I feel like I’ve been making this argument forever, but I’m prompted to make it again by this post at Imperator Fish (the title of which must be satirical … except that as I’ve already predicted, it’s probably going to be used a lot more seriously on 27 November).
Even if there’s some fair comment amidst a great deal of the carping I’ve heard about Labour and its leadership, direction, PR, etc, it doesn’t change the fact that a bad Labour’s still (in my totally unbiased opinion) miles better than a good National.
Well, to continue my horrid carping, Scott, that’s not a fact. It’s an opinion. Like you just said, in fact.
Here’s a few scenarios to kinda prove my point:
Scenario one: My personal, entirely uneducated, pick
The polls turn out to be [roughly, and surprisingly] on target and National scrapes in with a set of agreements allowing them to deal with ACT, the Maori Party, maybe even the Greens on certain issues, Peter Dunne if he survives. But they don’t have the numbers to ram through the vicious rightwing agenda they really want to; for the first year or so at least, John Key wants to maintain his fluffy-bunny facade so they only partially sell our state assets, they only slightly cut taxes for the rich, they only mildly shaft the health and education systems.
By 2014, New Zealanders are starting to get bored, John Key probably fucks off to early retirement in Hawaii, Bill English and Steven Joyce enjoy a bloody feud, ACT implodes again, Labour has a proper rejuvenation of personnel and approach, and voila, a mighty [centre-]left victory ensues, in good time to renationalise our assets and save our social safety net.
Scenario two: Labour at all costs
Labour miraculously scrapes together a coalition with the Greens and Maori Party/Mana. ACT are trounced, Dunne vanishes, Winston bites off some of National’s base but is once again pretty much robbed when he doesn’t win a seat.
But Labour are still kinda floundering. They’ve got capital gains tax, and that totally populist “mess about with monetary policy” policy, but Phil Goff still isn’t Helen Clark, one of the Davids gets tired of playing the waiting game (having been banking on a 2011 defeat to shake stuff up), there’s no clear direction, there’s no [authorised this time, please?] pledge card of good solid achievables for people to say “I’m glad I voted for Labour, they’ve ticked off all the boxes and really made a difference.”
2014: the centre thinks “Well that was a fucking waste of time, wannit?” and goes back to National, which now gets to openly campaign on its vicious rightwing policies under the banner of “you gave Labour a go and they did fuck all, so clearly we’re the only people with answers”. Labour is a one-term government and the Right claim a firm position as The Only People With A Clear Idea Of What To Do. We get royally fucked.
Scenario three: my personal dreamland
Labour get their shit together, the All Blacks lose terribly, John Key is caught embezzling charity money, Mana and the Greens stake out nice mutually-exclusive patches of policy and take 15% between them. A new era of socialist awesomeness dawns.
But that’s not really the point. The point is that I have no time for the idea that any Labour under any leader with any level of cohesion is better than any National-led government. It may feed nicely into the beltway left’s firm belief that John Key is actually Beelzebub and when the light of the full moon hits the Beehive on the equinox everyone will “wake up” and realise who their true leaders-by-right are, and it certainly dovetails with that whole entitlement complex that apparently I’ve just been making up in order to personally destroy the Labour Party.
But National, especially National led by John Key and operating in an MMP world which puts them on shaky ground for stable coalition partners, is simply not the reincarnation of Rob Muldoon, or the third coming of Roger Douglas. And when the alternative is potentially a “bad Labour” which solidly fucks the entire left movement in this country for a decade by failing to produce a concrete, inspiring ideology … yeah. Fuck that “fact”, Scott. Whoops, there I go again, sowing discord, I’m such a baaaaaaad leftie.