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

Monday, September 19, 2005

reflections on the Alliance vote

Yep it's tiny. Calling for a magnifying glass, a la Helen Clark when confronted with a g-stringed David Cassidy, would not be out of the question ;-)

I'm perversely glad that we only got 1500-odd votes. Despite the fact that I voted Alliance*, I have no problem with other Alliance supporters voting Green or Labour in such a tight race. It's nice to be able to hold my head up when meeting those people who had a go at me about the Alliance running, claiming that it would bring about a National Govt. If Labour can't work out a loose coalition (small c) I'd be surprised, and while that may not mean a lot of improvements over the next three years it will at least mean that things don't get a whole heap worse.

The Alliance has a lot to be proud of in this campaign - a year ago I did not think we would be in a state in 2005 to be able to produce and put up hoardings nationwide, produce and deliver over 100,000 tabloids, and have enough candidates to put up a decent sized list. The feedback we have had from ordinary people has been heartening - although it's quite understandable that the positive comments weren't backed up by votes. I'm particularly impressed by the reception of Victor Billot in Dunedin North, and Jill Ovens in working class areas of Auckland.

Ultimately, I'm not disappointed and I'm not surprised. We were outside Parliament on Sept 16th and we're still outside Parliament on Sept 19th, and I'm quite comfortable about that.

Obviously we'll be making some decisions over the next couple of months about the future of the party - we come out of this election knowing that we can still run a low-level national campaign, with next to no money and despite basically all of the bad things that can possibly happen to a political party happening to the Alliance in the last four years (with the possible exception of a Capill or Huata moment). I'm not sure where that discussion will go, and I'm going in to it undecided. I'll be thinking about a lot of the useful conversations had on here, and elsewhere, about (re)building a Left party in NZ, and I'm sure I'll be posting more about it in the next week or so too.

Thanks to those who did vote for the Alliance, and thanks to those who support us but didn't. Here's hoping we can put in a better showing in 2008, for whatever Left party grows from this result!


*with my Party Vote - i ended up voting for the Progressive candidate with the electorate tick, as there was no Green or Alliance candidate and i couldn't bring myself to vote for Phil Goff.

32 comments:

Idiot/Savant said...

A party out of Parliament was never going to do well in a race where the vote flowed back to the main parties. But it really does stress the need for an electorate seat as backup.

IMHO the Alliance should be looking at local body politics both as a way of getting candidates, but also as a way of raising their public profile. People need to be reminded that you exist, and having an Alliance person on their local council is a way of doing that. The other thing is not to let your press operation die down between elections. I know it'll be thankless, but if you want to be noticed, you need to keep cranking out the material.

The problem is that I just don't think the anger is out there. The Alliance came into being on the back of tremendous dissatisfaction with the way New Zealand was being run under Labour and National. Now that Labour has moved back towards the left, the anger is gone. Which means any attempt to regain office will have to be done from the ground up. Joy.

Anonymous said...

Why did Harre throw in the towel in Waitakere after coming second in 2002? If she - and by extension the Alliance - had shown half the guts, determination and sheer hard work Rodney Hide did in Epsom I would speculate she would MP for Waitakere today. The Alliance is noyt in parliament because deep down it expects people to vote for it on principle.

I don't like Rodney Hide, and I wish he had lost in Epsom, but damn - any New Zealander has to admire his sheer refusal to give up and die.

The Alliance needss o realise that they have to convince an uncaring audience and it has to do it by picking a charismatic candidate (Harre fits that bill) and bendings its collective party will to winning an electorate seat, even if that take two or three goes.

Richard said...

Span, I still don't understand why you don't think the Greens are a "left" party. But I don't really know anything about the Alliance. Could you write a post explaining how they're different?

span said...

yep Richard, don't worry, it's on my to do list :-) hopefully in the next few days

there is a small problem with local body politics, in Auckland City anyway. It is dominated by C&R Now, and City Vision, to which the Alliance is affiliated. The reality of CV politics is that CV is controlled by Labour and there is little tolerance given to others. But to succeed outside CV is to jeopardize the chances of a centre-left council.

in terms of Waitakere - i agree, and it's another on my list of posts tp write :-)

Rich said...

What if the Alliance withdrew from CV and ran in a few wards where you have a reasonable chance of winning - you could then choose to support a CV council (in the same way as Action Hobson does from a rather different direction)?
(Do Wellington or Christchurch use STV for their council elections?)

Building support through local government works well for the UK Lib Dems - who have an FPP parliamentary system to contend with. Mind you, it does rely on councillors doing a notably good job.

Prog Blog said...

You voted Progressive????

That is so ... amazing! See, you CAN be pragmatic. Prog Blog promises not to be abusive again for a while.

Now if only the Alliance had tossed even half their list votes to Progressive, they would have got Matt Robson elected. If you could all have got past your problems with him for not joining the 2002 suicide mission, you would have got an MP you agree with more than anyone else in the House, and a possible future for the progressive left.

Now, with matt gone, the building blocks of a progressive left look gone too.

maps said...

'Now, with matt gone, the building blocks of a progressive left look gone too.'

