The Wellington occupation has fractured the New Zealand left and the pieces cannot be put back together again. 

AS THE WELLINGTON protest enters another weekend the hostility towards the protest remains largely the same. The same charges  of 'neo fascism', 'extremism', 'anti-semitism' and other familiar political insults continue to be thrown by the opponents of the protest. We have reached the point of tedium.

There has even been a suggestion that the protest threatens a right wing insurrection, similar to what occurred in Washington last year. That view has been peddled by TVNZ's  Kristin Hall. She credits so-called 'far right expert' Byron Clark for his 'insights'. It seems Clark has become the 'go to' guy for ludicrous paranoia about the far right. His purpose though is to allow people like Hall to falsely believe that their wild attacks on the protest have some kind of authoritative underpinning when its just someone rummaging around the internet for any old rubbish to throw at the protesters. 

The problem remains for opponents of the Wellington protest is that all their allegations of 'the alt right up to no good' bears little relationship to the reality on the ground. With every allegation made, reality bites back. Extremist? Initial surveys show that protesters seem to vote in a manner not dissimilar from everyone else. Racist? Over a quarter of the protesters are Maori. Anti-semitic? There are Jewish folk amongst the protesters.  

The fiction that the Wellington occupation is actually a convention of the far right can only be maintained by determinedly ignoring reality. Which explains why academic and commentator Bryce Edwards and Newstalk ZB journalist Barry Soper have been the targets for so much on-going abuse. They have failed to ignore reality. They have not followed the approved narrative. They have been among the protesters and have not been able to find the hordes of alt righters that should be there if we are to believe people like Neale Jones, Byron Clark and Clint Smith. Or Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

There's also not been the extensive violence we might of expected given the coverage of the protest as the work of far right extremists. After nearly three weeks the best the opponents of the protest can come up with is the occasional isolated scuffle with the police. And these have largely been prompted by police activity anyway. We've certainly got a long way to go before this protest ever becomes a Capitol Hill-style 'insurrection'.

The opponents of the protest have been reduced to scraping the bottom of the barrel. We've moved from Jacinda Ardern's middle class allegations of bad parenting to police allegations of a 'stinging substance' thrown into the face of police officers. But the charge, seized upon by opponents of the protest and repeated without question by a compliant media, has proved to be false. The 'acid' thrown by protesters was actually the pepper spray of other police officers. 

Despite Jacinda Ardern describing the alleged 'acid throwing' incident as 'disgusting', she has yet to issue an apology for her rush to judgement.

Despite the fact that this protest is a visible expression of the worker militancy that has largely been absent from New Zealand politics for many years, it has not been welcomed by the majority of the left. Indeed the most virulent attacks on the protest have been coming from those who claim 'left wing' or 'progressive' credentials. 

Many of these attacks have been driven by a desire to defend the electoral interests of the Labour Government. But they are also driven by a fear of independent working class action that threatens the interests of a status quo that the left has become as much a part of as the political right it claims to be different from. It has a vested interests in protecting the political establishment and any threats to 'business as usual' must be extinguished.

So we now have officially-approved workers' organisations, like the Council of Trade Unions and the Public Service Association, denouncing the occupation and demanding that the protesters go home. The fear that the activities of 'the great unwashed' has generated is almost palpable. 

It seems to me that this protest, whatever its outcome, has fractured the left in such a way that, like Humpty Dumpty, it cannot be put back together again. The divorce between a largely Labour-aligned left and the working class is now complete and irrevocable. 

For a long time the rhetoric and activities of the New Zealand left depended on the idea that the interests of the left and the interests of the working class were at one. That illusion has been increasingly difficult to maintain because of the left's continued loyalty to a obviously right wing and anti-working class Labour Party. This protest has finally exploded that illusion. 

What this protest has highlighted is that the working class no longer needs - and no longer wants - its officially approved caste of self appointed leaders who have consistently betrayed them in the past. The left's unrelenting hostility towards the protest has only confirmed for many that the present dysfunctional left is well past its use by date and needs to be replaced. It can't come too soon.


  1. Open any Trade Union magazine these days and you'd think that all workers care about is honoring the treaty, personal pronouns, and diversity in the workplace. I guess everyday concerns like stagnating wages and skyrocketing cost of living don't really matter when you're a university education Union Official grifting off your members while you wait in line for that coveted Labour Party list position.

