The final leaders’ debate was a saccharine affair, the set belonging to an ad for colour schemes, the costumes carefully chosen, Jacinda’s earrings bouncing light, Judith’s eyebrows arched and her costume dowdier, the moderator a head prefect presence, the ads in the breaks particularly surreal, the discussion superficial. A moment of crabbiness over the wealth tax, with no mention of the Guaranteed Minimum Income for which the wealth tax is simply one of the tools to raise the money. Too deep. So, reassurance for the rich, but ignore meaningful solutions to poverty. School lunches are hardly transformational. Housing reform is impossible because no one will prick the high price bubble – too much personal equity at stake. Build affordable houses, but how? Increase the housing supply? I would’ve thought that brings prices down? Climate crisis – don’t panic, link to brand NZ. So, Climate crisis NZ- no – clean green, Covid free, God’s own country. Be nicer to Maori. And be stable. Aspirations? To make politics a friendlier and more diverse space, a more bearable staffroom with the children playing safely outside. Closed borders and who do we let in other than our own? Well, Hollywood first, America Cup participants second, sports teams third, farm contractors fourth, fruit pickers fifth. Faith? Judith a liberal Anglican, whatever that means, Jacinda a lapsed Mormon and curiously disturbed by the question. Unions and workplace relations? Not a mention. It would bugger up the colour scheme.

I recently read a book: Workers without bosses, which revisits the stroppy Australian unionism of the late sixties and seventies when shop floor committees insisted on closed shops, on workers input into hiring and firing and into health and safety, when workers continued working when factories tried to close, had green bans, rainbow bans, stopped gentrification of working class housing areas, got involved in foreign policy, in fact ‘challenged the foundations of the capitalist employment relationships in which bosses govern and workers obey… challenged all aspects of the power, authority and control of the employer class.’ Attempts to introduce penal controls were ignored with further bans. It was only stopped by neo liberalism and the creating of unemployment.

Those were the aspirational days, my friends.

Demo by building workers to save the urban environment
Unionists save a working class heritage area