Chris Trotter thinks that until Andrew Little expunges Labour’s neo-liberal history they will be forever hamstrung in their long march to the left.
Not only has Phil Goff’s “dispensation” to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) not pulled Labour’s ranks together (quite the reverse!) it has also been seized upon by Labour’s opponents to discredit the party’s anti-TPPA stance.
The TPPA endorsements of former Labour leaders — from Mike Moore and Helen Clark to Phil Goff and David Shearer — have been a godsend for the agreement’s supporters. “What can be so wrong with the TPPA”, they demand, “when four out of the last six Labour leaders support it?”
It’s a fair question, but one which Labour – for fear of re-opening the old wounds of the 1980s and 90s – is loath to answer. At some point, however (and it may have arrived) the Labour Party is going to have to confront the ghosts of its Rogernomics past and lay them, finally, to rest.
Quite how he is going to achieve that is worth exploring. It is always fun watching blood and guts fly.
There is simply no upside to being utterly defenceless before your history. Labour may be ready to reclaim its progressive heritage – as its position on the TPPA makes clear. But, unfortunately, as Goff’s “dispensation” makes clear, it’s still not ready to repudiate 25 years of neoliberalism.
Labour members and supporters have been in the ears of Labour MPs for decades, urging them to cast adrift the barge-load of rotting ideological garbage that the party has been towing behind it since the 1980s. They also suggested the enforced retirement of every MP who refuses to acknowledge the stench. All to no avail. The Bible says: “As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.” Unfortunately, far too many of Labour’s dogs never left!
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