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New Zealand: The battle for Mana -- a new left votes

November 11, 2010 -- Matt McCarten’s Mana by-election campaign has taken up the issue of housing, identifying many empty state houses in the electorate, while families are homeless. Four campaigners were arrested after they took over an empty house.

By Joe Carolan

November 17, 2010 -- Socialist Aotearoa -- As the battle of Mana [the November 20, 2010, Mana by-election campaign] 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, November 20 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 program 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, the Labour Party has 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.

Among the staunch working class, there's a realisation that Labour Party leaders Phil Goff ain't gonna win the national election in 2011. Labour is too soft, and is bereft of any tangible policies that make a difference to the working class. Labour Party Mana 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 the National Party wins 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

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