Unity

Word has finally filtered down about the date of the Mt Albert By-election. John Key has announced that June 13 will be the date that people get to decide who the new MP should be, and from which party. National, has already publicly announced that it feels that it could win the seat and Labour, has already publicly announced that it could lose it. Hence, the campaign will no doubt be bitterly fought in the full glare of the media.

However, as these two paragons of modern right wing political activity contest the seat, my own thoughts turn to the problem that the left has in contesting the seat and upcoming elections. Maybe, it is the thought that a clear consistent left wing point of view and programme needs to be articulated that prompts me to say that members of the democratic left need to be singing from the same song sheet. So far, the Left has proven itself incapable of doing so. In the last General Election, three parties from the left stood, the Alliance (of which I am a member), RAM, which is mostly Auckland based and the Workers Party. None of the aforementioned Parties broke the 1 percent barrier and none of them look likely too in the near future.

The onslaught of the Recession and the inability of the Government to deal with the cumulative crises that are rolling across the economic landscape bring the need to have a united democratic left ticket into focus more sharply. After all, the recession has brought the free market experiment to a grinding shuttering halt. Merely tinkering around the edges which appears to be the economic programme of both the Tories and the L(iberals) is not going to restore economic or social well being.

In such a situation, a rejuvenated democratic left would be well placed to offer an alternative to the tired right wing agenda that is being promoted. Although, it would need to be a left that in a sense returned to ‘first principles’. One of those principles being that a society needs to be inclusive and democratic in the real sense of the word. This is contrary to the idea that paradise can be achieved through the teaching and action of a small elite.

Chris Trotter wrote some time ago about the glee that appeared on some of the faces of the extreme left when they talked about the deepening recession. With every piece of misery that appears, some people on the left appear to have a public orgasm. As far as they are concerned each piece of misery brings us closer to the ‘Revolution’. Of course, this is far from the truth. As the recession cuts its way across economies, for the most part, people become fearful. They become fearful of losing their jobs, their homes, their standard of living and they start to gravitate toward parties and organisations which can offer them and their family’s stability in an unstable time.

However, Chris’s comment also reminded me of the remark of a German Social Democrat at the beginning of the Great Depression. They noted that the socialists were in the inevitable position of being doctors wanting the patient to recover, but also impatient heirs who wanted the patient to pass on, so that they could inherit the estate. However, bad economic news notwithstanding, I do not think that capitalism is about to collapse. And, even if it did, I really don’t think that the revolutionary left in this country is a long way away from being capable of either mounting or accepting such a challenge.

The real emphasis is on the democratic left to promote a radical and alternative democratic vision.

Mount Albert could be the start of that realignment.

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