Sunday, June 26, 2005

Who am I?

Holy kudos, Batman, two days and I've already been noticed by the Blogosphere, at no less of a level than No Right Turn. This will definitely mean some hours blowing off both housework and real work getting something credible up today.

In order to talk about what's important to me politically, I have to talk about some personal stuff. See, I don't see any division between the personal and the political. The things that are important to me are important because of stuff that's happened to me and the environment I was brought up in. Yes, I am concerned about global issues that don't immediately touch me personally, but I believe given time things like poverty reduction and peak oil will shape the world my kids and I live in, so even the big issues are personal.

I'm in my thirties, female, liberal, well-educated, Pakeha, bisexual, and a Wiccan. I'm mostly a stay-at-home Mum, though I work part-time over the net. I'm an environmentalist, a pacifist, and a socialist. I was raised pretty poor, by a solo mum who was a member of the Values party, in a very white conservative town. My earliest political experiences were Hiroshima Day marches and Aromoana smelter protests.

I joined the Labour Party when I was fifteen. That was 1987. We drank in pubs with photos of Michael Joseph Savage hanging over the bar. At sixteen, I was the Aorangi regional rep on the Labour Youth Council. I got a lot more out of that than they got out of me. Hanging out with uni students listening to Billy Bragg and discussing Nicaragua; it was heady stuff. I also got an insight at a very early age into how the parliamentary process actually worked, the kind of hoops MPs have to jump through with the beaurocracy to actually get anything done. At the time, it was quite disillusioning. The Council was, unlike the parliamentary Labour Party at that time, very left-wing. And our personal hero through the Rogernomics years?

Jim Anderton.

In 1989, Jim quit the Labour Party to form New Labour. We called an emergency meeting, flew everyone to Auckland, and there was a bitter and partially drunken debate. Were we best fighting for change from the outside, or the inside? In the end, about half the council quit, and that was the half I was with. Unlike most of the others, though, I didn't join New Labour. I needed a break, I needed to sit back and watch and think for a while. Even then, there were things that made me uneasy.

Ever since, while I'm still a political person and someone who enjoys the debate, the issues, and trying to work out, for instance, WTF John Tamihere's plan is, I've stayed away from parties, campaigning, formal politics. I did some informal campaigning for the change to MMP, on the basis of a stage one POL SCI paper, and I've never regretted that, I think it's been enormously beneficial. I've never voted for the party I used to belong to. It may be nearly twenty years later, but I just don't trust Labour. And these days, I don't trust Jim any more either. What does he stand for? Tax cuts and supporting the war in Iraq? What the hell happened?

What I am, is a natural Alliance voter who now finds themselves without a home. I'm an idealist, yes, but I'm not naive. It's a rather odd and almost frightening situation for me, to feel that I don't know who to vote for, for the decision to not be a total no-brainer.

What next? A brief run-down, I think, on the issues that really matter to me, and where the parties are on those.

9 Comments:

Blogger span said...

very interesting stuff!

i was on the Alliance Council as the Youth rep on and off for several years and Jim never once spoke to me. Not once. Ever. I was beneath him. I remember the time he made the young people, attending their first ever council meeting, sit on the floor. To his credit Matt Robson came over and joined us on the floor, but those days are long gone.

In fact the only time we exchanged words was four years prior to my join-up, at a supporters meeting that a guy i was keen on had dragged me along to. At which Jim said thank you for coming. My father warned me before the meeting to count my fingers after shaking his hand, and Dad was right.

6:26 pm  
Anonymous Morgane said...

I was a politically apathetic child, in all honesty - I grew up in Queensland during the reign of the god-awful Joh Bjelke-Peterson. My personal experience was that everyone was corrupt and the state was not to be trusted. So I guess it's a testament to the strength of the example my parents set that I've turned out to be so liberal when left to my own devices to figure things out in my twenties. Well, my parents' example and the cool friends I've made ;-)

12:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was on the Alliance Council...

I've no idea how this interface works, but... me too. However, I imagine it's highly likely, if I was living in NZ currently, I'd be seriously contemplating taking my vote back to Labour right now. How middle-aged of me!

Teacake

1:46 am  
Blogger span said...

snap Anon - i wonder if we are in fact known to each other, i can think of a few people who were on the Council around the same time as me who are now overseas... Do you believe in the power of physics? Or know someone who does?

3:45 pm  
Anonymous Jill said...

I too was on the Alliance Council. In fact, I still am!
That's because I know the Alliance presence in Govt stopped the Right and gave Labour the push it needed to deliver some real gains. Remember paid parental leave, the renationalisation of ACC, the Kiwi Bank, the 30-day rule protecting new workers? All Alliance initiatives.
But without the Alliance in Govt, Labour is constantly responding to the attacks of the Right by giving away its ground (closing the gaps, race-based funding, etc). They don't seem to have the guts to stand up for what they believe in. Or they are too beholden to big business interests.
The Alliance stands for democracy and the power of ordinary people working together to bring about real change.
We advocate public ownership and control of things like electricity, water, etc because it's wrong to make a profit out of these basic essentials to life. Everybody has the right to free health care and education and we have a responsibility as a society to care for our most vulnerable citizens -- the young, our elders, those with disabilities.
We are all citizens not only of Aotearoa/NZ but of the wider world and we have a responsibility to stand up for justice and peace everywhere. That's why we opposed Jim Anderton when he supported troops in Afghanistan. That cost us our place in Parliament.
But the Alliance survived, we are here to stay and in great heart. We have an aggressive election campaign underway, targetting working class areas (we're already in the Sth Auckland markets every weekend talking to people about the dangers of a National Govt and why we need the Alliance in Parliament).
Alliance membership is growing, after sinking into the doldrums post-2002. We have good activists coming forward and lots of young people on the Party list (some of them second-generation Alliance/NLPers).
Visit our website [ www.alliance.org.nz ] to see the policies we will be highlighting this election. More than this, join up and help us fight the Right!

11:24 pm  
Anonymous Teacake said...

I pretty much drifted away from active involvement with the Alliance with a sense of deep disgust when the Young Democrats (with their suits and smoothly blow-waved hair and who IIRC wanted Campus Alliance to be called 'Alliance Young Guns', or something equally laughable) managed to get the bit about 'supporting freedom from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation' edited out of our launch leaflet. And no one seemed to be able to do anything about it since the campaign money was coming from the Democrat pot. That was such a democratic process. Grr.

10:36 pm  
Anonymous Jill said...

The Democrats have gone. It's safe to come back now!

12:10 am  
Anonymous Teacake said...

I live in another country now. I'll have another look if I ever come home again.

1:41 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So jill, who are the alliance these days?
Mana Motuhake- gone.
Democrats- gone.
Greens- gone.
NLP- gone (Jim faction)

Liberals?

10:24 am  

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