Mike Treen : Calling for a GND but still calling for a Labour vote?
Union official Mike Treen has come out in favour of a Green New Deal for New Zealand. But does that mean he won't  be calling for a vote for Labour or the Green's next year? We should be told.

MIKE TREEN, the national director of the Unite Union, has finally come out in support of a Green New Deal (GND). I say 'finally' because some of us have been kicking around the idea for well over a year, but without a lot of coverage.

Treen appears to have been prompted to wheel in behind a GND for New Zealand because of his dissatisfaction with the Zero Carbon legislation which he describes as 'toothless'.

He notes that the GND is making progress elsewhere in the world:

'The UK Labour Party is making a Green New Deal part of its policy platform. The policy document approved at its national conference is one of the most radical and comprehensive. Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are making a Green New Deal a central platform of their campaigns...We need a Green New Deal for New Zealand that protects mother earth and priorities and protects the interests of all working people as the transition is made in a just manner.'

The obvious and glaring problem is that none of our present crop of parliamentary parties will be taking up the challenge of the GND anytime soon. And we lack politicians of the progressive calibre of Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Can anyone point to any politician within Labour or the Green's who would be prepared to break with the status quo? Of course not.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders.
The disheartening reality is that we will go into 2020 facing yet another general election confronted with the same slate of limp and uninspiring market-loyal parties that we were offered last time round. Not one of the present lot will be offering us an alternative path forward. And some 750,000 New Zealanders won't vote again in protest, although some Labour Party friendly bloggers will claim its 'apathy' or 'civic irresponsibility', blah blah blah.

Three decades of the New Zealand left (well, much of it) propping up the Labour Party, because it is apparently 'preferable' to National has allowed neoliberalism to remain dominant, unchallenged and entrenched. In fact the strategy of 'lesser evilism' has become one  of the main weapons in the armoury of the ruling class. Defending the Labour Party has stymied attempts to build a progressive political force to the left of Labour  that would  help to give voice to genuine progressive movements that really would represent a threat to the status quo.

We certainly need such a party. In September over 170,000  people demonstrated throughout the land, demanding more expansive and more urgent action in the fight against climate change. In response, the Labour-led government gave us legislation that targets carbon neutrality in 2050. We've been sold out to protect corporate interests.

The irony is that while Mike Treen might be advocating for a GND now, he has been a consistent supporter of the Labour Party. At every election for the past three decades he has called for a vote for either Labour or the Green's. His justification has been that their brand of neoliberalism is preferable to one being flogged by the National Party.  And now we have arrived at the point where the 'face' of progressive politics is the routinely centrist Jacinda Ardern.

You cannot be a supporter of a GND for New Zealand and, in all good conscience, continue to defend a political party diametrically opposed to a GND. Although I would welcome being proved wrong, the prospect of Treen not calling for a vote for Labour next year are very slim.

This is the crazy politics of 'lesser evilism' and it  ignores the concerns of the increasing number of New Zealanders who recognise that we are not doing enough to fight climate change. Given that we have no more than eleven years before we go over the cliff, now more than ever we cannot afford the luxury of lesser evil politics. The choice is not between Labour or National but between system change or climate change.


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