Labour and its supporters fail to acknowledge that a slavish commitment to the neoliberal orthodoxy has led to its election downfall - again.

I WAS AMAZED TO hear the CTU's Helen  Kelly argue on TV3's The Nation that Labour lost the election because  it failed to communicate its message and policies to the electorate.

I think  exactly the opposite is true. I think the electorate had a pretty good idea of what Labour was about and didn't much like it. So they did not vote for Labour or did not vote at all. Labour are not so much regarded as a political friend and ally  but as another occupying power in Parliament.

Kelly  though seems blindingly oblivious to Labour's unpopularity. Perhaps she needs to get out more. While she has no problems with Labour continuing  to pursue the neoliberal orthodoxy its potential supporters certainly have. 

 But honesty seems  to be short supply in the Labour camp. It's supporters seem to have adopted General Melchett's dictum that 'when all else fails, a pig headed stubborn refusal to look facts
in the face, will see us through.'

 If Labour's supporters were being honest then they would front up and admit Labour has no new ideas. Instead we get the kind of ducking and diving that has been on display from commentator Chris Trotter over the past few days.

Having enthusiastically endorsed David Cunliffe as Labour's future his new excuse to explain Labour's defeat is that Cunliffe went to sleep over the first few months of his leadership. That's a nicely convenient explanation because that means Trotter does not have to  take any responsibility for his own part in Labour's downfall. But, to be fair to Chris, he's not the only one who has fled from the scene of the wreckage, claiming they had nothing to do with it.

While Trotter might argue that Cunliffe sat on his hands for the best part of a year, the fact is that Labour failed to  do anything about reinventing itself after its defeat in 2010. While I was arguing that Labour was a political dead zone, Chris Trotter was quoting Jim Anderton  at me  about building  "your footpaths where the people walk.” The obvious difficulty for Trotter though is that Labour  did not build its footpaths where the people walk.

But Trotter seems to be having another go at it. He quoted Anderton again in a recent post. This time though he seems to want to build his footpath directly to the house of Labour MP Stuart Nash. He's the MP who said last week that Labour lost the election because it was too left wing.

We need to remind ourselves that  it was Labour that began the process of overturning the gains of the social democratic era in favour of business interests. It has been committed to the neoliberal orthodoxy ever since.

Labour has no answers, certainly for ordinary people who now have three more years of John Key, Paula Bennett and company to look forward to. But, unlike comfortably well off political commentators and trade union leaders, ordinary people are not insulated  from the impact of neoliberal economic polices.

That Labour does not have any answers for us is a disgusting display of the irrelevance of not only Labour but of the parliamentary system itself.

The present pathetic  squabble over who should lead Labour is  simply an indication of what lies ahead for Labour politics over the next three years. Once again it highlights  the need for an independent alternative to Labour,  one that is committed to  the interests and concerns of ordinary people, one that does not promote and defend market values and one that does not make deals with political forces unfriendly to the interests of ordinary people.


  1. Completely agree. Reshuffling the deck chairs won't change a thing. Labour is doomed unless they rediscover who they are and who they represent..


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