Archive for the ‘John Key’ Category

Epitomising sanctimonious bourgeois respectability

by Phil Duncan

Labour is, politically, a respectable bourgeois party.

Sociologically, it is peopled largely by respectable liberal middle class people.  Just take a look at the backgrounds of Labour MPs, the party’s top managers and new folks on the Labour party list for September.

They are overwhelmingly people who are thoroughly removed from the reality of poverty and people struggling to make ends meet.

They want all the poor people – people struggling to survive on the smell of an oily rag – to be respectably bourgeois like themselves. Such well-behaved poor people can then be grateful supplicants, looked after by the patronising Labour do-gooders.

And poor people who help themselves – like to a few extra bucks to feed their kids, as Metiria Turei did – are to be roundly condemned by respectable bourgeois like Jacinda Ardern and her idiot fan club.

Reminds me of the (more…)

by Daphna Whitmore

For Labour’s 34 MPs the odds of becoming leader are quite high. Yesterday, for the fifth time in nine years, the party dipped into its talent puddle to present a new saviour. It was Jacinda Ardern’s turn to work some magic. Jacinda

In the press gallery expectations were not high as Jacinda stepped up for her first press conference as leader. The reporters seemed genuinely amazed when Jacinda showed she could speak fluently about nothing much, and could even inject humour into the void.

Four months ago she was elected to be Labour’s shiny new deputy leader. With her face beaming down from the hoardings alongside the last leader, what’s-his-name, she was to bring some X-factor. Somehow the magic didn’t happen and the polls fell further. That was yesterday; today Labour is optimistic.

Labour is the most optimistic (more…)

by Phil Duncan

Earlier this month the National Party received a $150,000 donation from a company which exports racehorses to Inner Mongolia (that’s the Mongolian region of China).  Later in the month, Labour received a hefty $100,000 donation from retired High Court judge and QC Robert Smellie.

Note how the rate at which the rich were getting richer speeded up under the fifth Labour government, led by Helen Clark; it was only stunted by the global financial sector partial meltdown

Heads of companies and high court judges are both part of the ruling class.

The ruling class in New Zealand is a very clever ruling class.  They don’t just have one party; they have two main parties to do their bidding – National and Labour – so that when one is looking a bit mangy and falling out of favour with electors, the other, more refreshed one can take over.

The mechanism for the replacement is an election, thus providing the veneer that this is a democracy.  The ruling class rarely cares about which party is in power, because they – unlike much of the left – understand that both are essentially their servants.

Sometimes, however, they do have a preference.  In 1949, Labour was exhausted and the ruling class plumbed for National, as they did again in 1951.  In 1984, the bulk of the ruling class swung behind Labour.  When that Labour government was exhausted by waging the biggest attack on workers’ rights and living standards since the Depression, the ruling class swung behind National in 1990.  When that National government was looking bedraggled, they swung behind Labour again in 1999.

Currently, they’re happy enough with National, but certainly not hostile to a Labour victory.

And, for their part, the people who run Labour are perfectly aware that they are not a left-wing party, not socialist, not even (more…)

download-1At midday today National Party leader and prime minister John Key announced that he is resigning from both positions, effective next Monday (December 12) and that he will be leaving parliament before the 2017 election.

We’ll have more to say about the resignation over the next few days, but below are links to some articles we’ve run about Key.

Our analysis has stood up remarkably well.  We pointed out from day one that Key was not a new righter or neoliberal in terms of economic policy and that the majority of the left who kept pretending he was were simply making themselves look foolish.  The last thing the capitalist class in NZ needed, we noted, was a new round of ‘Rogernomics’ and ‘Ruthanasia’.  Key was a middle-of-the-road capitalist manager.  In fact, it should hardly be surprising that, on a number of core issues, he has been to the left of Labour.

He has been to the left of Labour on the retirement age and on social welfare benefits, to mention just two examples.  Plus he’s less racist against Asians than Labour.

One possible consequence of his departure will be that the Nats who follow will ally with Labour in a bipartisan move to make workers work more years and create more surplus-value for the capitalist class whose interests both Labour and National serve.

Labour will certainly be delighted with today’s announcement.  The departure of the popular Key just might open things up a bit and give a boost to them and their plans for fresh attacks on the working class once they get back in power.

Anyway, check out the articles below:

The Key-English government in the context of capital accumulation  (parts written in 2008 and 2009)

Key’s ‘vision’: managing the malaise of NZ capitalism

Key’s government not neoliberal, admits Unite union leader

hoursby Phil Duncan

A Newshub story yesterday, written by Tony Wright, highlights the longer hours workers in New Zealand have to put in to make ends meet.  It takes recent OECD data to build stats on hours worked by full-time employees in NZ and countries that are comparable, although the writer couldn’t find figures for the United States and Canada.  Nevertheless, it is clear that workers in this country are working more hours than workers in Britain, western Europe and Australia.

