Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

NZ: Labour installs new leader

Andrew Little, the newly elected leader of the Labour Party, came to parliament in 2011 after two years as president of the party. He was previously the national secretary of the right-wing Engineers’ Union and is a lawyer by trade.

By Rakesh Lal, CWI NZ/Aotearoa

It’s safe to say that his election as leader represents a shift to the right for a party that is obsessed with winning votes from the so called ‘middle’. In reality, winning the ‘middle’ for Labour means a betrayal of working class voters for desperate appeals to business interests and property owners.

Labour’s results in last year’s election saw a slump in votes under the previous leader David Cunliffe. The right-wing of the party has used the poor showing to shift policy debates even further away from the very limited social reforms put forward by Cunliffe.

Little’s first measures have been to scrap a policy that would introduce an effective capital gains tax, and to withdraw a current members’ bill on euthanasia. No change in leadership, let alone a shift to the right, will increase Labour’s fortunes. Workers need to build a new party that genuinely represents their interests.