Friday, November 01, 2013

Labour comes to its senses

In 2011, Labour abandoned its values and ran on a platform of raising the retirement age. Voters didn't buy it, and handed Labour its worst defeat since 1928. But Labour's caucus didn't get the message, and kept pushing the policy, reminding everyone of why they couldn't be trusted. But now it looks like the membership has finally put an end to the insanity:

Labour is set to dump its pledge to increase the state pension age.

But it looks likely to keep an increase open as an option, despite calls to drop the promise in favour of holding the age at 65.

A policy workshop at its annual conference this afternoon further watered down a proposal that would have removed the target age of 67, which the party campaigned on in 2011, but commit the party to lifting the age above 65.

The change, which will now go to the full conference for approval on Saturday, adopted a recommendation of the union affiliates for inclusion in the party's high level policy platform.

It commits Labour to a universal superannuation system that is sustainable, but lists raising the eligibility age as only one option to achieve that.

Its an enormous step forward, but it still leaves people uncertain. And with other parties making solid commitments to preserve the pension at 65, Labour cannot afford to equivocate on this. Unless it wants to bleed votes to Winston Peters...

We have Labour's increased internal democracy to thank for this. Policy is now set by the membership, rather than the caucus, and is therefore less susceptible to capture by the 1% (and this is a 1% policy - just look at who else advocated it). It is a slap in the face to David Parker and Phil Goff. But given that they betrayed Labour's values and lost an election by doing so, I think they more than deserve it.