Mike Treen, the National Director of the Unite Union, was last seen campaigning for the election of a Labour-led government and 'market solutions' to climate change. He has now conveniently embraced the views of Naomi Klein. 

THIS WEEK Mike Treen, the National Director of the Unite Union, tweeted that Naomi Klein's new book, This Changes Everything, is a manual for a new movement. He followed that up with another tweet highlighting Klein's view that there are now no non radical solutions to tackling climate change.

All well and good. I agree entirely that Klein's book, which has been ignored by the mainstream media in this country, is a very important work. I also agree that we can only come to grips with climate change and the ecological crisis generally  through radical means.

But while it is convenient  for Treen to embrace the views of Naomi Klein now, views which are not dissimilar to those of the ecosocialist movement, where was he  before the election?  That's right - he was urging support for the grand 'progressive coalition', which included a Green Party advocating neoliberal solutions to climate change.

I did not hear Treen  offering any criticisms of the Green Party's views then. Instead  he was dismally  supporting the election of Labour-led government which, among other things, would have allowed further deep sea oil exploration and believes in market solutions to the climate crisis - like carbon trading - which Klein completely dismisses as no solution at all.

It's hard not to interpret  Treen's  sudden u-turn as anything  but opportunistic. I'm afraid that people like Mike Treen (and it is not just him) talk a big game in the 'downtime'  between elections but when the parliamentary seats are again up for grabs,  they all wheel in  behind the Labour Party - which has had disastrous consequences for three elections in a row. You kind of think Treen and company might have learnt something by now.

Having helped to fracture the left by his misguided and disastrous support for the merger of Mana and the Internet Party, Treen now wants the left to regroup and reorganise.  But the devil is in  the detail.

While Treen criticises the Labour Party for failing to encourage strategic voting, particularly in Hone Harawira's former seat, he comprehensively fails to answer  the fundamental question: What is to be done  about the Labour Party? 

In the absence of any clear rejection of the Labour Party, we can only assume that Treen and the usual suspects will be calling for yet another vote for yet  another 'progressive coalition', led by yet another 'lesser evil' Labour Party  in 2017. This is the failed electoralist strategy all over again which will see, for the next three years,  a whole load of rhetoric and commentary against the Key government in the blogosphere but zero opposition on the streets and in the workplaces. The CTU will make sure of that.

This is not good enough.  Mike Treen might think Naomi Klein's new book is a manifesto  for a new movement but a new movement requires new thinking. And there is certainly nothing new about continuing to support a politically bankrupt Labour Party.


  1. It is hopeless for Treen to call for a left regroupment when we will know his idea of a 'left regroupment' is to call for electoral support for the Labour Party. I would not touch Treen's stinky 'left regroupment' with a barge pole.

  2. The signs are not good that anything has been learnt from Labour's huge election defeat. For those of us who want something more than timid parliamentary politics, and nothing changes, 'the usual suspects' (as Steve calls them) remain ominously silent about breaking with Labour. Instead the clamour, at the moment, is merely who will lead this wreck of a party.

    The massive election non-vote should also be a lesson to people like Mike Treen that the Labour Party holds no attraction to almost a third of the electorate that did not vote. To turn around and act as if this is not happening is staggering.


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