The Labour-New Zealand First coalition government will sign the unpopular Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in Santiago, Chile this week. It is further evidence that nothing this government is doing represents a threat to neoliberal rule.
THIS WEEK, on March 8, the Labour -New Zealand First coalition government will sign the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). There is something appropriate in the fact that this unpopular free trade agreement, enforcing the rules of neoliberalism and protecting the interests of the multinational corporations, is being signed in the country that saw the overthrow of socialist Salvador Allende and his government by a U.S. backed coup little more than 40 years ago.
Salvador Allende promised a 'Chilean road to socialism' but while Jacinda Ardern and her capitalist cronies will congratulate themselves on a 'job well done', they will do so in a country where there is deep dissatisfaction and anger with the political establishment and the 'neoliberal consensus'.
This determinedly neoliberal document, virtually the same document that tens of thousands of New Zealanders marched against in 2016, will make it impossible for supporters of the Labour-Zealand First coalition to credibly argue that this government is 'progressive', 'radically centrist' or whatever other mendacious term they might like to use to excuse this government's political behaviour.
Remember that the next time you hear Green co-leader James Shaw or any other Green MP talking about fighting climate change while they continue to support a government that, through signing the CPTPP, has consigned the country to limited options in the fight against climate change.
Hysterical adulation for Jacinda Ardern from Labour supporters, more appropriate for a pop star like Britney Spears than for the dour centrism of a establishment politician, has meant that critical assessment of Ardern and her government has largely being missing from her fan club.
The truth is many of them are comfortable with market politics and policies and the opposition they once displayed to the CPTPP was largely motivated by a dislike for the National-led government. Now that Labour is in government much of that opposition from Labour supporters has dissipated. Some are now even supporting the CPTPP.
|Wayne Mapp : Jacinda Ardern's politics are Third Way politics.|
Somewhat ironically it has been a former National government minister, Wayne Mapp, who has offered the kind of sober and accurate assessment of Jacinda Ardern and her government that has been conspicuously missing from what has been on display from many of her 'progressive' supporters. Unlike them, Mapp hasn't been afflicted with the Jacindamania virus which renders its victims with the inability to think coherently and prone to spluttering about Jacinda's magic pixie dust.
In a column for The Spin Off, published in January, Mapp suggested that nothing this government is doing represents a threat to the neoliberal consensus:
"None of Labour's electoral commitments would result in a roll back of the essential tenets of what has become pejoratively known as "neo-liberalism." These being an open economy with low tariffs, the private sector owning virtually all parts of the competitive economy, relatively modest tax rates so that the size of government is around one third of the total economy."
Mapp accurately observes that if this government had any intention of upsetting the neoliberal applecart then it would not be signing up for the CPTPP. He suggests that Ardern's agenda is little more than the reheated Third Way politics of Tony Blair.
That it has been left to people like Wayne Mapp, who is not sympathetic to working class interests, to define this government's conservative character only goes to highlight the inability of Labour supporters to offer anything approaching a consistently critical view of Jacinda Ardern and co. But, of course, by doing so they would then be faced with providing a clear alternative that this Labour Party is, after thirty years of slavish devotion to neoliberalism, incapable of providing.