In the aftermath of the Labour Party's crushing election defeat and the demise of Internet Mana, is there any hope for the left?
IT WAS NOT so long ago that Sue Bradford walked away from the Mana Party. The catalyst for her resignation was, of course, the alliance of convenience that Hone Hawarira and his supporters had cobbled together with Kim Dotcom and his newly formed Internet Party.
She warned that it was huge mistake for the Mana Party to hitch its political fortunes to that of the German multi-millionaire.
Although it would be fair to say I've had some political differences with Sue (mostly during her time in the Green Party) I've always respected her integrity and determination. I knew that her decision to pull the plug on her involvement with the Mana Party would not have been taken lightly.
Her decision though provoked the ire of others.
Chris Trotter, in a particularly unpleasant column, lectured that she should of have abided by 'Mana's democratic decision-making process' and stayed with the party.
He pompously went on to say: ''an unkind commentator might draw his readers’ attention to the extraordinary condescension involved in a middle-aged Pakeha and former Green MP setting forth the correct moral path for a party dominated overwhelmingly by young, marginalised Maori.'
Trotter, who has castigated me regularly over the years for my 'unrealistic' and 'far left' politics, rushed to embrace Internet Mana - at one stage even describing it as 'revolutionary'.
His old mate Martyn Bradbury of The Daily Blog wrote:
A Labour-Green-Internet MANA majority is a genuinely exciting prospect, and one that progressives would be foolish to ignore if they really want to see the back of John Key.
Other individuals and groups on the left also rushed to the side of Internet Mana. This included Socialist Aotearoa, the International Socialist Organisation (ISO), Fightback! (Workers Party) and the Unite Union.
There was never any political consistency or coherency to this support. Socialist Aotearoa, for example, had formerly claimed that Mana was a 'anti-capitalist party' and that it was a hub around which a working class movement would grow. It quickly ditched this view for the resources that Kim Dotcom was offering. Class collaboration became the only game in town.
This has proved to be a huge strategic error.
It would be nice to think that groups like Socialist Aotearoa and the Unite Union will learn from this experience. But this is by no means certain.
Chris Trotter has blogged that 'the left' has some hard thinking to do. Personally I think Chris Trotter has a helluva lot of hard thinking to do about his own politics. This though may result in him moving further rightwards because I just can't see moving to the left.
Meanwhile Martyn Bradbury says he's taking some time off to reflect on the electoral disaster. He has written:
There need to be voices from the left who can redefine what progressives need to do to end this terrible, terrible Government, but today I don’t think I’m one of those voices.
I think he shows some honesty here. At this early stage anyway.
The maddening and frustrating thing is that all of this mess was avoidable.
While I don't pretend to have any special political insight I like to think that I - and a few others -have again been vindicated in our long held view that if the left is to make any progress at all there has to be complete honesty about the Labour Party and what it represents. There also has to be an honesty about the continued enthusiasm of certain parts of the left to make deals with political forces that are no friends of working people.
Speaking from a purely personal standpoint I have my doubts that much of the left is capable of the sort of honesty that is required. The hard questions are just as likely never to be asked, never mind answered.
Despite three consecutive election defeats for Labour, the left is well capable of repeating the same old mistakes in 2017. I hope I'm proved wrong.