Let’s have a real Labour government by Susan Grimsdell
Faults of the free market
Although most so-called conspiracies are fake, some are actually true. One of these concerns a group of wealthy and influential people (as it was 1947, I’m probably safe to say “men”) who met after the war and formed the Mont Pelerin Society. They conspired to promote the idea that the free market should dominate all aspects of society with individual liberty being the main and only guiding principle. They wanted to transform every aspect of life into an unrestrained marketplace where everything had a price, private enterprise ruled and the only thing that mattered was profit. In the UK, Margaret Thatcher put these ideas into practice, and in the USA Ronald Reagan followed suit.
Fair go gone
In New Zealand we had our very own free market idealogues, led by Roger Douglas, and they changed our country forever. They crippled trade unions, removed social security safety nets, reduced tax for the wealthy, and brought about a massive transfer of wealth from society at large to an elite group.
We once had a relatively egalitarian country and we believed in everyone having a “fair go”. Thanks to the ideas of the Mont Pelerin Society, that culture has largely gone by the board. In the recent election campaign, the very idea of a tax on wealth was rejected as if it was sent from the devil. Labour got frightened and denied any intention of ever implementing such a thing, just as they had previously rejected a capital gains tax.
Policies for the team of five million
That was then, this is now. Labour has won an unprecedented mandate, able to govern alone in an MMP system. They can choose to reject the pervasive neoliberalist free market ideology and instead become a real Labour government, like the Labour that brought in state houses and a free health service, universal pensions, free education up to and including university, and other social welfare policies that gave us all a better standard of living and that make our lives better to this day.
Last term we did not have a Labour government. We had a coalition, and Labour had to fit in with what its partners demanded. Now there’s no excuse, none whatsoever. Make housing affordable, introduce policies to help tenants, support our health system and most of all, look after our children.
Of the 41 developed countries included in the latest Unicef Innocenti Report Card, New Zealand ranks 35th overall for our child wellbeing. This fills me with shame. Jacinda, we’ve voted for you in our hundreds of thousands. Our message is this: Show us that your kindness and caring extend to the whole team not just the affluent ones. Make us proud to be New Zealanders.