RockEnrol, Labour and the Mana Party

Posted: May 30, 2014 by Admin in At the coalface, Capitalist ideology, Class Matters, New Zealand politics, Organised superstition, Poverty & Inequality, Workers' rights

Unfortunately, the small action of more young people voting for parliamentary parties will bring No Change

by Don Franks

Optimus Gryme, Third3ye and Chronophonium are coming to town.

In a run up to the September general election, these artists will be hitting the stage in a series of concerts and house parties.  Shows will be free – conditionally. The ticket fee is waived if you’re enrolled to vote.

The movement is a part of RockEnrol, an organisation launched to fight the country’s drastically low youth-voter turnout with pop culture.

Auckland hip-hop group Third3ye, who played this year’s Laneway festival, say they want to change the way youth approach politics.  Third3ye frontman, Bronson Price says: “There are lots of issues that directly affect us and we can change the outcome.”

Founders of RockEnrol, Laura O’Connell-Rapira, 25, and Sam Dyson, 21, say the organisation’s focus is on getting youth to vote – no matter who for:  “We aren’t backing any political party, we just want youth to get out there and vote. Because what kind of democracy are we without that?”

In the 2011 election 42 per cent of 18-24 year-olds did not vote – compared with just 5.2 per cent of those over 65.

RockEnrol is hoping to finally launch a relatable movement for youth, with O’Connell-Rapira acknowledging nothing is more annoying than irrelevant old people telling youth what to do:  “There’s nothing worse than a campaign supposedly for youth that is just really naff and lame – it gets boring, all ‘vote, vote, vote, vote, vote’.”

Yes, it does get boring and, worse than boring, voting for parliament is a con.

You read all the different pamphlets carefully, consider the policies, go to a few meetings and ask the candidates some questions.  You might even help give leaflets out, or put up signs or bake a fundraising cake. Then, finally, on the big day you get down to the polling booth, receive your voting form, check it carefully and place your tick wherever you choose.

You have then, supposedly, played a small but definite part in changing the outcome of issues that affect you.

If that really was the case, your effort would have been worthwhile, and well done RockEnrol for getting you organized.

Except that voting for parliament is not about people changing the outcome of issues. Voting for New Zealand parliamentarians in 2014 is essentially about acknowledging the dictatorship of big business interests.

Manufacturing, trade, investment and banking, all the things that affect people’s lives most, all of these proceed with the least possible interference from parliament.

Yes, there are such things as employment laws hammered out and passed in parliament. On examination, these laws reveal themselves as heavily favouring business interests.  On closer examination, these laws may be seen to be flouted regularly, the recent Easter trading farce being only a more visible example.

And yes, there are social issues grappled with and put to rights in the parliamentary chamber, like the homosexual law reforms of recent ties

On examination social reforms such as this are legislated years after society has already informally made the changes. In the case of homosexual law reform, many years after.

Still, changes are signed off in parliament, decisions are made there.  Just not the vital economic decisions that make or break employment, threaten work safety, or trash the environment.  At the first sign of serious disruption to profiteering, the magic words “BUSINESS CONFIDENTIALITY” are intoned.

Upon which all the MPs shrink respectfully and rapidly away.

As an old comrade once rightly observed: “You can take them all the petitions you like, but the surplus value is spoken for”.

So what to do?  If voting changes nothing, does anything else?

Mass actions of working people, especially in their workplaces and in cooperation with fellow workers in other lands.  That is how workers got the vote in the first place.  Back in the day, payment for MPs was a progressive demand. Now, parliament is in the process of turning into its opposite, changing from being something of a people’s voice into something of a people’s fetter.

That’s why it’s a tragedy that activists continue to maintain the parliamentary illusion, by supporting the Mana/ Kimdot Money alliance.

Again and again Mana leaders remind us that their bottom line is getting rid of National.

As if Labour was any better – on immigration and old age pensions Labour is worse than National.

But if getting rid of National was the be all and end all – why Mana at all?

Why not cut to the chase and just join Labour?

If RockErol want to benefit youth politically they should leave off begging them to vote in the general election. They should encourage youth to destroy capitalism.

More socially useful, and definitely never boring.


  1. Daphna says:

    The “vote to change the government” line is really pretty disgraceful. It is a comfortable way for people to endorse a vote for Labour knowing full well that Labour’s policies are for the most part the same as National’s. Where they differ they are sometimes worse than National’s – as you point out Don, with the raising of the pension age and the tightening of immigration controls. So for the elderly and for migrants the “anything but National” line is not at all progressive. Much better for progressive people to campaign for people to be supported in old age, and for the right of people to move freely, and for the right of workers to organise without restriction. None of those rights will be upheld by a Labour-led government. National and Labour are two acts in the same show.

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