|People gather for food in Latimer Square Christchurch, supplied by volunteers from a local church.|
While Labour supporters are all too ready to attack National, the 'cone of silence' descends when it comes to criticising Jacinda Ardern and her Labour-New Zealand First coalition government - even though it is subscribes to the same failed neoliberal ideology that National did.
NOW THAT LABOUR is in government Labour Party supporters can't blame John Key and the National Party for everything. They can't claim that everything will be so much better once Labour is the government because it is now the government.
Unless you're Frank Macskasy of the pro-Labour The Daily Blog, you can't just keep banging on about how bad National still are because that's kind of irrelevant and...no one's really listening.
But Labour Party supporters have never been good at self reflection. The level of political analysis doesn't extend much further than the doctrine of 'Labour -Good. National-bad. Sorted. Now We Can All Get Some Sleep'. It is ironic that it is the socialist and radical left that has provided the analysis and dissection of Labour's failed social democratic project. The typical Labour supporter, the intellectual equivalent of the drunken bore talking crap in the pub, just stumbles on regardless.
Labour has not only failed to disengage from thirty years of devotion to neoliberalism but it also lacks the intellectual muscle and the political will to do so. While Jeremy Corbyn is turning around UK Labour, New Zealand Labour supporters are complacent enough to be satisfied with the determinedly centrist Jacinda Ardern.
|Jacinda Ardern: Retreated from increasing taxes on the wealthy.|
The problem for Labour supporters is that reality keeps intruding. How can Labour's support for the neoliberal CPTPP be explained? And when its clear that thirty years of deregulation and market incompetence have led directly to the housing crisis how are Labour supporters going to defend a housing policy that, absurdly, relies on the market to help solve a huge social crisis that only the state has the capacity to remedy? And what are we going to say about a Prime Minister who said she wanted to tackle poverty but then, less than a year into her government , says she has no further funds to spend on fighting poverty? How will we defend a Prime Minister who ran away from putting taxes up on the wealthy while charities are continuing to have to do 'the work of government' in order to keep people in food and shelter?
When the going gets uncomfortable the uncomfortable apparently stick their heads in the sand and convince themselves none of it is happening. Either that or they learn to love Labour's brand of neoliberal gruel and pretend its actually a three-course meal.
Or they could blame the media for giving Jacinda a hard time.
In recent days some Labour supporters have been loudly complaining that the media have been more interested in the Minister of Broadcasting's cafe outings than they have with the crisis that is playing out at Middlemore Hospital in Auckland. The implication is that they've being downplaying it because it shows National in a bad light.
So Labour Party cheerleader Martyn Bradbury of The Daily Blog writes:
"...one of the major Hospitals in NZ, Middlemore, has been found to be leaking raw sewage and is infested with black mould because the DHB was too frightened to ask National for money and this grotesque underfunding of Hospitals, Schools, mental health services and social services is how National managed to magically create budget surpluses for almost a decade."
This might be true but it is also not the full story. What Bradbury doesn't say is that this Labour-New Zealand First government's fiscally draconian 20 percent debt target will prevent the Government doing the right thing and adequately investing in public infrastructure.
Even with Labour in power, it still is easier for Labour supporters to continue to blame anyone but Labour for the country's woes. Maybe this is just what a 'lesser evil' government looks like in practice. No wonder nearly a million of us no longer bother to vote.