Thursday, April 17, 2008

Belated report on the Labourt party conference

At the protest outside the Labour party conference, there were banners, placards, noise makers, protesters, leaflets and buckets labeled 'Koha for those affected by the Oct 15 police raids'.

Mike Williams put a $1 in the bucket as he went past.

Labour party conference demos are always weird. I know a lot of unionists and student politicians, and there were quite a few of both groups going in. There were people I'd been on picket lines with, one person I'd been arrested with, people I'd had some fun with, people I actually quite like, and one person who had been so amazingly generous and kind to me, during the raids themselves, that I disappeared when he was going in and out. Obviously there were also a fair number of people for whom 'capitalism's lackeys with blood on their hands' is a good a description as any (and some of the people listed in the last sentence also belong in this sentence).

There's been a surprisingly coherent debate on indymedia* about the protest, and particularly how to relate to labour party delegates. Annette King, Minister of Police, is clearly the enemy and should be treated as such. As are Labour Party MPs, and the Labour party bureaucrats. But with the delegates themselves, things do get a bit more complicated.

Simple Man has described the congress attendees. Although I think I'd be more generous than he is of the political potential of the delegates.** The only response I got from any of the delegates was 'But John Key will be worse'. I'll write more about this tommorrow, electoral politics Friday. But if that's the best that labour party delegates can do, they've conceded all our arguments, and made it clear that they want a better world than this one.

The debate on indymedia focuses on the political implications of calling labour party delegates 'scabs' and 'scum'. I think the word 'scab' has a very specific meaning, and it should keep that meaning. None of the delegates were strike breaking, and so scabs is innaccurate. The problem with 'scum' is that it's really inane and I think the focus should have been, and generally was, on the actions of the government, not the ordinary delegates.

Of course we wouldn't have changed a single delegates minds with the protest (except to make people more hostile). I don't have a problem with that; I think it's impossible to treat the government as the government, and also politically engage the delegates. The last place I would expect to be able to convince a labour party delegate that the labour party is fucked is a labour party congress.

* Something has gone seriously weird at indymedia, because there are at least two other threads where something resembling a discussion is taking place, which is just about

** For instance he argues:

Take the Terrorism Suppression Act, legislation several people in Labour claim that many party members disagree with (a claim I don’t believe).
I'd be fairly sure that at least a sizeable minority would disagree with the TSA. After all opposing the TSA is CTU policy, and I think most party members do see themselves as to the left of the party on issues like this. Whether they'd do anything about it is another matter.


  1. Anonymous9:21 pm

    The TSA is simply the Labour Gov. popsturing to the US that it is doing it's bit, in the war against terror.
    The Neo Cons are eager on lookers & architects of this experiment, to see if they can apply the same process to their own patriot act.
    This is all 'in the wake of 911' stuff.
    In Melbourne where similar charges to those of the NZ 19, have been made against a dozen activists an out spoken lawyer has called the arrests there irrelevant, because there is no proof that 19 muslim hijackers carried out 9/11.

    The best defence for the 19 arrestees in Aotearoa is simply that the true events of 9/11 are unknown, & the real terrorists are certain elements existing within the present US administration, who have mislead the rest of the world with their 9/11 cover up.

  2. Anonymous11:46 pm

    9/11 was an inside job, people working inside the world trade centre blew it up because they were grumpy about capitalism

    this is just a thinly veiled attempt to dehumanize muslims and she muslims