Hello and welcome back the New Zealand Labour Party. Finally the party is standing up for itself.
Now, I don’t agree with what they’re doing with these arranged marriage visas. I think the Prime Minister is wrong to tell Immigration New Zealand to go back to the status quo when the status quo was that they were bending the rules.
But, isn’t it refreshing to see Labour actually stand up for itself?
Lately, the Labour we’ve got used to is one that lets itself get beaten up by New Zealand First.
It’s just sucked it up every time New Zealand first packed a tanty, or pulled the rug out from underneath one of its ministers, or forced Labour to do a u turn on one of its election promises.
There’s a whole list of them: three strikes law, refugees policy, fair pay agreements, farmers entering into the ETS. Every time, Labour’s just taken the punches.
Now I get why they did that. Labour needs new Zealand first. It needs its votes to get law through, however watered down they are. It needs to hold this coalition together.
But, as necessary as it was, it turned Labour into a shadow of itself. The party had backed down from so many promises I didn’t even know what it stood for any more. It let itself be defined by everyone around it instead of itself. It let it look like Winston was really running the show.
And now finally it’s stood up to Winston and his mob.
This time, unlike the other times, it wasn’t New Zealand First publicly disagreeing with Labour. It was Labour publicly disagreeing with New Zealand First.
And worse than that even, it was the Prime Minister pulling the rug out from under her own deputy Prime Minister, Winston Peters, because when he took credit for Immigration New Zealand cracking down on these visas, she said that wasn’t true.
So why now? Well two reasons. Firstly, Shane Jones went a bridge too far. Labour needs the Indian community’s vote and they would lose it if they let Jones carry on the way he had. Secondly, we’ve reached that time: it sounds like Labour’s ready to switch into campaign mode and start cleaving itself away from New Zealand First.
It’s about time, because it’s hard to respect a party that looks less like a major coalition partner, and more like Winston’s punching bag.