Has Labour lost Trotter?

It would seem that Labour has lost Chris Trotter.

I SHOULD BE at the Labour Party?s annual conference. I fully intended to attend. I?d received the usual e-mail inviting me to apply for media accreditation. But, with the deadline looming, I just couldn?t do it.

Wearing a media pass around my neck this year would have felt hypocritical ? inauthentic. Labour conferences have never been just another journalistic assignment for me. Ever since I cast my first vote (more than 40 years ago now, God help me!) Labour?s cause has been my cause. Regardless of whether I was attending as a delegate, or a journalist, Labour conferences mattered.

It?s why I worked so hard to get to them. As the only political organisation in New Zealand with a realistic prospect of actually improving the lives of working people, the internal life of the Labour Party has, for me, always been a matter of huge significance.

So why isn’t he at the conference this weekend?

At the grass-roots level of the party there was always a sense of optimism. No matter what the setbacks, I never got the sense that Labour?s forward march had been halted.

Even at the annual conference following the rout of the Fourth Labour Government in 1990, delegates could point to established leaders like Helen Clark and Michael Cullen, and to new MPs like Steve Maharey, Pete Hodgson and Leanne Dalziel, and tell me with considerable confidence that Labour?s sun would rise again. And, of course, nine years later, with a lot of help from the Alliance, it did.

Even with the departure of Clark and Cullen, the party?s confidence remained undimmed. Indeed, between 2008 and 2014 I detected an exciting groundswell of rank-and-file assertiveness. There were hundreds in the party who, with Clark safely ensconced in New York, were determined that their party should, once again, become the driving force of progressive change in New Zealand. These were great conferences to attend.

Two individuals stood out in this headlong rush for a Labour rebirth: Helen Kelly and David Cunliffe. Like those undaunted delegates in 1990, Labour activists looked to them in confident expectation of another brilliant sunrise. It was not to be.

Maybe that was it ? the reason why, on the afternoon of Tuesday, 1 November, I just couldn?t fill in my accreditation form. Helen was gone, and now David was going. Labour?s bright sunlit morning had turned into a grey rainy day.

Yes, the delegates will all be there in the conference hall this weekend. The workshop debates will splutter and stutter to some sort of conclusion. Party vacancies will be filled, reports presented, and Andrew will deliver his speech. Except, this time, the political drama?s script will not have been written by a Kirk, a Lange, a Clark, or even a Roger Douglas, but by a committee.

Labour?s villains have become banal, and her heroes are dead and gone. For me, the party?s annual conference no longer beckons. Fortunately, there?s plenty to keep me busy in my garden. This year?s roses are a particularly vivid shade of red.

Chris is a good bloke, he wears his support on his sleeve and not for him the sneaky subterfuge of other media. His heart is in the right place, even if his politics will never deliver that which his heart seeks.

So, when Labour loses someone like him it says a lot about how far Labour has fallen. Chris is a dyed in the wool socialist and he has walked.

But, where will he go?

My pick is Chris Trotter will become one of the growing legions of people who support Winston Peters.


– The Daily Blog