Tagged: ordinary NZers aren’t

I apologise for accurately quoting Stuart Nash

Stuart Nash would like you all to know that, despite the fact that harridans like myself have

misrepresented my position – and my values

he is

Still Concentrating On The Issues That Matter

and anyway, the post he’s

come in for a lot of flack


wasn’t actually about Louisa or the Marriage Equality Bill at all

So I apologise.  When someone’s post begins talking about Louisa Wall and the Marriage Equality Bill, I assume they’re talking about Louisa Wall and the Marriage Equality Bill.  But clearly, Stuart was talking

about the strategy Labour has pursued so far this year

and while you may assume that when a person starts talking about A, then starts talking about B entirely in the context of A, they’re drawing some kind of connection between A and B, you would be wrong.  And you should be ashamed.  Why, when Stuart starts by saying:

I want to start by saying that I support gay marriage and, if I had been in parliament, I would have had no hesitation in voting in favor of Louisa Wall’s marriage equality bill. It sits perfectly with the Labour values of fairness and equality.

Despite that, I am not happy about it!

And over the next two paragraphs says

… I warned that Labour must not get sidetracked …Labour MUST NOT get sucked into the game of responding to these periphery and/or manufactured issues

Little did I know that it wasn’t the Nats who would create the side shows …  Louisa’s Bill was ill-timed … the fact that it was drawn out of the ballot was unlucky for Labour).  For the past month or so this issue has been at the forefront of the mainstream and social media.

And then continues

In the meantime, the state assets sales programme is in trouble, farms have been sold to the Chinese, educationists decry the rise of charter schools, the poverty gap is increasing at an alarming rate, Kiwis are heading to Australia in record numbers, our unemployment rate is climbing, and there is at least one dreadful health story a day that should be in the papers.

Why, in that context, when I say things like

Instead, after Louisa Wall has put in the hard yards and taken shit for something in your own party’s manifesto less than a year ago, what you should really do is buy into the rightwing propaganda machine’s lines about “caring about things that matter”, and what you should really talk about is how, oh sure, a member of your party only brought us one step closer towards our egalitarian ideal, but don’t you wish she hadn’t?

I’m really just misrepresenting Stuart.  He didn’t say that Louisa Wall shouldn’t have submitted her Bill, he just thinks … she shouldn’t have submitted her Bill.  And he’s not buying into the idea that marriage equality isn’t important, he’s just saying it’s a peripheral sideshow issue distracting from the things that matter.  And he’s not bagging her, he just feels the need to write another post talking about the “unlucky” timing of it all on top of his previous insistence that she “hold back” for The Good Of The Party.

But it’s okay, folks.  Stuart has good people around him.  From his second post:

Anyone that knows me, my family and my politics will know that I value human rights above all else.  Equality of opportunity is my guiding philosophy and the reason why I am involved in the Labour party.

And you know that when someone says above all else, that’s a pretty strong statement indicating they won’t compromise on their core principles.  Someone who values human rights above all else would never, for example, write something like:

Louisa has to hold back. The vast majority agree that her bill is morally right and should be passed into law, but now it needs to take a back seat and let the issues of health, employment, education and finance come to the fore, otherwise there won’t be anyone left in New Zealand who can afford to get married.

… just like Stuart did in his first post.  I do so look forward to hearing about how finance reform will mean same-sex couples stop being treated like second-class citizens.  Oh right, because they won’t be able to afford to get married.  You know how the queers like to splash out on frocks, we need to avoid another recession for their sakes!

But then we are dealing with somebody who can sincerely type (in his second post):

Labour doesn’t need to convince voters that our values are sound

Which is true, because before voters can ask if your values are sound they have to know what your values are, and for someone who spends a lot of time emphasising that Labour Is A Great Party With Amazing Values And The Left

owns the political space around human rights

… Stuart sure loves acting like those values don’t mean shit unless Labour can convince voters that they are

prudent managers of the economy

… a phrase used twice in his second post.

Sorry, Stuart.  I guess I’m just going to keep unwittingly misrepresenting you, because for all you’ve made a second post about how people didn’t understand your first post, all I hear is “waa waa waa shut up minorities” with a coda on the theme of “anyway we don’t need to talk about values, just the economy, so shut up again”.

And when you’re blaming a single, well-supported Private Member’s Bill for an entire party’s inability to get on the telly, you should probably reconsider your political strategy cred.

Please, Stuart.  Try to dig up next time.


PS.  Doesn’t it absolutely tickle you to see someone waving the Old Left banner talking about “owning political space”?  Human rights discussions aren’t a commodity, Stuart.  And you don’t get to “dibs” the human rights conversation, especially not when you’re saying some human rights (i.e. the icky gay ones) can go sit in the corner quietly while the real human rights issues (i.e. the ones assumed to affect Waitakere Myths) get some breathing space.

