There’s been very little insightful or interesting analysis of the New Zealand general election results from the left of the political spectrum. This is partly because much of the left is so strongly tied to either the Labour Party or the Greens – both losers in the election. However, John Braddock’s socialist analysis is fairly solid. Writing on the World Socialist Website, Braddock’s article Labour government dumped in New Zealand elections is a hard-hitting explanation of Labour’s loss, which he explains as a clear ‘clear repudiation of Labour and its pro-business orientation by significant layers of the working class’. [Read more below]
Despite proclaiming itself as a party of the centre-left (and sometimes even saying it favours those at the bottom or ‘workers’), Labour lost the support of its traditional constituency because in government it favoured business at the expense of the working class:
Voter turnout declined to 79% - ‘the third lowest figure for the past century’. Braddock is also correct in pointing the significance of this. He says that ‘Vast numbers of Labour voters stayed at home because they felt they had no-one to vote for. Their effective boycott of the polls represented a stand against the current state of affairs and the official political set-up—from which they feel totally alienated and disenfranchised’. New Zealand politics, he says is essentially multipartisan, with an anti-workers programme put forward by both main parties:
During the election campaign, John Braddock also wrote some analysis of how the Economic crisis overshadows New Zealand elections.
In this he deals with New Zealand political response to the international financial crisis – and in particular the bipartisan agreement to prop up the banking sector:
The left naturally make a lot of protest at National’s proposed tax cuts (often conveniently forgetting that Labour was also promising further tax cuts). And an assumption is made that working class voters would not – or should not - be attracted by such promises. However, as Braddock points out, in the context of Labour’s achievement of increasing inequality, ‘National's campaign for tax cuts has only gained traction because ordinary people no longer look to Labour to improve their wages and life prospects’.
No doubt there has been other good leftwing analysis of the election, and I’ll try to distill more of these in future blog postings. Any recommendations are appreciated.