Say what you like about democracy, but people tend to like it. The philosophical arguments about the intrinsic and instrumental benefits of democratic government may continue unabated, but the fact remains that all of the great political tragedies of modern times have happened in a democratic vacuum.
There is no better way to ensure that gross social, economic and political misjudgements will be made than to remove due democratic oversight from the decision-making process. One needs only to see Vietnam, Rogernomics and Iraq to understand the truth in this.
This, in the end is why Labour can not do anything but win from its
radical sensible democratisation. Media narratives about lolly scrambles aside, the public aren’t stupid. The economic and social pain that this country finds itself in is certainly not the product of a route that the public have chosen. People are hungry for grassroots political engagement from their leaders, a politics than can create genuine change and a culture of collaboration in deciding the future of the nation.
Seeing hundreds of enthused Labour party members turn out and pack a school hall on their Monday night to do nothing but hear a genuine contest of ideas can therefore be nothing but a positive sign for Labour and New Zealand. New Zealanders don’t need Patrick Gower to tell them that a new story of mainstream politics is quite credibly emerging from this process, and it is a story that Labour is winning.
People can see the left being on their side, not because of the leaders or even necessarily the policies of New Zealand’s left-wing parties, as important as these aspects are. Instead, the democratisation and new grassroots engagement of the left in this country is a more genuine assurance that Labour will never betray its voters again. Indeed, the timing of the announcement that there will indeed be a referendum on asset sales couldn’t have come at a better time to reinforce this: activist-led engagement with people on the street has led again to a concrete political outcome.
It’s an exciting time for the left and Labour: if we play our cards right we have the chance to truly win the story of the next 30 years and in the process erase the defeats of the previous 30. I can’t wait.