Monday, October 17, 2005

Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

That was going to be my post title if by some miracle Don Brash managed to form a government. But somehow, Johnny Rotten's sneer seems appropriate to the new arrangements announced today. Labour voters, who voted for at least a nominally left-wing government, have got one so reactionary that the Greens cannot in good conscience support it. And looking at the policy agreements, it's easy to see why. New Zealand First [PDF] gets a review of the whole immigration system, new measures to target youth offending (because of all those pensioners scared shitless by the young), the return of waka-jumping legislation, and support at least to select committee for bills to purge the Treaty from the law and to lower the age of criminal responsibility to 12 (so we can join countries like the US and Sudan in jailing kids for life). Meanwhile, United Future [PDF] gets a review of company taxes and the carbon tax, and a review of the Prostitution Reform Act, public funds funneled to private hospitals for private profit. And both get a hefty dose of pork in the form of big roading projects in their electorates. If I'd voted Labour, I'd be feeling pretty cheated about now. Still, you play the hand you're dealt, and Labour has made the best they could of it given the Maori Party's descent into pure spite. And it is still better than a tax-cutting, wage-slashing, union-smashing, RMA-gutting, Maori-bashing National government led by Don Brash. But only barely.

I feel very sorry for the Greens; while they got a few policies, they were forced aside by the reactionaries. Still, it means they get to spend the next three years being the conscience of the government, and reminding everyone of what we could have had - and I don't think that will hurt them at all. And if they are smart, and build their own bridge with the Maori Party, they may be in a position to step in and save things when Winston inevitably throws his toys out of the cot.

Oh, there's a plus side - a higher minimum wage, increased eligibility for student allowances, a rewrite of the Cabinet Manual to further weaken Cabinet Collective Responsibility and a further shift towards an MMP-style of government - but the overall feeling is of disappointment. And the lesson is simple: if we want a progressive government, we have to vote for one. Hopefully three years of Winston jerking the chain and trying to lock up twelve-year-olds will remind people of that fact.


In a sense, we all lost this election. Labour voters must be shitting bricks hoping that this band of brothers (and sisters) don't mess up to the point where the next election creates a huge swing to the right.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/17/2005 08:45:00 PM

Good god, lowering the age of criminal responsibility to 12? This surely wasn't the government I had in mind when I voted.

But the most bitter pill of all is seeing Dunne get ministerial positions, while the Green's get a few ambiguous promises. Great.

Posted by Shaun : 10/17/2005 09:22:00 PM

First 1984 and now this.


Posted by David Cauchi : 10/17/2005 09:28:00 PM

"lowering the age of criminal responsibility to 12"

That is pretty horrifying. I hope that doesn't mean they intend putting a 12 year old in an adult prison.

In general it is all quite disappointing. As much as I would not like to see National in power three years in opposition might have been good for Labour. They would have had time to regroup and to formulate a coherent vision as a party of the left. As it is I think they should be asking themselves: at what point does pragmatism and willingness to compromise cross the line into cynically selling out just so as to stay in power at any cost?

Posted by Amanda : 10/17/2005 10:50:00 PM

"Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"
I used to regularly get that feeling shortly after helping a Labour govt get elected - eventually solved it by not voting for them any more.
Over at DPF, they can tell good news for the right when they hear it. Even Shawn is correct for once, saying it represents a rightwards shift.

Posted by Psycho Milt : 10/18/2005 12:00:00 AM

I think Labour have made the best of a difficult situation. Ideally an LPG government would have been nice. Unfortunatly in Love and Politics, nice guys finish last. By sticking Dunne and Winston in these portfolios, even as ministers outside cabinet, the govenrment has seriously restricted what they can criticise in parliment.

For example, Ahmed Zaoui and all those Iraqi immigrants could easliy be argued to be within the scope of the Winston's ministerial portfolio, so the big STFU from the Whip and the Speaker of the House.

This is the _most_ stable government option for Labour, with the Greens in reserve if either NZF or United leave later. I think it's good.

