We Need a Socialist Party

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The MP as revolutionary: Bernadette Devlin

By Shomi Yoon

 

In January 1972 Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, 25-year old MP for Mid Ulster elected on an ‘independent socialist’ ticket, crossed the floor of the House of Commons in the British Parliament and punched Home Secretary Reginald Maudling in the face.  He, a Conservative, had just spoken to Parliament blaming the deaths of “Bloody Sunday”, when British troops fired on demonstrators in the north of Ireland, killing thirteen, on the protestors themselves. Devlin, who had been a part of the civil rights movement in the North since she was a teenager, had been a part of the protest and was an eyewitness to the British military atrocity. She called her action in Parliament a “proletarian protest”. When asked by reporters if she would apologise to Maudling – the man slandering oppressed Catholic workers as terrorists – she said “I’m only sorry I didn’t get him by the throat.”

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Making a song and dance for Equal Pay

Equal Pay NowBy Romany Tasker-Poland

 

Yesterday saw a lively rally on Cuba Mall in support of Equal Pay. The rally was called by the Council of Trade Unions as part of their ongoing campaign, and drew a crowd of over 100, with curious passers-by drawn in by the banners and the dancing — the organisers had choreographed a little number to Donna Summers’ “She Works Hard for her Money”.

 

There was a good turnout from the unions at the event: the Public Services Association, the New Zealand Nurses Organisation, and E Tū all had a visible presence, along with workers from the NZEI, PPTA, RMTU and TEU. Speakers included Vanisa Dhiru of the National Council of Women, Richard Wagstaff of the Council of Trade Unions, and, of course, Kristine Bartlett, champion of the trailblazing Equal Pay case for aged care workers. That case – won by Bartlett and her union E Tū – saw workers in the female-dominated aged care sector receive, in Bartlett’s words “the biggest pay rise they will ever see.” The message from the speakers was unanimous: the government’s proposed Equal Pay Bill is an attack on the hard-won gains of Bartlet’s equal pay victory, and indeed on the 1972 Equal Pay Act itself.

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Metiria Turei told the truth

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In struggle: Metiria Turei addresses a protest against the forced closure of Aboriginal communities. Image credit: ETangata

Metiria Turei told the truth: you cannot live on a benefit in this country. You cannot pay your bills, do a decent grocery shop, heat your house, provide your children with books, new clothes, occasional treats, and cover rent on the sole parent support. That reality is there for anyone to see who cares to look. It’s the reality of poverty across New Zealand.

It’s winter at the moment. Torrential rain covers much of the country. There are children living in damp, cold houses that will make them sick this winter. Some of them will die as a result. There are adults living in these houses, too, and they too will be made sick. Their sense of worth and autonomy is stripped from them by a system making them feel guilt for every expression of independence and pleasure they may be able to take, from a night out to a cigarette after the kids have been settled. Years of images of ‘bad’ mothers and ‘bludgers’ barrage us and put the blame for joblessness on the jobless.

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Kick National Out! Build a Socialist Alternative

 iso-fist1Kick National out! –Build a Socialist Alternative, Reject Racism – the Left must welcome immigrants. These are the two slogans our special conference resolved should guide the International Socialist Organisation’s approach to the upcoming election. Over 25 members spent the weekend of 8 – 9 July in Auckland debating our perspectives and approach. Debates covered a range of topics, from the nature of the Labour Party and reformism today to educational meetings on free speech fights, as well as discussing how the ISO can bring socialist ideas to the heightened political period before an election.

 

We want to see the end of the National government. National has ruled over nine years of increasing inequality and entrenched poverty, and has chipped away – incrementally, cleverly, patiently – at all sorts of rights and protections. While they have avoided direct confrontation with the organised working class, National have whittled away at workers’ rights. Their Employment Relations Act amendments make it harder for unions to organise. Their 90-day trial legislation makes it easier for bosses to intimidate and cow workers. In Christchurch and Auckland especially, but across the country more generally, National’s ‘reforms’ in local government have eroded democratic control.

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For the many, not the few: Labour in Britain shows we deserve better here

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Corbyn addresses a mass rally just before the election

By Martin Gregory

 

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has delivered a stunning blow against the Tories and British Labour’s rightwing Blairites. Theresa May might not survive as Tory leader. With most of the British general election results declared the upshot is a hung parliament.

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Who is this man? Our sub-editor’s files note that he doesn’t have a ‘Chinese-sounding name’, but other than that we can’t find any information about him. 