Why can’t Labour get back to its roots?

This is a question which gets thrown around every time someone in the Labour Party takes a pot-shot at women, at queer folk, at beneficiaries, and then gets called out for being a judgemental, privileged douchebag.

Why can’t Labour get back to its roots?  Back to being the party of the worker?  As muerk commented on Twitter,

Labour was a party for working class folk, like miners. It doesn’t represent them like it used too.

Well muerk, that might just be because we’re in the 21st fucking century now.

Now, don’t take this wrong.  I’m not saying the priorities of miners are unimportant just because they’re a much smaller part of the population than they used to be (that would just be hilariously ironic); what I am saying is that the privilege of viewing the entire NZ population in terms of:

Rich white dudes | hard-working white dudes | other [chicks | brown dudes]

… is not one anyone with half a brain should be coveting these days.

Yes, welcome to the world of identity politics.  The world wherein people have those horrid “identities”, i.e. have the temerity to be loud and demand that the world recognise the many ways in which we are not just rich white dudes, hard-working white dudes, chicks, or brown.

Identities which were not necessarily chosen, but embraced, because white-dude society used different aspects of our rich and complex human experience to make the world their playground and shut out anyone who was different.

So now we don’t get to just pretend that all politics is an epic struggle between The Upper Classes [white, dudely] and The Working Classes [white, dudely].  Now we have to accept the basic human reality that women, and people of colour, and migrants, and people with disabilities, and queer people, and the non-working poor are actually all around us.  Don’t run, they can only see movement!

And here’s where it gets totally freaky, people longing for The Good Old Days.  Those working-class folk, like miners, who Labour used to represent?

Some of them were probably queer.

Some of them certainly had disabilities, if only through the kind of workplace accidents you get when you’re in a manual labour industry.

Some of them, these days, will be women.  Or Maaori.  Or Muslim.

It is frankly a fucking crime against the amazing diversity of human existence that some people want to pretend that all those nasty “identities” are just exclusive little groups on the fringes, demanding more than their fair share of the political spotlight.

And it is frankly fucking stupid to act like retreating one’s focus and attention back to that once-mainstream group, identified purely by Current Location Relative To Mode Of Production, contains even a milligram of political sense.

Because when Labour people, or people in the non-specific-Labour leftwing zone, attack abortion rights, attack marriage equality, attack beneficiaries, attack Maaori, they’re not saying “let’s get back to focusing on the issues facing all workers”.

They’re saying “let’s get back to focusing on the issues facing all workers which are strictly limited to white, hetero, cisgendered, able-bodied currently-employed dudes.”

And that’s a ridiculously small segment of society these days.  And a lot of them actually support progressive issues which don’t actually affect them individually!  It’s like they understand that society is made up of a lot of people and when we’re all being treated with dignity and respect and given the opportunity to live our lives to the fullest, everyone benefits!

So, really.  When you talk about “Labour getting back to its roots”, all I hear is “waaaaaah, stop talking about issues that don’t affect me personally, I want all the attention!”  Because it’s not even politically rational.

Unless of course these people honestly do believe that a political party can only discuss one issue at a time.  And that thought is simply depressing.

Labour dudes: shut up please and let Louisa Wall lead you to victory

Via Giovanni I was led to this guest post at Recess Monkey by former MP and former Shearer Chief of Staff, Stuart Nash.

It’s lovely when the internet provides you with confirmation of your opinions.  Take it away, Stu!

I want to start by saying that I support gay marriage and, if I had been in parliament, I would have had no hesitation in voting in favor of Louisa Wall’s marriage equality bill. It sits perfectly with the Labour values of fairness and equality.

Despite that, I am not happy about it!

Cue then your generic “Labour should care about the issues that matter” with some wonderfully value-free “we need to focus-group everything” rhetoric in the comments:

While a party can NEVER betray its philosophies and principles, in opposition it must always look to maximise opportunities to prove to the voting public that it is on top of the issues that matter: or at least show that it understands the issues and has a plan as to how to deal with them. Only by proving competence will a party achieve electoral support (and fair enough too).

The notion that Labour, as our second largest political party, as the “main” or “major” political party of the Left, has absolutely no ability to actually influence those “issues that matter” is pretty much 90% of the problem with the party at the moment.

The idea that Labour has no power to say “Oh check it out, our economy’s in the toilet and our social services are suffering” in the face of John Key smiling and waving next to Hilary Clinton is ridiculous.

That Labour just has to jump aboard whatever bandwagon NACT is currently driving, has to parrot whatever rhetoric Paula Bennett is spewing about beneficiaries, has to “prove itself” to people.  Not, by the way, in any kind of “prove we have those philosophies and principles we can never betray” way, just in a “find out what people think is important, presumably by reading the front page of Stuff, and then talk about that” way.

So you can probably look forward to Shearer’s next speech to the heartland being on the importance of Sally and Jaime Ridge to our economy.

