Monday, 3 November 2008

McCarten and Pierson tell readers not to vote for RAM

by Auckland union activist 3 November 2008 Steve Pierson’s in a posting on The Standard website, Vote smart: The micro parties (1 Nov 2008), writes:
Last election, 7,000 people gave their votes to very small left-wing parties that never had any chance of winning a seat in Parliament. That's 0.3% of the vote; a small but not insignificant amount. If those votes to the Alliance and Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis had gone to the Greens instead (who, after all, have 99% of their policies in common), the Greens would have won another seat. This election, there are two more micro left wing parties - the Workers' Party and the Residents Action Movement. Two parties with, as far as I can tell, identical policies and ideology that sit comfortably within the ideals of the Greens and Labour, just more extreme, but have no hope of getting elected (RAM came dead last in every local council election that it contested last year). I have a lot of sympathy for these parties and their policies. It is important to have groups that pulling the political spectrum left. But that is no reason for voters to waste their votes on them. Last election, the micro parties and the Progressive took a combined 33,000 votes, each one of them wasted when they could have been contributing to more seats for the Left. If that happens again, it may be the difference between keeping the Left in power and a National-led government. Which leads to a sad but inescapable conclusion - voting for a micro party rather than a party that will return to Parliament is like voting for a National-led government.
Pierson's comments on RAM are a distortion of the facts. He ignores the 100,000 votes that RAM received across Greater Auckland, which was a very respectable result for a left party. And RAM could still have held their one councilor on the ARC if the Labour Party dominated City Vision had not stood against RAM’s councilor in a seat they were never going to win. Despite Pierson's claim that he supports smaller parties that would drag the political centre to the left (if they can make an impact), in reality he advances an argument that will always doom the left to the shadows of the Labour Party. All that grassroots people can hope for is National-lite, a pro-market party with a handful of social policies that talks left at election time. Pierson accepts the tweedle dee and tweedle dum nightmare of Labour and National swapping positions in parliament for perpetuity. Such is the crisis of vision and imagination that still grips many people who still consider themselves to be “of the left”. Matt McCarten's dismissal of RAM in the NZ Herald (Formula for strategic voting is as clear as the Greens' policies 2 Nov 2008) also needs rebuttal. McCarten, if he is in touch with working people as he claims to be, can not be unaware that many working class people are considering voting National. When I meet these people (usually at our stalls, but also as work) and tell them of RAM they are often visibly relieved to have another choice open to them. RAM isn’t helping National win. It’s the conservative market driven Labour Party policies that are alienating working class people. McCarten is repeating the line used by the Labour Party against the Maori Party. Senior Labour Party figures have for some time been going around and accusing RAM of being right wing and helping a National party victory. I'm disapointed in Matt McCarten for not challenging this rubbish and instead supporting the growth of a party that’s unashamedly on the side of grassroots people against the corporate interests that today’s Labour Party embraces. In April 1904 at the Trades and Labour annual conference, which was held in Christchurch, a resolution was passed 16 votes to 3 that: "conference is of the opinion that an Independent Labour Party should be formed immediately." The new party put up candidates for the 1905 general election. They all got thrashed. Only one candidate got enough votes to get his deposit back. In 2008, I would rather lose with RAM than win with any of the others. This is because I know RAM are building something better. When Ralph Nader was building the Greens as a left alternative to the two party dictatorship that runs America, he was attacked in much the same way as Steve Pierson and Matt McCarten are attacking RAM. Nader mockingly asked his critics: "is it better to vote for what you want, and not getting it? Or vote for what you don't want, and getting it?" His point being, that if these so called commentators were as left as they claimed, then instead of using their pulpits in the media to attack him, they should have been giving him all the support they could.


MZL said...

...but voters already have an alternative that you don’t address, the Greens. they share the same anti-market values as RAM but are viable

Ondine Green said...

Er, that argument might have held water a while ago, but since then the Greens have signed up to "emissions trading" - the neo-liberal, more-market fraud which has been foisted on us instead of real measures to halt climate change. Bribing the big corporates with even more of the wealth of the nation not to pollute quite as quickly?!? Anti-market? Well, I think I hear a Tui billboard coming on.

Vaughan said...

And of course the Greens have lined up with Labour, National, and ACT and said removing GST off food would be too hard. GST was, and is, a core part of the neo-liberal revolution which has created the wealth divide that exists in New Zealand today. A party opposed to market ideology would support a mass campaign to undermine this flat tax.