I have not voted Labour since 1999. In 2002, 2005 I voted for New Zealand First. In 2008 as a protest vote for their Deputy Leader Peter Brown saying there are too many Asians in New Zealand I voted for United Future.
So, why does a non-Labour voter like the party so much now?
Labour are not perfect. But as a centrist voter there is nothing in the least to like about National at the moment and they are a party I am philosophically opposed to anyway, so even if they did come up with some good policy – something I cannot see happening anytime soon under Todd Muller – I would have a hard time convincing myself to support them. For that to happen, they would need to renounce neoliberalism.
And A.C.T. is a flat out no. Their entire philosophical standpoint, their attitude towards women, minorities and Maori; the environment, human rights and our place in the world is contrary to everything I stand for.
So are the Greens. Whilst I agree with them on the need to get more trains and that humankind’s environmental trajectory is not sustainable in any form, some of their social policies are flat out whack. And I think they made a mistake getting Marama Davidson to co-lead. And I have a use for a functional New Zealand Defence Force, which they do not.
So how do I justify Labour on these grounds? There are several policies that they are putting forward, or have hinted they will look favourably at, that I like. Their introduction of a National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity is a major step forward for housing. Treasurer Grant Robertson has very wisely kept billions of dollars up his sleeve in case of a second fiscal rainy day in 2021, recognizing COVID19 might not be finished. Although I do not know whether it will happen, there were rumblings along the lines of Minister of Health possibly completely overhauling or ditching the District Health Board funding model. This needs to happen as it will save hundreds of millions of dollars per annum.
But there is another reason too. Contrary to what you hear in the media, Labour actually have some competent Ministers in Minister of Education Chris Hipkins, Minister of Energy and Resources Megan Woods and Attorney General/Minister for Environment David Parker. Mr Robertson is doing a competent job with the finances. If Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni would hurry up with figuring out what to do with Work and Income New Zealand and the fundamental culture bomb they have, she could get an up tick in confidence too.
But their greatest asset is hands down Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Her leadership has been spectacular, and her compassion following the terrorist attack and the Whakaari eruption was amazing. Has she made mistakes? Yes. David Parker should have lost his Health portfolio by now.
But all up, I could be voting Labour for the first time in 21 years, assuming three things:
- They do not make a monumental stuff up between now and the election
- New Zealand First do not overcome years of lethargy and suddenly sort out years of infighting
- New Zealand First hang on to Shane Jones