The Mt Albert by election is again highlighting the lack of choice on offer from the present parliamentary parties. It has also highlighted the failure of the left to get its act together.

THERE HAS BEEN concern expressed by some who are interested in this sort of thing that Labour's Jacinda Arden is up against the Green's Julie Ann Genter for the Mt Albert seat, previously occupied by former Labour Party leader David Shearer.

The Daily Blog's Martyn Bradbury thinks its a bad idea that Arden and Genter should be battling it out. As Bradbury is a Labour supporter, he blames the Green's for the 'unseemly' contest. Clearly not confident in the ability of Labour and Arden to win over the electorate, he argues that a strong Green showing can only damage Labour's reputation. Apparently the Green's desire to enhance their own reputation is irrelevant as far as Bradbury is concerned.

And if Genter manages to beat Arden - well, says, Bradbury, that can only damage Arden's reputation. But since she's done little of note since arriving in Parliament and seems little more than another 'business as usual' machine politician, I'm not sure what 'reputation' Bradbury is referring to.

Meanwhile Chris Trotter has suggested that a close tussle between Arden and Green could produce tensions between Labour and the Green's down the road. Like Bradbury, he thinks its the Green’s fault.

Former Green MP Keith Locke is of another opinion. He thinks the Mt Albert by-election is a good opportunity for the Green's to promote themselves. He points out that neither Arden and Genter are in any danger of being turfed out of Parliament because they are both list MPs. Which is obviously true. Such is the deficiency of the present MMP system that MP's can, potentially, have a job for life.

But this debate is all about territory, all about jostling for position with an eye to the general election. This might be deeply interesting for people like Bradbury and Trotter, but for the rest of us? Some of us might think what is being proposed is election rigging and that we, the people, are being taken for granted and taken for a ride.

Neither Arden and Genter are offering anything different from what's gone before. They are both market politicians, deeply enmeshed within the system, advocating the same discredited market-orientated policies that most of us have come to loathe. The electorate may be demanding real change but that is beyond anything that Arden and Genter are prepared to offer.

In the case of Genter her notion of an environmentally-friendly capitalism is completely myopic and totally discredited. But, apparently, books like Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything: Capitalism v the Climate, have left her centrist politics undisturbed.

The only real alternative on view in Mt Albert is Unite union official Joe Carolan. He's standing as an independent socialist candidate. In 2014 though he stood as a candidate for the Mana Party, supported its alliance with the Internet Party, and called for a Labour-led government - because it was 'the lesser evil'.

Some might view Carolan's candidacy as positive but, after three decades of neoliberal rule, it is of much concern that the best the left can come up with in an election year is a lone candidate standing in a by election that he can't possibly win.

Elsewhere Carolan has pointed to the lack of  a Jeremy Corbyn or Bernie Sanders figure for the failure to move mainstream New Zealand politics to the left. This is far too convenient an explanation. While not doubting his own sincerity and determination, Carolan's own candidacy reveals a left lacking in imagination and deeply conservative, seemingly unable to stop itself from continuing to walk down the political no exit street called 'Lesser Evil'.

My prediction for the Mt Albert by election is that’ll be another overwhelming victory for the Did Not Vote Party.


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