Monday, September 29, 2014
For all of April onwards, I was involved in this year’s failed Labour campaign. During that time, I mostly avoided saying what I really thought about a great many political things because I didn’t want to say anything that ran counter to the campaign narrative or that undermined it. Sure, I was also very busy during that time, too, but the main reason for my withdrawal from commentary on political issues was self-censorship.
The campaign is now over, but I still find it difficult to say what I think. Partly that’s because it’s hard to shift from campaign mode back to real life (this is a big reason, actually). But it’s also true that much of what’s going on bores me silly.
So far, I’ve found most of the post-election commentary about Labour’s loss to be extremely shallow, regardless of ideology. While those on the Left and the Right alike can sometimes make good points, with rare exceptions they contribute very little.
The commentary coming from the Leftward side of the Left has been, more often than not, about point-scoring more than anything else, and also about pushing an ideological barrow—and on that point, they are exactly the same as commentators on the Right, including media commentators and NZ Herald editorials. Neither the Leftward side of Left nor the Right really give a crap about the Labour Party or its success as a party; rather, their self-serving advice is more about advancing whatever their favoured party is, and how Labour’s condition may help advance those other parties.
Commentators who might be thought of as being in the centre, more or less, aren’t necessarily any better, more thoughtful or more useful. Instead, they just tend to be less strident, even when they, too, are pushing advice based on ideology.
I don’t have a dog in this fight, as they say, and I’m not agonising about which “faction” takes control of the Parliamentary party. Of course I want Labour to win elections and lead Government. I also want it to do so without turning from its core values, but, unlike our friends on the Leftward side of Left, I don’t think Labour embracing what the majority of voters care about automatically means becoming “National Lite” OR abandoning core party values—or constituencies.
So, I don’t have a favoured candidate for Leader of the party. I think that the choice, as well as the future direction of the party, will become more obvious after the independent review of the campaign is completed, hopefully by December. I can wait.
With my self-censorship switch now turned off, I may yet add my own shallow commentary to the growing pile of posts about the defeat. But the reason I haven’t done so up until now is that, to put it simply, I didn’t want to say anything.
And I still don’t.