Yes, what a shame - we won't have Matt there to defend Bush's invasion of Afghanistan as a social democratic war, and advocate a cut in the company tax rate while hundreds of thousands are on waiting lists. I can feel the loss already...

span said...

so PB you promise not to be abusive for a while, but then are in the next sentence (albeit less than in previous posts on your own blog)? sheesh! ;-)

interesting that you don't consider JPA to be part of the future for the progressive left.

i have to say i get a bit peeved at people who basically want the Alliance activists to campaign for them, and not the Alliance. We get no input to the decision-making of other parties (and nor should we) and frankly why should we help out parties that have shat on us from a great height on more than one occassion?

and I don't call it particularly "pragmatic" to vote for a minor party candidate in a safe Labour seat. If I had really wanted Goff out, ahead of my principles, the "pragmatic" thing to do was vote for Jackie Blue.

sorry if i sound grumpy, i just don't think you can really blame the very small amount of votes that the Alliance got for Robson not getting back in (and actually he might on specials). maybe the Progs should have run a less JPA-centric campaign?

plus i'm still feeling totally grotty from the weekend, even though i had zilch to drink. urgh.

maps said...

The important thing about the Alliance is that only a fraction of the time of the most active members is spent electioneering. Reading the profiles of the party's candidates, it is quite clear that most of them are active in the trade unions, and it is this activity that makes them part of the real 'building blocks' of a renewed left. The fundamental obstacle to the progress of the left is the weakness of organised labour, and the sway that the Labour Party still has over organised labour and working class voters. By helping rebuild the unions, Alliance members are helping lay the foundation for a challenge to the hegemony of Labour's watered-down neoliberalism. By pushing for a better deal inside and outside the workplace, strengthened unions can come into conflict with Labour and show the need for a new workers' party. A major stoush, like the one Labour had with its Maori voters last term, can provoke unions to split away, and form a new party. We have seen this begin to happen in the UK, where the firefighters and railway workers have broken with Blair and are looking about for an alternative (the firefighters have even elected a revolutionary Marxist as their President), and in Germany, where dissident unions have broken with the SPD and formed the Left Party, which took 8.6% of the vote in the recent elections. Alliance members may have been trounced in these elections - and this was always inevitable - but their work in the trade unions ensures they will have a part to play in the future regroupment and renewal of the left. Matt Robson, on the other hand, is and will be completely irrelevant.

Prog Blog said...

Oh yes maps, that would be great for workers. 'To come into conflict with Labour just to show what we really need'. That is just irresponsible, hate mongering from the comfort of an armchair. If you think workers are sitting round desperate for an insurgency against Labour, you haven't met any workers. Most of the union leadership happens to know that. Workers want security, a few extra bucks in their hand, the opportunity to develop their talents, spend time with their families. They are not desperate for a class war or som great workers' party. It's romantic, reactionary nonsense that no one takes seriously. You're not in much of a position to call anyone irrelevant.

So while we're on the subject, can we assume you would like to see the Taliban restored in Afghanistan? That would be a social democratic thing to do? If not, isn;t it good that they're gone, that women are casting votes this week? Or are you cimply against the war merely because it was the US i9nvolvedm and anythign the US does is automatically wrong to you?

Then you could explain how company tax, which is merely a witholding tax, would affect the length of waiting lists at all?

You don't want companies to grow? Where do you think the wealth to shorten hospital waiting lists is going to come from, hmmm?

maps said...

Pull his chain and he gurgles!
Where'd you get this guy Julie?
Or is he just Christopher Hitchens up at three in the morning salivating all over his laptop in some DC bar?

Comrade_Tweek said...

There is a really dishonest tendency by some people to state that people to the left of you or those that disagree with you are 'revolutionaries'. Of course, there is nothing revolutionary in the Alliance's policies. It merely seeks a European social democracy - which in the New Zealand context makes it dangerously communist to some.

The Progressives have no future. When Jim steps down the Party is over, as it does not exist outside of Wigram. The sad thing is that, I suspect a number of Progressive members actually want a left realignment - they see the writing on the wall. These were people who were members of the NLP and the Alliance before leaving with Jim.

Maps is correct in his anaylsis about the Left doing well when it has mended its fences - the Scottish Socialist Party, the Left Party, the parties of the European Left.

If the Democratic Left wants to do well in New Zealand, then it needs to start mending its fences minus Jim (who will shortly depart) and Matt Mcarten. The future of the Left does not belong to these people. It does belong to people like Victor Billot, the Alliance Dunedin North candidate who did very well.

In passing, I must admit though I find it ironic about JPA. Fifteen years ago (1990) Jim was the sole MP for the NLP after leaving Labour, he built the Party up, joined it to the Alliance, then led a team of MPs into Government and now is back (15 years later) to being a single MP in parliament...sad...sad...sad...

Anonymous said...

maps said-
"only a fraction of the time of the most active members is spent electioneering"
Tom Dowie (Alliance Wigram) should have been campaigning full time. He said at a candidates meeting that he wanted to be a politician and he couldn't get elected so instead he doesn't work and is on unemployment so he can still be a paid politician.
prick.

Anonymous said...

