Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Left Can Do This

Last week I posted on the new introduction to politics on the left, the alliance between Mana and The Internet Party. In that post I outlined my wonderings about this new player on the field of political footy, promising to lay out my wonderings around why I think the left is a serious contender in the up coming election. 

One of the biggest worries for the parties on the left is the media. The media pundits seem to be hell bent on painting a picture of a 5 headed Hydra, one that is fractured and running against itself.  Anytime they sense a sniff of criticism of the left by the left, the media jumps in with cries of an unstable political environment on the left.  At that point the right wing takes over with its savvy PR machine and spins the public a line that those who vote for Labour and the Greens will be dealing with a crazy conglomeration of strange activists who can't agree on anything.

To counter this, Parties on the left can't be publicly dissing any of their left wing colleagues. The public don't like it and the media goes in for the kill.   They need to be seen to be coordinated, collaborative and consistent.  

Here's where learning from the greens co leader Russell Norman is useful. He has been consistent in keeping out of the mud, and has become adept at sidestepping any attempts to get him to criticise those with whom the Greens would need to form a coalition with - particularly Labour.  I can imagine that at times (cough Shane Jones cough) this has not been an easy task.

Theres an irony here, in terms of a scary political Hydra.  If there was ever a heinous monster of an alliance that could go into government and should have voters frightened, it's living on the right wing side of politics. To think our counties policies could be formed from the strange and wacky things that have come out of the right wing quarter should have all kiwis running scared.  Considering marijuana decriminalisation reform is the most radical thing coming out of the left block, in comparison to the ludicrous and 19th century thinking from the right block of fake moon landings, State sanctioned incest and a call to bring back smacking, well, what more do I need to say?  Voter beware.   

Then there are the polls.  Currently, they don't paint a particularly rosy picture.  They do seem a little skewed.  I have never met anyone who has been rung and been asked to participate in a poll about voting.  I wonder if too much attention is paid to these polls.  It wouldn't be the first time a party has been appearing to poll badly close to an election, and then seem to make a miraculous come back.  

From a grass roots perspective (one that's not formed from a talkback radio listening or mainstream political tv watching bias) the polls don't reflect what I see and hear on a daily basis.   I get a sense that the public are concerned about the very things the Government say are doing well and that there is a disconnect with what is reported and what is happening in the real world.  Housing, education, rising mortgages, escalating living costs and the ever widening gap between those who have and those who don't, are regular conversations in the average kiwis home and workplace. 

Despite the polls, there are murmurings of hope and a real sense that the left can do this.

Firstly, Labour has a track record of working well with others.  They have worked with a wide variety of parties, and they have the experience and 'know how' to run a collaborative well oiled coalition that will take NZ forward.  The public just needs to remember that it is under a Labour Government that NZ has been the most successful - both socially and fiscally.  Together with the Greens they will be able to lead a coalition of the left.  

Secondly, the Greens have grown into themselves.  The modern Green Party is savvy, diverse and they have proven themselves as capable political players.  Gone are the early misconceptions of 'mung beans at dawn', hairy armpits and pot smoking parliamentarians who only want to save the planet one flower at a time.  Instead, we have a modern, experienced Green Party that echo the sentiments of the future with the ability to work with Labour to create a vibrant green economy that NZ could potentially thrive under.  

Then there is Winston and his NZ First Party.  Typically he is a bit of a wild card.  However, he does have his followers and they are a voice that his party hears and caters for.  Winston has been around forever.  He is politically adept at working things to his advantage.  My only wonderings here are his longevity and what happens when he eventually goes.  Next year he turns 70.  At some point, politically speaking, enough will be enough for him.  Then what?  Of course, the other wondering is what he will do come election day.  If it is close, will he go left, or will he go right?  With Winston, you just never know.   The plus side is that should we trust him to stay left then his experience will ensure things are steady. 

That leaves us with The Internet and Mana alliance.   Today I have been watching the live streaming of the candidate selection process for The Internet Party (yes, I am aware I need to get out more), and I am impressed with the philosophy of transparency that The Internet Party is employing.   That, along with the other strengths I posted on last week, should be enough to reassure the public that the left do indeed have what it takes to lead our country.

Therefore, what will it take for the left to win?

1. Collaboration and a collective voice on the issues that matter. 

The parties on the left are united in the cause of ensuring there is a change of government.  They are united in the cause of ensuring equity and success for all kiwis.  It is these messages that they need to be consistent with.

2. The ability to show collegiality and professionalism. 

The public are not interested in watching another sideshow of mud slinging. Whilst it might entertain some, for the most part what it does is live up to the reputation the media paint - one of disarray and fractured parties. When another party on the left disses a potential collation partner, it reminds me of the old adage to never wrestle with a pig, because you both get dirty and the pig loves it. The problem with dirty mud wrestling in politics when the left are mucking around getting muddy, is the right wing use it to their advantage. Their PR machines are huge, and they are slicker than an oil disaster. 

It is foolhardy politics to give any advantage to the right wing, particularly this close to an election and when the main polls are not going your way. By all means, have your personal opinions on recent developments, but exercise caution and attempt to keep them private and behind closed doors.  The media are persistent in undermining what the left wing are attempting to achieve, and I have been wondering when the left will stop, drop and collaborate. The sooner they do this the sooner the media will look for other things to focus on.

3. People to get off the couch, get motivated and VOTE.

One of the advantages of the alliance between Mana and The Internet Party, is that they have the means and motivation to go forth and assist other parties on the left to tap into the lost million of the countries eligible voters. Each party on the left has its own strengths and niche. Together they have the ability to inspire, encourage and fossick out those voters whom, for their various reasons, choose not to vote in the last election. In a previous post I wrote about why someone should vote, and why their voice counts.  The key here for the parties of the left is to make sure they inspire those who didn't vote last time and to give them a reason to do so this time, emphasising why their voice does indeed count.  The real danger here is that people will remain at home, disinterested and unwilling to participate.  

Finally, the left can do this.  They have the ability to form a cohesive, collaborative government that will lead NZ into the future.  Between them they have a mix of experience, innovation, determination and sound policies that will make a difference to all kiwis.  They can do this. 

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