If anyone doubted that the Labour Party's so-called 'left turn' is simply a branding exercise bereft of principle and substance, then just take a look at Labour's candidate in the Mana by election.

It's former TVNZ news reporter Kris Faafoi. He's decided that he'd like a change of career and a much bigger salary - along with the travel and accommodation perks of course.

Faafoi, if he wins, will replace the less than inspiring Willie Laban. She decided to cut short her parliamentary career and has taken up a new career opportunity, namely Pasfika assistant vice chancellor at Victoria University in Wellington. How nice for her.

If he wins, Faafoi will be joining other Labour time servers like Lianne Dalziel for instance. This month the woman who sat on her hands while the New Zealand finance sector collapsed, is 'celebrating' twenty years as an MP.

Faafoi has no history of political activism, no history of rocking the boat, no history of upsetting anyone. Nothing. Zilch.

No wonder he got the nod from his leader Phil Goff.

Faafoi will do what Goff tells him to do and that will mean doing his bit to prop up the neoliberal consensus while paying lip service to the need for 'progressive change'.

Faafoi will push Labour's agenda of business-friendly policies combined with a bit more 'progressive' rhetoric and a few crumbs for the working class.

But it doesn't have to be this way. We don't have to have yet another grey 'machine' politician joining all the other grey 'machine' politicians looking to further their 'careers'.

Mana could elect a genuine left wing MP. That MP could be Matt McCarten.

He has spent most of his adult life involved in left wing and trade union politics. He quit the Labour Party when Rogernomics began to take grip and you ran read more on Wikipedia if you are interested.

While I know some on the left (including myself) had disagreements with some of the methods he employed in the Alliance, there can be no doubting McCarten's commitment to left wing politics.

He has never wavered from his belief that New Zealand has simply been on the wrong political and economic track

In an era of retreat and downright surrender by what were perceived to be traditional working class organisations, McCarten has remained, well, staunch.

You know where you stand with McCarten which is rather refreshing in these days of spin.

While Matt would like to win Mana, the longer game is the formation of a new left wing party that can attract a mass membership. Such a party would be instrumental in allowing a new left wing politics and culture to develop in this country.

McCarten has spoken about this many times before and according to political science lecturer Bryce Edwards, who worked closely with him in the Alliance, building the Unite union has been the first step in the formation of such a party:

This has been his plan ever since the Alliance disintegrated. Building the Unite union has always been the first step in this larger project of resuscitating progressive politics in this country. McCarten has never wanted to just be a unionist for the sake of it, but has instead seen that building of the Unite union as part of a larger vision for changing society. He knows very well that you can’t do this without an organized force at the political level. And for McCarten, neither the Labour and Green parties are capable of this; when push comes to shove, despite their posturing, both parties are not really particularly leftwing at all.

After nearly thirty years of neoliberal tripe, a new left wing party cannot come about soon enough.


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