No I am not talking about uniting the NZLabour Party or the UKLabour Party: I am talking about the community.As neighbours, workmates, friends we have to relearn how to work together on common issues.
Our grandparents in the 1930’s joined unions, co-operatives, political parties. In the 1960’s some of us joined communes and set up alternative schools. But since the 1960’s these “teams” have been weakened. Union membership has fallen.
Membership of political parties has fallen dramatically in England and in New Zealand.
Society has been individualised.
Competition has been sanctified.
Co-operation has been demonised…..it is winner takes all.
The result has been that individuals struggle for themselves and their immediate families. Rarely do they have many successes, because they are often alone in a never-ending struggle.
Unions and political parties have become machines distant from the average citizen. A comparatively small group works enthusiastically FOR others, but not WITH the disengaged. And we end up with little participation in the political process, because it has no impact on our immediate lives. Last election in New Zealand in September 2014 a quarter of the voters on the roll did not vote. But almost that number again did not enrol.So we have serious disengagement.
We need to close the gap between those engaged in our Party and those who we think want houses, jobs, good health and effective education but who do not talk with us. Lobbyists and NGOs do, but probably one third of New Zealanders do not vote, because we are seen as irrelevant to their struggles.
As a retired teacher ( and MP) I am ineligible to work for more effective unions, but I can still work for an effective political mechanism.
Imagine an electorate with about thirty communities, each undertaking an issue agreed by that community and making some progress.It might be finding a local community answer to elder loneliness, or working with local council to provide safety for cyclists. But it should be an issue/problem that can be improved by community working together.
Taking that first step will be difficult. And we, the political activists will need to support each other.We want to build a series of communities in which people work together and achieve their aims.
In supporting each other, maybe representatives of each of those communities meet regularly to share their stories and experiences.
My aim is not just to reconnect the Labour Party, but to rebuild successful political activity.
If any readers have other models for reconnecting members of our communities to different ways of working together please respond.
I am seriously worried about disengagement. Those who have power are not interested in sharing. It is those who do not have power that we need to work with. Otherwise divided we are being rolled by those who have the power for the few.