Have a productive Friday, y’all. Definitely don’t spent all day feverishly hitting F5 on your live election results page of choice while bopping up and down in your seat to some sweet Captain Ska.
Just some brilliant stuff coming out of Team Corbyn this week. Packed full of good values and real people and commitment and courage to say the right thing, not the politically-calculated thing.
[Amended: the next two are from the 2015 general election campaign, not Team Corbyn. This may go to show that all the good values messages in the world don’t work if you’re also trying to play the centrist game.]
And Momentum have been putting out some absolute scorchers, which aren’t aimed at convincing swing voters but will energise the hell out of their activist base, who need to turn out the vote.
The polls are close, but FPP is a bastard of an electoral system. Fingers crossed for June 8th.
I was well stoked to be a member of The Nation’s Twitter panel this morning with Jenée Tibshraeny.
Naturally the big story of the day was the Budget, along with Michael Morrah reporting from South Sudan and Kenya. Here’s the official Storify recap, and you can catch a replay on TV3 tomorrow morning at 10am or check out the interviews on their website. A few highlights:
I’m pretty sure Child Poverty Action Group understand Working for Families.
Don’t drink at 9:30am on a Saturday, kids.
[Content note: discussion of Manchester bombing and responses to it.]
It happened again. It took all of ten minutes after I saw news of the Manchester bombing online for some anti-authoritarian dickhead to start musing whether this was a “false flag” engineered by the UK Conservatives in response to Jeremy Corbyn being up in the polls.
It’s very tempting to just type “fuck off” and finish this there, to be honest. But this was already a trope that annoys me – a bad habit the left really didn’t need to pick up from the alt-right. And having seen it a few more times since, and gotten progressively angrier, and then found people getting self-righteously defensive about being called out as conspiracy theorists as they theorise about a conspiracy and gotten even more angry … well, it was write this post or rant some more at my guinea pigs, and they’re way too cute to deserve that.
What frustrates me about the intellectual chin-stroking about “false flags” – besides the extreme callousness it must take to see news of dozens of young people and parents being killed or injured and decide “now’s a great time to show off how politically cynical I am” – is that it makes, or should make, literally no difference to the way we respond to what happened in Manchester, or its political consequences.
The targeted mass murder of teenage girls at a concert is fucking appalling, whoever did it, for whatever reason.
The exploitation of this crime to push a conservative political agenda, to double down on the stigma and bigotry levelled against Muslims and immigrants, is fucking appalling, whoever’s doing it, for whatever reason.
The increased militarization of the police force and constraining of basic civil liberties in the name of “national security” is cynical garbage and must be opposed – whoever’s doing it, for whatever reason.
Let’s say it’s true, though. Say we live in a bizarro alternate universe where Theresa May* actually decided to orchestrate public mass murder to foment xenophobia and hatred in order to inspire voters to re-elect her party.
Are we – lefties, progressives, liberals, pick a label you like the look of – going to be more opposed to those things? Less opposed to those things?
Don’t we stand against violence and bigotry? Don’t we stand for compassion and community? Don’t we see the role of the state as supportive and social, not controlling and run for private interests?
Do not get me wrong, on the 0.00005% chance this was all an orchestrated political play straight out of Glenn Beck’s ghostwriter’s handbook, anyone even vaguely involved should be arrested, prosecuted, and locked up for the rest of their lives, at which point their ashes should be fired into the sun and their names scrubbed from human memory.
But until then? I’m baffled. What purpose does it serve to pontificate about abstract fringe hypotheses when there are parents in Manchester who still don’t know if their kids are okay? What incredibly weird need does it fulfil to play guessing games about “the real cause” of this, or “the real reason” why a repressive social conservative government is acting like a repressive social conservative government? Is it like when you’re watching a detective show and everyone’s trying to be the first who guesses who the killer is? Are you hoping your smug superiority to keep warm after society collapses?
