by Daphna Whitmore

The latest political poll shows Labour has not gained support through its campaign against people with Chinese-sounding names buying houses in Auckland. Tapping into prejudice and nationalism has been a proven poll booster in the past, but not this time. Their scaremongering about a ‘tsunami of Chinese investment’ has been condemned by a broad range of people who have called them out for playing a dirty race card.

Labour may have felt encouraged at the initial outpouring of xenophobic ranting supporting them. They probably thought they were being politically savvy and had their finger on the pulse. They were saying what ‘everyone knew’ according to Labour’s housing spokesperson, Phil Twyford. Instead, Labour has been shown to be unprincipled and stupid. Almost 1 in 4 people living in Auckland identified with one or more Asian ethnicities in the 2013 census. Just how will Labour relate to these people from here on?

They have alienated thousands of voters., the most visited Chinese online community in New Zealand, had forums seething with anger at Labour over its scapegoating of Chinese. They say they will not be voting Labour and are getting that message out. The website attracts over 60,000 daily visits, generates over 700,000 daily page views and has 160,000 registered members. Now there’s a tsunami of anti-Labour voters! Read the rest of this entry »

by Don Franks 

The NZ Labour party has set down self described “non-negotiable”conditions for signing the TPPA.

Leader Andrew Little said his party supported free trade but would not back the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) unless five “non-negotiable bottom lines” were met.

They are:

  • Drug-buying agency Pharmac must be protected.
  • Corporations cannot successfully sue the Government for regulating in the public interest.

  • New Zealand maintains the right to restrict sales of farm land and housing to non-resident foreigner buyers.

  • The Treaty of Waitangi must be upheld.

  • Meaningful gains are made for farmers in tariff reductions and market access.

To recap – The TPPA is a proposed regional free trade deal between 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Negotiations began in 2005 and were supposed to be concluded in 2012, but some issues have been so contentious that agreement has not yet been reached.tppcountries

Countries involved in the negotiations are New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, United States, Vietnam, Mexico and Canada.

Labour’s latest conditions are designed to placate voters worried about the outcome of the TPPA.  Described as “non-negotiable”, they are certainly extremely flexible. Read the rest of this entry »

by Don Franks
Henry Lawson

Henry Lawson

The nineteenth century search for gold always fascinated me when I was a kid. Gold fever and gold rushes were something we had in New Zealand history too, something we shared with America’s magical old west. 

I pointlessly sluiced in Butterfly creek with an old frying pan and dreamed of shanty towns. Around that time I discovered bush ballads, poems in word easily understood, poems written about exciting actions, like gold prospecting.  Henry Lawson’s rhythms pleased me, until the day his wagon went off the road, via the Cambaroora Star.

The Cambaroora Star is for those sentimental about small newspapers. The operator sets up his press on the gold field, advocates for the miners, struggles to make a living and eventually goes the way of all little battlers. Lawson’s poem chugs along nicely until the reader is asked to stomach verses nine and ten:

Diggers then had little mercy for the loafer and the scamp —
If there wasn’t law and order, there was justice in the camp;
And the manly independence that is found where diggers are
Had a sentinel to guard it in the Camboora Star.
There was strife about the Chinamen, who Read the rest of this entry »
The Labourites are tapping into a long tradition of anti-Chinese racism in western colonial-settler societies

The Labourites are tapping into a long tradition of anti-Chinese racism in western colonial-settler societies, including that of the early Labour Party here

by Philip Ferguson

Labour’s attempt to scapegoat people with “Chinese surnames” for the shortage of “affordable” house properties in Auckland is blatantly racist.  

Firstly, they’re not targeting people with “English surnames” or “Welsh surnames” or “pakeha surnames”.  They’re targeting Chinese surnames.  Racist!

Secondly, when have Little, Twyford et al attacked white/New Zealand capitalists?  They don’t.  So the part of the term “Chinese capitalists” which is relevant is the word “Chinese” not “capitalist”.  That’s not  anti-capitalism, that’s racism!

Moreover, how likely are the Chinese super-rich to buy rental properties in Auckland anyway?  About as likely as Donald Trump or Gina Rhinehart or Eric Watson.  If you’re super-rich and interested in property, you build tower blocks, you own mines, you own big factories or massive retail chains.  You don’t piddle about buying a few rental properties in Auckland.

Classic racist scapegoating

Labour’s campaign is classic racist scapegoating.  And it’s part of a tradition.  A hundred years ago the Labourites waged racist campaigns against impoverished Chinese workers; today they wage racist campaigns against people with “Chinese surnames” who buy a few rental properties in Auckland.  The common theme is that if you’re “Chinese” – defined as such by the Labourites because you have a “Chinese surname”! – you just can’t win.  Poor Chinese worker or middle class with a “Chinese surname” and owning more than one house in Auckland, Labour doesn’t like you and will scapegoat you.  That’s racism.

On the positive side, however, are several things.  Firstly, a tiny and fairly poor community of Chinese in New Zealand targeted by Labour a hundred years ago found it extremely hard to fight back.  Today, that community is much larger, has a much wider network of friends and allies, and the confidence to fight back.  They are capable of doing damage to Labour and putting a stain on the Labour Party and its hacks that won’t be washed off.

Secondly, as tiny as it is, the far left left in New Zealand, thanks mainly to modern technology, can mount some serious resistance to the racist Labourites and their enablers and apologists.  We can put a much-deserved stain on Labour that Read the rest of this entry »

This is how memory works. . . until loyalty to Labour gets in the way

This is how memory works. . . until loyalty to Labour gets in the way


by Philip Ferguson

Only three weeks after the peculiar DominionPost opinion piece in which Victoria University history associate-professor Jim McAloon misremembered a lot of Labour Party history – all the inconvenient bits that tell us a lot more than the whitewashed version he presented – another well-meaning leftist has been struck with false recovered memory syndrome.

