Once again, we're being asked to 'choose' from an unappealing list of political parties and candidates, all committed to the neoliberal orthodoxy. The only logical and sensible choice is not to vote at all.
I DIDN'T VOTE IN 2014 and there's absolutely no reason for me to vote this year either. Nothing has changed. I'm still being asked to 'choose' from an unappealing list of political parties who continue to exhibit a loyalty to neoliberalism and to market-driven policies. Representative democracy has failed us once again.
All that has changed is that both National and Labour have put up new leaders to sell their dodgy policies. In the case of Labour, Jacinda Ardern is the third new leader since the demise of David Cunliffe. She is a establishment politician of nine years standing and the new face of corporate capitalism.
Although Ardern has denied she supports neoliberalism, the policies of her party say something else altogether.
On RNZ this morning she tried to claim, unconvincingly, that the inadequacies and social injustices of the market would be tempered by some state interventionism. I didn't get the impression that Ardern actually knew what she was talking about but, emerging out of her verbiage, seemed to be little more than support for warmed-over third way politics. Jacinda Ardern is not a progressive - she is a centrist, managerial liberal. Helen Clark Mk2? Perhaps.
It is little wonder then that a business leader like Rob Campbell, an enthusiastic supporter of Rogernomics back in the 1980s, should be entirely relaxed about the prospect of Labour-led government. He knows that its raison d'etre is not to upset the status quo and the rule of the one percent.
If you are conservative enough and complacent enough to be happy with what Jacinda Ardern is offering then you might vote for Labour. But for people seeking to shift New Zealand politics leftwards, the options are limited. And they seem to have been narrowed down to voting for the Green's and hoping they get back into Parliament and that Labour will invite to join a coalition and that they will have some influence on policy.
Putting aside the question whether this scenario is likely to even pan out, this strategy implies that the Green's are politically progressive. Yes, they might be slightly to the left of Labour - but that's hardly significant given Labour's right wing politics. The Green's are offering little way in the way of a clear alternative to the neoliberal orthodoxy. The Green's flirtation with a more radical politics ended with the political establishment's witch hunt of Metiria Turei and her subsequent resignation as Green co-leader.
And the rather large elephant in the room that some are ignoring is that the Green's willingly signed up to Labour's draconian Budgetary Responsibility Rules, a fiscally severe document straight out of the neoliberal playbook. John Moore sums up it this way;
"The Budget Responsibility Rules include: Delivering an operating surplus; Reducing net core Crown debt to 20 percent of GDP within five years of taking office; and Maintaining the current track of core Crown expenditure. These guidelines represent an adherence to a neoclassical economically-liberal framework, where state expenditure is limited under a regime of fiscal discipline. Such an approach is ideologically justified by seeing “the market” as the main producer of wealth and economic progress."
With the Green's straitjacketed by this agreement, any influence it might have on Labour policy would be negligible indeed.
The danger is that the presence of the Green's in any Labour-led government would only serve to provide some progressive camouflage for a fundamentally right wing government.
The other disastrous consequence of any flirtation with a Labour-led government is that it will, once again, delay the real work of establishing - finally - a genuinely progressive political party in New Zealand.
I'd vote for such a party but in the absence of such a party then I choose not to vote.