‘Blue collars, red necks’: triply flawed

datePosted on 14:27, December 4th, 2009 by Lew
To those who stick up for their identity, socialism sticks up two fingers!

To those who stick up for their identity, socialism sticks up two fingers!

In the coming years, core tenets of socialist and indigenist faith will be tested. Labour, with its recently-adopted ‘blue collars, red necks’ strategy, has struck out along a path which requires a large slice of its core constituency — Māori — to search their political souls and choose between the renewed Marxist orthodoxy which privileges class above all else; and the progressive social movements developed over the past three or four decades which have produced a society tolerant enough to permit their unprecedented cultural renaissance.

The strategy indicated by Phil Goff’s speech appears to be substantially based on the simple calculus, most forthrightly argued by Chris Trotter, that ‘social liberals’ are fewer in number than ‘social conservatives’ among the proletariat, and therefore an appeal to ‘social conservatism’ will deliver more votes than the equivalent appeal to ‘social liberalism’. This is couched as a return to the old values of the democratic socialist movement — class struggle, and anything else is a distraction. But because the new political strategy is founded upon an attack on Māori, it requires that working class solidarity wins out over indigenous solidarity and the desire for tino rangatiratanga in a head-to-head battle. Māori must choose to identify as proletarians first and tangata whenua second. Similarly, the māori party’s alignment with National and subsequent intransigence on issues such as the Emissions Trading Scheme asks Māori to privilege their indigeneity over material concerns.

An article of faith of both socialist and indigenist movements is that their referent of political identity trumps others: that all proletarians are proletarians first, and that all indigenous people are indigenous people above all else. In the coming years, unless Labour loses its bottle and recants, we will see a rare comparison as to which is genuinely the stronger. Much of the debate which has raged over this issue, and I concede some of my own contributions in this, has been people stating what they hope will occur as if it surely will. For this reason the test itself is a valuable thing, because it provides an actual observable data point upon which the argument can turn.

A spontaneous interlude: I write this on the train into Wellington, in a carriage full of squirming, shouting, eight and nine year-olds on a school trip to the city. In a (rare) moment of relative calm, a few bars of song carried from the next carriage, and the tune was taken up enthusiastically by the — mostly Pākehā — kids in my carriage.

Tūtira mai ngā iwi (aue!)
Tātou, tātou e.
(In English:
Line up together, people
All of us, all of us.)

Read into this what you wish; one of life’s little rorschach tests.**

Clearly, I don’t believe Māori will abandon the hard-won fruits of their renaissance for a socialist pragma which lumps them and their needs in with everyone else of a certain social class, which in the long term would erase the distinction between tangata whenua and tangata Tiriti. This distinction will fade with time, but that time is not yet come. For this reason I believe the strategy is folly at a practical level. Add to which, the appeal to more conservative social values was always going to be strong among Māori and Pasifika voters, so the left and right hands (as it were) of the socialist conservative resurgence seem unaware of what the other is doing: with the left hand, it beckons them closer, and with the right it pushes them away.

My main objection to the ‘blue collars, red necks’ strategy is not practical — although that would be a sufficient cause for opposing it. The main reason is because of principle, and this question turns on an assessment of the left in politics. Trotter and other old-school socialists (and presumably Pagani and Goff and the current leadership of the Labour party) believe that the left has been hijacked over the past generation by non-materialist concerns and has lost its way as a consequence. I believe that the wider social concern with non-material matters has saved socialism from its own dogma.

Largely discredited as an economic system and its legacy irretrievably tarnished by the catastrophic failure of practically every implementation, socialist-aligned parties on the left have been forced to diversify from a strict focus on what’s in the pockets of the proletariat to what’s in their heads — what they care about and who they are, their identity beyond being ‘the proletariat’. In doing so these movements have embraced liberalism, social equality movements, and environmentalism, and the resulting blend, termed ‘progressivism’ has become part of the political orthodoxy, such that the political right must now pay at least some mind to these considerations if it is to remain viable. This broadening, and the progressive movement’s redefinition of what is right by its general and gradual rejection of racism, sexism, sexual and religious discrimination, among others, has been hugely beneficial to society. For reasons of principle, it should not be discarded out of cynical political expedience.

Furthermore, maintenance of the social liberal programme has strategic, pragmatic value. It has enabled left political movements to broaden their support base and engage with groups often marginalised from politics, breaking the previously zero-sum rules. The modern Labour party has built its political church upon this rock of progressive inclusion, broadening its support base by forming strategic alliances with Rātana from the time of the First Labour Government and less formally with the Kīngitanga and other Māori groups, to which the party owes a great deal of its political success. The progressive programme has broadened to include other groups historically marginalised by the conservative establishment. For Labour to shun its progressive history and return to some idealised socialist pragma of old by burning a century of goodwill in order to make cheap electoral gains by emulating their political opponents is the same transgression many on the economic left have repeatedly levelled against the māori party, and with some justification: selling out one’s principles for the sake of political expedience is a betrayal, and betrayals do not go unpunished. In this case, the betrayal is against the young, who will rapidly overtake the old socialist guard as the party’s future; and Māori, who will rapidly overtake the old Pākehā majority in this country’s future. The socialists might applaud, but Labour represents more than just the socialists, and it must continue to do so if it is to remain relevant.

So, for my analysis, the ‘blue collars, red necks’ strategy fails at the tactical level, because it asks Māori to choose their economic identity over their cultural identity; it fails at the level of principle, because it represents a resort to regressive politics, a movement away from what is ‘right’ to what is expedient; and it fails at the level of strategy, because by turning its back on progressivism the party publicly abandons its constituents, and particularly those who represent the future of NZ’s politics, who have grown up with the Labour party as a progressive movement. It is triply flawed, and the only silver lining from the whole sorry affair is that (again, if Goff and Pagani hold their nerve) we will see the dogmatic adherence to class tested and, hopefully once and for all, bested.

L

* Of course, Goff claims it is no such thing. But Trotter sees that it is and is thrilled, and John Pagani’s endorsement of Trotter’s analysis reveals rather more about the strategic direction than a politician’s public assurance.

** I see this as an expression of how normalised Māori-ness is among young people, and as much as can be said from the actions of nine-year-olds, an indicator of NZ’s political future.

41 Responses to “‘Blue collars, red necks’: triply flawed”

  1. lyndon on December 4th, 2009 at 16:07

    The latest we’ve got from Goff retains the ‘not ordinary Maori taxpayers but a few large Maori Corporates’ without so much of the ‘sound just like Don Brash’.

