Commentary- Joe Carolan
As the Battle of Mana draws to an end, a real victory has already been won. For the last month, the Serious Left in Aotearoa has united in struggle and put in the mahi, fighting on issues that concern working people and that embarass the party apparatchiks from Labour and National.
What the final tally will be for Matt McCarten's insurgent campaign, only Saturday can tell. But the New Left has fought hard for every vote it gets, whether high in the hills of Tawa or in the heart of Cannon's Creek. Even those undecided about voting for Matt have supported his radical programme for full employment, higher incomes and tax justice. As he said himself- "If the people of Mana voted for what they wanted- we'd win by a landslide."
Another real victory that has been won is one for democracy itself. Rather than explain why their party does not support radical change, Labour have been pushing the line that a vote for Matt splits the Left. And they are noticably nervous about this- they are drafting in hundreds of volunteers, activists and union organisers for the last few days, and their more uncouth supporters are beginning to lose their tempers. And there's a real reason why.
Amongst the staunch working class, there's a realisation that Phil Goff ain't gonna win the national election in 2011. Labour are too soft, and are bereft of any tangible policies that make a difference to the working class. Their candidate, Kris Faafoi, was imposed on the local organisation from Goff's office, and has barely been in the party for a year. Many workers see through the cynical tokenism from Labour HQ.
The days of the Left being a One Party State are over, whether in the unions or in the political field. We're going to need a REAL resistance movement when National win in 2011.
As Labour stays firmly in the political centre, it needs to learn one lesson-
We're not splitting the Left vote- we ARE the Left vote.