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

Friday, September 16, 2005

the post i wasn't going to write

I have been thinking long and hard about where to put my party tick tomorrow.

I have listened to a lot of arguments about why I should vote Green, but ultimately it has been
the problem i have with my electorate vote which has convinced me to vote Alliance.

I live in a very safe Labour seat - Mt Roskill, held by one Philip Goff, the man who introduced student fees. Of course I cannot vote for him (despite someone I know threatening to throw herself and a chair through a second-storey window when I told her this).

So who the hell do I tick for my candidate vote? I can't work it out, as there is no one on the ballot I believe in, even remotely.

And it would be the same if the Alliance was not there under party vote. I have in fact been bullied about this (by a "leftie" who, ironically, refuses to vote for Richard Worth in Epsom because she can't bring herself to) by being told, repeatedly, that I shouldn't get out of bed tomorrow. I reminded her that having a Labour Government is no guarantee of having a Left Government, look at 1984, and received a very icy stare for my efforts.

Why the hell shouldn't I vote for a party I believe in - this may be my last chance to do so. In fact if everyone voted for something they believed in, instead of always thinking tactically and about short-term personal gain, then I suspect the minor parties would do much much better, and the majors would have to buck up their acts.

If a Labour-led Government is not re-elected, or the Greens don't make the threshold, the blame is not actually the Alliance's. There is a long list of reasons they may fail, but the fact that 1% (or less) vote for us is not at the top of the list, not even close to it. It's also worth pointing out that it's likely there will be a great deal more wasted vote to the right than the left - probably Act, potentially NZ First, definitely Christian Heritage, Destiny and others.

I frankly can't feel much sympathy for a Labour party which has routinely made big stuff ups in this campaign, in fact going right back to Orewa I. I do feel for the Labour members on the ground, as there has been a failure at leadership level - the mechanics of their campaign have been awesome to behold, but they have been let down by the media work, in particular, of their leaders.

I talked to Keith Locke on Tuesday night, at a candidate debate. I went up to be friendly (building bridges and all that) and told him if I could bring myself to not vote Alliance I would be voting Green. He then proceeded not to accept that graciously but to insult my intelligence by trying the usual arguments about why you shouldn't vote for a party not already in Parliament. This served to tick me off rather than drive me to tick.

I know what voting Alliance means - it means that in the narrow world of Parliamentary politics my vote is deemed to be a "waste". But in the bigger world of the left, the bigger world of the movement for social justice, it is a little sign waving in the wind that says "I want a real left party in NZ and I'm prepared to work on building one."

I have genuinely been wavering on this for several weeks. I can understand that other Alliance supporters will vote Green, or even Labour, because they too have gone through their own decision-making process. I respect that and wish them the best and hope to see them at the upcoming regional conferences to decide our next move.

But ultimately I am voting with my heart and my mind - all too often in life we are given a list of choices, none of which is really what we want, and we choose the lesser of many evils, as I will be doing with my candidate vote. This election I have a chance to vote for a party I believe in and I am going to take that and hold it tight - it may be my last opportunity for many elections to come.


GeorgeDarroch said...

Full respect to ya span!
If this election capmaign has illustrated anything (yet again) it's the absolute irresponsibility of our so called media towards anyone but their shareholders

Shaun said...

Well done. I have voted already (overseas) and regret voting for the Greens. I should have ticked for the Alliance. Too late for me now, but good on you.

Richard said...

Fair enough on the whole 'voting for who you believe in' thing. But how come the Greens aren't "a real left party"?

That's not a rhetorical question, I'm genuinely curious: what does the Alliance offer that the Greens don't?

maps said...

Well, as a Marxist here's how I approach the problem, or try to approach the problem: I think that voting is not a matter of making some sort of individual moral stand or statement, but of trying to relate constructively to the vast majority of ordinary people who don't agree with me.

I think, like you, that Labour is the enemy rather than the friend of workers - that the party is the mid-week team for capital, the tweedledum to National's tweedledee. The two times that capitalism has been in real crisis in this country - in 1935 and 1984 - it has been Labour that has ridden to the rescue. Labour in power has gotten away with things that National could never have dreamed of - the 'reforms' of the Lange government, the creation of a police state in the 40s, the removal of habeas corpus after S 11 - simply because it enjoys the support of people who have few illusions in National.
Labour, and not National, is the main obstacle in the way of the creation of a real workers' party in this country.
Only when workers lose their illusions in Labour will they be remotely interested in the arguments of socialists.

For all of these reasons, I prefer to have Labour in power, rather than in opposition. It was good to participate in the anti-war movement and in the seabed and foreshore hikoi, and to see significant numbers of Labour supporters go through the process of losing their illusions in Labour, as they saw that the party which pretended to stand for 'peace and social justice'
was prepared to join Bush's War of Terror and surf on the wave of racism that Brash conjured up at Orewa. The fact that many of the participants in the anti-war movement and hikoi have walked out of Labour into dead end streets - the Greens and the Maori Party respectively - doesn't change the truth that they have lost some important illusions. To date, the same cannot be said for Labour's Pakeha working class voters and the union movement. There are good reasons for this - we have to consider the weakness of the movement after the 80s and 90s and the strong performance of the economy, which has allowed Labour to bribe the nurses and other key groups with decent pay raises - but the contradiction between Labour's de facto neo-liberalism and the interests of its core supporters remains. The minor victory that was the ERA only increases this contradiction, as the struggles over MECAs in both the public and private sector shows.

I want to see Labour in power and squirming, as the economy goes south on the back of the oil shock, a high dollar, and a US recession, as unions grow in confidence and demand more and more for their members, and as George Dubya leans on Helen to give support for his next military adventure. In the immortal words of Lenin, then, I want to support Labour like a rope supports a hanged man. And if you think that this is all a fantasy, then take a look at Germany at the moment, where the Labour-style SPD is split, spawning a left-wing breakaway, and is so desperate it is calling for a 'grand coalition' with the Tories. It's goodnight Vienna for the party if that happens.

So when my friends, colleagues, and family members tell me they're voting Labour, usually because they're rightly terrified of Don Brash and his agenda, I tend to say something like 'Well, vote for them, but, mark my words, they'll stab you in the back, so get ready to fight them'. Sometimes they look at me a little oddly, but at other times they seem to get where I'm coming from. It certainly works better than 'Labour are a capitalist party; smash capitalism and make socialism', which tends to make their eyes roll or glaze over, or both.

I'll give my electorate vote to the Anti-Capitalist Alliance.

Make Tea Not War said...

Good for you Span. You might as well stay true to your beliefs. Its not as if any one persons vote is likely to sway the balance of power. I, in fact, voted for the Greens under FPP when there was no chance at all they would get into Parliament. I just couldn't bring myself to give my support to the other options.