishonest activities regarding his election financial returns, resulting in the former ACT minister’s conviction and resignation from Parliament.
Kim Dotcom’s real ‘crime’ has not been copyright infringement.
His real ‘crime’ has been to turn his back on his fellow millionaires and political elites – the Oligarchs for whom power is the oxygen that sustains them – and to give financial support to one of the few people in this country to threaten their privileged positions: Hone Harawira.
For the Right Wing – and the infantile lackeys who act as their on-line henchmen by constantly posting anonymous message demonising Dotcom – this was an intolerable situation. They could barely tolerate Hone Harawira’s existence. But as long as Hone was one lone voice in the political wilderness, he was left alone. Kelvin Davis’ previous attempts to unseat Hone came to nothing.
But when radical left-wing politics and Big Money became entwined, Hone Harawira became a threat that could no longer be ignored by the Establishment.
First, some in the media responded. The venom dripped from this typical comment on social media, and was only less overtly spiteful in the mainstream media;
Because Big Money funding the National Party is not “rorting MMP”.
Harawira’s fall was compounded by the ‘Moment of Truth’, on 15 September, failing to deliver certain promises made and hyped by Dotcom. Ironically, it was not sufficient for New Zealanders to learn that were were living in a Surveillance State and all our meta-data was being collected by shadowy agencies. It was not enough to realise that our on-line and telephone privacy was a thing of the past.
We wanted the ‘dirt’ on John Key. That’s where the real sensationalistic headlines lay for the MSM. That would sell several million bucks worth of advertising to the punters.
And when Dotcom failed to deliver – stymied by legalities, I am informed – the media and noisy aspects of the public turned on him. Being spied on by the State was apparently nowhere as bad as being denied a good political drama. We wanted Reality TV, made real, in our lounges, and our insatiable appetite for sensational gossip to be sated.
When that was denied us, we turned – like children denied access to our favourite TV programme or ‘grounded’ from internet access for 24 hours – on he who had promised us so much. We howled with rage and had Dotcom lived in our village, the good people would have gathered up their pitchforks and torches and made for his hut.
However, this is the 21st Century. We don’t do pitchforks and blazing torches any more (OSH would have a fit!). The mob is more sophisticated now. We do lynchings on-line and in the media.
Far more effective.
Fewer blood stains to wash out.
It has been said that part of our peculiar national psyche is something called ‘The Tall Poppy Syndrome’. In this case the tall poppies were two men who dared challenge the Establishment, and were cut down for their troubles. This time, though, it did not happen in secret, behind closed doors, concocted by shadowy figures.
It happened in full public view.
If you think this happens only in movies, in America, and the good guy(s) always win – think again.
It happened here. We just witnessed it. And the good guys didn’t win.
Not this time.
See also: Brand Kim Dotcom: what has changed?
One thing that Labour apparently excels at is self-mutilation. As a fund-raiser, it could make truckloads of cash by catering to certain folk with BDSM inclinations. One hour of a good, hard flogging, $250. Humiliation and discipline – $150 per half hour. (So I’m reliably informed…) Ok, so you have to wear a lot of sticky leather or rubber gear, but hey, it’s all for a good cause, right?!
Since Labour’s loss on election night, Labour MPs have been more vocal and active than all their last campaigning over the past six months. None it it, though, any good. Airing the party’s “dirty laundry” is an act that beggars belief.
If Labour MPs believe that their current media appearance on Radio NZ, TV3, TV1, et al, are doing them any good – let me disabuse them of that belief. It is self-destructive.
It is self-harm on a party-political scale. It is sheer, unmitigated stupidity.Attentions Messrs Shearer, Goff, Hipkins, et al – the public are watching.Whoever leads the Party – whether it be Cunliffe or X – will be accepting a poisoned chalice that would fell a totara.
It makes the Labour Party look like a bunch of self-serving fools or witless muppets – take your pick.Is there any wonder why Labour keeps losing? Let me spell it out.
After each election defeat – 2008, 2011, 2014 – Labour indulges in public self-flogging and blood-letting. There is nothing remotely subtle or civilised or clever about the unpleasantness that follows.
It turns people off in droves.It turns voters away from Labour.
Three years later – another defeat.
At this rate, Labour will become a third-rate Party, supplanted by the Greens which will become the main Opposition Party – and ultimately, along with NZ First (or it’s successor under Ron Mark) – lead the next Coalition Government.
This is how a once proud, proactive political party becomes an ossified institution, and ultimately irrelevant to peoples’ lives. Think – Alliance, post 2002.
To all Labour MPs, take my advice: STFU. Listen to your Leader (whether you support him or not) and keep your mouths closed. Sort your sh*t out in private, and in public, smile a Happy Face.
Otherwise, you can kiss your chances goodbye for 2017.
The media pack is in full hunt. Their quarry – David Cunliffe.I swear TV3’s Patrick Gower was salivating at the prospect of doing a “Nosferatu” on Cunliffe’s neck;
“Labour is in crisis tonight with leader David Cunliffe apparently refusing to give up the leadership, despite the party’s humiliating election defeat…[…]So Labour is now in a civil war, with Mr Cunliffe trying to gag MPs.[…]The five potential contenders show just how fractured Labour is. The caucus has atomised and another leadership spill is the last thing it needs.”
Labour MPs have emerged from a seven-hour crisis meeting – and leader David Cunliffe is still refusing to go.After presenting the party’s new chief whip Chris Hipkins and his junior Carmel Sepuloni, he gave a short statement, but refused to say what happened in the meeting.His MPs have given him a bloody nose with their choices.
“Labour needs to face the question of its leadership, nothing more. If Mr Cunliffe is going to appeal over the heads of his caucus to the membership and affiliated unions who elected him last year, he must imagine he can continue to lead a team that has little confidence in him. This will do Labour no good, as surely its members and unions now see.It is in the nation’s interest that the party finds a new leader quickly.”
They simply haven’t announced it to the public.
Some commentators (media, political, and blogs) are still adhering to the fiction that Stuart Nash “won” the Napier seat. Election night results, however, paint a different picture entirely;
McVICAR, Garth: (Conservatives) 7,135
NASH, Stuart: (Labour) 14,041
WALFORD, Wayne: (National) 10,308
Contrast to the 2011 result:
NASH, Stuart: (Labour) 13,636
TREMAIN, Chris (National) 17,337
See where Tremain’s 7,000 votes went three years later?
Nash has now hinted he is “not ruling out” throwing his hat into the ring for an up-coming leadership challenge. If true, Nash’s colossal ego has outstripped his common sense entirely. He is deluded if he really believes he won his seat on his own merits. An extra 405 votes is not a mandate when his ‘success’ was predicated on his opponant’s vote being split by another right-wing candidate.
The heading of this piece is wrong. It’s not, “No More. The Left Falls.”
It should read,
The Left Falls, No More.*
* With acknowledgement to a recent BBC movie, about a certain quirky time travelling hero in a blue box.
Electoral Commission: Election Results — Overall Status
Fairfax media: Voter turnout near record low
Fairfax Media: Hone Harawira accuses Maori Party of sabotage
Electoral Commission: Election Results — Napier
Wikipedia: 2011 Election – Napier
Radio NZ: Tussling starts for Labour’s top job
John Key: 8 November 2008 – Victory Speech
Campbell Live – Monday September 22, 2014
Otago Daily Times: John Key’s opportunity
Fairfax media: Cunliffe emerges from crisis meeting still in charge
Radio NZ: Labour MPs agree to review campaign
Previous related blogposts
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 19 September 2014
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