Friday, 22 September 2017

I don't want to eat grass or rotten fish. 2017 NZ elections.

Voting for me is not only exercising my democratic rights, but preventing people from eating rotten fish and grass.
As a boy I listened to my Grandfather and Grandmother, my Dad, my Mum and my Uncles discussing politics. My Grandfather kept families from starving in the 1913 waterfront strike which lasted from October 1913 to Jan 1914. Because he was a fisherman, he was able to cross the picket lines to go fishing, and then he would come back after dark with a large catch, and distribute it to the hungry families of the waterfront workers. My Dad and Uncle Bob talked about the PM in 1932, Joseph Cooates, telling the unemployed "to eat grass." Unemployed people broke shop windows in Auckland and in Dunedin, Wardell's Grocery Store had its windows broken and food looted. The unemployed got food handouts during the depression and Uncle Bob recalled queueing for half a day in the sun, to received a bag of rotten fish. He took it home and buried the fish under the apple tree which bore great fruit the following year. We had pictures of Michael Joseph Savage the first Labour PM hanging in most houses in my neighbourhood. Thet were exactly like the one below.

The gregarious but soft-spoken Savage personified Labour’s diluted socialism, or ‘applied Christianity’. As one historian said, Savage ‘smelt of the church bazaar, not at all of the barricades.’
Labour won the 1935 election convincingly. Helped by a recovering economy, it unleashed a slew of popular reforms. Three years later it won again, backed by voter support for its plans for a comprehensive social welfare system. Micky as we called him, brought in the unemployement benefit, a pension for all retirees and affordable housing for everyone.
I was brought up on these stories so when I had my first vote in 1969, I was a 21 year old working in Antarctica. In 1972 I voted in Aorakai Mount Cook, 1975 Geneva, 1978 during a Marxist revolution in Ethiopia, 1981 in India, 84,87,90 in NZ, 1993 in Afghanistan, 1996 in Kazakhstan, 1999 in Bangladesh, 2002 and2005 in India, 2008 in Indoneasia, 2011 in Sri Lanka and 2014 in the Philippines.  I have risked life and limb to vote and I think democarcy is worth taking a risk for, as who want to eat grass or rotten fish?


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