Why I am quitting Labour

People who read my posts will know I have not been an uncritical supporter of the Labour Party. The party has struggled from one blunder to the next, and this tendency towards self-injury has driven much of the ongoing speculation about David Shearer’s leadership. Many of us have looked on in dismay as Labour tears itself apart, and more than a few of us have found ourselves questioning our choice of party.

I have been through this process a few times, but I have always held on, hoping against hope that things would get better, that David Shearer would assert himself as a strong and positive leader, and that Labour’s policies would capture the imagination of the public.

But this time I’m letting go. Goodbye Labour, I’m leaving you.

I know many of the activists and party faithful I’ve met over the last two or three years will be rocked by this decision. They need to know that I didn’t make this decision lightly, and I probably would have stayed with Labour if it hadn’t been for a singular event that completely changed my whole outlook towards politics.

A couple of weeks ago I was trawling through various political sites for inspiration. I was planning a post attacking United Future’s Peter Dunne, and during the course of researching my post I came across the United Future website. I had expected to find there a trove of daft ideas to inspire my attack, but I came away surprised at how sensible most of the party’s policies sounded. I’d always regarded Peter Dunne as a bit of a joke, a one-man band allowed to continue in Parliament due to a nudge-nudge-wink-wink deal with National over the Ohariu seat. But once I read United Future’s site I realised there was a lot more to Peter Dunne than met the eye. I immediately cancelled my anti-Dunne post.

Then I joined the United Future Party.

I should have done so years ago, but Labour’s bold rhetoric promising economic transformation, jobs and growth seduced me. Now I see that the answer lies not in sudden and dramatic transformation, but in slow and incremental change. It’s common sense, really. Common sense is something sadly lacking in most of our politicians, but Peter Dunne is full of it. He’s covered in the stuff. It’s as if he wakes up every morning and rolls himself in the sticky stuff before getting ready for work, because everything he does bespeaks good no-nonsense common sense.

It’s exciting to be a part of a growing movement. United Future has been around for a while, under various names, but its future is assured.  There is a desperate need for a political movement that takes the best of left and right and steers a middle course, that bases its policies not on ideology but on what works. I honestly believe 2014 could be United Future’s year.

I’m so enthused that I have volunteered my services, and I’ve already been appointed as a party co-ordinator for much of West Auckland. What I’d really love is to be given the chance to have a crack at Phil Twyford in the 2014 election. Te Atatu has been a bit of a Labour stronghold over the years, but I genuinely believe the electorate I live in is winnable for United Future.

I like Phil Twyford, and I helped with his 2011 campaign, but it’s time for a change. A fresh face is needed, as is a fresh attitude. There’s a lot of talk in Auckland about housing and public transport, and a lot of people are clamouring for action to be taken, but isn’t it time West Auckland had a representative in Parliament willing to make the tough decisions?

Te Atatu needs a representative who isn’t afraid to say “actually I’m not convinced we should do anything”, and “oh, that’s quite expensive, so I don’t think we should hurry this.” Above all, the people of Te Atatu deserve someone who will do everything in their power to make sure unnecessary bother isn’t caused.

I’m certain I can connect with the voters of Te Atatu, and I already have a series of powerful election slogans ready to go if United Future’s selection committee chooses me; powerful messages like “Things are mostly okay as they are, though we could make small improvements”, “Be sensible”, and “Let’s not rock the boat needlessly”. I’m not taking my selection for granted, because the party has a huge depth of talent, and I know it will be a tough contest just to win selection.

But if I get my chance I’m confident that the people of Te Atatu will send a clear and powerful message to Wellington. And if I can do it in Te Atatu, what is stopping people in other electorates? This convinces me that we will see a United Future-led government.  Maybe not in 2014, but certainly before the end of the decade. I hope to be a proud member of that government.

To show my commitment to the cause, I have agreed to dedicate this site to exploring and discussing United First’s policies. You will see a few changes to this site over the next few weeks, but hopefully nothing too major. Mostly just a change in design to be consistent with the party’s colours and logo, and the introduction of a new author, a fellow United Future traveller. I’m sure Pete George needs no introduction to most of you, and I’m delighted he has agreed to contribute.

You too can make a difference. The party needs good, sensible people, so please join. Or if you can afford a few dollars you can donate. I will be donating ten percent of my income to the party. Can you spare a little?

I can’t wait for 2014!