While Tony Wright has done a good job, it should be noted that, if anything, the stats he has compiled, downplay the actual number of hours put in, on average, by NZ workers.  What doesn’t show up here is that many full-time workers also have part-time jobs and many part-time workers have several part-time jobs.  And the stats often won’t show up the full hours worked in the ‘black economy’ as people are reluctant to fill out these hours for the census and the Household Labour Force survey.

Longer hours

Household Labour Force Surveys and censuses do, however, show large numbers of workers here putting in over 50 hours a week.  According to the 2013 census, 20% of employed people were working more than 50 hours a week (although this was ‘officially’ down from 25% in 2001).
The latest (2013) census declares cheerily,  “The proportion of employed people working 50 hours or more per week dropped to 20 percent in 2013, according to census results released by Statistics New Zealand today. This is down from 23 percent in 2006, and 25 percent in 2001.”  This neatly sidesteps, however, the fact that the percentage working 40-49 hours has actually risen for workers in the 20-50 age group (the group most likely to have children and/or other dependents).


Hours worked overall rose steeply in the 1990s, a product of the defeat of the working class at the hands of the fourth Labour government (1984-1990) and then in the first term of the fourth National government (1990-1993), a defeat eventually codified in the Employment Contracts Act of 1991 and that year’s ‘Mother of all Budgets’.

Hours and the ‘rock star’ economy


2011 stats

Around the middle of the first decade of the 2000s, official hours worked fell somewhat but then, starting in 2010, they began to rise again.

This coincides with the impact of the global financial crisis and the fact that hours worked have continued to rise indicates the shallowness of the notion promoted by Key that NZ has a ‘rock star’ economy, unless the rock star he is referring to is some clapped-out, drug-besotten, senile old rocker, kept together only by continuous injections of publicly-funded booster drugs.

Why longer hours?

Why people in this country work relatively long hours can be understood for two key, inter-related reasons.  One is (more…)

No matter how much he squawks the Little bird just can't fly

No matter how much he squawks, the Little bird just can’t get lift-off

by Phil Duncan

In the latest Roy Morgan poll, support for Labour continues to slide.  The poll puts support for this capitalist party at a mere 26%, after months of Labour trying everything it could – like anti-Chinese racism – to get a lift.  Moreover, Andrew Little just hasn’t caught on with the masses.  And so-called political shrewd operator and wonder worker Matt McCarten – Little’s chief go-for – has turned out to be incapable of devising a strategy for success.

Desperate Labour supporters, trying to put a brave face on the stagnation of their party, can only seek solace in the fact that National support has dropped to 42.5%, the lowest in two years.  However, on the figures, taking into account National’s support parties, the current government could be returned for a fourth term in 2017.

Moreover, Labour faces a deeper problem.  In traditional Labour seat after traditional Labour seat, the party has been losing the party vote.  It is only in the big Pacific Island working class seats of south Auckland and the Maori seats that Labour these days has a secure hold on the party vote.  In most other places, it has (more…)

The material below, including the introduction, first appeared on Redline in June 2011 – just as this blog was beginning – although it was written and appeared elsewhere in 2008 and 2009.  Seven-eight years on, it is increasingly acknowledged on the left that the Key government are not hardened neo-liberals with a secret agenda to finish the job begun by Labour and National (‘Rogernomics’ and ‘Ruthanasia’) in the 1984-93 period.  It’s a sad comment on the NZ left that no-one has had the good grace to say, “Hey, you folks were right” – especially those who attacked us for our analysis – but unfortunately chunks of the left here are rather mean-spirited and that’s the way it is until we have a new left.  We’re highlighting these pieces again, however, primarily because of the discussion set off by the recent OECD report.

johnbillFrom before the 2008 election to today, confusion has reigned on the left about the nature of the National government. People involved in this blog have been to the forefront in trying to analyse the government and its actions in the context of the actual process of capital accumulation in New Zealand today – ie analyse the Key-English government from a Marxist point of view – rather than fall into the left’s tendency to simple-minded Nat-bashing. Nat-bashing may have a ‘feelgood’ factor for many but is useless in understanding what is going on and why – and why Labour is no better.

Below are pieces written during the course of the current government, two of which originally appeared in Party Notes, the internal bulletin of the Workers Party. Party Notes used to contain the minutes of the monthly WP steering group meetings and political pieces designed to guide the work of the organisation. The third was written in February 2009 and first appeared in the April 2009 issue of The Spark.

These pieces argued that the government was not about to launch a cut-throat attack to smash the working class, as claimed by much of the left. The reason for this is that the productivity gains to be made by making workers work harder, longer and faster had largely been made and had failed to inject new dynamism into the economy. The key problem for NZ capitalism is the low rate of productivity growth and this was what the ruling class would be trying to address. At the same time, we noted there would be attacks on the public sector because it is still largely financed out of surplus-value and therefore tends to be a partial drain on profits. If the economic situation worsened significantly, moreover, all bets were off.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be putting up more pieces people involved in Redline wrote in the last couple of years on government policy in the context of the real problems faced by the New Zealand economy, and new material on the state of play at present. (more…)