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

Greg connor.1

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.

Greg O cover shot_square

…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.

  [Read more…]

Migration, Racism and New Zealand Politics

labour-greens-little-turei-facebook

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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Vale Rochelle Kupa


Kua hinga te tōtara i Te Waonui-a-Tāne

—The totara has fallen in the forest of Tāne             

Rochelle Kupa (1963 – 2017), of Tuhoe and Tūwharetoa, was a class fighter, an educationalist, and a campaigner for Māori rights. After fighting an aggressive cancer for two years longer than what doctors predicted, Rochelle died on Wednesday, 22 March surrounded by whānau and friends. Rochelle joined the ISO in the last few years of her life in December 2015 when her cancer was already at a very advanced stage. Most of us would retreat from public life and spend what remaining time was left with whānau, but not Rochelle. She led a political life that would overwhelm the most healthy: she came to every meeting, every protest, every planning meeting of not just our own organisation but many others including Just Speak, No Pride in Prison, Pacific Panthers, and Legalise Marijuana. The last protest that she attended was in December 2016 outside the Russian embassy against the bombing of Syria.

Rochelle was a natural leader, and she quickly began to put herself forward for positions within the organisation at branch and national levels. In our last National Conference she was elected to the Appeals Committee – a newly formed committee that came out of discussions that Rochelle was pivotal in shaping and arguing for. Her document around Tikanga for the organisation was also adopted as part of our new Constitution at the same conference.

Here we publish a eulogy made at the service by her lifelong friend Leeanne Jensen-Daines.

Rochelle Gloria Wahanui Na was born 1st Oct, 1963 in Kawerau. A mill town at the height of its importance and a melting pot of people drawn to industry. It drew a beautiful young woman born Helen Yvonne Ruth Ward of English descent and Garry Rota Wahanui Na of Wairoa. His parents were Tuhoe of Ngāti Ruapani Iwi- Weri and Noni Wahanui.

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Labour-Green Budget Responsibility Rules Nonsense

labour green budget

Labour and the Greens prostrate themselves before their rulers, the boss class. Image Credit: KPMG Linkedin

The Labour Party has a death wish. In what looks like a bid to make sure it loses September’s general election, last Friday the Labour-Green alliance launched a major plank of its election platform titled Budget Responsibility Rules. What the Labour Party is saying is that if it wins the election it will hold public spending in check. It is saying it will be no different from National and there will be no change in the neo-liberal voodoo economics that we have suffered for 30 years. And it is saying the working class can go to hell.

No wonder the National Party’s David Farrar said in his Kiwiblog:

“I’m delighted that Labour and Greens have signed up some Budget Responsibility Rules. This represents a huge shift for the middle ground of NZ politics.”

“For the last 20 years or so the parties of the left have campaigned on tax increases and massively increased spending. Now Labour and Greens have said that will keep government spending to under 30% of GDP.”

“In 2008/09 Labour left office with core crown expenditure at 35.5% of GDP.  It took a massive effort by National to get it down to under 30% by 2015. Labour and Greens opposed pretty much every one of those spending cuts or restraints yet now they are saying they will stick to a similar expenditure level. Again, this is a huge shift, and a massive victory for the forces of fiscal conservatism.”

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Pensions under attack – Superfund not the answer

english smiling

All smiles from Bill English as he announces plans to rob workers of their pensions.

Under Bill English the National Party has made one major policy change so far as it heads into the general election on 23 September. This is to adopt Labour’s old policy of ratcheting up the age of retirement.

 

Bill English is proposing that from 2037 to 2040 the retirement age will be incrementally increased to 67. This means that anyone born after 1973 will have to wait two more years until they qualify for the state pension.

 

Furthermore, National’s new policy is to double the residency requirement to 20 years. This change is another blatant attempt by National to compete in the race to the bottom in the anti-immigrant bidding war. Winston Peters immediately responded by announcing that New Zealand First’s policy is that immigrants would have to live here for 25 years to qualify for the pension.

[Read more…]

Mass Action Can Change Society

Anti-mining March 2010

Auckland march against mining, 2010

By Shomi Yoon

 

The mass of ordinary people who can change society. The ruling class, the capitalist media, and academia all stress workers’ powerlessness, and these ideas often filter through to people who want to change the world. The emphasis can get put on heroic individuals, spectacular action designed to ‘shock’ the masses out of their alleged passivity, or a focus on stunts for media attention. But, for society to change, we need to draw in the greatest numbers of people into activity possible. This isn’t just because we have ‘strength in numbers’, although that matters. It’s because, historically, the involvement of ordinary people in their masses has led to wins for our side.

 

If there is a clear lead and purpose, people will march in their thousands. In 2010 a 40,000-strong march in Auckland against mining in the national parks prompted a humiliating back-down from the government. In 2004, some 50,000 people marched on Parliament to protest plans to legislate crown ownership of the foreshore and seabed.

[Read more…]

Wellington students organise against rape culture

Ross Giblinby Andy Raba
Hundreds of people gathered yesterday outside Parliament to protest rape culture in New Zealand. The action was called by several students from Wellington East Girls College. The protest, a direct response to rape jokes made on facebook by students from Welllington College, was loud, angry, defiant and empowering. Chants of “2,4,6,8 Stop the Violence, Stop the Rape” and “My Body, My Choice, My Body, My Choice” rang out across parliament grounds. Placards with demands like “End Rape Culture” and “Respect, it’s simple” were held proudly in the air. And a group of singers in pink pussy hats sang songs of defiance. The chief demand of the protest was that compulsory education around consent the rights of women should be introduced into schools and that rape culture has to go.
It was awesome to see more than one hundred students turn up to challenge the normalisation of rape culture. One of the organisers, Sorcha Ashworth, said she felt heartened by the turn out as rape culture and violence against women is often made invisible in our society. Many students spoke out about their experience of sexism, the fear of going out at night, and how their friends are being sexually assaulted. Statistics show that one in three women experience a form of sexual abuse before they turn 16. We support every action that exposes and challenges this culture.

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Cadbury: Fight for every job

save cadbury jobsJoin the rally in the Octagon tomorrow at 11am, and spread the word. This protest, called by the Save Cadbury Community Action Group, is supported by E Tū, the union of Cadbury workers.

 

Amanda Banfield, Vice President for Mondelez in Australasia, claims closing Cadbury in Dunedin is about ‘its long term sustainability’. Try telling that to the over 350 workers threatened with losing their job. What ‘long term sustainability’ for them?

 

Cadbury’s closing would be devastating for Dunedin’s workers. The factory is one of the city’s largest employers, and another closure would be yet another blow against workers who are already finding secure jobs hard to come by. 90 jobs went when Hillside was closed in 2012; 430 when Fisher & Paykel closed its Mosgiel plant and 138 when the Burnside meatworks were shut in 2008…Cadbury’s can’t be next.

[Read more…]