I was a wee bit disappointed to see my former colleague Rob Salmond over at Public Address mischaracterising my post on Brexit as naysaying about New Zealand Labour:
…some in New Zealand think the no confidence motion in UK Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn shows how out of touch [the Labour caucus OR Jeremy Corbyn] is with the real needs of [UK Labour AND/OR the UK public]. They believe this regrettable trait is shared by New Zealand Labour’s [MPs OR activists], and that the relevant New Zealand folk should follow Corbyn’s lead by [standing tough OR sodding off] in advance of the next election.
Just to clarify, the point I was trying to make was put quite succinctly by Andrew Little in the Southland Times (disclosure: Andrew is an old mate of mine):
… there was an underlying sense that Brits voted to leave the EU because the system wasn’t working for the people.
Politicians didn’t understand what was going on in people’s lives, he said.
“The system isn’t looking after people and I think it’s very real here [in New Zealand] as well,” Little said.
Many people, particularly the young, living outside of London had low paid jobs which were not secure and many people were unable to afford their own homes.
“Those are factors in New Zealand today and if the political system isn’t going to provide responses to that, to get people into secure and good employment, then we are going to alienate more and more people from our political system.”
This isn’t just an economic problem though. As I said in my original post, it’s a problem of engagement. It’s early days yet, but that’s a problem NZ Labour has been addressing better than most of its international brethren.
That includes the great work Iain Lees-Galloway has done with the unionised Kiwis and their families to put dodgy health and safety law under public scrutiny, and with other parties and unions to get rid of zero-hour contracts. It includes Poto Williams’ work with NGOs to grind the Government’s plan to charge for police services to a standstill.
It includes Annette King working with people suffering from health system underfunding and health organisations to make health spending a real issue (I doubt that Pharmac would be reconsidering Keytruda for melanoma sufferers if it wasn’t for that collective effort), and Sue Moroney’s stellar job working with communities, children’s advocates, and other parties to push the Government into extending paid parental leave and then into being clearly seen to veto even more. Oh, and Phil Twyford’s housing campaign that is slowly but surely drawing concessions from the Government on homelessness.
This is the kind of real-world change that social democratic parties can make when they open the doors to the outside world. And that’s just in opposition. And, as a great twofor, it’s also the kind of work that organically builds their mandate to lead and the networks they need to win.
Labour has always done best when it looks outside, not inside – long may they continue do so, and increase doing so.
UK Labour on the other hand, seriously, WTF?