A fat chunk of the Left fails to grasp a single basic fact. Rightly or wrongly, a right wing vote is worth the same as a socially righteous vote. A queer vote is worth the same as a homophobic vote, and a trans woman’s vote is equal to a skinhead’s. Like it or not, it doesn’t matter how correct we are, our vote is only worth one vote. The Labour left in particular does not seem to grasp this, and it is part of why we lost.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- there is a place for staunch progressive politics in New Zealand, but it isn’t in the Labour party. Whether we like it or not, to win elections Labour needs to appeal to people who think differently to us. Like David Shearer said, it’s not rocket science- Labour needs to turn blue votes into red. Someone is going to have to do the dirty work of compromising. We cannot distil the Left down to a few ‘pure’ voters and still win.
There is a fundamental contradiction at the heart of Left politics- we want to fight the oppression of the majority, but we also want them to vote for us. It seems that some of us simply do not understand the difference between ‘is’ and ‘ought’. Ugly truth is still true. We need the votes of people whose views we find offensive.
Which brings us to question of who should lead the party. A lot of emphasis is being placed on who will lead the party in the wake of a historic failure. Whoever they are, I hope they read the recent Dim-Post. I would be very interested to hear where Danyl places leadership. I doubt it’s at the base.
Just as it is unfair to blame the loss solely on Cunliffe, it is unfair to blame the loss solely on Labour’s gender policies and Labour Women. The ‘man ban’ and The Apology are being singled out as reasons for the loss, because… well… probably patriarchy. It’s very convenient that all of a sudden the loss is women’s fault.
I don’t doubt that Labour lost some votes from Cunliffe’s apology (is versus ought), but that was far from the only thing Labour did wrong. Their bizarre run of micro-policies (remember the No Trucks in the Fast Lane policy?), their constant factional knife-fights, and the loss of Shane Jones (and resulting glee) all contributed to Labour’s demise. The very structure of the party is in disarray.
Most mainstream pundits are saying Labour needs to return to the centre and turn blue votes into red. I agree. But I disagree that the Left needs to tone down progressive politics in general, and feminism specifically. The world needs progressive thinking as much as ever. The problem is that it’s a poor fit with Labour.
Implementation of progressive ideas is easier from a centre-left government than it is from a far-left opposition. So please, let’s allow Labour to do what it does best- being left wing sell-outs. From rogernomics to the foreshore and seabed, Labour sells out. But Labour needs a stable left partner that can be a powerful force for progressive change.
That party is the Greens. Form an orderly queue.