If social media is any guide, the Labour left are ecstatic about the resignation of Shane Jones. They have cheered a resignation that gives their party LESS appeal to voters. But this is not surprising, since the party’s left seems to scorn the values of most kiwis anyway.
Labour’s left is starting to look like a left wing kiwi version of the tea party. They would rather purity in opposition than have to work with those who think differently. They would rather preside over a utopia of ashes than actually take power. And like the tea party, if they are unable to compromise and work with people who are not ideologically pure, they will doom their party to dysfunction and the opposition benches.
It seems the Labour left is more interested in finding heretics than converts. I can understand that Jones was never left enough for the party membership, but he was effective at talking to people outside the liberal hack bubble. Whether you like or agree with Jones is irrelevant. Labour have lost a solid performer. He is a Māori leader who appeals to soft National voters.
The political reality is seemingly beyond the grasp of the party’s left- the Left cannot win without growing it’s vote and taking votes from the Right. We can push turnout all we like, but without eating into John Key’s support, we will always struggle. The party needs to appeal to people who have different values. But the party’s left doesn’t want to appeal to those who think differently; it wants those people to change their views.
To the Rooibos tea party, I say this- as a centre-left party, Labour needs to represent the values/interests of a majority of voters as they are, not as you would like them to be. You cannot implicate the majority in oppressive structures or allege they are all victims of false consciousness and expect them to vote for you. You are not entitled to their support just because you think you know their interests. If you want to fight for genuine progressive change, join a genuine progressive party. The Left needs Labour to be pragmatic and centrist to win the election. We can’t enact progressive policy from opposition. While you dance on the corpse of Jones’ political career, National celebrate their strengthened grip on the political centre. Beating them just got harder.