How high are the stakes in this election? Very high indeed, according to Chris Trotter's column in the Dominion last Friday [offline]. The electoral choice we make in September will define what is politically possible for the next ten years:
Labour is going to learn whether or not it is possible to resist the public clamour for tax cuts and still win a general election. At the same time National is going to discover whether dishing up the warmed-over remnants of 1990s neo-liberalism is still a surefire recipe for electoral disaster.
If Labour loses, they will be forced to the right, and everything the left works for - publicly provided health and education, a welfare system to smooth out the bumps in life, environmental protection and an end to discrimination; the whole project of pursuing substantive freedom and equality for all rather than freedom for the rich and powerful and economic slavery for the rest, in other words - will be taken off the table, redefined as "politically impossible" for a decade or so. By contrast, if National loses, they will finally be forced to abandon the Revolution and seek the center, just as they were forced to in the '40's after the First Labour Government defined poverty, homelessness and economic subjugation as politically unacceptable through the creation of the welfare state.
The stakes are high and the choice is clear. This is not, as Matt McCarten alleges, a choice between tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee. While Labour is far from perfect, they are still nominally committed to a society which cares for those in need and in which everyone is treated fairly and equally regardless of wealth, gender, race, or sexual orientation. National isn't - but they may be forced to become so if they lose. Which is a strong reason to vote left on election day.