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0912/S00059.htm

  2. Keir on December 4th, 2009 at 16:44

    This seems a fundamental misunderstanding of the issue: you and Trotter want this to be about the socialist left vs. the `liberal’ left, because you both want the other to get beaten and Go Away.

    But it isn’t; Goff is not in fact a Marxist of any description, and he isn’t offering a Left economic programme at all. He’s bashing Maori because he thinks there’s votes in it, and at the same time he’s, well, as far as so-called socialism goes, he’s hinting that maybe the Reserve Bank ought consider the stability of the exchange rate when setting interest rates. So it’s hardly a fair fight between a Maori proletarian’s class identity and his racial identity*, given that the class appeal is basically non-existent, while the racial insult is vivid and very much existent.

    Trotter is of course engaging in wishful thinking here — and Pagani’s praise is only going to make it worse — when he sees Goff moving economically left; it’s the sort of thing that afflicts the left intelligentsia all the bloody time. People thought Gordon Brown was going to lead the Labour Party back to the homeland (a Fifer who wrote a biography of Maxton, on paper he’s perfect) but that never happened; likewise if Goff starts to seriously fight the class war I shall eat my (cloth) cap.

    And, obviously, I think that `Largely discredited as an economic system and its legacy irretrievably tarnished by the catastrophic failure of practically every implementation’ is wrong, and that the whole narrative of socialism becoming progressivism is really entirely wrong and ahistorical.

    Generally speaking there’s a nasty air of `let’s you and him fight’ about this whole thing, which given it’s a collection of middle-class Pakeha males that are actually having the go makes it look terribly unseemly.

    * note the difficulty in dealing with indigenity and feminism by the way, this idea that indigenity-uber-alles is compatible with progressivism is very difficult to maintain.

  3. SPC on December 4th, 2009 at 20:04

    The political calculation by Labour is that

    1 the liberal left can go to the Greens.

    2. they will gain more social conservative from National than they will lose liberals to National.

    Thus a net gain to Labour + Greens.

    Obviously those who see the liberal left as the progressive edge to the left and the means to change society for the better, can resort to

    labelling the non liberal left as the party of old fashioned class dogma that has no future without their “progressive” ideological leadership.

    The question for us/them though is that the decades of their progressive broadening of the left has coincided with a large increase in the disparity of wealth in society.

    Is this a failure of the liberal left, or does it merely reflect they had other priorities than the material well-being of the poorest of society. If the latter is not so, is this simply a result of losing the political battle with the right on economic policy?

    How important is winning the economic policy political debate with the right to the liberal left? Does their greater economic well-being blind them to common class concern with the poor of ethnic groups. Thus it is easier to empathise with their identity struggles than their need for money?

  4. Lew on December 4th, 2009 at 20:11

    Keir, there’s much I can agree with in your comment, but I think you have me wrong.

    This seems a fundamental misunderstanding of the issue: you and Trotter want this to be about the socialist left vs. the `liberal’ left, because you both want the other to get beaten and Go Away.

    I don’t want it to be about anything — I’m responding to Trotter’s analysis and Pagani’s endorsement thereof. If Pagani is to be taken at his word, then it is, at least at the nominal strategic level, about the old socialist rump of Labour mounting a resurgence against the progressive status quo. But that said, a few caveats below.

    But it isn’t; Goff is not in fact a Marxist of any description, and he isn’t offering a Left economic programme at all. He’s bashing Maori because he thinks there’s votes in it

    Couldn’t agree more. The apparent strategic direction is not, in fact, borne out by the policy agenda proposed. But I’m not talking about policy; I’m talking about identity, and the appeals are to a common proletarian identity rather than a network of identities among the proletariat.

    So it’s hardly a fair fight between a Maori proletarian’s class identity and his racial identity*, given that the class appeal is basically non-existent, while the racial insult is vivid and very much existent.

    The point being that Goff has picked a fight he can’t win. As I said in a previous comment on another post: in order to succeed with this sort of strategy, you have to go Palin-large; you have to turn it up to 11 and be completely committed to it; shock and awe ideological politics. Goff and his cadre haven’t done that; but they have done enough to burn the bridges.

    Trotter is of course engaging in wishful thinking here […] if Goff starts to seriously fight the class war I shall eat my (cloth) cap.

    Again, nothing to argue with here.

    And, obviously, I think that `Largely discredited as an economic system and its legacy irretrievably tarnished by the catastrophic failure of practically every implementation’ is wrong, and that the whole narrative of socialism becoming progressivism is really entirely wrong and ahistorical.

    The narrative wasn’t about socialism becoming progressivism, the narrative is about socialist-aligned parties becoming progressive as an alternative to defeat; a political strategy which worked, but at the cost of most of the socialism in those parties. I am comfortable with that, generally seeing what was gained as being more valuable than what was lost; others not so.

    As to the failures of socialism in implementation, I think the historical record speaks for itself unless (and this is crucial, because almost every apologist does) you believe that the implementations I have in mind — the USSR, the DDR, the PRC, the DPRK, and so on — weren’t actually socialism, in which case we go down the No True Scotsman path, which tends not to be very productive.

    I am open to persuasion about socialism in its democratic forms, and recognise that it needn’t be authoritarian — but am yet to have seen a non-authoritarian implementation, or one which would not inevitably end up being so.

    Generally speaking there’s a nasty air of `let’s you and him fight’ about this whole thing, which given it’s a collection of middle-class Pakeha males that are actually having the go makes it look terribly unseemly.

    * note the difficulty in dealing with indigenity and feminism by the way, this idea that indigenity-uber-alles is compatible with progressivism is very difficult to maintain.

    The thing is that I don’t want to enforce a particular outcome — that would indeed not be a liberal or progressive position to take. I really genuinely want to see how this will shake out, because it is a rare and crucial test. The economic left of late has been very vocal in calling upon Māori to subjugate their own political reality to a solely class-based analysis. I want them to choose their own referents of identity, and let the cards fall as they may. If Māori follow the road of class I will be very surprised, but fundamentally it’s their choice to make, not mine, and I will not castigate them for choosing otherwise than I think they should. I will have to rethink how political identity works, though.

    L

  5. Pablo on December 4th, 2009 at 20:39

    As usual Lew, a nicely articulated post. I always enjoy reading you.

    Of course you and I (and others) have debated this issue in previous posts and I will simply say that we are going to have to agree to disagree until the end of of days. But there are a few points that I would like to make here.

