Monday, October 18, 2010

Labour on the republic

Labour held its annual conference over the weekend, and on the first night, party president Andrew Little committed to moving towards a republic:

"It's a cop-out to say, 'Yes, I'm a republican, but it's not time', that it be left up to somebody else.

"That's a failure of leadership, in my view," said Mr Little.

He was not saying it was something that had to be done tomorrow.

"But it is saying we are committed to making a move and we do it in a courteous and respectful way."

The Republican Movement's Lewis Holden (who ran "fringe" sessions onthe issue at the conference) puts this down to realpolitik - National's return to feudalism has created the space for Labour to differentiate itself on this issue. That's certainly part of the explanation. But it wouldn't be happening if there wasn't already a large base of support in the party. Labour MPs voted en-masse for Keith Locke's Head of State Referenda Bill so that the issue could be debated, and so a shift wasn't done in a rush around a royal funeral. And its no wonder. Labour is a progressive party. But monarchy just isn't progressive. Instead, its a symbol of the old British feudal order - and one that has no place in a modern, democratic, multicultural nation like Aotearoa.