Labour Party candidate Josie Pagani (relation) has a column in the Herald about Labour’s identity problem. Some of it’s interesting, but this jumped out at me:
There’s a reason we’re called “Labour”: We have always represented people who work. If you work hard you should earn enough to pay the bills, save a bit and enjoy the holidays with your family. If you have a great idea to build a business and work really hard, a Labour government will back you to be world class. It’s not just about dividing the economic pie fairly, it’s about increasing the size of the pie so everyone can get their piece.
Growing the pie. David Shearer used the same cliche in his first speech to Parliament. Here’s my question: why are Labour still using ACT Party rhetoric about the panacea of economic growth, when all our economic statistics, social indicators and lived experience over the past thirty years tell us that the benefits of ‘growing the pie’ now aggregate to a small number of high-net worth individuals? The rest of us stay where we are, or go backwards.
For a few years during the mid 2000s it felt like we were going forwards – but that was just a bubble fueled by overseas debt. During this time Helen Clark constantly resorted to the tired old Kennedy/Sorenson trope that ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’. But this just isn’t an accurate way to think about economic growth. It may, eventually lift general living standards over a long period of time, but it always involves an element of ‘creative destruction’. Businesses go bankrupt and people lose their jobs, and their occupations become obsolete.
I’m just a simple, blogger, but I really think voters would listen to a party that stopped trying the match the National/ACT rhetoric about economic growth, and acknowledged these very simple truths about our economy and the way it impacts on the lives of ordinary people, and talked about ways to mitigate it.
To be fair, some of Labour’s policies leading up to the election did address these issues – but they weren’t wed to any comprehensible narrative – and now, an emphasis on ‘growing the pie’ makes capital gains tax and a more progressive income tax system even less coherent.