Monday, August 13, 2012
Got to give
It is difficult at times not to draw the conclusion that some political parties in New Zealand are occupying the place that should rightly be held by parties far more adventurous and dynamic. As I more or less blogged the other day, by virtue of little more than happening to have been there for about 100 years the Labour Party continues to sprawl untidily over the centre-left ground like a half-abandoned factory site, some of the plant still working but not actually turning out anything seriously productive. The Green Party has begun to colonize some of this territory but inevitably, as they gravitate towards the centre, the Greens themselves are becoming less radical and unsettling. One might have had hopes for the Mana Party, which, slight as it is, is the nearest thing we have to a mainstream working-class party; but despite attracting people of real stature (Minto, Sykes) it looks too much like Hone Harawira's creation and vehicle, just as the Alliance was Jim Anderton's—and look what happened to that. It's still perfectly possible to project scenarios in which National, Labour and the Greens dominate New Zealand politics for the next 20 to 30 years but I am haunted by the thought that/am prone to wishful thinking that (choose either of the above) political movements and parties of which none of us now can even conceive will emerge sooner rather than later—especially given the volatile nature of the world economy. This is happening elsewhere; why shouldn't it happen here? Look at Syriza in Greece, the Pirate parties in Sweden and Germany. The Italian city of Parma has just elected (by a convincing margin) a representative of the Five Star Movement as its mayor. Five Star was founded by comedian/blogger Beppe Grillo in the first place as a protest against Italy's endemic corruption, but according to a report in the Economist, recent polls have suggested it could take as much as 17% of the national vote. Some of these movements may not last, of course; I guess we are in the zone to which Gramsci's famous dictum applies: 'The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.' But some will; and I rather think they are being born as we speak. Cosy National/Labour, Labour/National with a side salad of Greens on and on into infinity? I don't think so. Not in these times. Something's got to give.
Posted by Denis Welch at Monday, August 13, 2012