Monday, August 21, 2017

Let's do this, indeed!


On Sunday we did this, attended the official launch of the NZ Labour Party's election campaign at the Auckland Town Hall, with comedian Michele A'Court MCing, former LP leader and record three-term New Zealand PM and nominee for UN Director General Helen Clark in the audience, as well as the leader of the Scottish Labour party, Kezia Dugdale, and last but very much not least, Labour's newest and youngest-ever leader, Jacinda Ardern, the keynote speaker who together drew a crowd that packed out the Town Hall and two neighbouring halls and theatres. It was fantastic! They, and we on the left-wing of politics, in Aotearoa, are doing this indeed. Change is a-coming and about fabulous fucking time.

After Ardern's moving, savvy and entertaining speech, delivered without notes, I watched from my vantage point on the mezzanine floor, as Helen Clark in the front row stood with the rest of us ordinary mortals and her fellow politicians to applaud this wonder woman who came from small-town New Zealand and the classic 'simple' beginnings to deliver hope and inspiration and forward-thinking leadership, at the age of 37, to this small, but politically-world-leading (in the past) nation. It was a rousing experience indeed.

There were extended greetings by all speakers in Maori, as well as an official Maori welcome waiata to bless the proceedings, and briefer greetings in many other languages besides that spoke volumes about the left's core commitment to going forward into a multi-cultural future with all its challenges and rewards, without which there will be no future, and to acknowledging the mistakes of colonial arrogance and ignorance in the past.

Economic success is to be measured not in numbers, says Ardern, but in lives lifted out of poverty and in the closing of the ever-widening chasm between the rich and poor in this country, as in all other western nations, that once talked tough and true about egalitarianism but have increasingly fallen for the convenient illusion that if you leave it to the market, in other words if you do nothing to help people to help themselves, equality will magically prevail. The opposite is true, as they know as well as anyone, so to this corrupt hypocrisy the left must, and is, saying no more!

Climate change and mental health and education and jobs too must be taken on as core challenges rather than dismissed as secondary to the economy, measured in GDP numbers alone.

So we have HOPE and HEART in this new and vibrant political leader and message, with polling suggesting that she and Labour could well win the election next month and put New Zealand back on the map as a forward and fair-leaning nation.

Let's do this!      

 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Winter Down Under


This was the cover shot published in the Sydney Morning Herald during our recent trip to Australia in the depths of winter. The following week it was even warmer and the wet-suits were off.

Not to make light of global warming or to diminish the charms of a proper winter -- for starters it kills off the bugs and without that we're up the creek without a paddle, to use a popular Aussieism -- but this looks kind of fun (for those who like a bit of wet, salty terror), even if one of the two women partaking appears to have lost her footing.

Aussie in any season indeed is not for the faint of heart of foot, which is kind of what I like about it, if it is also why I moved to New Zealand; a little bit of Aussie heat goes a long way.  

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Labour gains

So, I think I should leave the country more often...

While flying back yesterday from my dance-reunion trip across the ditch on a plane piloted by a woman (my first - and a bloody smooth flight it was too), reading Inferior, a book about how science has got women so woefully wrong (review to come), I learnt that the political party I have long supported and almost stood for at one point in time has appointed a new leader - a woman - to fight the upcoming general election in seven weeks. All this is very good news indeed.

I have met Labour's new leader Jacinda Ardern and, along with my daughter, have done some campaigning with her, and I reckon that if anyone can turn this country to the left, where it needs to go, it is she. She represents the possibility of real change towards a country that cares and creates, rather than a country that struts and cuts, a change the party, the country - and global politics - sorely needs.

Jacinda is the fourth leader the Labour Party has appointed since Helen Clark, the country's first elected woman PM, left NZ politics for the United Nations when Labour was ousted in 2008. But she is the first woman leader since Clark, after two disastrous Davids and one ordinary Andrew were appointed to the job. And even though she only has seven weeks before the election to turn Labour's poor poll results around, I think she can't help but improve the party's and the country's outlook whatever the election result, and if not this time, then next she will be New Zealand's prime minister.

Good luck Jacinda; Labour gains indeed.