Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Labour, Trotter, and abortion

Over the weekend, in a guest post at The Standard, Queen of Thorns argued that it was time for Labour to support a change in our outdated abortion laws. In response, Chris Trotter trots out the usual line, and threatens that if these uppity women don't shut up, National might win the election.

Big deal. Because fundamentally, I am not interested in who wins elections. I am not interested in whether John Key or Phil Goff gets the $500,000 salary, free home, fancy business card and lifetime pension. I do not give one shit who gets to be driven around in the back of a ministerial limo for three years. Neither do I care which pack of apparatchiks get cushy jobs as Ministerial Advisors.

I am interested in specific policies. The Labour Party is simply a vehicle for delivering those policies. And the thing about vehicles, and tools in general, is that when they don't work, when they don't do what you want them to do, you either fix them or ditch them and get new ones.

Beyond that, there are two broad strategies to achieve a desired policy. One is to work within a party, get it to commit to change, get it elected, and hope that it keeps its word. The other is to work outside a party, target the public rather than political insiders, and change enough minds so that the parties have no choice but to follow.

Queen of Thorns and others are pursuing the second strategy. This may be inconvenient to Labour, who would rather dirty peasants didn't interfere with their carefully focus-grouped non-divisive (except where they want it to be) election-year agenda. Tough shit. We're not part of your party. We owe you nothing - not our votes, not our support, and certainly not our silence. If Labour wants those things, it can pony up on policy. Otherwise, it can face a chorus of inconvenient questions about its hypocrisy on abortion rights every time it opens its mouth. The choice is up to them.