  2. The test of any "left-wing" organisation or movement is the level of active support it is able to attract from workers in factories, warehouses, shops, offices, ports and transportation. In its early days, the Labour Party had little difficulty in enlisting tens-of-thousands of supporters. Later in the 20th Century the Socialist Unity Party, Socialist Action, and the Workers Communist League carved out impressive support in certain industries: i.e. freezing works, trucking and car assembly plants.

    These are the precedents, Steven. So, let's see you demonstrate your own effectiveness as a builder of a mass working-class movement.

    My suspicion is that your open support for what's happening in Parliament Grounds will not make your job any easier.

  3. Has Chris Trotter demonstrated his own effectiveness as a builder of mass working class movements .I don't think so.

    1. I gave it a good go, Simon, with NewLabour. What have you done?

    2. The difference is Chris I have never tried and when history is written New Labour will be regarded as merely a vehicle for Anderton's ambitions. Can you name any other members who have has any impact on NZ politics. And at least I don't quote fictitious facts to support my arguments which you do frequently. For example your column of January 22nd where you list deaths in the Battle of Kursk at one million Russians and a quarter of a million Germans. Reputable military historians put the true figures at 178,000 Russians and 55,000 Germans. But hey facts aren't important when you are trying to make a political point are they.

    3. My column of 22 January? Could you please supply a link, I can't place it.

  4. As you once observed Steve, Trotter spends more time attacking the left than he does the right. For all his posturing he has little to do with working class politics. He's just a grumpy old man.

  5. As you were, I've found the reference to Kursk, done a little more digging and found that the latest research puts the casualties at 860,000 Soviet troops and 200,000 Germans. When you add civilian casualties and the troops who later died of their wounds, the grim tally grows higher. The figures you have cited Simon are for "Operation Citadel" - not the Battle of Kursk as a whole.

    1. You said deaths in your post Chris.As per below.
      --One of the most stunning examples of the defence-in-depth strategy – the 1943 Battle of Kursk – ground the German offensive to a halt, inflicting irreparable damage on the Wehrmacht. The cost was something close to a million Soviet lives. (German losses are estimated at approximately quarter-of-a-million.)--
      Casualties which is what you are quoting now includes.
      .“Casualties” include not only the killed and wounded but also losses
      from disease, desertion, accidents, and troops taken prisoner or missing
      in action
      And my figures are for deaths in the Battle of Kursk not operation Citadel.

    2. I forgot to add that my figures were sourced from the following.
      German deaths from the official Ostheer [East Army] files which were captured by the Allies in 1945.
      Russian deaths from the Red Army documents which approved western historians were able to examine in 1996.
      As the Russians removed all civilians and domesticated livestock from the region the battle was fought in there were no recorded civilian deaths.
      I would be fascinated to know what the latest research is that you have discovered and how it could be more accurate than the sources I have quoted.

  6. As it is now two weeks since I posted this comment it appears obvious that Chris is not going to respond further. This is typical of his responses to corrections. Firstly he makes a subtle change for example in his first post it was deaths then it was casualties without him acknowledging the change. Then he cites that the figures are from the latest research but fails to list his source. Then when I quote my sources which he can hardly dispute he doesn't answer. I repeat my accusation. He fabricates historical facts to support his arguments. I note that he has fallen silent on the situation in Ukraine lately. The situation there must be galling for him as for years he has been an outspoken apologist for Putin and Russia. A surprising attitude for a so called socialist.

    1. More pro Russian comment by Chris Trotter:

      Regardless, they laid a trap for Putin, baited it with Ukraine, and waited. If Russia took the bait, the United States and Nato would unleash, as one pundit put it: “an economic and cultural Barbarossa”

      So really it is NATO's fault that Russia invaded Ukraine. They cunningly made Ukraine the bait and then waited for Russia to take the bait. Reminds me of the start of World War 11. France and England made Poland the bait for Germany and The Soviet Union and then encouraged them to invade.
      One wonders who the pundit was said NATO would unleash an economic and cultural Barbarossa. Another of Trotters 'mythical souces.


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