Chris Trotter wants to know where New Zealand 's left wing heroes are. One thing is for sure - they won't be coming out of the Labour Party, the party that he continues to support.

"WHERE, OH WHERE, are the left's heroes?" asks a plaintive Chris Trotter in his latest column for The Press. The immediate reaction is to ask why Trotter cares. He, after all, connects with left wing politics at so few points these days that a lot of people have simply given up on him.

But that does not Trotter stop pronouncing on such matters because he is the establishment-approved commentator on all things left, who can be relied on to be sensible and not rock the boat. It is little wonder that arch-right winger Paul Henry says Trotter is " New Zealand's leading left wing commentator".

Trotter wants to know why New Zealand has not thrown up someone like the Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who he describes as  "the firebrand Marxist leader of Greece’s fight against “financial waterboarding”.

Can you spot what's wrong here? Those of you who are familiar with Trotter's politics will know that he loathes Marxism and Marxists. When he is not attacking Marxism he is distorting the work of some of the great Marxists to suit his own right wing views. A year or so ago the great socialist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg (a hero of mine) suffered the 'Trotter treatment' and I called him out of it. Trotter never responded. Caught out lying abut Luxemburg, Trotter ran away.

Similarly blogger Giovanni Tiso had to call Trotter out for bastardising the work of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci. Again, Trotter never responded.

Trotter is certainly no political comrade of mine. Despite hailing the Marxism of Yanis Varoufakis, he has consistently attacked my politics. There has never been any constructive engagement.

Some months before the last election he lied about the politics of Vladimir Lenin, no less, in a pathetic attempt to justify his continued dismal support for the right wing Labour Party. According to Trotter, Lenin would have described me as a 'ultraleftist' for not supporting Labour. This is typical of the way he operates. He despises the socialist tradition and he does not mind lying about it if it suits his own right wing views.

Indeed if a Yanis Varoufakis or a Alexis Tsipras or a Pablo Iglesias (Podemos) ever emerges in New Zealand in the near future, they can fully expect to be attacked by Trotter for not supporting the Labour Party. I expect they will be labelled 'ultraleftist'.

What Trotter does not say in his column is that leaders like Varoufakis , Tsipras and Iglesias have emerged out of a new European left that has supplanted the old and discredited social democratic parties in both Greece and Spain. In the case of Greece Syriza has effectively killed off Pasok, Greek's version of our Labour Party.

Trotter writes that "part of the reason for the New Zealand Left being in such a deep funk at present is the absence of any progressive leader displaying even half Varoufakis’s confidence and conviction."

How can Trotter explain this? This is where it gets difficult for him because he has actually played his part in ensuring that the New Zealand left is in 'a deep funk'. He is part of the very problem he is writing about.

Trotter puts the absence of any new progressive leaders to "Thirty years of political compromises and the ruthless application of a Labour/Green version of the “Tall Poppy Syndrome”.

This won't do at all. It is clear that the Labour Party retains not even a tokenistic connection to the socialist tradition yet people like Chris Trotter continue to hold out the Labour Party as the only alternative to National. That very few people believe this anymore doesn't seem to have occurred to him but, nevertheless, the Labour Party remains an obstacle in the way of a developing a new culture of thought and action  from which new left wing leaders can emerge.

While Trotter bemoans the absence of people like Yanis Varoufakis in New Zealand, his complaint is dishonest and insincere because he continues to promote and defend a Labour Party that has had a deadening effect on the development of left wing politics in this country.

You will not hear Trotter calling for the formation of New Zealand's own Syriza but you will hear him again calling for a vote for Labour in 2017. That's Trotter's sterile and lifeless view of 'left wing politics'. Unfortunately, it is a view shared by much of the New Zealand left.


  1. Read that column and thought Trotter was taking the piss. He has never shown an ounce of support for the socialist left in NZ but he complains that we have no socialist leaders like those in Syriza! Is he serious? Steve - how does his support for the right wing Andrew Little fit in? Or he is claiming Little is a left wing hero? Ha ha.


    1. The 2015 Chris Trotter might be a fan of Andrew Little but that wasn't the case in 2009 when Little, then national secretary of the EPMU, was appointed Labour Party president. Wrote Trotter:

      "Call me old fashioned, but a union leader who receives loud plaudits from the business community makes me nervous.

      Either they’re being really good sports; as in: "By God that Andrew Little’s a tough negotiator, isn’t he? We were determined to limit our pay offer to the rate of inflation, but somehow he screwed a ten percent increase out of us. I tell you, that guy makes Matt McCarten look like a big fluffy pussycat!"

      Or, they’re doing their best to hold onto the good thing they’ve got; as in: "I can’t believe we got away with it - again! I was positive that this year the EPMU would be demanding at least a ten percent wage rise. But, no, they settled for their usual cost-of-living adjustment. I can’t begin to tell you what a positive influence Andrew Little has had on the company’s bottom line. Seriously, the guy’s worth his weight in gold!"


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