The Council of Trade Unions want us to all get out and vote Labour this year. But the CTU is offering the same uninspiring Labour Party that it offered last time round.
YOU HAVE PROBABLY not noticed that the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) have launched what it calls a 'Get Out The Vote' campaign for the upcoming election. On the website we read:
Help more people have a say in 2014 by asking them to enrol now and vote in September. Just volunteer a few hours of your time to the campaign, and we’ll connect you together with hundreds of volunteers across the country to make a difference – one conversation at a time.
Although the CTU have described it as a 'an independent, non-partisan project' it is about as independent and nonpartisan as Mike Hosking or Paul Henry. It really could best be described as the 'Get Out The Vote to Vote Labour' campaign.
The CTU's simple aim is to get as many of the 43 percent of people who didn't vote last time round to vote this time - and vote in favour of Labour.
But of course the Labour Party of David Cunliffe is little different from the Labour Party of Phil Goff. The CTU are trying to sell the same damaged goods it tried to flog in 2011. It is a little like being invited to some grand and lavish party only to turn up on the night to an empty hall with only a glass of warm orange cordial and a shrivelled sausage roll for company.
While people may not like the National-led government, David Cunliffe's Labour is providing little incentive for people to go to the polling booths in 2014. I certainly won't be.
But it is not just David Cunliffe's fault because thirty years of slavish commitment to the ' free market' have left the Labour Party as the empty neoliberal husk that it is.
There has been no attempt by the Labour leadership to pull the debate back to the left. Indeed publicly declaring that it is committed to the policies of the market, as the Labour leadership has done on several occasions, is hardly a rallying call for everyone to meet down on the barricades.
We might want to listen to the rousing tunes of Les Miserables but, unfortunately, David Cunliffe is listening to the twenty greatest hits of Richard Clayderman.
Despite all this the CTU leadership is, once again, wheeling in behind the Labour Party. It wasn't particularly inspiring in 2011 and it will be equally uninspiring this year as well. But that's the CTU leadership for you - always ready to take the path of least resistance.
What New Zealand needs is a political party that will stand up for the majority, what the Occupy movement famously described as the 99 percent. But there's no commitment to such a party from either the CTU or much of the so-called New Zealand 'left'.
Instead, when we take away all the window dressing, the CTU wants you to vote Labour because, it says, another three years of John Key and co would be worse.
But the 43 percent who didn't vote last time disagree. They think there is little difference between National and Labour and voting won't change anything. And, anyway, as the British writer George Monbiot has observed, if people simply vote for something because they fear the alternative, we will never get the government we want.
Organisations like the International Socialist Organisation (ISO), Socialist Aotearoa and the Unite Union - who have now all docilely fallen in behind Labour - should reflect on that. But they probably won't. The level of debate is merely ankle deep and organisations like the ISO and the Unite Union must also take their share of the blame for keeping us all stranded in the paddling pool.
If the left continue to back a Labour Party that not only fails to represent their views, but actively opposes them, there will never be a turning back of neoliberalism and the beginning of real change in favour of ordinary people.