The rumours about the formation of a new left party have been circulating in the mainstream media for weeks now.

Generally the stories have been insubstantial and limited to speculating who might be involved in such a party. There has been very little discussion about why such a party might be formed and what kind of policies it might be offering.

This is not altogether surprising since the corporate media would like us all to believe that there is no alternative to the neoliberal orthodoxy that has been strangling this country for well over two decades.

From all the reports such a party would be left social democratic in orientation but such is the reactionary nature of New Zealand mainstream politics and the servile nature of the corporate media, its easy for someone like Phil Goff to get away with describing such a party as 'hard left'.

Of course a party occupying the social democratic left of the political spectrum would be an embarrassment to Goff's Labour Party which is still peddling the fiction that it is 'centre left'.

Labour is only a centre left party if you think that means fulfilling the demands of capital and pursuing 'market friendly' policies.

Given the rhetoric we've heard from Goff of late you just know Labour will be promoting itself as the party of 'change' and ' a fresh start'.

But, in reality, all Labour is promising is to 'manage' the economy better than National. That might be enough to get the Labour hacks who write for The Standard all in a lather, but its certainly not about real economic and political change.

The Standard bloggers might be waving their Labour flags and singing 'Things Can Only Get Better' but Labour 's agenda still involves the majority paying for the blunders and greed of a few.

The existence of a new left party would also highlight the right wing policies of the Green Party.

Under the co-leadership of former socialist Russel Norman and former unemployed rights activist Metiria Turei, the party has adopted a conservative 'market friendly environmentalism', pitched at winning support from conservative voters.

The eco-socialist movement says that you can't save capitalism and save the planet. But any attempt to embrace eco-socialism within the Green Party has been stymied by the Green leadership.

So its little wonder that Russel Norman has been less than supportive of the idea of a new left party, declaring it would not attract sufficient voter support.

Norman is still insisting that the Green Party is 'progressive'.

He said recently : “We're very confident that our policies both look after social justice and fairness, but also look after the environment and the economy,”

But in fact the issues of social justice and fairness are not even addressed, never mind solved, by the Green Party's preoccupations with things like the labelling of food, the use of energy-efficient light bulbs and using public transport to get to work.

The scale of the crisis is such that we require deep and radical changes that are simply not on the Green's pro-capitalist agenda.

Any demands for environmental justice must include far reaching changes in the economy, workplaces, and infrastructure. Individual lifestyle changes (that might appeal to the middle class voter) are simply not enough.

Sue Bradford was entirely correct when she recently said that the 'deliberate appeal' of the Green Party is '...around the theme of clean green prosperity and I don't think that's something that resonates with beneficiaries and working people.'

So the mere rumours of a new left party have helped to highlight both Labour and the Green's role as defenders of an neoliberal orthodoxy that has plunged both the world and the New Zealand economies into an ever-deepening crisis. And not uncoincidentally both Phil Goff and Russel Norman have already fired a number of critical shots at a party that is still on the drawing board.


  1. Efforts to develop ecosocialism are stymied by Russell/the Green leadership? Honestly, you have no idea how the Green policy development process works. The leadership of the party cannot control what our policies say, as that is the role of the membership. I am on the Greens policy committee, and if the membership demanded an ecosocialist solution to climate change then that policy would be ours. There are no if or buts about it, as our formal process doesn't allow for interfering by leadership. The best they can do is submit on policy proposals (put forth independently of the leadership) like a normal member to try to have their voices heard.

    Besides, I would argue that our current policies are ecosocialist in some sense. You are stuck in the 1960s if you believe socialism and capitalism to be defined in terms of ownership of the means of production, as the modern consensus is towards private competition and ownership in some sense. Socialism implemented today is about interferring in that free exchange; it is about regulation, or if it refers to ownership it refers to state assets rather than to the means of production. We in the Greens indeed want a partially price driven solution to climate change (a carbon tax or fee and dividend scheme, the later is sort of like a UBI/citizens dividend), but that is not the only effort. Effort goes into regulating industry, applying minimum standards, and other complementary measures.

    The way I'd like to think of it is that the capitalists would just like to see the petrol stations in private ownership, and the socialists would like to see them controlled and subsided by the state. We want to reduce the reliance on and environmental damage of petrol stations, and sometimes that will involve control of them as state assets (see Solid Energy) and sometimes that will involve regulating the free market. I mean for gods sake, we're the only party in Parliament which will actually get up and argue against free trade.

    As for us being right wing, again you are stuck in the 1960s if you are assessing the "right" and "left" soley on economic issues. Social policy now forms an important part of the "right" and "left," and so I concede your argument that we are promoting capitalism, that alone does not make us right wingers.

    PS: I am a social democrat however, which I understand you see as just as bad as neoliberals/capitalists.

  2. I doubt that any eco socialist policies would emerge from the Green Party membership since the inexorable march to the right by the Green Party leadership has alienated what remains of its left wing activist base.

    This though probably doesn't concern you since you are a supporter of Russel Norman and his 'free market environmentalism'. You obviously believe you can save capitalism and the planet. What makes that any different from the environmental policies of both Labour and National?

    In the drive to gain more seats in parliament the Green Party have dropped all the 'ideological baggage' they think is 'voter unfriendly'. The Green leadership should be held accountable for this but the deafening silence from the membership illustrates just how right wing the party has become.

    That you are committed to 'private competition and ownership' about sums it all up. Your attempts to redefine socialism as 'managed capitalism' is. frankly, incoherent nonsense.

  3. It is worth noting that there is a ecosocialist current in many green parties, the Green Party of Aotearoa, if people in the green party push for it to join National and Act, it could well be that one of the leaders gets rolled.

    Many people in the green party support unions. It is likely most of the greens would support and work with a new left party.

    The greens are anti free trade.


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