It’s irrelevant intellectual masturbation, comrades, and no one wants to watch it. Let’s stand in solidarity with the people of Manchester, and hold fast against the forces of oppression, and challenge conservatism and xenophobia wherever it treads. Let’s react with love, not hate, because that is exactly what all those who use terror as a weapon do not want.
*Someone is going to respond to this saying either sincerely or “ironically”, “LOL as though Theresa May would have ordered it herself! MI6 deep state Snowden bitcoin Project Orion” and whoever you are you can sod off.
I popped into Labour’s Congress yesterday to catch up with a few comrades who were down for the big event. Literally everyone was buzzing about a couple of the speeches which had been delivered earlier in the day, from Deputy Leader Jacinda Ardern and Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.
Jacinda’s speech was livestreamed, and it’s well worth a look:
The full text is here. Some highlights:
Generation Y are the product of social breakdowns and two decades of rapid economic and global change. And what did that mean here in New Zealand? It meant that basically, they are the product of a time where WE, politics and politicians, told young people we didn’t owe them anything.
We sold their assets.
We told them their education wasn’t a public good anymore.
We traded on our environment while we polluted it for those who follow.
We stood by while home ownership amongst young people halved in a generation and is now the lowest it has been since 1951.
Generation Y have been the ones to watch inequality rise, they have been the ones to watch poverty rise, and they will be the ones who’ll see it compound even further as those who have become those who inherit.
This generation may not be having the same experiences as generations past, but just because they are different, doesn’t make them indifferent.
I was only 13 years old when my best friend’s brother took his own life. I had just started high school and was waiting for class to start when I heard the news. I can remember exactly where I was standing, just outside the science block.
Every single thing about it seemed unfair, and still does to this day. Even at my friend’s wedding just a few years ago, the sense of loss, of there being a missing member of that family, hung in the air. He was just 15 years old when he died.
There should be no politics in addressing an issue like this, there should only be one thing- the value we place on new Zealanders of all walks of life having a sense of belonging, a sense of support, and a sense of hope. And none of that is more true than for our young people.
Grant also spoke very well. The text of his speech is here. He said:
When Andrew asked me to take on the Finance portfolio I was clear with him that I did not view the job as one that was just about spreadsheets and statistics, or share markets and currency movements.
Don’t get me wrong, those things matter. But they don’t matter as much as people.
I still cannot get out of my head the story of TA, an eleven year old girl who was looked after by Te Puea Marae last year. She was living in a van with her other six family members. She was trying to do her homework by torch light.
Delegates, New Zealand is not at its best if there are children doing their homework by torchlight in a van.
Mr English and Mr Joyce, hear this- you cannot raise a family in a car.
Hearing so many of the Labour whānau rave about these speeches reminded me of last year, when I attended the Party conference up in Auckland, and the speech of the weekend was Justin Lester’s. He brought the entire room to tears talking about the benefit cuts of the nasty National government of the 1990s – not just materially, but psychologically. The son of a solo mother, he found himself adopting the beneficiary-bashing narrative of the day, and blamed his mum for not doing a good enough job. He cried. We cried.
This is what politics is missing. Genuine passion. Real stories of real people affected by politics. It can’t be any wonder that a lot of people don’t vote, and think politics isn’t relevant to them, when every discussion seems to be about costings and Budgets and abstract arguments about the role of government. But when we’re talking about young people being able to feel like they have a shot at a good life or families raising kids without enough money or workers getting a fair deal, it’s real. When our politicians show that they give a fuck about other people’s lives, in concrete and real terms, not as figures on a spreadsheet or projections in a Treasury forecast, it is immensely powerful. The right know this. That’s why they sneer at any hint of emotion in politics, and try to spin passion as a negative with their “Angry Andy” memes.
We should not be ashamed to be angry when young people are killing themselves and children are doing their homework by torchlight and mums and dads can’t even pay the rent when they’re working three different jobs. We should be proud of that anger, because it shows we care. Because it shows we don’t see politics as a fun game to play in between tobacco lobbying and seats on the board of Air New Zealand. Because people want to know we give a fuck. That’s when they’ll start to think that there are politicians worth voting for.