|Bernard Hickey : Jacinda Ardern is a small 'c' conservative.|
The Labour Party website is absent of any policy outlines, that's because it plans to campaign without a policy manifesto. As Bernard Hickey of Newsroom comments, 'it is essentially a conservative strategy, often employed by conservative parties in government.'
THIS WEEK BERNARD HICKEY, the managing editor of Newsroom, concluded that the Prime Minister is a small 'c' conservative. He wrote:
'This week Jacinda Ardern revealed herself as a small 'c' conservative, focused on maintaining the current shape and (historically and comparatively small) size of government, but with a friendlier face. She confirmed Labour had no plans for major new spending or tax or welfare reform in the last full post-Cabinet news conference of her first term. Instead, voters should look at the Government's current achievements, its plans for Covid-19 recovery and Budget 2020's debt track as an indicator of 'steady-as-she-goes'. There is no more. That is it. '
Throughout the first term of this Labour-led government I've described Ardern as a centrist and I have been critical of those who try to ascribe 'progressive' qualities to her politics that simply aren't there. These false depictions of Ardern's politics have largely come from those who spend their days orbiting Planet Ardern. It has been coming from people like the bellicose Martyn Bradbury of The Daily Blog who, despite being a Ardern loyalist, recently described himself as 'left of Marx and Lenin'. I'm not joking.
Bernard Hickey, as far as I know, has never boasted of his progressive views but he has been far more accurate in his assessment of Jacinda Ardern than most of those who claim allegiance to the 'Labour left'. His recent article is headlined 'A second term PM for crises and the status quo.' Hickey describes Labour's election strategy this way:
'In political circles, it is known as the 'low target' strategy: offer little obvious change from the status quo to give your opponent few clear pain points to target you on the grounds you want to 'hurt' one part of the electorate or another. It is essentially a conservative strategy, often employed by conservative parties in government.'
Of course none of what Hickey is saying should come as a surprise. Some of us were warning abut the reactionary politics of Jacinda Ardern and the Labour Party well before the 2017 election.That included Branko Marcetic who writing for Jacobin magazine, commented:
'Too many commentators to count have compared Ardern to Canada’s Justin Trudeau, a comparison that’s meant to be flattering, but is a lot more ominous for anyone who’s paid attention to Canadian politics. Trudeau, after all, has mastered the art of papering over his betrayal of his own values through sheer force of charm, social media manipulation, and outspoken wokeness like few other politicians.'
Yet the Labour left appear to have learnt surprisingly little in the last three years. They seem incapable - or are simply resisting - any recognition that as far as progressive politics are concerned, the game is up for the Labour Party. Instead they hold one day conferences to thrash out policies that they want a 'progressive' second term Labour Government to enact. That's right - the same Labour Party that is offering nothing more than more of the same. Its madness.
Whether they care to admit it or not, they are enablers for a Labour Party that has no intention of overturning the neoliberal status quo. At a time of a worsening economic crisis and increasing poverty, inequality and human suffering this should be unacceptable - that it isn't just goes to underline yet again that the Labour left aren't so much interested in overturning the status quo but simply in keeping 'the other lot' out of the clubhouse.