Cunliffe a socialist liability

By Sir Bob Jones

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Sir Bob Jones
Sir Bob Jones

The Opposition's role is to hold the Government to account plus present itself as an alternative administration.

The current conglomerate Opposition has fulfilled the first of these but not the second - Labour, in particular, failing abysmally as the polls consistently reflect.

I dislike third-term governments, as invariably they become arrogant, but we're going to get one - and thank God, given the alternative. The absurd amalgam of Labour, the Greens, Harawira and possibly Harre and Winston is simply unfit to rule.

Failing a dramatic polling change, Labour will be decimated in this election - extraordinary given it should have been a shoo-in.

Labour's problems directly reflect its management structure, to cite Labour MP Damien O'Connor, in allowing the party to be captured by a "gaggle of gays and unionists". These factions control both candidate and leadership selection and have installed a discredited left-wing agenda, contrary to most of their senior MPs' sentiments.

No Labour leader has ever been so unpopular as David Cunliffe, evidenced by the disastrous polls and also the Reader's Digest trustworthy survey bracketing him humiliatingly in bottom place with Dotcom and Harawira. Cunliffe was installed against the strong wishes of those who knew him best, namely Labour's caucus, and now the public know him as well, resulting in a wider disdain.

Two decades ago, employees voted with their feet, leaving the once powerful union movement a mere rump as a representative body. It's therefore no surprise that the rump's outlook is alien to the majority of voters.

What's astonishing about this is the ignoring of Labour's history - not just here but also in Britain and Australia.

National reigned here from 1949 to 1984, broken only by two single-term Labour administrations. In Britain the Conservatives ruled the roost from 1979 to 1987 and, in Australia, the Liberal coalition from 1949 to 1983, excepting the single-term Whitlam government.

What changed was the advent of realistic Labour leaders, namely Lange and Douglas, Hawke and Keating, and Tony Blair. They threw off their party's debilitating union influence, acknowledged the failure of their socialist ideology and embraced the market economy, substituting the meaningless term of "social democrats" rather than socialists to henceforth describe themselves.

The British and Australian Labour governments then ruled for 13 years, but Lange's subsequent change of heart created an irreparable schism which cut short a well-deserved longer stint.

There's no popular support in all three countries for a return to a high taxes, big government socialist order, other than from the no-hoper entitlement-to-live-off-others sector, which is why it's extraordinary that Cunliffe should expound these propositions and have the gall to label them progressive.

Perhaps he was influenced by the election of a nondescript individual as French president who, exploiting the politics of envy, promised punitive taxes on higher incomes. "You're welcome here," London mayor Boris Johnson told them - and they came and also went elsewhere.

The president, now polling the lowest of any in French history, intends reversing the policy with a low-tax regime to attract the job creators back in an endeavour to fix the moribund economy.

I know someone who, through much hard work, became wealthy in the last few years. He has a sentimental historic attachment to the Labour Party, as do many affluent individuals, and he was planning a six-figure donation this year, chuffed at his new-found capability to do so.

But he was outraged after hearing a Cunliffe interview following the leadership race. "Will you raise taxes on higher incomes?" Cunliffe was asked. "You betcha," the new leader exclaimed with gusto. My acquaintance was angry for, as he said: "I've worked my butt off and the tone of Cunliffe's enthusiasm to punish me for this was sickening."

"Will you now vote National?" I teased, knowing he'd never hitherto done so. "You betcha," he exclaimed.

We're now threatened with a disheartened wreckage of a Labour opposition, reflected by the head office imposed, mostly tokenist no-names in their mediocre new candidates list.

National is laying off Cunliffe, fearful that the caucus will remove him - but they must. As in 1990 with Mike Moore, they should persuade someone such as Annette King to lead them into the election if only to save the party.

She's likeable, competent and a highly-effective campaigner. Most importantly, she'd recapture the women vote which deserted Labour in droves after Cunliffe was foisted on the party.

Cunliffe insulted his caucus colleagues implying any who opposed him were scabs. A scab is someone who goes against the group - the group in this case is the Labour Party, not him.

He should go with dignity for the sake of his party. The sooner they replace him and also change their management structure, the better - not just for Labour but, more importantly, for the system.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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