Tut...tut...Tom is a solo parent who gave up his job to look after his kids.

Also, I can't remember Tom at any meeting that I attended stating that he wanted to be a politician. I do recall him stating that he was campaigning to create a better society for his children to live in.

I simply can't understand the mentality of some people - would you have preferred him to have stayed in an unhappy relationship? Thereby, making the kids unhappy? Or to have him neglect his kids by working full time? - Family values and all.

Anonymous said...

i'd prefer him to get a damn job.
his arrogance annoyed me.
i felt like saying "look buddy, how can you claim to be a politician representing me when i never f**king elected you".
prick.

span said...

there's plenty of politicians you and i didn't elect anon - George W Bush comes to mind for me.

and I'd point out that Tom is looking after himself and his kids on a lot less than anyone in Parliament.

Anonymous said...

let's all become politicians and let the state support us then.
ooh but hang on, then there would be no one earning money to pay for it.
case in point why socialism doesn't work

Joe Hendren said...

Cutting the corporate tax rate would be of most benefit to foriegn investors, not NZ businesses. Cutting the rate to 30c would also cost over $600m - yes this could be used instead to cut hospital waiting lists - it could also provide a great deal of economic/regional development money - wasn't it Jim who used to argue (correctly) that there were other ways to help businesses than cutting taxes?

Incidentally Jim's position on the corporate tax rate is the complete reversal to his views as late as 2001, where Jim was arguing against a corporate tax cut, while Cullen was more equivoical.

Nor should it be assumed that a cut in the corporate tax rate will increase wages - the corporates do not have a good record in passing on benefits of growth to their workers - in 2004 the NZ economy grew by 4%, but wages only increased by an average of 2.7%.

The the argument that we should be 'just like australia' is simply weak - Australia does have a 30c corporate rate,
but australian busineses also pay a number of additional taxes that NZ businesses do not.

Anonymous said...

oh yes because foreign investment is such a horrible thing!

Comrade_Tweek said...

Actually the state does currently support bludgers who take large cheques and politicans and I'm not talking about people like Tom Dowie either...

Ghet said...

Anon, could you get yourself a name? I just really feel that trolls should have names. I'd suggest something with no plosives - don't want you spitting on your keyboard any more than you already are.

Anonymous said...

ususal leftie tactic-
attack the person not the argument, nice one "ghet"

Comrade_Tweek said...

hmmm, Anon...I feel that's somewhat the pot calling the kettle black...

Anonymous said...

Oh yes and how was i being abusive?

Compared with calling me a "troll" and claiming that I spit on my keyboard?

Comrade_Tweek said...

Hmmm...let's see...I note a couple of posts above in which you, and I assume it's you, call Tom Dowie a 'prick' and then assume he's 'arrogrant'.

I also note that you appear to have no substantive argument against Joe Hendren's points other than to 'snarl' "...Oh yes, because foreign investment is such a horrible thing..." which is not what he inferred at all.

Hmmm....Pot....Kettle...

Anonymous said...

I do believe Dowie is arrogant. But this is after meeting him and chatting to him on 3 separate occasions. Haha, he's not the prick- I am. And I certainly don't think the comment "Oh yes, because foreign investment is such a horrible thing" is being abusive, particularly compared with "don't want you spitting on your keyboard any more than you already are" and calling me a troll.

Priqshasa (prick)

Commie Mutant Traitor said...

Foreign investment isn't such a great idea; it provides short term benefits for long term costs. It's like a company offering to remodel your kitchen for free, but in return requiring you to pay rent to cook dinner. I doubt many homeowners would willingly accept such a deal, and it makes no more sense to sell off chunks of New Zealand to foreign investors.

Anonymous said...

So by leaving the previous contention alone you are admitting that the comments about me were inappropriate?

Comrade_Tweek said...

So basically, you believe that it's okay for you to call someone a prick and arrogant, because you can justify it to yourself and not for someone to call you a troll because they could also justify that statement based upon your comments...

Sorry, I'm not going to engage in this idiocy...

Anonymous said...

Did you not read my post? I'm prick- it's my nickname (my name is Priqshasa)

span said...

ok folks can we get away from baiting and back to debating?

in terms of the Progs and the Alliance, obviously reunification would not be possible under Jim. it will be interesting to see what happens to the Progs when Jim retires, which will surely be in 2011 if not in 2008.

Will Jim stick around and try to help out his former party or will he destroy it at the end as he tried to do with the Alliance? My reading of Jim in 2002 was that he found the idea of any political vehicle he had been part of continuing without him totally abhorrent.

Naive ex-pat said...

I've found the debate on this site about the future of the NZ left fascinating (apart from the recent Prick spat), because I'm thinking of returning to NZ after an 8 year absence. I'm a socialist who has never been actively involved in a political party (apart from urging all my leftie ex-pat friends in Sydney and London to vote) and now I feel it's time I was. Is there really no hope for reinvigorating the grass roots Labour Party, and in turn the parliamentary party? Surely the unions still have some clout. And what's wrong with the 'revolutionary' label? Surely revolutionary thinking is needed more now than ever to take on the ever-increasing power of the corporates.