    So long as NZ is a capitalist class state, the class line will be a (note I am not saying “the”) major dividing point between the Left and Right. It does not matter what kind of capitalist state it is (industrial, post-industrial), the fact is that the welfare of everyone in NZ depends on the investment decisions of capitalists (foreign and domestic), and those decisions are heavily influenced by state policy–hence it is both a capitalist State as well as a capitalist’s state. National and ACT overtly champion the elite class interest; Labour supposedly (peacefully) fought against it, but now merely plays the role of elite consiglieri.

    For both major parties the object of control is the State. Because Labour has sold out and become “National lite” and the Alliance is no more, there is no real challenge to capitalist class interests, particularly in this ongoing (or better said, residual) neoliberal era.

    That brings up the difference between socialists and progressives. Socialists, indeed all Marxists, adhere to the class line in the first instance. Progressives, on the other hand, are a particular post-industrial and post-modern political phenomenon that puts primacy on what the Socialists see as epiphenomena: the superstructural (i.e. non-class) aspects of the capitalist social division of labour. This includes pre-modern identities as well as contemporary forms of identifications based on race, sexuality, cultural and ecological ideals, etc. The class line is eschewed by progressives in favour of these identities, which to my mind has a centrifugal effect on Left politics.

    I prefer to use this distinction (S/P) rather than the social liberal/conservative dichotomy, which I believe serves elite class interests by undermining working class solidarity in favour of non-class identifications. This, to me, is an erroneous distinction so long as NZ is a capitalist state first and foremost. Should it ever change to something else, then perhaps the progressive agenda can take pride of place in the counter-hegemonic movement. But until that illusory moment, and without being doctrinaire, I believe that the class line needs to be maintained as the priority, especially at a time such as this when there is an all-out elite onslaught on hard-won working class material and political gains. How Maori and others make their way in this world depends, in the first instance, on the opportunities and limits provided by NZ capitalism in its present form (even with all of its cultural adjuncts and diversions). Thus confronting the capitalist project, and its use of the State to promote it, should be, to my mind, the first priority of all working class people. The rest can then follow.

    The Socialist/Progressive distinction allows for the incorporation of Left liberals and conservatives in the former. It is a Left “big tent” approach with a material centre of gravity. The Progressive agenda, on the other hand, is by definition a big tent without a material foundation upon which to centre its political mainstay. Hence the centrifugal effect, and the ability of the capitalist parties to use divide and conquer strategies on “progressive” parties like the Greens and Maori Party. Sue Bradford’s departure from the former and the current leadership of the latter demonstrate the ascendency of the progressive line of Left thought at the expense of the class line, which to my mind is a pity.

    Anyway, I have gone on long enough. But perhaps what Goff is trying to do–too late and too hypocritically for many on the Left given his lack of socialist credentials and participation in the Labour sell-out–is to reinsert issues of class into NZ Left politics now that it has been reduced to a capitalist lapdog by misguided and structurally unrooted progressivism. I could be wrong about all of this (it is just my personal read after all), and welcome your rejoinder as well as that of others.

  6. Lew on December 4th, 2009 at 20:44

    SPC,

    The political calculation by Labour is that
    1 the liberal left can go to the Greens.
    2. they will gain more social conservative from National than they will lose liberals to National.
    Thus a net gain to Labour + Greens.

    But you omit Māori as a distinct bloc, assuming that their behaviour will match that of the wider electorate. That’s not what has happened in any election, ever, and why I think the conventional analyses of ethnic politics in NZ are simply misleading without an indigenist position as part of the analytical mix. The schema you posit is, I think, pretty accurate, and might have worked if the target had been, say, homosexuals, or people opposed to smacking kids. But I’m yet to see any analysis which convinces me that Labour can survive if they alienate Māori; or which convinces me that they can make substantive gains among social conservatives on this issue without alienating them. No matter how I look at it, I just can’t see it working; I really can’t.

    I think your analysis of the social/economic left is very astute, and the questions you ask are fair, and your economic critique of liberal spread is valid: I accept greater economic equality could have been achieved by a pure focus on class struggle. But at what cost? Ultimately this is what liberalism is good for: letting people make their own decisions about what has value; some choosing class, some choosing indigeity; most choosing both of the above and some others in whatever measure suits them. How much economic progress would losing the Māori language have been worth? THis almost certainly would have happened without the progressive indigenist movement, and explicitly without Labour’s alliance with Rātana. How much is it worth? And the answer is: only Māori themselves can say. So, I say, let them.

    L

  7. Lew on December 4th, 2009 at 21:07

    Pablo, thank you.

    I believe I’ve expressed my distaste for the dismissal of non-material concerns as ‘false consciousness’ before; and I think the second part of my reply to SPC also serves as my response to your arguments: who can say what value there is in non-material things except those to whom that value accrues? This is the main barrier to my accepting the class-based analysis: it takes a positivist view of value, not allowing for differing utility. I’m too postmodern for that ;)

    As to your tent metaphor, I think you might say that without a class analysis at its core, the left is a big tent with no poles. I see what you’re saying, but I think this presents an opportunity for the left to reinvent the way it works. As I’ve said before, Labour at present claims to be the left, and guards its position jealously. I think this is misguided, and if Labour put as much energy into developing and supporting and working with those with whom they share common cause, a ‘hub and spokes’ model would have potential.

    L

  8. SPC on December 4th, 2009 at 21:15

    Lew

    Sure I did not factor in the Maori vote angle.

    I don’t see a large change in vote result and as for the Maori Party and the election after-math –

    1. It may just be about reducing Nationals re-election mandate with the goal of constraining them during a second term (and Labour needs to grow to do that).

    2. If Labour is able to form a coalition, but only with the MP on board, then it’s possible some social conservatives would feel as they do now under National.

    Why should Labour not play National at their own game?

    We might think it hardly ethics, or what is desired by the leadership of the progressive cause, but income disparity growth is not going to end under the current government.

  9. Pablo on December 4th, 2009 at 21:19

    Lew:

    The trouble with your line of reasoning, given the objective reality of the capitalist nature of the NZ state and society, is that it gives precedence to subjective notions of (often particularised) value rather than the objective conditions of a capitalist socio-economic class hierarchy. The latter, in turn, defines the universal value to which all subordinate groups are tied (class competition in lieu of conflict over a finite share of material resources), from which the other subjective dimensions can then be added. I do not say that we should abandon the non-material aspects of working class struggle; what I do say is that the Left can ill-afford to allow them to take precedence over the common class denominator.

