Monday, November 10, 2003


NZPols responds to my slagging off Labour's meanness on annual leave by pointing out that this shift to the center is what is keeping Labour in power, and that "ideological purity is a waste of time if you don't have your hands on the purse strings". I agree with that, but at the same time I also feel that there's very little point in holding power if you have to sell out so completely that you're not going to do anything useful with it.

The political choice at the moment seems to be between a "center-right" coalition which will rapidly make things worse, and a "center-left" coalition which won't, but won't really make them any better either. Yes, Labour has done some good things while in office - increased the minimum wage, reintroduced income-related rents for state houses - but they haven't done enough. They haven't rebuilt the government services that were gutted by underfunding, restored the welfare state to pre-Richardson levels, reintroduced a universal student allowance, addressed the problems of an increasingly casualised workforce, or done anything significant about student loan debt. Instead, they've run up enormous surpluses in an attempt to please the business community (and been far stricter on spending than National would have been, I suspect).

(One area where they have delivered is on social policy - they were too chickenshit to take a public position on decriminalising prostitution, but worked behind the scenes to make it happen. And I am pleased with their moves to put gay and defacto couples on the same legal footing as traditional married ones. But then, this doesn't cost the government any money...)

I have no doubt that things are better than they would be under National, but they're not better enough, and Labour seems to lack the will to make them so. Unfortunately my only real option to move a future Labour government in the desired direction is to vote for the Greens, and they have some unpalatable policies in other areas...