Chris Trotter thinks Labour should target the 'bogan' vote. Free AC/DC t-shirts for everyone, perhaps?

 'NEW ZEALAND'S leading left wing commentator' (Paul Henry) thinks a smart tactical move for his struggling Labour Party is to target what he describes as the 'bogan' vote. Obviously Chris Trotter knows much about 'bogans' - I'm sure he meets a lot of them down at Laila Harres' swanky Auckland restaurant Ika, where I imagine the Chardonnay flows freely.

Trotter defines 'bogans' as:

"...working-class New Zealand males on the socio-economic skids. They are the blokes – especially the young blokes – who struggle to find and remain in even the most poorly-paid employment. Their domestic situations tend towards the precarious. They rent rooms – not houses – and struggle to both make and retain strong social connections. That’s why mateship is so crucial to the Bogan identity; especially mateship built around sporting allegiances and motor vehicles."

Trotter claims that his bogans have been left behind a Labour Party and a union movement intent on pursuing the middle class voter or what Trotter likes to call 'Waitakere Man' (apparently there isn't a 'Waitakere Woman').

While Trotter likes to castigate Labour for its so-called middle class orientation, most of it is political puffery.

What he ignores is that Labour's implementation and defence of neoliberal policies has led to an ever widening chasm between the the rich and the poor. We have not seen a rising tide of 'middle classness' but the expansion in the number of people who would identify themselves as working class. What Trotter has failed to notice is that his 'Waitakere Man' has become increasingly impoverished.

He too is faced with a labour market that has become increasingly casualised, with many badly paid and insecure jobs in such areas as 'retail' and the 'service industries.' This is the economic reality for more and more New Zealanders. Not all of us are comfortably well off media commentators.

The experience of mass unemployment and worsening living standards simply undermines Trotter's claims of "working-class New Zealand males on an upward socio-economic trajectory'.

Trotter's failure is that he has eschewed class analysis for a lazy and inaccurate emphasis on lifestyle and culture. That has led him in the past to suggest that the working class has been rendered politically impotent, seduced by the baubles of the consumer society.

It seems that Trotter's bogans might be on 'the economic skids' but there is still a plasma TV to watch and Nike sneakers to wear.

Trotter's confusion lies in the fact that he ties himself up in knots because he refuses to talk about class in any meaningful way. If he did that, where would it end? He would be faced with the prospect of having to identify who the class enemy is. And then the game would be up.

Who are we fighting? The capitalist class. As always. But Trotter, the self-proclaimed champion of the working class, makes no mention of the enemy that blocks our political and economic liberation. Why? Because then he would have to admit that Labour, an avowedly pro-capitalist party, is a political dead end.

And Trotter isn't about to do that. Ever. So how exactly is society to be transformed? Trotter doesn't say and that's because he's as much a defender of the status quo as Labour leader Andrew Little. It comes as no surprise that Trotter has been defending Little and Labour's recent racist attack on 'greedy Asians' supposedly pricing New Zealanders out of the Auckland housing market.

While Trotter denies the importance of class, the socialist perspective - and history - tells that the working class as an identifiable social and political force can only emerge in class struggle. Telling people to vote Labour is no solution at all. But the fact that Trotter never talks about socialism amply demonstrates where his misguided allegiance lies.

As I've written more times than I care to remember,the biggest missing factor in New Zaaland today is the lack of a mass party articulating workers’ opposition to the effects of capitalism and able to pose as an electoral alternative.

That's the real issue - not nonsense about Labour attracting the 'bogan' vote.


  1. It's been observed that Mr Trotter was under the impression that bogans was spelt 'boguns'. He had to go back and correct his entire column when he realised his blunder. It's not a promising start when you can't even spell correctly the subject you claim authority on. The mind biggles...boggles. ;((


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