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robertogreco : labour   1

A fresh approach no more: the return of politics in New Zealand | Overland literary journal
"All of a sudden in Aotearoa New Zealand there is an election campaign worth following, and not just for its immediate result, but to test the boundaries of left-wing politics: what is acceptable, what is thinkable, what brings votes and hence the power to make change.

Just two months ago, it was all heading in a very different direction. Having signed a pact of fiscal responsibility that cut any prospect of expansionary interventions at the knees, the sole remaining viable parties of the centre-left – Labour and the Greens – appeared interested above all in projecting a reassuring air of technocratic prowess, and in continuing to vie for the same narrowing patch of the mythical centre ground, as they had done with terrible results for three elections in a row. Completely gone was the talk of expanding the voter base, the so-called ‘missing million’ of the disaffected and alienated – roughly a quarter of eligible voters – who have gradually abandoned the political process since the New Right reforms of the mid-1980s.

As is so often the case when parties want to avoid talking about a country’s resource base or in any way threatening capital returns for the most parasitical sectors of the economy, immigration – the most external of all external factors – became the darling issue of both parties. Having begun to demonise foreign property buyers early in the cycle by poring over recent records in search of ‘Chinese-sounding names’, Labour was first out of that particular gate, but the Greens swiftly caught up, couching their policy in the language of ‘sustainability’ and setting an unprecedented limit of 1% long-term arrivals per year including returning citizens.

Both strategies were sprinkled with the odd progressive policy, or promise of progressive policies to come, as well as with generic pledges to reduce the country’s staggering rates of inequality (all implicitly undercut by the spending restrictions alluded to above). But every zig was followed by a zag, every promise of new public housing with the reassurance that ‘we don’t want house prices to fall’. Business would be allowed to continue undisturbed, and the radical neoliberal policies that have dominated government in the country for the last 30-plus years would merely be given a human face.

Then Corbyn happened. But I don’t think that’s what did it.

The problem with chasing swing voters from a comfortable social bloc in a country with a thriving economy is not that it’s a strategy doomed to failure – although it is. It’s that the approach mines the foundations of left-wing politics, with even worse consequences down the line. In the short term, it bleeds parties of their activist bases. Over a decade or more, it erases, in a large portion of the electorate, the very memory of any alternatives. We are now at that very juncture, and Labour’s first round of election advertising dramatically underscored the bankruptcy of the project."
2017  giovannitiso  newzealand  politics  elections  jeremycorbyn  left  progressive  progressivism  neoliberalism  liberalism  greens  labour 
august 2017 by robertogreco

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