Whether the departure of Shane Jones was a clever plot by National or the result of a man who felt the need to move on, the timing appears designed to cause the most harm to the Labour Party. According to the slant of the media, the move is the death blow for Labour’s election chances, or an opportunity for them to move on and reclaim (either) the centre or left ground.
Even before his departure the party appeared incapable of producing policies that would make the slightest difference for the people who most need their help, who used to be their core supporters, and who could provide the missing 800,000 votes: the poorer folk in our community.
“There is no underclass in this country! Thanks, you can have your accommodation back again now.” 2 February, 2007. Fletcher, David, 1952- :[Digital cartoons published from 2001 onward]. Ref: DCDL-0002910. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22817206
I felt embarrassed for Labour supporters / members when the Transport policy was recently announced: Were we going to have large scale growth in subsidised public transport? Were beneficiaries going to be allowed free travel so that they could get to WINZ on time and/or job interviews without sacrificing a meal? No. The cost of having a trailer is going to be reduced and we will be given greater opportunities to overtake trucks.
Where in the country are the party strategists living? Is Labour so close to National now that this is the best they could find to differentiate themselves? Forget a Labour-Green alliance, they might as well agree to a National-Labour alliance and have done with it!
Please come out of your Ivory Towers for a week, spend time with our poorer communities (without the cameras and spin doctors) and see how our country is hurting. Every Labour MP, or potential MP should seek out the poorest of their constituents and ask them, “What can we do to make your life better?” In quiet moments each should reflect on how they could have let one of the most equitable and fair societies on earth become so divided.
Because, until they can answer those questions and are prepared to campaign vigorously with the answers, we will only have Mana and Greens to help us loose the neo-liberal chains that strangle so many of our people on a daily basis. That would be a shame for Labour and further misery for our disenfranchised.