5 Nov 2013

Musings on the 2013 Labour Conference

 The Line in the Sand

As noted earlier, this conference should be seen as “The Line in the Sand” conference rather than, as has been painted by the opinionistas, an inward looking navel gaze by a Party more interested in itself than in politics and governance.
Cunliffe’s speech was designed to clearly articulate the points of difference between Labour and the neo-liberal National-ACT party while the Party, as a whole, determined that the principles on which these differences are based are clearly articulated in the Party’s policy framework.

What has escaped the opinionistas is that the Policy Framework is the document against which all manifesto and policy directions must be referenced. It is designed to limit and prevent policy inconsistencies developing. This means that, unlike PinoKeyo, who makes up “facts and figures” and invents policy on the hoof when ever he is cornered or faced with a trade off in return for a promise of a possible reward from a Casino, a film company or smelter company, the Labour Party MPs will have a common reference point and position that will ensure that Labour has a consistent message and policy direction.

Cunliffe’s speech and the policy announcements on a Living Wage, on Housing, on KiwiAssure ( a return to the old State Insurance Company once a jewel in the government’s treasury) and the Christchurch rebuild must be seen as reflections of the coherent policy framework the Conference refined and endorsed over the last weekend.

Because the Conference was essentially a constitutional one the Party also refined its constitutional principles and internal functioning to best reflect both the make up of the Party and the political environment created by MMP. While the decisions may affect the representation of Men, Women and Ethnic groups offered on the Party list and those standing as candidates in Electorates it does not and will not affect the ability of the Party, when in Government, to govern responsibly and effectively.

The reaction of the opinionistas who refer to the constitutional decisions as a “man ban” would appear to be endorsing a belief that the only “real representation” of New Zealand society and, therefore, effective governors, are white, affluent, conservative businessmen who “know” what the people need because they’re “self made men”. This is hardly a belief based on empirical evidence or which has any credibility since the recent economic crashes and the performances of both the UK Conservative Party or the US Republican Party.

The Conference and Cunliffe’s speeches were a signal that Labour will be governing for the mutual good of all members of the New Zealand society. That Labour will govern from sound, coherent and well considered principles and values that have been developed from consultation and endorsed by the wider membership and not by a committee appointed by a few and responsible to no-one but themselves. They also signal a return to the values based on a mutual regard and concern for all who contribute to society and away from the neo-liberal selfishness of the PinoKeyo National-ACT government.

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