Muzzlehatch: eat the Greens, but keep left
MAPS has put the pressure on his two silent partners in this blog to nail their colours to the mast over the upcoming election, having also offered a bribe of a bottle of fejoa-flavoured vodka this evening if we ‘front-up’. There’s really no choice, then.
I have only today registered to vote, so it’s suddenly become serious, and I am still of that vast camp of ‘swinging voters’ who is not quite sure which box I will tick. For the last month I’ve wavered between Labour, Maori and the Residents Action Movement. I met a young organiser of RAM in the smoking room of Fordes Bar on Symonds St (MAPS spends a lot of his time there, getting drunk) a few weeks back, and he seemed articulate and inspired, and the RAM manifesto has some good things going for it, who knows, they may well grow into a real force in NZ politics. On the other hand, they could be part of the ‘dreamer left’ who imagine everyone living in the land of milk and honey with no idea where it’s going to come from...here’s their policy, painfully packaged as ‘the ten commandments’:
Remove GST tax from all our food
$2,000 'baby bonus' to every mum
Offer first-home buyers a 3% interest state loan
Lift minimum wage to $15 per hour
Free lunches in schools serving poor areas
Free tertiary education plus a student living allowance
Free and frequent public transport in our main cities
Offer cheap solar panels to homeowners
Restore to workers their free right to strike
Enshrine the Treaty of Waitangi in a new constitution to guarantee the mutual rights of Maori and non-Maori
Sound a bit too gimmicky? Their website doesn’t offer any comprehensive overview of how society will function under RAM to provide these things, and that’s what I’m basically looking for, a comprehensive manifesto that answers important questions. Who would be taxed by RAM? How much? What percentage of profit can shareholders suck out of a business? What happens to companies/small businesses that can’t afford to pay $15 per hour so fire 20% of their staff? That sort of information should be available somewhere.
I can’t bring myself to vote for the Greens, having actually worked in the building trade most of my life (yes, I'm that real-life worker academics like MAPS like to theorise about). The Greens' militantly anti-industrial ideology I find difficult to swallow - it seems when there's a choice between livelihoods and helping protect some part of nature the question is not even up for discussion, because the Greens unreservedly come down on the side of the butterfly, the fish or the fungi. This failure to engage in thoughtful conversation is annoying, because peoples' livelihoods and their right to work in their a chosen industry are very serious matters that deserves proper consideration. When the Greens grow up I will look at them seriously. What about the Maori Party? Well, I was thinking about it, but if they can’t say before the election whether they will go left or right after the election, I can’t vote for them.
What about Labour? Well, I do have a certain fondness for Helen, she has a certain integrity, and has done some good things. I like the fact this Prime Minister personally favours the arts over sports: for a brief moment last night on the leaders debate between Helen and John Key, when they were asked what ‘moved them’ it appeared like all John was going to come up with was ‘an All Blacks victory’ before he remembered meeting the mother of a three year old baby that had died, which he realised would be a more effective anecdote. Anyway, Helen's artiness, along with her stance on various social issues (gay union, abortion etc) means that there is every chance I will vote Labour on the day.
National, ACT, United Future and NZ First are out, anyway, because I support the rights of the underprivileged over business interests. (Even if he had better policies, I just couldn’t bring myself to tick a vote for Winston Peters. ) When it comes down to the day, I will be ticking either Labour or RAM: hopefully I’ll have made up my mind before I go into the booth.