Martyn Bradbury has got a lousy offer for you - because you didn't ask for it. And it comes with a free subscription to The Daily Blog!

Martyn Bradbury is a commentator who has shown  very little, if any, interest in socialist politics. While he huffs and puffs about the  Key government on The Daily Blog  what he is offering as an alternative  won't improve the lives of the very people he claims to champion.  He is little like his more literate colleague Chris Trotter in that respect. Trotter  is  a regular  guest on  Bradbury's Citizen A  chat show, where they mutually appreciate each other.

Bradbury is a one trick pony and a very poor one trick pony at that.  The only thing he is selling is a Labour-Green-Mana coalition. He called it a 'progressive bloc' at the last election  but this time he has come out of the political closet and is openly calling  it a left coalition. That he hasn't been laughed off the political landscape just goes to prove how  resolutely right wing the political landscape is  - a landscape where  right wing social democrat Chris Trotter is described  as 'New Zealand's leading left wing commentator'.

Here is Bradbury speculating on the Ikaroa-Ra-whiti by-election:

'This by-election has far ranging ramifications to the viability of a left wing majority beating the National Government in 2014, progressive voters and media news junkies should stay aware of the trends. '

It should be noted that Bradbury contradicts himself massively. One day he's talking  about a 'left wing majority', the next day he's talking about a 'centre left' majority. Apparently they mean the same thing.  Neither definition makes much sense anyway.  Bradbury  could call his Labour-Green  electoral alliance   a cheese and pickle sandwich for all the difference it makes. Perhap's the label 'We're Not National' is the most truthful, as the spectre of 'lesser evil' politics floats into view.

The elephant in Bradbury's   living room is the inconvenient reality that the two major parties in his 'left wing majority' are right wing neoliberal parties.  So that is  a major problem  for old Martyn.

Arguably liberal-left on largely symbolic social matters in a vain effort to cling to some left wing credentials, both Labour and the Green's remain firmly on the right as far as economic policy is concerned. Even Mana's economic politics are ambivalent and hardly an expression of the  anti-capitalism that many of us were hoping for.

Bradbury's lazy and expedient  answer is to just ignore that elephant and the large piles of neoliberal poo it continues to leave on the carpet.  As the election approaches he and his political pals  will screen off the elephant and hope the voters don't notice the pong.

Here he is again talking about what he this time calls a  'Labour - Green voting bloc':

'For the Labour-Green voting bloc to establish itself as the Cabinet-In-Waiting it will need to achieve and sustain a solid voter-support-base of say 53 percent with Labour on par with (or above) National.'

Bradbury certainly has got the ideological blinkers on when it comes to these two parties.  Even the recent declaration from the Labour deputy leader that his party had no intention of upsetting market forces, hasn't brought Bradbury to his senses and it doesn't look like anything will.  Perhaps he thinks he's in  line for a cushy job under his 'left wing government' in the way he apparently picks up financial assistance from various sympathetic unions for media projects like The Daily Blog.

In Bradbury's echo chamber,  ordinary people are just percentage points that must be  hooked into  voting for the  'political alternative'  that  isn't. He chows down on the opinion polls, works on the percentages, blathers on about it all on The Daily Blog and Citizen A. But he is not the only serial offender, just one of the more visible.

Bradbury is a representative of a strata of middle class  activists who have a moral indignation to the present government but are less enamoured about bringing about fundamental economic change.  In fact, under the veneer of liberal tolerance, they are downright hostile to such a prospect.

The reality is that supporting  Bradbury's 'left wing majority' means writing  the remainder of this decade off to the parliamentary consensus of support for the neoliberal order and which  views austerity measures as necessary in the face of a stagnant economy.

Bradbury, and others like him, exhibit a refusal to do much at all that might seem particularly radical.

For the working class, it will be another lost decade.


  1. Made all the more tragic by the Far-Left's inability to offer working people anything more constructive than a never-ending litany of criticism directed at those whose interpretation of New Zealand politics deviates (even a little) from their own.

    I challenge you, Steven, to abandon for one month your personal attacks on people like Martyn and myself and instead present your readers with half-a-dozen concrete examples of the sort of policies a "genuine" left-wing government would offer the working-class voter.

  2. Once again Chris you reveal your hostility to socialist politics.

    We've heard it all before: the left hasn't got any alternatives, blah blah blah. This is a lie Chris - and you know it.

    I've written about socialist alternatives more than once and I'm certainly not going to pander to your bigotry and prejudices and rehearse them again. Here's a tip - read some of the many books that are available on socialist strategies.

    Still supporting David Shearer are you, Chris?

  3. I would have to agree with Steve, that the politics of most of the talking heads that we see on the TV and hear on their 'edgy' radio slots are hopeless, without vision, reactionary and erratic.

    But why would it be anything other than thus.

    Middle class media junkies and careerist political-commentators are hardly in a position to articulate the deeply held aspirations of the working classes, or the rural & urban poor any more than the merchant bankers, accountants and solicitors who comprise the Nats.

    Even the Labourite uni-graduates who have appropriated the labour movement are out of touch. Financially secure enough to have the free time to engage in the schoolyard pugilism of student politics, they see trade union politics as a seamless career progression.

    It is fairly well documented that political actors generally articulate the aspirations and interests of their own social classes. So it should be no mystery that the predominantly petit-bourgeois values of media commentators reflect themselves in their pro-market conceptions and utterances.

