by Daphna Whitmore
After promising to tackle poverty, housing, transport, and climate issues in 2017, and failing on all these measures, Labour has moved to a Helen Clark “promise little and disappoint less” style of government.
Poverty – perversely called “child poverty” by Ardern – has worsened under Labour. Much of the increase can be put down to the lockdown and border closures. The Salvation Army report published in February 2021 shows September 2020 had the biggest quarterly unemployment increase since the stockmarket crash of 1986. Youth unemployment is now over 80,000 and the highest it has been since 2012. Officially there are 25,000 more people unemployed but what is often overlooked is underemployment which has risen by 60,000 over the past year. That includes part-time workers who want more hours and people who are no longer actively looking for work.
The cost of housing continues to soar with prices rising by 10 percent in 2020. For renters the picture is similar and low-income tenants are being squeezed. When Labour came to office in 2017 there were nearly six thousand people waiting for social housing. By 2018 it had more than doubled to 14,000 in part because the previous government had made it harder to get on the social housing list. There are now 22,000 people in need of social housing.
Incomes have not kept pace. Over the past five years wages have gone up 13 percent while rents have risen 25 percent.
Hardship increased by 37% in 2020 with over $800 million distributed in grants. The desperate need was highlighted by the number of food parcels given out by foodbanks doubling.
In Labour’s last term we saw that even something as minimal as a capital gains tax, which actually is in the interests of many capitalists, was too big a step for the Labourites. As we have pointed out many times Labour are in parliament to manage capitalism. The Labour Party is today dominated by the professional classes and reflects their tastes and aspirations. It’s quite likely that Labour will push through woke social policies that cost little, tend to sacrifice females, and not deal with mounting hardship. We can expect some bread but mostly circuses from Labour.