|Mike Treen : Vote Labour for more of the same.|
In 2014 Mike Treen, national secretary of the Unite Union, called for a vote for the Labour Party because it was "the lesser evil'. His plaintive call, of course, was largely ignored and Labour crashed to a massive election defeat.
The majority of people, unlike Treen, clearly didn't think Labour actually was 'the lesser evil'. In fact nearly a million people didn't much like what was on offer from any of the parliamentary parties and didn't vote at all. That made a mockery of the Council of Trade Unions 'get out and vote' campaign. And, oh dear, Mike supported that as well.
In fact Mike Treen was a three time loser because he also thought that it was a really great idea for the Mana Party to form an alliance with the Internet party.
But Treen apparently hasn't learnt anything from the 2014 debacle because, with 2016 winding down, he's back again, promoting Labour as 'the lesser evil'. And, according to the latest Roy Morgan poll, 23 percent of voters agree with Treen. He's a winner, folks!
Treen is careful to avoid using the term 'lesser evil' in a futile attempt to dissociate himself from the 2014 disaster. So he writes:
"I favour a defeat for this government and the formation of a Labour-led government. I do not believe that such a government will make any fundamental changes to New Zealand society. Both Labour and the Greens are dedicated to running the system not changing it. However, I believe we can force some concessions from a Labour-Green coalition that would not be possible under a National government."
So when Treen says he thinks that 'we' might be able 'to force some concessions from a Labour-Green coalition that would not be possible under a National government' what he really means is that Labour would be 'the lesser evil'.
Let's reflect on what Treen is saying . He wants us to vote for a right wing and neoliberal Labour Party that he admits isn't up to much but, he thinks - but there are no guarantees - 'we' might be able to extract a few concessions from. Maybe. Possibly. Who knows. It's hardly Bernie Sanders 'People's Revolution' is it?
Treen has low expectations as to what can be achieved under a Labour-led government yet he still wants us to vote for it. Frankly, I'm insulted - and you should be too.
Voting for 'the lesser evil' - in the shape of the Labour Party - prevents us working for the greater good. So Treen's big talk about building the union movement and forging community alliances will all come to nought if it all ends up being shunted down a dead end street toward the welcoming embrace of the conservative Andrew Little.
In defence of his hopeless argument, Treen writes:
"When we get up off our knees we can also demand that existing parties stand with us in the struggles we face. Then we can judge whether we need a completely new party or whether the existing parties or parts of those parties are able to shift enough to be on our side for the duration of the struggle that will be needed to bring about a fundamental change in who hold power in society."
Unfortunately Treen represents a strand of an old left that still doesn't recognise, after all this time, that the Labour Party has got nothing to offer progressive politics in this country. The Labour Party is not salvageable nor do we need yet more time to "judge whether we need a completely new party". Isn't three decades of neoliberal rule - enforced by both National and Labour governments - more than enough time to conclude that we need to build a genuine political alternative now for the 99%?
We need a political party that put forwards a progressive platform that speaks substantially to the interests of working people and campaigns for radical reforms. We don't need to waste our time and limited resources begging for concessions from a right wing Labour government - if it ever gets elected.