You know how you retort to people, Stuart, when they say “ugh, gay marriage, focus on things that matter“?

You say, “It’s the luck of the ballot!  Louisa put forward a bill that meant a lot to her, and in Parliament we have time put aside to consider those issues.”

You say, “New Zealand is a country that prides itself on fairness and treating people equally.  I think that does matter because it affects every single policy we have.  Do you think National thinks the same way, with Cabinet Ministers breaching people’s privacy and John Key getting carried around Rarotonga on a litter?”

Wait, no.  That’s not reaching to the middle!  Instead, after Louisa Wall has put in the hard yards and taken shit for something in your own party’s manifesto less than a year ago, what you should really do is buy into the rightwing propaganda machine’s lines about “caring about things that matter”, and what you should really talk about is how, oh sure, a member of your party only brought us one step closer towards our egalitarian ideal, but don’t you wish she hadn’t?

This is the writing of a man who was leading Shearer’s Parliamentary office.  This is the attitude of someone who must have had a major role formulating Labour’s approach and tactics and messaging.  And he thinks it’s a good idea to parrot rightwing key lines and undermine a great achievement by someone who in any just universe will be the future of his goddamn party.

It gets better:

Both David Clark’s $15 minimum wage bill and Clayton Cosgrove’s bill on state asset sales were both drawn in the same ballot as Louisa’s bill (how many knew this?). Both these bill’s represented headline Labour policies at the last election, and were very popular across a wide range of voters.  These are prime examples of Labour concentrating on issues that matter to a significant number of good hard working Kiwis, yet many of those same struggling Kiwis have no idea that we are still fighting hard on their behalf. Both issues have, by-and-large, been lost in the mele caused by the marriage equality bill.

You know what, Stuart?  The “melee” of the marriage equality bill happened because people give a shit about it.  Because ordinary people on their own mobilised Facebook pages and got out there on Twitter and created hilarious memes and challenged the Conservative/Family First bullshit right where it was happening, on Facebook, in Stuff comments, on the grounds of Parliament.

People with no Party resources or history of organisation to back them up.  People who cared, who found that this issue, rather than a somewhat highbrow economic discussion of minimum wage vs unemployment, rather than a bill on asset sales which seems superfluous given they’re already out there collecting signatures, was something they could really hold on to.  Something that mattered to them, even the heterosexuals.

Now, sure, marriage equality had a huge advantage in terms of being part of a global discussion; if we could only get George Takei to shoot a 30-second PSA on the living wage it’d do wonders.  And Gods know it’s easier to mobilise ordinary, unpoliticised people when you can say “You see that mean man Colin Craig?  He hates Tamati Coffey.  What a dick, right?”

But Labour is just sucking, as it has sucked for a long time, at making simple, punchy messages which engage people.  And what do you do?  You sit around complaining because someone’s brought more attention and mana to your party than its own leadership could manage in years.  Because it doesn’t fit the Waitakere Myth, which for some reason all the straight white dudes are desperate to cling to.

Please, senior Labourites:  get a fucking grip and recognise a good thing when it’s happening to you.  

Also, seriously, it’s this bad now: follow Gio’s advice and hire someone like me, who’s been offering you the same advice free of charge since 2009 and here again in 2011:  identity politics are not your enemy.  You’re the enemy, when you alienate your natural allies and shit all over your own success, when you buy into bullshit about how recapturing The Glorious Centre is a winning strategy instead of wondering why hundreds of thousands of people saw nothing worth voting for in 2011.

Related reading:  Scott Yorke at The Standard

Who needs identity politics?

Alas, dear friends, it is late in the night and I’m buggered if I can recall what trail of sorry links lead me to the posts upon which I am to unleash my wrath.

It’s yet another spin-off of the cultural clusterfuck that is Nationhood Speech Der Zweite; specifically, the response by Chris Trotter entitled “The Liberal Left: Who Needs You?” Our special surprise guest is a commenter going by the name of John Pagani, apparently an adviser to The Speechmaker Himself, assuming anyone is honest about their identities on the interwebz these days (she says, writing under a pseudonym).

First things first, there’s the casual dismissal of all and sundry who thought that maybe explicitly modelling a speech after the Don Brash/Orewa mold might not be entirely kosher:

Their reflexive condemnation of anyone who dares to hold Maori politicians to the same standards as Pakeha betrays an arrogant unwillingness to accept the ethical norms of their own society. These people have become the fervent champions of an indigenous culture they can never truly join because, fundamentally, they despise their own.

On the “same standard” bollocks, see my previous post.  Idiot/Savant notes well in the comments,

Be honest, Chris. The word you’re looking for is “self-hating Pakeha”. Or maybe “race-traitor”.