In a piece ironically titled “Memory and forgetting: why knowing Labour’s history is so important”, veteran left political commentator Chris Trotter not only forgets and misremembers Labour’s past but does the same with Richard Seddon’s Liberal Party.

Seddon, for whom Chris seems to have such respect, was this country’s leading Sinophobe – historians’ politesse for leading anti-Chinese racist – for decades.  He introduced racist bill after racist bill to cut off Chinese immigration and make those already here feel as unwelcome as possible.

In relation to Labour, he claims that progressive opposition to World War 1 and the oppressive policies of the Massey government brought together the forces that formed the new party in 1916.  More important, however, was that the working class had suffered a substantial defeat on the industrial plane in 1913 and, lacking a way forward in the workplaces, fell back on parliament and parliamentary politics, just as they had after the defeat of the 1890 maritime strike.  Labour has long thrived on working class defeat in the industrial arena.

After the 1890 defeat workers turned to the Liberal Party and helped put it very quickly into government.  By the time World War I broke out, however, the Liberals were very clearly simply one wing of the political forces at the disposal of New Zealand capital.  Class had come to the fore in NZ politics, replacing the unity of the working class, the liberal middle class and the section of capitalists against both big industrialists in sweated industries and big landowners.  The fundamental divide between the working class and capitalist class had come to the fore.  So now, when workers lost in the workplace and fell back upon narrow parliamentary politics, they had little choice but to form a party of their own.

Chris suggests “New Zealand’s left-wing historians spend the next twelve months acquainting today’s progressives with the facts of Labour’s history. They must loudly give the lie to those who attempt to deny the radicalism of Labour’s past; and who argue that moderation and compromise have always been the party’s watchwords. The blatantly political purpose of such historical revisionism is to promote the idea that the extreme timidity and ideological conservatism of today’s Labour Party is nothing out of the ordinary; that Labour has always been timid and conservative.”

Today, it’s hard to believe that someone of Chris’ generation – and as a founding leading light of the NLP and Alliance, Chris has direct experience of Labour perfidy – can be making these kinds of claims.  It’s certainly true that the very early Labour Party was good at the Read the rest of this entry »

Labour has always opted for racist scapegoating because it's a nationalist party dedicated to running capitalism

Labour has always opted for racist scapegoating because it’s a nationalist party dedicated to running capitalism

by Philip Ferguson

On June 23, the DominionPost ran an opinion piece by Jim McAloon titled “Labour needs to remember why it was founded”. McAloon is a senior academic at Victoria University, one of the few academics in this country who writes seriously about class, and is currently working on a book on the 100 years of the NZ Labour Party of which he is a member.

And there’s the rub. As is the case with so many other well-meaning, good liberal people his loyalty to the Labour Party as an institution blinds him to some rather basic historical facts about this party and induces him to adopt, if his opinion piece is anything to go by, a very Pollyannish view of its history.  Moreover, one which simply leaves out large parts of that history because they cut across the image of the party that he is attached to, an image which doesn’t bear a lot of resemblance with the actual history of the Labour Party.

Let’s go through his piece, bit-by-bit. His original article is in plain text, my comments are in italics:

Jim McA: In the wake of the Labour Party’s dismal election result last year, and its recent internal review, some commentators are suggesting that Labour’s in terminal decline.
Reports of the party’s death are, however, decidedly premature.

PhilF: This is probably true. Unfortunately.

No political party enjoys going backwards in Opposition, but last year was not the first time this has happened to Labour.

In 1949, the first Labour government was tossed out with 47 per cent of the popular vote. In 1954 Labour’s vote fell to 44 per cent, but the party won government in 1957 with 48 per cent.

Labour also lost ground in the 1960s, with its popular vote falling from 44 per cent to 41 per cent in 1966, the party’s first election with Norman Kirk as leader and after six years in opposition.

Six years later, Norman Kirk was prime minister.

Yes, but Labour has shown no recovery at all since its 2008 defeat. After National’s defeat in 1999, they had a disastrous performance in 2002, and then bounced right back, only being beaten by a whisker in 2005, and romping home in each election since. Labour simply can’t get traction in the polls. People believe that if they are going to have a liberal, middle-of-the-road capitalist government, it may as well be the one they’ve already got rather than the desperate try-hards in opposition.

Moreover, more workers voted National than Labour in 2014 and even more blue-collar workers voted National than Labour. National now has the party vote in a slew of largely working class constituencies.

I am not suggesting that the Labour Party should simply wait for the pendulum to swing.

While that might in due course deliver a spell in government, without a clear vision of why the party exists, there is little point in being in office.

The people who run the Labour Party do have a clear vision of why the Labour Party exists, Jim. It is you who are confused. The LP exists to Read the rest of this entry »

Below is a summary of the latest (July 19) events in Greece from reports from left activists in Syriza:


A resounding No vote has been betrayed by Tsipras

SYRIZA has rapidly become a force maintaining the regime of a debtor colony through a Third Memorandum (qualitatively worse than the previous ones). The broad masses feel betrayed and disoriented.

Some still genuinely believe that SYRIZA governs Greece, and is better than any other government. This is a dillusion: Greece is again governed by the troika, which dictates even the details of the legislative procedures and even the minor governmental decisions. The government of Tsipras chose to become an instrument of the troika and a hostage of the old, rotten political system.

This government, assisted by the old political parties, has imposed on the Parliament the adoption of the first series of measures demanded by the troika as prerequisite that proves the “good will of Greece towards the creditors”.

Next week a second series of measures shall be adopted, also demanded as prerequisite by the troika. Read the rest of this entry »