    If I were a bit post-modern I could easily be persuaded by the power of your logic. Alas, I am not. :-0

  10. Lew on December 4th, 2009 at 21:33

    SPC, I don’t necessarily think there’ll be a huge swing to the māori party at the election, even if Labour does continue to drive them away. I think the most likely outcome is that Māori will just stay home. That’s negative-sum for Labour.

    We might think it hardly ethics, or what is desired by the leadership of the progressive cause, but income disparity growth is not going to end under the current government.

    So, where’s the line? If it’s unethical but justified to sacrifice a loyal and already much-maligned demographic for a one-off popularity boost which may or may not actually deliver the result desired (and may or may not result in a decline in income disparity growth, given that Goff is hardly a friend of workers), what isn’t justified? How does this calculus work — how many minorities is it acceptable to persecute for a given amount of economic equality? I accept there’s an argument to be made here, but I think it needs to be made on a value proposition, which nobody has really made.

    L

  11. SPC on December 4th, 2009 at 21:47

    In this particular case it’s about Labour resorting to a tactic which National used against them to National’s political advantage.

    Is this not about how National and Labour react to the Maori Party’s place in the political landscape? Then about how they play voters? Both the Maori Party and the voters will wise up to the game and take the option off them. But for now it’s a play available in 2011.

    PS I don’t think Maori voters will stay home – they never had great options in the past and yet still voted. They are now more involved in the debate than ever, if anything their vote will probably trend up in future elections.

  12. Idiot/savant on December 4th, 2009 at 23:07

    The question for us/them though is that the decades of their progressive broadening of the left has coincided with a large increase in the disparity of wealth in society.

    Is this a failure of the liberal left, or does it merely reflect they had other priorities than the material well-being of the poorest of society. If the latter is not so, is this simply a result of losing the political battle with the right on economic policy?

    Given that that increase in inequality largeley happened due to the “reforms” of the 4th Labour government, and its National successor, I’d say the latter – and that that battle was lost within Labour itself (fortunately, they seem to be willing to fight it again now).

    Of course the liberal left want to see greater economic equality – that’s why they’re the liberal left rather than liberal right. But the difference is that they are concerned about other forms of inequality too, which are not reducible to the purely economic, and which matter and blight lives just as much.

  13. Idiot/savant on December 4th, 2009 at 23:18

    Thus a net gain to Labour + Greens.

    I think you’re ignoring the coalition angle here. Unless the government really screws up, Labour is unlikely to be able to get a majority with the Greens alone. Their short-term hopes of regaining power almost certainly hinge on stiching together an LGM (martian!) coalition. And how likely do you think that is when Goff is channelling Brash (particularly when Turia isn’t retiring, meaning all that bad blood remains)?

    But even if you are right, and the Maori Party aren’t necessary, do you really think the Greens will enable him to deliver on the promises he is implicitly (so far) making? Racism may get one term. It won’t get to. People don’t vote for liars a second time.

    I agree with Lew – its stupid as well as wrong…

  14. […] reading:  No Right Turn, Lew at […]

  15. SPC on December 5th, 2009 at 13:21

    Idiot Savant

    I actually agree with what you wrote except for the last bit. I was merely exploring the issues raised in Lew’s post.

    You maybe do not appreciate Goff’s play is merely a reprise of what National did earlier – and yet they could work with the MP after the 2008 election. Similarly Labour might find itself in this position in 2011.

    This exploitation of conservative Pakeha voters by National is something Labour is now responding to, this to win their votes in 2011. But no less than National they will use the votes to be in the position to form deals to form a coalition – including the MP afterwards.

    As I noted this is how the National Party and now Labour are responding to the MP in the election process, by exploiting the anti-MP backlash of Pakeha voters to win support to their own party while having to live with the MP in parliament afterwards. I suspect that eventually even the most reactionary of voters will see through the tactic and soon this sort of populism will no longer work.

    Thus the National and Labour “electoral response” to the MP will have to mature.

    PS Generally the Labour government of 1999-2008 was focused on ensuring no increase in income disparity and alleviating some of the 1990’s hardship (housing rent policy change, ECA reform, increases in the minimum wage, family support restored to former levels through WFF etc, subsidised free health care access). The failure to reform economic management towards productive investment via blocking the housing bubble probably their major economic mistake.

  16. Idiot/savant on December 5th, 2009 at 13:55

    Is this a failure of the liberal left, or does it merely reflect they had other priorities than the material well-being of the poorest of society. If the latter is not so, is this simply a result of losing the political battle with the right on economic policy?

    I managed to bollix up a quote; this was of course said by SPC.

  17. […] kiwipolitico, tariana turia, Tim Watkin | Leave a Comment  Lew at Kiwipolitico has the kind of post up at the moment that reminds me why mainstream media is such an unsatisfying read/consume when it […]

  18. Lew on December 5th, 2009 at 18:46

    SPC,

    You maybe do not appreciate Goff’s play is merely a reprise of what National did earlier – and yet they could work with the MP after the 2008 election. Similarly Labour might find itself in this position in 2011.

    I don’t think anyone fails to appreciate that — it’s so plain as to be insulting. National were just singing their old tune — turning it up a notch or three beyond the usual, but staying in the same key. They had few to alienate among Māori. The problem for Labour is that they’ve built their brand on partnership with Māori, and there’s a lot of goodwill to destroy, and Goff is now proceeding to destroy as much as was left after Orewa. A second problem for Goff is that Orewa required a purge in the leadership and a general abandonment of the ‘one nation’ conservative position.

    As I noted this is how the National Party and now Labour are responding to the MP in the election process, by exploiting the anti-MP backlash of Pakeha voters to win support to their own party while having to live with the MP in parliament afterwards.

    Point of order, Mr Speaker!

    Court of Appeal Ngāti Apa ruling: 19 June 2003
    Orewa Speech: 27 January 2004
    Foreshore and seabed hīkoi: arrived at the Beehive 5 May 2004
    māori party formation — 7 July 2004

    National’s appeal to the rednecks was a response to some things, but the māori party wasn’t one of them, being as it was still a twinkle in Whatarangi Winiata’s eye. If anything, it was an attempt to force Labour’s hand; and in that regard it worked exceedingly well. If you want a stronger line of reasoning you might try arguing that that’s what Goff is attempting with his riff on the same theme here. The differences in the situation of the two parties vis-a-vis tangata whenua still apply, though.

    I suspect that eventually even the most reactionary of voters will see through the tactic and soon this sort of populism will no longer work.

