“Just because I don’t vote doesn’t make me less of a citizen”

Posted: September 3, 2014 by Admin in Capitalist ideology, Censorship and free speech, Class Matters, Economics, Labour Party NZ, National Party NZ, New Zealand politics, Poverty & Inequality, Unions - NZ, Workers' rights

by Daphna Whitmore

Unite union is saying a non vote is a vote for National: “The biggest vote last election was the Non Vote. Rich people and the bosses always vote, they are well organised  and understand power. They want to pass laws to control or stop unions, and they want to steal away workers’ rights. Unite urges all workers to vote the parties who will change the government – Labour, Greens and Internet-Mana.  A non vote is a vote for National!”

When it comes to passing laws to control or stop unions stealing away workers’ rights Labour have just as much experience as National, and quite a lot more savvy. In their three-term government from 1999 to 2008 they enthusiastically kept in place the restrictions on the right to strike. If you still think a vote for Labour is progressive keep in mind how New Zealand’s iconic capitalist  Bob Jones votes: “I last voted National in 1981. Excepting the New Zealand Party in 1984 and later Act twice, I’ve voted Labour ever since.”

Today on National Radio someone said “just because I don’t vote doesn’t make me less of a citizen”. The idea is getting out there that not voting is a form of political statement, a valid stance, and not a ‘vote for National’.

What are your thoughts? Is there a party worth voting for?

Public Meeting: Don’t vote – engage with real politics
We will be counterposing the need to develop a new left movement of, for and by workers rather than the narrow limits of the parliamentary circus being offered up to us on September 20, election day.
Saturday evening: September 13, 7pm Dunedin Community House, 283 Moray Place

Speakers:  Dr Bryce Edwards (Otago University*; NZ politics commentator); Malcolm Deans (Sec, Unions Otago* and member of Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement); Colin Clarke (former member, Independent Working Class Association* in Britain; member, editorial group of Redline blog)

(Organisations/institutions mentioned for identification purposes only)

  1. Admin says:

    I’m getting sick to death of hearing the cry of “change the government” as though this very act will save the world. The message seems to be that however shitty Labour is, they will be better than National. Where is the evidence though? Labour is entirely committed to maintaining Capitalism in NZ. They are committed to all the shit restrictions on unions and striking. They have no interest in raising wages to particularly high levels. They certainly have no interest in raising benefits. They may be a little better than National in some areas, like education, but they are worse on others like raising the the retirement age.

    Labour sold out the working class a long time ago and yet they still hold on to a lot of the working class vote and support of unions in NZ. This makes them far more dangerous than National. National is an obvious enemy but Labour is a sneaky, back stabbing enemy to workers.

    Building a movement against the system is far more important than trying to influence the parliamentary circus.

  2. PhilF says:

    “A non-vote is a vote for National,” used to be the cry of Labour MPs. They also used to pretend that a vote for small left parties was/is a vote for National too, especially in the days before MMP.

    That Unite is now officially mimicking those Labour MPs is pretty awful.

    Instead of mimicking Labour MPs, why doesn’t Unite launch a new political movement?

    Instead, in recent months, we’ve seen Unite’s key leader, Matt McCarten, abandon the union for a job as slimey David Cunliffe’s chief-of-staff; we’ve seen Mike Treen say that the left should welcome this move (ie the incorporation of someone previously associated with at least some kind of class struggle politics) into Cunliffe’s office boy and all that entails in terms of endorsement of the politics of this out-and-out capitalist party.

    I remember about 9 or 10 years ago a number of us, mainly Anti-Capitalist Alliance folk, sitting round in a room in the Trades Hall in Auckland with Matt discussing the prospect of a workers’ list for the 2005 elections. We were very keen about Matt’s proposal but, subsequently, Matt seemed to pull back from that perspective. And now, here are the fruits.

    Indeed, there has been a general political retreat since in terms of Unite’s *politics*. No political project has come from the union and, instead, leaders of the union have been pulled into the political projects of others: the Maori Party, Mana/Internet-Mana and even Labour.

    The Unite statement amounts to an attempt at blackmailing progressives into voting Labour, Greens or InternetMana. It’s actually a disgraceful smear tactic and should be rejected with the contempt it deserves.

    If Mike Treen and co want a Labour-led government, they should come out and make a political case for it.


  3. PhilF says:

    Re Bob Jones voting Labour:

    The richest person in NZ in the 1930s was beer baron Ernest Davis. He was a strong Labour supporter. And was rewarded by being knighted by the first Labour government.


  4. Barrie says:

    Remember Owen Glenn? He’s a billionaire and had no qualms about donating to Labour.

  5. PhilF says:

    Big money has a better understanding of Labour than a lot of left activists do, unfortunately.


  6. Daphna says:

    In the last two elections over 20 per cent of people didn’t vote. In the 2011 election 7.1 percent of the non-voters said they did not think their vote would have made a difference. This is up from 3.9 percent in the 2008 election. That is not apathy, but an acknowledgement that parliamentary politics is perceived as not representative.

    With the campaign to get out the vote this time it’ll be interesting to see what the turn out is.

    • Thomas R says:

      Respect to the optimism, I’d temper it a wee bit with the last election being clearly a National winner – so many ‘it wouldn’t make a difference’ could still be just National or Labour voters.

      • Daphna says:

        That’s a good point, and probably a sizeable number of non-voters were in that category. Anecdotally, the people I know who are undecided also don’t vote as they have found nothing that moves them. I’ve always thought it a bit weird too how there are a proportion of voters who go into the booth and then decide who/what to tick! That’s like a lucky dip. And not winning anything, of course.

      • Thomas R says:

        Yeah I’ve been getting increasingly tired, even as someone who does vote, at this relentless attempt to mobilise all voters all the time. My feeling is still that MANA isn’t a waste of time to vote for, but if people aren’t convinced by that I have no interest in saying ‘just vote anyway, for the least bad option’ cause that seems far too cynical and condescending. We all deserve a better option that the ‘lesser evil’ that’s for sure. I do think that, regardless of Redline’s views on the Marxist left, Socialists still do have perspective well beyond the ballot box and September 20th anyway. The sooner this circus is over the better really.

  7. Gun Lobby says:

    It’s also obvious that mainstream media is incapable of anything that might be called critical thinking.

    This piece (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10769246) on the massive non-turnout last election is the tip of the iceberg. Even a professor of politics can manage only a slight cerebral twinge of thought on what might be causing it.