Thursday, October 06, 2022

Labour: From standing for something to standing for nothing

Writing in Stuff, Morgan Godfery argues that Labour has forgotten why it won the 2020 election:

Politics is more than just killing a bad run of stories in the latest media cycle. Politics requires stated aims and actions taken to secure them.

Politicians are fearful of leaning too hard into the lessons from 2020. It was, of course, the Covid-19 election. That means it was a one-off.

But the global circumstances aren’t what made Labour and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern successful. It was their policy responses to those circumstances.

Basicly, in 2020, Labour actually stood for something. "Saving us all from Covid" might not have been popular with the business elite, but it was popular with voters, who didn't want to die. And then, having secured an unthinkable majority government with that promise, they then systmatically backed away from it, let in the virus, and let 2,000 people die. And now, faced with the prospect of another covid wave before the end of the year, they're going "meh", and refusing to give us boosters. In other words, "fuck you, you can die". Which is so far from "we're all in this together" and "team of 5 million" that its impossible to see as anything other than a complete betrayal.

But its not just covid: Labour has backed away from virtually every other major policy promise. Climate change, "my generation's nuclear-free moment"? Nope. Banning mines on conservation land? Nope. Housing? While house prices are falling, and may soon be only as unaffordable as they were last year, its clear that the Prime Minister who owns a $2.7 million home isn't keen on seeing them fall too far or too fast (I wonder why). And even the ordinary stuff you should expect Labour to be good at - health, welfare, worker's rights - are a mess of austerity, foot-dragging, and broken promises.

Basicly, at this stage, its hard to see that Labour stands for anything besides a bunch of Labour MPs (rather than National ones) getting paid $296,007 a year. And that is something that no-one other than the people in line for those high-paying jobs actually gives much of a shit about.

Godfrey suggests that if Labour wants any hope of retaining power in 2023, it needs to name an agenda and pursue it. The bigger question is, given their existing betrayals, whether anyone would believe if.