Tuesday, June 28, 2005

High Stakes

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.


I'm not convinced. National hasn't won the popular vote two elections running since 1969, and I think a more likely result of a National victory this year would be a huge shift to the left for 2008 as people come to realise the cost of tax cuts and the rest of National's policies. I wouldn't put it past Labour to lurch to the right, but I think it would be a horrible mistake on their part, and it would show in polling for left-of-Labour parties.

Posted by Commie Mutant Traitor : 6/28/2005 05:51:00 PM

I think Trotter's prediction is far more accurate for the right than the left. And OTOH, the policies of the Revolution have been rejected in every election since 1990, and overwhelmingly rejected in 1999 and 2002, and National haven't gotten it through their thick skulls yet. Like the Bourbons, they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

And on the gripping hand, I don't really want to find out if Trotter's dire prediction of a Blairite left is accurate; I'd rather have what we've got (and try and drag it leftward through the coalition process) than risk that.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/29/2005 01:06:00 AM

That's not true CMT. National won the popular vote in '90, '93 and '96.

Posted by Blair : 6/29/2005 11:41:00 AM

Labour is nowhere near to being gender balanced. Yes the downtrodden male exists. Where is the Ministry of Mens Affairs to campaign for mens health/non biased family courts to name but a few issues. Until labour realises that women are capable of just as much violence as males we will have situations in NZ where mums can kill and get away with it and dads can be locked up on a lie.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/29/2005 03:03:00 PM

National won the most seats in '93 and '96, but didn't win the popular vote. In '93, the Alliance and Labour together got a lot more votes; under MMP, there would have been a Labour-Alliance government. In '96, the combined anti-National vote was again much higher than pro-National, and we only ended up with another National government thanks to NZ First acting against the wishes of its voters (its support plummeted as a result).

Posted by Commie Mutant Traitor : 6/29/2005 03:41:00 PM