    We both continue to live in hope.

    Thus the National and Labour “electoral response” to the MP will have to mature.

    My point is that you can’t just treat a block of the electorate which has traditionally supported you like cannon fodder in a pitched electoral battle and expect to not have them desert. Labour’s response to the māori party didn’t have to ‘mature’ — they could (and should) have seen the writing on the wall after they won four seats in 2005, and begun mending bridges at that point. I know; it’s a shocking idea.

    L

  19. Keir on December 5th, 2009 at 22:57

    As to the failures of socialism in implementation, I think the historical record speaks for itself unless (and this is crucial, because almost every apologist does) you believe that the implementations I have in mind — the USSR, the DDR, the PRC, the DPRK, and so on — weren’t actually socialism, in which case we go down the No True Scotsman path, which tends not to be very productive.

    Eh, here I’d mutter something about Bevan and the NHS and so on, but really it doesn’t matter, because like you say I think this is the sort of thing that goes nowhere.

    Couldn’t agree more. The apparent strategic direction is not, in fact, borne out by the policy agenda proposed. But I’m not talking about policy; I’m talking about identity, and the appeals are to a common proletarian identity rather than a network of identities among the proletariat.

    I don’t think the strategic direction is apparent though; the way this is most likely going to work out, Goff will throw a few crumbs to the left inside Labour then dart for the right on race, and probably on everything else as well. The feint to the left will be barely noticeable to people who aren’t very interested in politics. But you can’t make materialist appeals without any actual, you know, material. But that doesn’t tell us anything about the notion of a materially determined class identity; it just says that Goff can’t reach it. You could imagine a Party that did manage to appeal in such a way as to trump Maori identity.

  20. Tiger Mountain on December 6th, 2009 at 16:27

    Lew, I enjoyed your post –“Insensitivity and hypersensitivity” on the disproportionate offence taken by some to Hone’s infamous email. Only those in the most subterranean denial would not acknowledge the truth in Hone’s views on the recent history of this country. However your “two fingers” post is pushing it a bit factually, a post modernist musing with the nice bonus of major squiggle room.

    One wonders how many of the posters here have ever enrolled at the workers university–the picket, strike, protest and solidarity action where the state forces and superstructure elements such as media quickly reveal themselves.
    Numbers are down for sure after the years of neo liberalism but such experiences are as valuable as degrees for serious political commentators.

    The truth is usually to be found in the specific. It may take another year to show conclusively, but I contend that the material conditions of working class New Zealanders will continue to nosedive during the term of this government. A significant indicator of future behaviour is past behaviour, while somewhat determinist, this applies well to National governments. Their default position, is the maintenance, or extension, of existing societal inequality, maximization of wealth transfer ‘upstairs’–and off shore via toadying up to international capital facilitated by local compradors. Where the Maori Party leaders sit in this is becoming more obvious by the day.

    • You use ‘marxism’ as a pejorative. Dialectical materialist methods by different names are much used by academics, scientists and educators in techniques such as “action research”, and what is “evidence based” if not an offshoot of Mao’s “investigate, and proceed from the facts”. In the early 80s, ahead of its time, one NZ Marxist group the Workers Communist League, did explore issues of gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation. This was on the basis that women, gays and colonized indigenous workers had to deal with extra layers of oppression in addition to capitalist exploitation and that such sections required solidarity, understanding and support if they were to be involved in fighting for socialism. The arguments started when self determination aka ‘separatism’ entered the frame. This extended to unions, white men would often look askance at womens committees and Runanga structures within unions. Strangely enough it was communist led or influenced unions that began these ‘identity’ based initiatives.

    • The NZ Labour Party is a social democratic ‘reformist’ party. It is in Marxist terms a class collaborationist or cross class party. If there is a practicing Marxist involved this would be big news. It claims to represent all New Zealanders, a technical claim most parliamentary parties make bar the NZ Workers Party. Some say radicals should also support reforms, this is not popular (to their detriment in my view) among the NZ hard left.

    • It is not good enough to slag off the socialist model on the basis of the failed first socialist states. As Churchill said “the bolshevik baby must be strangled at birth” so these countries were under constant pressure from US and British imperialism, and operated on a war footing for their entire existence.

    Contrary to Lew’s initial view that the future requires a divisive split along ethnic/class lines, the task is surely uniting all who can be united in a global red–green–indigenous movement. The unacknowledged (by the MP leaders) class contradiction element is what is actually stuffing up progress for working class Maori. The frustration for many lefties is that a ‘natural’ Red/Green/Maori alliance–and I do not mean this in a strictly parliamentary sense, is being derailed by people who know a bit more about class issues than they let on.

  21. Lew on December 6th, 2009 at 22:31

    Let me just say how great it is to have such a high standard of discussion on this post, even if I mostly disagree with it in some way or another. Thanks, all of you.

    Keir,

    I don’t think the strategic direction is apparent though;

    Well, a direction is apparent, and its focus is strategic, that is to say: general and far-reaching, and related to core matters of principle and praxis rather than being about specific policy issues or tactical positioning.

    the way this is most likely going to work out, Goff will throw a few crumbs to the left inside Labour then dart for the right on race, and probably on everything else as well.

    I tend to agree with this; ironically, it looks like Labour moving the centre rightward despite National doing very little to force them to.

    But you can’t make materialist appeals without any actual, you know, material.

    Of course you can. They’re just hollow. But I see what you’re saying: he’s not an actual Marxist and doesn’t lead a Marxist party, therefore the prospect of him running on a Marxist platform is illusory, rhetoric notwithstanding.

    Tiger Mountain,

    One wonders how many of the posters here have ever enrolled at the workers university–the picket, strike, protest and solidarity action […] such experiences are as valuable as degrees for serious political commentators.

    This is a ‘you’re not a proper red’ attack, and never a very good way to endear me to your line of reasoning. I make no claim to being a socialist, so I don’t have any sense of cringe about not being a proper one. Depending on one’s political alignment, one could as easily say that having not run a business, started a family or been hounded by the IRD might disqualify one’s political commentary from serious consideration, all of which I would consider to be abject idiocy.

    My favourite retort to this sort of thing, which I get a lot, is Danyl’s: “Lew doesn’t have any ideological flaws that a few decades digging canals in Fiordland wouldn’t set straight.”

    • You use ‘marxism’ as a pejorative.

    Where? My one use of it in this post was clearly framed by ‘new’ and ‘orthodoxy’, with those aspects bearing the brunt of my critique.

