Grant Robertson: Dismal market-led policies
The 2020 Budget is a dismal attempt to rebuild a failed neoliberal economic model. We might be disgusted, but are we surprised?

WHEN THE BRITISH Labour Party adopted the phrase 'For the Many, Not the Few', it meant it. The phrase has its origins in an 1819 poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley:

'Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many - they are few.”

Under leader Jeremy Corbyn it became Labour's umbrella phrase for the campaigns against neoliberalism, campaigns against inequality and injustice and for struggles for what Corbyn described as 'a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many.' It was a phrase stamped on every policy manifesto, a set of policies explicitly aimed at overturning a market economy that benefited the few at the expense of the many. 'The neoliberal economic model is broken and has failed,' Corbyn told the annual Labour Party annual conference in his first address as leader.

To wish for a similar Labour Party in New Zealand is, of course, delusional and people who write blog posts urging Jacinda Ardern to do Corbynesque things need to have a cup of tea and a lie down. This Labour-led Government has never talked of building an economy that benefits the many. So it comes as no surprise that its 2020 Budget talks of rebuilding the neoliberal economy 'together' but together means throwing billions of dollars at the corporate sector while the victims of the failed neoliberal economy are denied an increase in benefit levels and condemned to poverty and subsistence living. That the Green Party actually whooped it because the Budget 2020 allocates more money for food parcels was an implicit acceptance of increasing poverty and inequality.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson, a man unfamiliar with the socialist tradition, has chosen not to take the economy in a new direction and instead is attempting to shore up a failed economic model that has only benefited the few. It echoes the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash but its going to be much, much worse this time round. I find myself agreeing with commentator Matthew Hooton that this budget is 'quite conservative under the circumstances'.

Will anybody hold this Labour-led Government to account for this appalling budget? It won't be the union movement. When its not keeping its mouth shut its uncritically praising the polices of this government. So we had Denis Maga, general secretary of the First Union, actually describing Robertson's budget as a 'workers budget'. Unbelievable rubbish.

Perhaps we might just have to take Shelley's advice and rise like lions against those who deny us in the name of 'the market'. In the meantime the 2020 Budget is yet another substantial reason not to vote. It is, in the circumstances, the only sane and rational thing to do.


  1. It is amazing that we start agreeing with Mathew Hooton. I was astonished when Hooton said on RNZ National that the government should support people, not businesses. Give the money directly to households and consider a Job Guarantee Scheme whereby NZ'ers work for the public good. I am sure we could help in education and health!


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