The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

her name is laila, she's not a show-girl

Watching Laila Harre on that Kim Hill show the other night, I was struck by how much we still have in common. I'd yell things at John Tamihere just before she'd lay them out calmly and clearly. Her grasp of the underlying issues still hasn't changed - she identified time after time that what JT was missing in his equation was the source of the problems he was listing. He wasn't thinking about what causes it, which is the inherent unfairness and injustice of the system we currently use, ie capitalism.

(By the by, for anyone interested in reading a very good book about the economic and social transformation that Thatcher wrought in the UK and the huge impact this had on the lives of working class men, can I heartily recommend Andrea Ashworth's autobiography Once In A House On Fire).

Laila and I were in the Alliance together. I am still in the Alliance. Laila is not. She's gone great guns at NZNO as the Organising Manager (although that sounds like an oxymoronic job title to me) while I am slaving away at a lower level in the union movement. We have much in common and on nights like the night she was on Kim Hill I do think there is more that would unite us than would keep us apart.

But it's hard sometimes, the water that is already under the bridge. It is going to sound cruel but I think Laila was looking for an out when she left the Alliance - she wasn't interested anymore and she needed an excuse to leave gracefully. In the end I think she left with less dignity than she could have, and some of her actions since, towards those of us who are still labouring *boom boom* on with the Alliance, have angered and hurt me greatly.

I've been posting a lot recently about the future of the NZ Left (in regard to parliamentary parties) and I keep thinking about Laila. Realistically any party of the left that is rebuilt or created is going to involve a lot of the key players that have passed through the Alliance at some point. Probably not JPA, possibly not Matt McCarten, but I think Laila will have to be back, as a supporter if not an active member.

I just hope that the saying is true - time heals all wounds.


Make Tea Not War said...

I don't know her personally but I think Laila Harre comes across very well- very capable and with a good grasp of issues but also as a genuine, warm and likeable person. It would be good to see her in a future government.

Graham Watson said...

I remember Laila from SRC's in the Quad back in 1985 when I was first Pres. She was very strident and one of those real lefties who was very genuine and worthy of respect. I think at some stage, maybe a few years later she went on one of those Cuban trips (not funded by the Union).

Given the centrist nature of Auckland University students her group didn't enjoy too much success, but provided for lively interchange of ideas.

Funny, JT was also about then, finishing as AUSA MSO in 1984 but still about as an active student in 1985.

Laila's long term boyfriend of the time was the then AUSA media officer John Pagani, who was very invloved with Princes St Labour, then New Labour, then the Alliance, ultimately Jim Anderton and now Molesworth.

I can see Span the similarities in your ideologies, and would agree that from a strong left perspective Laila Harre would be definitely viewed as an asset. It is unfortunate that she burned some bridges on the way out.

Make Tea Not War said...

JT did a guest lecture on Maori Land Law when I was a law student at Auck. Uni. in the early 90s. Actually he was good. It has always struck me as a bit strange the way he plays up the common sense, anti intellectual, man of the people thing when clearly at that time anyway he still had "ivory tower" links and possibly leanings.

The Denizen said...

I'm sorry, but I disagree about the Kim Hill interview.
I have been an admirer of Laila for some time, but that night J.T. was bumbling towards making some valid points about where MEN are at, and Laila completely missed the point, and attempted to force the story into her world view!
He even said that he thought that there was a communication problem *right there at that table*, and Kim missed.
Normally I would expect more of Kim Hill, but that night she was off somewhere else ... "channelling" or some intelectual wank totally inappropriate to her role.
I agree with Laila's stance on the ills of society, but that is NOT the issue that J.T. was trying (and seemed to fail) to bring to the table.
Last Sunday's National Program with Maggie Barrie dealt with the issues in a much better fashion.

span said...

So what did you think JT was trying to bring to the table then D? I didn't see the whole thing (was walking in and out of the room) but my take was that he wanted to talk about symptoms (eg high male suicide rate) which are very valid, but he didn't seem to want to talk about causes.