The general election has dramatically shown the power of simple leftwing policies “For the Many, Not the Few”, to quote British Labour’s election manifesto title. This is the prescription we need in New Zealand to rouse working-class people to vote and kick National out in September. For the NZ Labour-Green alliance to win a clear victory it must drop its conservatism and belief it must appeal to the middle ground. It must drop pandering to the racism it perceives against immigrants. It must take a leaf out of Corbyn’s book and stand for a clear difference to National’s neo-liberal, pro-business policies.

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Niki is still resisting eviction

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Image credit: Green Party blog

by Emma Smith

Niki Rauti has been staunchly defending her home at 14 Taniwha Street for years now, against a sustained attempt to evict her from it by the state. Yesterday the Auckland district court ruled to allow Niki to be evicted and this is in the process of being brought to the high court for appeal. In the meantime the police are very likely to attempt an eviction, an eviction which must be resisted.

The government would see people moved around at a whim but Niki says that she is “fighting to not be a transient” and “sick of our people being moved from place to place to place.” This fight continues today from 8am this morning, when supporters will be meeting at her home in response to the massively increased threat of eviction. If you can make it at any time through the day please come along. Updates on the situation can typically be found @defendGI on twitter. [Read more…]

Labour must turn left to win support

by Martin Gregory

Andrew Little

All is the fear and nothing is the love;
As Little is the wisdom, where the flight
So runs against all reason

The Labour and Green alliance could win September’s general election outright, without being held to ransom by Winston Peters. This statement defies the conventional wisdom of commentators, who are fixated by opinion polling that has Labour on around 30% of the vote. Unlike dialectical Marxists, the commentators struggle to grasp that stasis can give way to rapid change. On these polls, Labour’s support has edged up by 5 percentage points since the 2014 disaster. It is quite within the realms of possibility that between now and 23 September Labour could climb by a further 10 percentage points to reach 40 percent and the Greens to hold on to over 10 percent. [Read more…]

Greg O’Connor: Labour cops in

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Meet the new Greg O’Connor….

Labour’s decision to run Greg O’Connor against Peter Dunne in Ōhāriu tells us much about the party’s strategy. And the news is not good. O’Connor is a hardened reactionary, a veteran of decades at the head of the Police Association. In this role he was the public face of the police, and used his considerable skills to argue for the most reactionary anti-democratic demands. One of the successes of his career has been pushing the whole public discourse around law and order and crime significantly to the Right.

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…very much like the old one.

The Police Association, under O’Connor’s leadership, managed in the 2000s, with the misnamed Sensible Sentencing Trust and Family First, to manufacture and stoke public panics about crime in order to prepare public sympathy for granting the state further powers to harass, detain and, sometimes, kill. His record is entirely anti-democratic.
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‘A mighty lesson’: how did New Zealand socialists respond to 1917?

Maoriland Worker 21 March front coverby Dougal McNeill

 

‘There is a mighty lesson to be learned from the Russian Revolution.’ That’s how the Maoriland Worker, newspaper of the radical wing of New Zealand’s labour movement, editorialised in March 1917. The newspaper’s editors – including Harry Holland, who would go on to lead the Labour Party for the next 16 years – had only sketchy details of what was going on in Russia, being forced to rely on clippings and vague notices from British and American bourgeois papers. But they were excited about what they learned. Documenting the years of oppression Russian workers had experienced under Tsarism, the Maoriland Worker’s front page piece on 21st March, the first issue after Russia’s February revolution, had this to argue:

 

The events of last week show that [Russia’s rulers] tried the game once too often. The people of Russia have endured through long decades of years indescribable agonies resulting from the rules of Repression. The war brought a new outlook. It also brought war and hunger – and side by side with the resentment against the food exploiters there seems to have grown up a great movement which combined a variety of protesting elements […] The outstanding lesson of the upheaval is that the Russian people positively refused to permit themselves to be deprived of their political rights by a handful of autocrats with the Czar at their head, and that the soldiers took sides with the people against the hereditary rulers when the critical hour arrived. As we have already remarked, there is a mighty lesson to be learned from the Russian Revolution and the downfall of the Czar. It would be well if all the other tyrants and would-be tyrants should profit by it.

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Migration, Racism and New Zealand Politics

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All smiles…unless you’re an immigrant.

By Martin Gregory

From 2015, and gathering pace during 2016, an ugly development took place in New Zealand politics: a growing chorus of anti-immigrant rhetoric, with an anti-Asian slant. The rightwing populist New Zealand First has long traded on being anti-immigrant, but Winston Peters’s crowd have now been joined by the Labour Party, some union officials, and, since October, by the Green Party.

It is one thing when rightwing parties resort to immigrant-bashing; in that instance workers are likely to recognise the traditional politics of the enemy. It is quite another when the same type of politics is espoused by unions and parties that workers see as friendly to themselves; then, anti-immigration and racist politics are given credibility; they become ‘common sense’.

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