    I do tend to use ‘socialist’ as a pejorative for reasons I’ve made clear, but I agree that Marxism has made great contributions to our political-philosophical tradition.

    In the early 80s, ahead of its time, one NZ Marxist group the Workers Communist League, did explore issues of gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation. This was on the basis that women, gays and colonized indigenous workers had to deal with extra layers of oppression in addition to capitalist exploitation and that such sections required solidarity, understanding and support if they were to be involved in fighting for socialism. The arguments started when self determination aka ‘separatism’ entered the frame. This extended to unions, white men would often look askance at womens committees and Runanga structures within unions. Strangely enough it was communist led or influenced unions that began these ‘identity’ based initiatives.

    I’m aware of this bit of history, and it is where my family’s political background lies. The core misunderstanding, which apparently continues to this day, was the difference between ‘self-determination’ and ‘separatism’, which are very squarely not ‘also known as’ each other in informed circles. In fact they are generally equated as a propaganda device to discredit legitimate self-determination campaigners (as opposed to ‘separatists’ which are a different thing altogether and usually require no such chicanery to discredit).

    As you say; the socialist branches within those movements were central to the adoption of progressive policy positions, but, equally central, they were also those who attempted to shut them down when they became perceived as a threat to the ‘real’ agenda. I object to this determination by the social majority for and on behalf of the social minorities as to what is the ‘real’ agenda.

    • It is not good enough to slag off the socialist model on the basis of the failed first socialist states. As Churchill said “the bolshevik baby must be strangled at birth” so these countries were under constant pressure from US and British imperialism, and operated on a war footing for their entire existence.

    This is an ‘it’s not fair’ sort of defence for socialism, and frankly, it’s bollocks. You’re arguing that the existing data we have on socialism is invalid because the system never reached full implementation. The same arguments can be (and frequently are) made in favour of capitalism, mostly by objectivists but also by some flavours of anarchist. To my mind, socialists who make this argument have no more credibility than either of those groups.

    In order to be worthwhile, a political/economic system must function tolerably well throughout its development and implementation, despite competition, and should degrade gracefully when placed under duress. Socialism as implemented has failed at each of those points throughout the 20th century, having never been properly implemented because its major implementations degraded in every case into authoritarianism of one form of another. This is, to my mind, the core failing of socialism. While it is all very nice to talk about it in theoretical terms, the question is whether it can work in the real world where it may need to operate on a ‘war footing’, under attack from competing power structures and systems, and also where it is vulnerable to misguidance by the flawed and perversion by the malicious. The data we have is very much pertinent to this question, and it yields little or no cause for optimism.

    Classical Marxian socialism is broken because it requires the concentration of sufficient power to defeat a counter-revolution in the hands of an elite who are not responsible to those they govern, but provides no mechanism for that power to be relinquished, with the consequence that in actual real-world implementation, the power has not been relinquished willingly.

    Contrary to Lew’s initial view that the future requires a divisive split along ethnic/class lines, the task is surely uniting all who can be united in a global red–green–indigenous movement.

    The future does not require such a split; in fact, I have steadfastly argued even in the comments above that both class and ethnic consciousness are important, but (critically) that one must not be systematically enforced over others. Enforcing class over indigeneity is nothing more than (in the nature of a slogan) cloth-cap colonialism.

    I don’t think the future requires it, but I think that by picking this fight, those possessed of the “class über alles” mentality have forced the issue, and a schism may well result. It will be their doing and I, for one, will not mourn their loss if they cannot prevail.

    The unacknowledged (by the MP leaders) class contradiction element is what is actually stuffing up progress for working class Maori. The frustration for many lefties is that a ‘natural’ Red/Green/Maori alliance–and I do not mean this in a strictly parliamentary sense, is being derailed by people who know a bit more about class issues than they let on.

    This is a ‘false consciousness’ argument, of the type which I reject outright. There is no ‘true’ and ‘false’ consciousness in an empirical sense; it’s value-judgements all the way down and as such the domain of individuals and their societies to determine what’s right for them. If people and their societies are to have any measure of political autonomy, then they must be permitted to decide these most basic matters of identity.

    You seek to blame the schism mentioned above on those who are the object of the ideological attacks, not on those perpetrating the attacks. Like SPC above, who talks about Labour ‘exploiting’ social-conservative voters, you have it reversed: National were, and Labour are exploiting Māori in order to appeal to social-conservatives; and in the same way it is Labour who are ‘derailing’ a natural marxist-progressive-environmentalist-indigenist alliance by insisting that everyone dance to their tune or not dance at all. It is not the māori party doing so, although by their intransigence they are jeopardising their credibility within such an alliance. But that’s a different matter.

    L

  22. Keir on December 6th, 2009 at 22:46

    Of course you can. They’re just hollow. But I see what you’re saying: he’s not an actual Marxist and doesn’t lead a Marxist party, therefore the prospect of him running on a Marxist platform is illusory, rhetoric notwithstanding.

    Yes, and further that (as far as a Marxist cares) the working class will know that, so won’t respond to those appeals, if you follow?

    (And also, as far as the working class is an identity, they won’t see Goff as appealing to that.)

  23. Lew on December 7th, 2009 at 12:34

    Keir, if that’s so, what do you suppose Chris Trotter is getting so worked up about?

    L

  24. Keir on December 7th, 2009 at 14:16

    Stuffed if I know; sudden rush of blood to the head?

    Seriously? I think Trotter is engaged in the favourite game of the left-intello: convincing himself he’s relevant in a good way. He’s also still invested in some particularly odd sectarian arguments, both from the New Labour thing and the Alliance split. This means that when he hears appeals to social conservatism, he thinks he’s also hearing appeals to the working class — he’s filling in the gaps himself, and not stopping to check if he’s right or not.

    Goff and Pagani are quite happy with this perception, because it disarms part of the Labour left that would be pushing for actual movement on class issues (& in all likelihood those same people would be pushing for movement on the F&S and so on, but instead they’ve been put in a narrative where they are supposedly pitted against action on those fronts.)

    — not that I think this is some evil plot, but they’re hardly going to come out and pick more of a fight inside the party than they have to.

    — also I think privileging Trotter as having access to the mind of the working class is a bit bizarre.

  25. SPC on December 7th, 2009 at 14:54

    Lew, if Labour is of a mind to exploit the presence of Maori (as a people with their own interests) to win the votes of social (and political) conservative voters and then to work with the Maori Party afterwards, making such concessions as required to effect this – who is being exploited?

