Labour’s finance spokesman, Grant Robertson, expresses this suspicion of “the economy” quite well. As he puts it, fairly gently: “To me, the economy is only a means to an end to the kind of society we want, to the well-being of New Zealanders.”
This makes it sound like the economy is something that is the property of the Government!
For many in Labour, though, the sentiment is more extreme: “The economy” is something dirty and unpleasant; the other; something almost to be feared. After all, talk in the 1980s of economic efficiency and reform – let alone the dreaded “neo-liberal orthodoxy” – is what created the horror of today’s satanic mills that replaced the workers’ paradise they seem to believe existed prior to 1984. Such talk created the vast underclass that these Grey Lynn and Wadestown liberals have read about on Bryan Bruce’s Facebook page and seen on Campbell Live.
The Grey Lynn and Wadestown sets are smart enough to know they must tolerate the continued existence of “the economy” but only because it is necessary to fund benefits for the “missing million” and government-funded arts festivals for themselves.
Sadly this is only slightly exaggerated.
In contrast, Progress wanted Labour to take a more holistic view of who people are, how they live and where they want to be. As they see it, in a 24-hour day, people want the opportunity to spend eight hours being involved in creating something meaningful and valuable at work. They want another eight hours to enjoy time with their families and communities. And they need the remaining eight hours for sleep in a safe, warm, comfortable home.
That’s a very good way to look at what people see as important – work, family, and home.