Disclaimer: I am so white it’s ridiculous.  I don’t say I’m “proud to be white” because HOLY CRAP with the instant supremacist associations.  Also, you know, taking pride in the identity of an ethnicity which has categorically dumped on basically every other ethnicity over the past several centuries?  Not so much my thing.

But I am white.  My cultural points of reference are white and Western and English-speaking.  And there’s a big fucking difference between acknowledging that white people have seriously fucked up on the race relations/not committing genocide front and “despising [my] own [culture].”

But I guess it makes it much easier to ignore people’s objections when you can say “oh they just suffer from too much liberal white guilt” – and when you’re happy to forget the fact that we have quite a bit to be guilty about.  Throwing in that whole “too arrogant to accept basic ethics” line is a nice touch, too.

Fuck that, though, I’ve covered it already – point is, Chris Trotter is my least favourite kind of leftie: the one who thinks being a leftie makes him automatically open-minded and understanding of privilege and power dynamics and oppression, but clings happily to the notion that every single bad thing in the world comes down to nothing more than class.

Side note: Trotter responds to I/S’ comment with:

If the cap fits,Comrade …


Anyway, point is:  identity politics.  Ah, yes, those trifling matters that get in the way of real class struggle.  Can’t think why “objects to “identity politics”” is a phrase instantly associated in my mind with white heterosexual males who happen to have a few leftwing ideas, but oh well …

Along with hassling the ZOMG LIBERAL LEFT for having no power or influence “beyond the blogosphere” (whereas Chris totes has influence ’cause they wheel him out to sing The Red Flag on election nights for a laugh) there’s a few nice jabs at we Liberal Lefties:

Those faint-hearted liberals who can’t stand the heat should get out of the kitchen.

They have no understanding of, nor empathy for, the hopes and fears of ordinary people.

The truth of the matter is, liberal leftists have been preaching to themselves for so long they no longer appreciate how few people give a tinker’s cuss what they say.

And then there’s allegedly-John-Pagani in the comments:

It’s about connecting with things that matter to people and making politics work for people, instead of instructing people in what’s good for them and inventing fabrications about the people the left represents.

And that’s frankly where I get right fucking pissed off.

Because apparently, the Liberal Left just don’t understand ordinary people.  We don’t care about things that matter to people, we just want to instruct them because we’re bossy britches.  Fuck, I’m stunned no one managed to insert a nanny/evil headmistress/other authoritarian-woman-figure-who-kills-our-fun-but-is-not-a-Helen-Clark-reference-AT-ALL into the discourse.

Why is the second “people” in both italics and bold up there?  Because when two guys get in a huddle and start slanging against the Liberal Left and the evil distraction of identity politics, and whinge about how we need to think about ordinary people, I think we can make a few very good guesses as to the kind of people they’re talking about.

And I’ll give you a hint:  it ain’t you or me, assuming you are not a middle class white heterosexual cisgendered currently able bodied male.

Because here’s what matters to me:

It matters to me that I not be passed over for a job or a promotion because I’m a woman who’ll obviously just leave to have babies.

It matters to me that I have the right to be paid the same as a man for doing the same work.

It matters to me that gay men and women can have their relationships recognised by the state just like every two-in-three-chance-of-divorce hetero couple.

It matters to me that people of colour not get pulled over by the cops because brown people shouldn’t be driving expensive cars, or are obviously on drugs because they’re brown, or not be played by white people in movies about their lives.

It matters to me that people with disabilities can travel on aeroplanes, and get into buildings, and pass exams at school (look out for that incredibly-expletive-filled-post tomorrow!) and go shopping without worrying some bastard’s going to throw them out for having a hearing dog.

It matters to me that trans people shouldn’t have to worry about being murdered because someone else feels they have the right to judge what defines a man or a woman.

It matters to me that people should be able to practise their faith without fear of persecution, and that people not-of-faith should be able to say so without harassment.

But fuck all that! That’s just identity politics!  That’s just me assuming that the way people identify, the way society wants to identify them, the assumptions others feel free to make about you because of your identity or assumed identity, might actually affect people!  It might actually rate a bit higher on their List Of Things That Pissed Me Off Today:

  1. Harassed on bus by guy who wouldn’t leave me alone.
  2. First question asked at job interview: “Do you have kids?”
  3. Threatened with sexual violence by blog commenter.
  4. Still alienated from means of production.

Come on, guys, the big important thing is obviously class struggle!  We can’t possibly let the things that affect women and people of colour and people with disabilities and trans people and people who ignore the gender binary and people whose identities are not the default white het cis male – who, in fact, by being not-white-het-cis-males, actually have the audacity to have identities – get in the way of the greater good!

And if we have to throw Maori under the bus to achieve our [white het cis male] worker’s utopia, then so be it.

To borrow a line from the bikers’ rally at Parliament, I can only ask, though: who’s next?

Other readingNo Right Turn, Lew at Kiwipolitico.