    You say it’s the Maori and I have it wrong (and have it reversed) when I say it’s the conservative voters. Clearly it’s both, but ultimately as the end game is government policy formulation, is it not more the conservative voter – as they have no presence in the coalition after the election and so their betrayal is assured. This is the reason the Maori Party exists. Are you claiming they have got it wrong?

    Is the sub-plot, Labour gathering opposition votes to itself, lest they provide NZF with an opportunity to return to parliament?

  26. Lew on December 7th, 2009 at 15:13

    SPC,

    Lew, if Labour is of a mind to exploit the presence of Maori (as a people with their own interests) to win the votes of social (and political) conservative voters and then to work with the Maori Party afterwards, making such concessions as required to effect this – who is being exploited?

    Bold is the problem, right here. What indications are there that the māori party will be anything other than last cab off the rank for Labour, again? I see none whatsoever. If it were a possibility, then how would Goff’s attack on them and their constituency be part of a strategy in service of it?

    I think what you’re driving at is that the Labour party hasn’t really changed from its former indigenist socially-liberal guise, and this whole Nationhood schtick is just a smokescreen. I don’t accept that. I think the speech, publicly endorsed as it has been by senior members of caucus and the party’s strategists is congruent with and follows logically from the party line established around the time of the Foreshore and Seabed Act, and which has begun to intensify throughout the past year. I don’t think this is empty symbolism from Labour; I think this represents a genuine hardening of their position, and it is for this reason I deplore it.

    L

  27. Ag on December 8th, 2009 at 01:40

    This is a ‘false consciousness’ argument, of the type which I reject outright. There is no ‘true’ and ‘false’ consciousness in an empirical sense; it’s value-judgements all the way down.

    Lew, you better just stop. This sort of comment makes no sense. If you want to do philosophy, then do philosophy properly, but please don’t ruin your otherwise good posts with such claims. For a start claims of cultural identity may well be neither empirical or value judgements. To assume these as exhaustive is to gloss over several other options.

    Secondly, claims of cultural identity often involve historical and empirical claims. If these are false, then they people are living a lie insofar as they believe them. Similarly, these and ethical claims are subject to tests for logical consistency (without which it isn’t really possible to mean anything). There is nothing in the end that protects Maori culture or any other culture for that matter from the often brutal cutlass of logic. Anyone who can’t admit that basic fact has no place in the academy, and ought to join the street corner religious ranters.

    What we have now is a culture where people are too scared to do that because they might not like what they find.

    Trotter was right to have a go at you, although his example was a bit tasteless. Postmodern relativism has at most some value from its humour content, but most people who have actually done philosophy properly find it to be extremely silly (and rightly so – it’s garbage for the most part).

  28. Lew on December 8th, 2009 at 07:11

    Ag, both you and Chris have applied my (rather flippant) statement more broadly than to the matter which it was intended. The thing I object to is the determination by one group for another as to which matters of political identity are ‘true’ and which are ‘false’. I certainly don’t mean to suggest a belief that nothing is concrete, everything is fluid.

    Anyway, there are greater problems with Chris’ response than just this one, or his example.

    L

  29. Tiger Mountain on December 8th, 2009 at 08:26

    Pablos’s urging a while back that correct terms be used was refreshing and helpful but Lews bent for deconstruction means terminology is up for grabs and meaning has to be constantly negotiated. Fine. But for some of those that like their political discussion to have a good measure of relativity to real world events this can be a barrier to fruitful participation here.

    “a belief that nothing is concrete, everything is fluid” (which I realise Lew claims not to suggest) is exactly where I feel this blog is heading–to the washing machine school of philosophy–place ideas and theories, rotate on fast spin for long periods.

    Ultimately Blog owners can post what they like and it is not compulsory for anyone to attend, so it’s over and out from me.

  30. Pablo on December 8th, 2009 at 13:15

    TM and Ag: One of the things I enjoy about this blog is we can have intelligent debates without fighting, even if we wind up agreeing to disagree. Here both of you come closer to my line of thought (see above) than Lew’s. If I am not mistaken in that view, we see the structural (class) issue as more important than the superstructural (identity) issue in the formulation of Left politics (SPC, for his part, concentrates on tactical matters within the superstructure). And I, like you, have my reservations about postmodernism as the basis for a sustainable Left praxis (the whole idea of intersubjective interpretation gives me the creeps, although I must recognise the utility of social constructivist thought when attempting to understand the origins of an actor’s strategic position at any given moment).

    Having said that, I do not discount the utility of superstructural analysis such as Lew’s (in fact, I believe he does an excellent job of it). Nor, dare I say it, does he dismiss the importance of the class line altogether. My impression is that he sees the situation as a mirror opposite of how I/you do: he places importance on the superstructural, particularly identity aspects of counter-hegemonic praxis, whereas you and I place it on the class line (I use this latter phrase to emphasize the socio-economic class foundations of Left praxis, which you may or may not prefer). The difference is not zero-sum: I am sure that you would agree with me that superstructural features and issues must be factored into Left strategy and praxis; Lew would argue that structural features need to be considered within the overall play of identity politics. The difference is one of emphasis, not substance. Perhaps I am mistaken, but that is how I see things.

    Having reasoned debates such as that in this thread allows all of us to reflect on the other’s position. We still may not agree, but at least we are better informed by the debate. I sure am (even if it just hardens my objections to post-modernism).

    All of which to say TM, is that your continued presence in this forum is always appreciated, and in fact, if you, Ag, SPC et. al would care to do a guest post, we would welcome it.

  31. Ag on December 8th, 2009 at 18:14

    Ag, both you and Chris have applied my (rather flippant) statement more broadly than to the matter which it was intended. The thing I object to is the determination by one group for another as to which matters of political identity are ‘true’ and which are ‘false’.

    That’s exactly what I am objecting to. No matter what status you assign propositions about “cultural identity” (even if you choose to assign them some other status than the mundane truth to which they characteristically claim), they are subject to testing by anyone, if only at the point where they (or the people who hold them) contradict themselves. It follows from that, it is possible for some of them to be shown to be false.

    I do not see why the members of an identity group are necessarily more authoritative than anyone else. We like to think that we are the most informed about our own lives, but all too often that is sadly not the case.

    The idea that contemporary Maori live in anything like the same cultural world as their ancestors is obviously risible (as risible as my claiming cultural identity with ancient Celts). That clearly seems to be a case of false consciousness. Present day Maori identity seems to have more in common with African American identity in that the elephant in the room is colonialism and their reaction to it, than it does with the lives of their ancestors. In some respects that is sad, in others not so sad.

