Even though he spelled bogan incorrectly (I looked it up to check) Chris Trotter makes the case for Labour exchanging Asian voters for Bogan voters.
CAN LABOUR WIN the “Bogun Vote”? Should it even try? Seriously, if going after the votes of “Waitakere Man” is considered bad, then pursuing the Bogun Vote must, surely, be worse? And yet, at one time, the in-work, well-remunerated, union-dues-paying, domestically-settled, family man – and his sons – constituted the heart and soul of the Labour vote. Indeed, so irrevocably gendered was the New Zealand working-class vote that the poet, James K. Baxter, made humorous reference to it in his otherwise bleak suburban tragedy, Calvary Street:
Where two old souls go slowly mad,
National Mum and Labour Dad.
In 2015, however, Baxter’s stereotype seems all wrong. Fifty years after the publication of Calvary Street it is Dad who votes for National and Mum who (maybe) votes for Labour. In 2015, the self-employed, well-remunerated, domestically-settled, family man – a.k.a Waitakere Man – is much more likely to vote for the Right than the Left. His children, if they bother to vote at all, probably do the same.
Of course they vote National, most of them are self employed and self sufficient…not bludging, entitled ratbags.
Boguns are very different from, and should never be confused with, the offspring of Waitakere Man. The latter represents working-class New Zealand males on an upward socio-economic trajectory. Boguns, by contrast, represent working-class New Zealand males on the socio-economic skids. They are the blokes – especially the young blokes – who struggle to find and remain in even the most poorly-paid employment. Their domestic situations tend towards the precarious. They rent rooms – not houses – and struggle to both make and retain strong social connections. That’s why mateship is so crucial to the Bogun identity; especially mateship built around sporting allegiances and motor vehicles.
The fathers and grandfathers of 21st Century Boguns were the men for whom the fully employed, compulsorily unionised, welfare state was, primarily, constructed. Men of modest educational attainment and limited ambition who were able, nevertheless, to live full and rewarding lives under the state’s (and their union’s) protection. These were the men who worked for the state-owned Post Office and Railways; whose families occupied state houses; whose award-wages kept them, if not in luxury, then, at least, in reasonable comfort. They were also the Labour Party’s most loyal supporters. That it was Labour, in the person of Roger Douglas, who destroyed their world and cast them and their families onto the scrapheap, is the defining Bogun betrayal.
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