by Phil Duncan

With Winston Peters announcing that his New Zealand First party is going with Labour and not with National, it looks like the Tories are out and the Xenophobes are in. We’ll now have the two most xenophobic of the four main parties in coalition government (Labour and NZ First). Although the last Labour government was pretty racist in relation to immigration, a Labour-NZF coalition may well be the most xenophobic government since Muldoon in the late 1970s (and the pre-Muldoon Labour government which began the dawn raids on Pacific Islands immigrants).

Watch out immigrants, especially poor people who want to migrate here to make a better life for themselves!

While no-one is under any illusion about Winston Peters’ xenophobia, given that for the last several decades he has made a career out of anti-immigrant – especially anti-Asian immigrant – policies, the liberal left prefers to turn a blind eye to Labour’s anti-Asian racism.  In fact, much of the liberal or centre-left shares that racism.

Let’s just recall some of Labour’s track record on immigration.  The last Labour government had a political refugee from Algeria held in prison for several years, much of it in solitary confinement.  The last Labour government deported a Sri Lankan girl who was a rape victim back to where she had been abused.  The girl was deported in a wheelchair in a catatonic state.

The third Labour government began the dawn raids against immigrants from the Pacific.

The first Labour government largely shut the doors on Jewish refugees from the Nazis; they preferred ‘Aryan immigrants’ to Jewish refugees.

The early Labour Party totally supported the White New Zealand policy, even campaigning to have it strengthened.

And the current shower has campaigned in the past couple of years against immigrants with “Chinese-sounding surnames”.

The only problems that the Labour and NZ First xenophobes might run into is that the anti-Asian racism that is so much their stock-in-trade does not get much take-up from the public-at-large or within the mainstream of the capitalist class.  Several years of racist anti-Chinese campaigning didn’t get Labour any traction in the polls.  And the capitalists haven’t shown a lot of interest in restricting immigration; indeed they tend to be less anti-immigrant because they understand that immigrants are essential to the economy and expand the size of the workforce – more workers, more exploitation, more surplus-value.

Since Labour is finely-tuned to the needs of NZ capital, it remains to be seen to what degree they will move forward on their plans to substantially cut immigration.

Meanwhile, however, the NZ nationalist left celebrate.

This is like celebrating the victory of people who want sectional rights for white-skinned workers as against brown-skinned workers or for male workers as against female workers, rather than for the working class as a whole – after all, the working class is a global class and the fight for workers’ emancipation can only begin with an understanding of that.  Focusing on “New Zealand workers” is simply sectionalism on a national level.

Good public health and education for “New Zealand workers” and screw the oppressed peoples of the Third World.

When, oh when, will we have a real left in this country? One which starts from the interests of workers as a global class.  One which is internationalist rather than nationalist.  One which is anti-capitalist rather than crudely anti-Tory.

Further reading: Redline on the Labour Party

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Comments
  1. Daphna Whitmore says:

    Radio NZ had a short segment asking people in South Auckland’s Mangere suburb what they thought of the new government and the people they spoke to did not seem to expect anything much to change. This is interesting as Mangere has the highest vote for Labour out of the entire country.

    People in Mangere are use to seeing poverty on a daily basis, in contrast to the parliamentary politicians who swing by at election time to make a noise then go away until the next election cycle.

    People didn’t have any very concrete ideas about what could be done, but several were sure that the answers lay with the people not the politicians.

    This is a new generation, they may have voted Labour but they are not believers, and they wonder if Labour will be any different to National

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player?audio_id=2018618737

    • Walter Daum says:

      Your analysis seems important in the light of how Ardern is being painted elsewhere:

      UK Independent, October 21, 2017
      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/australasia/new-zealand-new-prime-minister-jacinda-ardern-capitalism-blatant-failure-a8012656.html

      New Zealand’s new prime minister called capitalism a “blatant failure”, before citing levels of homelessness and low wages as evidence that “the market has failed” her country’s poor. Jacinda Ardern, who is to become the nation’s youngest leader since 1856, said measures used to gauge economic success “have to change” to take into account “people’s ability to actually have a meaningful life”.

      In her first full interview since becoming prime minister-elect, she told current affairs programme The Nation that capitalism had “failed our people”. “If you have hundreds of thousands of children living in homes without enough to survive, that’s a blatant failure,” she said. “What else could you describe it as?”

  2. Phil says:

    It’s funny she is reported that way. Actually, what she has said is that the market hgas failed to solve certain problems – she has only used the ‘c’ word *after* Winston Peters, the leader of NZ First used it. She has never ever called capitalism a blatant failure. This is someone who worked for Tony Blair and who idolises Helen Clark. Thingshave moved on a bit from the days of Blair and Clark and with two parties that stand to the left of Labour on economic policy – the Greens and NZ First – Ardern has had to adapt to survive. She is in favour of stuff like increasing the minimum wage – although both NZ First and the Greens want a much larger minimum wage – maybe increasing social welfare (the only governments to increase social welfare in the past 44 years have been national Party – ie Tory – governments here). She likes ‘Fair Pay Agreements’ but has made clear she is totally opposed to workers using the strike weapon during pay negotiations. In other words, workers will do what they are told and be grateful supplicants. If they do this, then this government will deliver some improvements for *NZ* workers while immigration controls will be tightened and NZ will become a more successful member of the imperialist club.

  3. Phil says:

    It’s funny she is reported that way. Actually, what she has said is that the market has failed to solve certain problems – she has only used the ‘c’ word *after* Winston Peters, the leader of NZ First, used it. She has never ever called capitalism a blatant failure.

    This is someone who worked for Tony Blair, as she advanced her career up the greasy pole of bourgeois politics, and who idolises Helen Clark, the last Labour prime minister – the PM who famously said that paid parental leave would be introduced “over my dead body” and who enthusiasically joined in the invasion of Afghanistan.

    Things have moved on a bit from the days of Blair and Clark – and with two parties that stand to the left of Labour on economic policy – the Greens and NZ First – Ardern has had to adapt to survive. Also the ‘mood in the boardroom’ these days in NZ is that house prices, homelessness and child poverty are not good.

    Ardern is in favour of stuff like increasing the minimum wage (which National also did every year, bar one, of its three-term, nine-year reign) – although both NZ First and the Greens want a much larger minimum wage. Unlike the last three-term Labour-led government (1999-2008), she also seems to favour increasing social welfare (the only governments to increase social welfare in the past 44 years have been National Party – ie Tory – governments here).

    She likes ‘Fair Pay Agreements’ but has made clear she is totally opposed to workers using the strike weapon during pay negotiations. In other words, workers will do what they are told and be grateful supplicants. If they do this, then this government will deliver some improvements for *NZ* workers – albeit while immigration controls will be tightened and NZ will become a more successful member of the imperialist club.