    That’s not to say that it might not be politically worthwhile being nice to people with ridiculous views, as the National Party is to Christian fundamentalists.

  32. Ag on December 8th, 2009 at 18:15

    Having said that, I do not discount the utility of superstructural analysis such as Lew’s (in fact, I believe he does an excellent job of it).

    I second that.

  33. Lew on December 8th, 2009 at 19:42

    Ag, now we’re talking.

    That’s exactly what I am objecting to. No matter what status you assign propositions about “cultural identity” (even if you choose to assign them some other status than the mundane truth to which they characteristically claim), they are subject to testing by anyone, if only at the point where they (or the people who hold them) contradict themselves. It follows from that, it is possible for some of them to be shown to be false.

    I agree with this. What I disagree with is the presumptiveness of folk who claim exclusive access to The Truth. In the case in point, purveyors of class consciousness.

    I do not see why the members of an identity group are necessarily more authoritative than anyone else. We like to think that we are the most informed about our own lives, but all too often that is sadly not the case.

    While strictly correct (people, being less than perfectly rational, don’t always know their own best interests) this is no kind of argument that an identity group is not better-suited than an arbitrary other group to determine that interest.

    Where someone else claims to know my political needs, there is a cognitive deficit and a moral hazard: they don’t know what I know about my needs, by definition; and their motivations serve their own ends, not mine. Even if they did have my best interests at heart, their claim to truth is based on insufficient information. The matter of whether it’s true or not turns on the my own political needs, which an external advisor cannot know, so while it might happen to be correct in a certain number of cases, that’s different from it being categorically true in every case. That’s what the claim of ‘class consciousness’ and its reverse are: categorical statements of truth made without knowledge of a person’s own political utility, as if politics exists for some reason other than to allow a person or group to get their societal needs met. This is not airy-fairy postmodernism; it’s the core stuff of basic, classical Enlightenment liberalism.

    It comes back to the example question I asked way, way above, and I encourage you to answer it if you can: How much economic progress would losing the Māori language have been worth? How can you answer without a full understanding of the value of both? How can you have a full understanding of both when the language has little or no meaning to you? Until this question, and questions like it, can be answered satisfactorily I simply will not be able to accept the words of those who claim to hold political truth.

    The idea that contemporary Maori live in anything like the same cultural world as their ancestors is obviously risible (as risible as my claiming cultural identity with ancient Celts). That clearly seems to be a case of false consciousness.

    It would be, if contemporary Māori were behaving as if they did; but they aren’t.

    The māori party’s kaupapa/tikanga basis is what I assume you’re taking aim at here, and on face value these appear to be archaisms. But the work of Whatarangi Winiata before the party was formed was in laying the foundations for a kaupapa-based politics, where the kaupapa are not dogmas rooted in a certain time period, but elemental principles which guide custom and ‘right action’ (tikanga). I’m happy for the quality of that work to be interrogated, but it’s altogether too flip to claim that they’re labouring under some precolonial delusion without conducting that interrogation. In fact, the kaupapa and tikanga are being constantly updated and adapted — some would say too swiftly, such as in the case of the ETS, where (for example) conceptions of kaitiakitanga are wholly or significantly absent on a straightforward reading.

    L

  34. Lew on December 8th, 2009 at 20:34

    TM,

    “a belief that nothing is concrete, everything is fluid” (which I realise Lew claims not to suggest) is exactly where I feel this blog is heading–to the washing machine school of philosophy–place ideas and theories, rotate on fast spin for long periods.

    I think we’d probably all prefer it if you didn’t tar the other posters here with the brush of my flaws. As to the tone of my response to you — it’d probably have been somewhat more forgiving if you hadn’t begun by questioning my workers’ credentials.

    And to reiterate Pablo’s offer: if you want to make a different argument, you’re welcome to do so.

    L

  35. […] misgivings about the premises or reasoning underpinning my latest post on Labour’s ‘blue collars, red necks‘ approach to opposition, they have been dispelled by the fact that Chris Trotter has had to […]

  36. Ag on December 9th, 2009 at 01:42

    The māori party’s kaupapa/tikanga basis is what I assume you’re taking aim at here, and on face value these appear to be archaisms. But the work of Whatarangi Winiata before the party was formed was in laying the foundations for a kaupapa-based politics, where the kaupapa are not dogmas rooted in a certain time period, but elemental principles which guide custom and ‘right action’ (tikanga). I’m happy for the quality of that work to be interrogated, but it’s altogether too flip to claim that they’re labouring under some precolonial delusion without conducting that interrogation. In fact, the kaupapa and tikanga are being constantly updated and adapted — some would say too swiftly, such as in the case of the ETS, where (for example) conceptions of kaitiakitanga are wholly or significantly absent on a straightforward reading.

    I guess my point is that this stands to genuine Maori culture in the way that California Buddhism stands to genuine Buddhism. They are really different things.

    That’s not to say that all of us don’t have something to learn from traditional Maori culture. I certainly think we do. However to make the same sort of comparison, I think NZ Pakeha and NZ Maori stand in much the same relation to traditional Maori culture that they do to traditional Japanese culture.

    Maori culture is like the culture of classical Greece. Something alien to all of us, but with important lessons to teach us. But we aren’t part of it, and can never be.

    There, if you want a more elevated comparison, the Maori cultural renaissance is like Philhellenism, and just as deluded in its own magnificent way.

    Anyway, the rest is in the other thread. Don’t be mean to Chris, he’s alright. If you want to get your own back, have a go at his opiate of a religion. ;)

  37. […] to reinvent themselves and the illusory success among some of the usual suspects of the “blue collars, red necks” experiment last year — notably not repeated in this week’s speech — will […]

  38. […] (also with the proviso that this rot began before the Nationhood speech) the first part of my critique is borne out: Labour under Phil Goff will struggle for support among Māori, without serious and […]

  39. […] for almost every party; The Greens have their crazed dark-green environmentalists; Labour has the blue-collar rednecks about whom I’ve written previously; ACT has mostly sucked away the white-collar rednecks (and […]

  40. […] it, but it at least seems obvious that they don’t have a full-blooded commitment to the Blue collars, red necks strategy. But that’s by the way.) What tends to follow from statements like that one is a […]

  41. […] of gays” O’Connor, and perhaps other members of what I have previously termed the blue collars, red necks faction of the Labour. Because of this, Young suggests, a Shearer-led Labour will be “a more […]

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