SO PRIME MINISTER BILL ENGLISH has called the General election for 23 September and it has barely raised a ripple of interest from the general public. Only the mainstream media, predictably, have been keen to talk about it.
We'll be expected to pay attention and not misbehave while the country goes through the farce of another general election campaign. There'll be the usual ping-pong of buzzwords and soundbites, the same old opinions from the same old faces, the shuffling of press releases and the regurgitating of opinions and punditry, the meaningless political interviews, the contrived personality clashes,the desperate search by the mainstream media for controversy and scandal. And the endless opinion polls.
Rather than illuminating the real issues, all the election campaign will do is to obscure the facts about a failing capitalism. While we will be constantly reminded of our 'responsibility' to vote, we won't be reminded that we are, again, being presented with no choice. At the end of it all, the same old dreary parties will waltz into Parliament. And, if you don’t vote, you apparently have no right to complain.
The lack of choice is the real issue but its the issue the political elite and its media allies would rather not talk about. A fortnight or so ago on RNZ National I heard Dominion Post columnist Tracy Watkins and NZ Herald columnist Toby Manhire applaud Parliament for its "ideological diversity" (Manhire's words). But not one party is offering a real alternative to the neoliberal consensus.
As I write this, Labour and National are trying to out muscle each other to be the leading reactionary 'law and order' party.
But, despite the empty charade, it'll again be the job of the union bureaucracy and most of the so-called left to try and convince a disillusioned and cynical electorate that the Labour- Green Party brand of neoliberalism is preferable to the National Party brand. No one believed them in 2014 - and that includes the million or so people who no longer vote. But such is the arrogance of the political elite and their media cheerleaders we are described as 'apathetic' or as 'sleepy Hobbits'. Perhaps they might label us as 'deplorables' this time round.
In practise lesser evilism moves the centre of gravity ever further to the right. It ends up re-enforcing the consensus that denies any kind of meaning to the election.
Whatever happens this year the left’s failure in the 2017 election is already an established fact. Although there might be some brave individuals standing as left candidates in some electorates - although I somehow doubt it - there, once again, will be no single widely recognised nation-wide left alternative.
The left crucially misses out by not participating in the general election. To the extent that a left wing alternative is not visible and credible, it’s omitted from the ensuing discussion and debate. It has no opportunity to present its case to the million non-voters and the disenchanted Labour and Green voters that there is another way.
The General Election is a many-faceted crime against the people but one of the real travesties is that so-called 'progressive' left prefers the safety of supporting a politically bankrupt Labour party rather than the challenge of developing a new political initiative.
In the absence of a real left alternative, of a real choice, I won’t be voting again this year.