    Elsewhere on this site Steve has property developer Mike Pero with a speech bubble captioned, ‘you say Capitalist Pig like it’s a bad thing’. If Pero actually said this, then at least he is honest.

    It would be a nice thing if the apologists for the NZ Labour Party were equally truthful. If only they would stop trying to make out that they are really not the same organisation as the Labour Party of Roger Douglas, and Prebble and Goff and Helen Clarke and all the rest of that ’84 crowd. If only they would stop trying to make out that the fourth labour government was an aberration, not a symptom of a greater free-market malaise. Admit that labour and national share the same ‘market fundamentals’ and really everything else is just hot air and tactical posturing over the details.

    But what would they talk about then?

    Mr Trotter might, in fidelity to his conceptions, challenge Against The Current to show, ‘concrete examples of the sort of policies a "genuine" left-wing government would offer the WORKING-CLASS VOTER’ (my emphasis). But this just underlines how much he has missed the boat. Globally workers are in the process of rejecting such electoralist notions. Poor Chris, in his streaming-RSS, 100MHz-enabled media nerve-centre, has apparently been distracted watching the superficiality channels.

    NZ (on the arse of the globe) is as usual, a little behind the times, but a wave of political radicalisation is spreading across the world and today’s establishment-acceptable political commentators are not it harbingers. Mostly they are fated to disappear into further obscurity.

    Another thing you seem to have missed Chris, is that we don’t have to be politically active ourselves to anticipate this as a welcome development.


  4. So, that's a capitulation then, Steven. Thought so.

    Oh, and I'm confident I've read at least as much socialist literature as you and your do-nothing comrades.

    The difference between us is that I attempt to apply what I've learned to the world as it is - not to a world that people like yourself desperately wish they could wish into being.

  5. It's a pity that you don't apply any of your extensive reading of socialist literature to your writings, Chris - except to dismiss it.

    It's farcical that you suggest that you 'attempt to apply what I've learned to the world as it is', because all that you and your mate Bradbury ever offer is the political graveyard that is the Labour Party.

    That you can even suggest that this is somehow 'progressive' or 'left wing' just goes to prove just how ludicrous your politics have become.

    As long as you and people like Martyn Bradbury continue to peddle this nonsense I'll continue to criticise it.

    You also didn't answer my question - Are you still supporting David Shearer?

  6. This worldwide revolutionary surge would be happening ... where?

    In the Middle East and North Africa - where medievalist religious zealots continue to win every democratic election?

    On the streets of Spain and Italy and Greece - where protests, no matter how large, are routinely ignored.

    In Venezuela - where the healthy margins of Chavez's victories have been reduced to a sliver?

    In South Africa - where the ANC-controlled police shoot down striking workers with all the ruthlessness of their Apartheid-era predecessors?

    I'm running out of regions - give me some help here Anonymous.

    Where is the Revolution happening again?

  7. And here we have the 'liberating vision' of Chris Trotter.

    This is the man who has nothing to offer but more of the same but who has the arrogance and the contempt to criticise the millions engaged in fighting for a better world.

    I agree with the correspondent - your fate is political obscurity. You and the Labour Party deserve each other.

  8. Your riposte says it all, Steven.

    The first duty of the revolutionary is to separate what's real from what people simply claim to be real or (even worse) wish was real.

    Revolutions are very rare - and readily distinguishable from mere protest activity and even full-scale revolts.

    To qualify as a revolution the political upsurge with which they typically begin must develop into a qualitatively different set of social, economic and political arrangements.

    Otherwise, it's simply another case of the Who's famous line: "Meet the new boss - same as the old boss."

    I defy you, Steven, to identify a single place on the face of the Earth where such a qualitative and enduring transformation has taken place - or is even likely to take place.

    It's your incapacity to deal with the real that limits your contribution to NZ politics, Steven, and which leaves you only the barren alternative of indulging in a ceaseless and unconstructive criticism of all those who refuse to participate in your political negativity.

    I am under no illusions concerning the nature and political potential of the Labour Party. But, while it remains the party of the overwhelming majority of working-class people, I will go on writing about it. Praising any policy which holds out the hope of progressive change, critiquing those that suggest the opposite, and alerting the party's rank-and-file to any possibilities for radical change that their MPs may have missed or rejected.

    One day you'll understand that the price of criticism is a rational alternative.

    I look forward to that day.

  9. You delude yourself, Chris - and not for the first time.

    Your steadfast defence of the Labour Party is nothing more than a straightforward defence of the status quo. It is you who is out of touch with political reality.

    You have become little more than a tame political commentator for the political establishment, who reserves his harshest criticisms for people who believe a better world is possible. Your negativity is obvious to all.

  10. I read most of what Steve writes and what he is advocating is a new and progressive alternative to the Labour Party. If I recall correctly a recent blog post of his said that the anomaly that leaves New Zealand without a left wing alternative has to end.

    This is hardly a call for a revolution tomorrow which Trotter implies. Steve's conclusion that the Labour Party is dead as a progressive force, and has been for decades, seems to me to be a far more rational and realistic viewpoint than anything Trotter can put up.

    Chris Trotter's claim that he wants to alert Labour supporters to any prospect of 'radical change' that the parliamentary wing has missed or rejected is entirely fanciful and not grounded in reality at all.

  11. "I defy you, Steven, to identify a single place on the face of the Earth where such a qualitative and enduring transformation has taken place - or is even likely to take place."

    Someone doesn't know much about history.


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