by Joe Carolan
from Socialist Aotearoa
In a daring and audacious move, Matt McCarten, General Secretary of the Unite Union, announced his candidacy in the Mana By Election in Wellington earlier today. Matt has had a quarter of century's experience fighting for New Zealand's poorest workers, and was a founding member of both the New Labour Party and the Alliance. Now standing as a member of the Independent Left, he would make an excellent champion for the thousands of low paid and unemployed workers in Mana.
Support for Matt has come in from many members of other trade unions, as well as most of the organisations of the socialist left, who worked hard together in last year's Campaign for a Living Wage Referendum push. That Campaign got over 200,000 signatures of support to raise the minimum wage in New Zealand to $15ph NOW, and then two thirds of the average industrial wage subsequently. It was also successful in getting the independent left out into the housing estates, markets and workplaces, co operating in struggle together.
Labour has had this seat since the 1930s and has done little to alleviate the poverty there. The escalating attacks on the working class in New Zealand requires the serious left to look for political as well as industrial solutions. The Labour Party just won't cut it. Under the leadership of Phil Goof, they'll be lucky to clear 35% in next years election. In the War of the Hobbit, they can't even decide which side they're on. They're a centrist, liberal party who lost the last election because they ignored their working class base - the kind of people who live in Mana.
Socialists will campaign hard for Matt and for the people of Mana in the next month- for decent state housing, for affordable public transport, for a living wage, full employment and a planned economy. The Free Market economics that people like Phil Goof unleashed inthe 1980s have failed New Zealand. It's time for a New Left. Matt for Mana!