Also, it has serious potential to sway center-right voters to vote for a party other than National, and even if they vote for NSF or United this is a good thing. Yup, they may be extreme in some areas, but they can negotiate, which National can't, and that is an important thing for our Government.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/18/2005 09:28:00 AM

I hope that Labour the Greens and the Maori Party work on developing a closer relationship over the next year or so. The Greens and Maori Party in particular. Then, if this falls over within the terms, we can change the government without needing an election. Or, if it does go full term, then we've built the foundation for a Labour-Green (and Maori?) Government in 2008.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/18/2005 10:36:00 AM

Yep, I feel cheated, this wasn't what I voted for. Labor is reacting to the perceived slap it got in the election for all of that "social engineering" stuff. Why would we want to engineer our perfect society?
Does the TAB have figures for how long before WInston embarasses us overseas, apparently the South Pacific Forum meets this weekend, get your money on now.
Comisserations to the Greens, you got shafted.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/18/2005 10:53:00 AM

I think this idea of the Greens and the Maori Party having a commonality of interest is completely wrong. The Maori Party didn't try cosying up to the Nats just because of Turia's animosity towards Clark but because they actually have a lot in common.

Not only is there a significant strand to Maori culture that is socially conservative but a lot of Maori seem to have bought into the idea that New Right ideology will get them out of dependency.

The Greens are in an invidious position. If they had got only a few more thousand votes they'd have had seven seats instead of six (if you were going to vote Green but changed your vote at the last minute to Labour, then there's an argument this result is your fault) they would have been in a stronger negotiating position. However, the fact they've got no other option but to support Labour weakens any hand they're dealt significantly.

Clark is (to put it politely) etremely pragmatic. She is a competent manager but appears to be utterly lacking in vision and principle. I think she decided that she could manage Peters and Dunne easily (cos they are like her and can be bought off with the so-called baubles of office), whereas going into an arrangement with principled people such as the Greens would have only caused her headaches and shown her up.

There needs to be fundamental change within the Labour Party before a Labour/Green government is ever going to be a goer.

Posted by David Cauchi : 10/18/2005 12:12:00 PM

Bloodrage said: This is the _most_ stable government option for Labour, with the Greens in reserve if either NZF or United leave later. I think it's good.

Would the greens really want that? Would labour really want that?

Hi, Jen, its Helen here. Winnie's shitting all over us, and I'm going to kick him out. Now - I need your support. Sorry I shafted you post-election. Now - what's your price?


Posted by Anonymous : 10/18/2005 12:16:00 PM

It had to be done...

the electorate did move to the right (not matter what you try and say about consolidating etc)...

If labour performs well again this term, then that will destroy the centre right. United future and New Zealand First will become irelavent, and hopefully those people that shifted from labour to national this election will shift back. National will hopefully once again become irrelavent.

This govt will still push some very progressive policies, and whilst it might not go forward much at all, atleat it won't be going very very far back.

Labour's left have however been fucked over, and I think next election the greens will increase their share of the vote dramatically with the fear of labour not being the largest party no longer controlling their voting.

So, think of it just a rest for a while. In 3 years, the revolution will start up again. Once the electorate is more accomidating...

Posted by Anonymous : 10/18/2005 12:18:00 PM

For what it's worth: those overseas who voted "left" and got Clinton/Blair/Schroeder/Hawke etc ... will look on with envy. As sell-outs go, this is a mild one. A true "betrayal" is when the left really does have a majority, but still screws its supporters. 2005 is not 1984.


Posted by Anonymous : 10/18/2005 03:17:00 PM

What galls me the most is Peter Dunne getting the revenue portfolio to hold in his sweaty little hands and rub with glee when he thinks no-one but God is watching.

My favourite snarky quote from the Dom:
Mr Dunne is nothing if not steadfast in his belief that any government is improved by his participation.

And what is it with everybody flinging "extremist" rhetoric at the Greens?

Posted by Anonymous : 10/18/2005 03:51:00 PM

Peter Dunne getting associate health minister position is a joke.
This is a man who tells sick people who choose to use cannabis medicinally to "stop being so dramatic" about their illness and the relief cannabis can give them.
And yet at the same time supported the loosening of gambling laws in NZ. Hmm pokies or weed? Which is more a scourge on society?

Posted by Anonymous : 10/22/2005 12:07:00 AM