While local Labour Party supporters cheered for Daniel Blake, they have only been able to criticise Metiria Turei - despite the fact that she is fighting similar issues in New Zealand.

Bryce Edwards
POLITICAL COMMENTATOR Bryce Edwards recently edited out a insightful observation from a column he wrote. However he did tweet the deleted paragraph. I think it makes a lot of sense, although for Labour Party supporters it would make for uncomfortable reading:

"It was only last year that huge number of Labour activists - even some Labour MP's - were championing the Ken Loach film I, Daniel Blake, for its role in highlighting the plight of beneficiaries. There was real love for the central character, Daniel Blake, who railed against the system that keep beneficiaries impoverished. He even broke the law, to do so, with local leftwing audiences lapping it up. But when a vaguely similar issue arises here, those same leftwing voices have chosen to side with Jacinda Ardern over Metiria Turei, rejecting the ethos of the film they had previously championed."

Yes, Labour supporters were willing to support a fictional character fighting the bureaucracy of the UK welfare system but they have been unwilling to lend that support to a very real Metiria Turei fighting the bureaucracy of the New Zealand welfare system.

Apparently its far easier and more convenient for Labour Party activists to support the struggle of a fictional character in a Ken Loach film than support the struggle of  Metiria Turei - right here and right now. Of course, supporting Turei would involve making a stand on behalf of the many and not the few - and that would upset Labour's corporate backers. It would mean straying from Labour's centrist path.

I struck this phenomenon myself over the weekend in the shape of Christchurch councillor Glenn Livingstone. As a former Presbyterian minister Livingstone likes to think he's on the side of the poor and the dispossessed. In fact he's right now campaigning for Labour MP Poto Williams in some of the poorest parts of Christchurch.

But, he too, has been less than vocal in his support for Turei. In fact, he's said nothing. When I tweeted to him that Jacinda Ardern had thrown Turei under the bus he replied:

"Aah over that. Sorry mate thats bollocks."

That's right, Livingstone (on a salary of over $100,000 a year) is denying everything - and, in the process, has denied the validity of the issues that Turei has raised. He couldn't even publicly support the Green's welfare policy that would see benefits substantially increased. That's how concerned he is for the plight of the poor.

Elsewhere on his Twitter account you will find numerous gushing tweets extolling Jacinda Ardern. He is possibly the Labour leader's oldest groupie.

In the pursuit of political power, Labour has not only thrown Turei under the bus but the working class and the poor.

John Minto makes this point in a column on The Daily Blog:

Glenn Livingstone : He's "over" Metiria Turei.
"Poverty and inequality are topics our two main political parties would prefer not to talk about. It was their political decisions in the 1980s and 1990s which led directly and predictably to poverty for beneficiaries and low-income families and their political decisions which have maintained and entrenched it since.

Even in 2017 neither party are offering any policies which will make a significant difference for those suffering hardship and deprivation. Labour’s housing policy for example would build a derisory 1000 new state houses each year at a time when we have 41,000 homeless

The simple reality is that the leadership of the Labour and National Parties have an informal consensus that poverty and inequality are acceptable and no significant economic policy shifts will be made to deal with them directly."

Indeed. The election of a Labour-led government would see the return of the kind of corporate and centrist politics we saw under Helen Clark. By the end of the Clark regime, nearly 200,000 children were living in poverty.

Metiria Turei will be speaking in the Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch on August 31. Do you think Glenn Livingstone and other Labour supporters will show up?


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