Donna Miles is a Christchurch-based Kiwi-Iranian columnist and writer.
OPINION: “I know we’ve only been talking for five minutes, but would you mind if I tried to guess some of your political views? »
Hearing this, my black English taxi driver sat down, adjusted in his seat and, after glancing at me in his rear view mirror, in a tone filled with anticipation, replied: “Come on, then.”
So far we’ve only talked about the weather, where I’m from, and shortage of taxis (a general post-pandemic propensity to deprioritize work, as well as a push to phase out old taxis in favor of electric cars, has led to a sharp drop in the number of black cabs in London).
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So what did I guess?
I assumed he voted for Boris Johnson in the last general election, not because he liked him, but because he could never bring himself to vote for Jeremy Corbyn, whom he saw as an “anti-patriot”, “terror-supporter”, “Queen-hating”, “IRA-loving”, “Communist” with “anti-Semitic views”.
I predicted he would never vote for Johnson again. He viewed the Tories as “despicable” and “corrupt to the core”, but was unhappy with Labor either because he believed it no longer represented the working class – instead it had become the party of recipients and minorities, which annoyed him greatly – as did the fact that alcoholics and drug addicts were more likely to get social housing than hard-working people.
The other problem he had with Labor was its leadership. He was thinking Keir Starmer was a “wet blanket”, which represented nothing and had no real politics. I also guessed that he voted for Brexit and hated Sadiq Khan, whom he considered the worst mayor London had ever had.
“How did I do it? I asked.
After giving me another questioning look in his rear view mirror, my driver asked, “Isn’t that what everyone thinks?” “. I said I wasn’t sure. All I knew, I said, was that, almost word for word, that was what every taxi driver in London had told me, and that I had spoken to at least 16 people at that time.
There were a few exceptions, however. A driver said that since his disappointment with Tony Blair he had never bothered to vote for anything again. Another told me he was so disappointed with British politics that he was leaving the country to live in Corfu.
” And you ? asked the driver. “Do you agree with our views?”
“Especially not,” I told him, adding that the only thing I fully agreed with was his disappointment with the British Labor Party, which consistently failed to refocus people’s attention on the main problems. I told him that it was disappointing that taxi drivers mentioned beneficiaries and minorities in relation to the housing crisis, instead of remembering that it was the The Tories, starting with Thatcher, who turned housing into a lucrative asset.
Housing, I told her, was a basic human right – a source of safety and security for healthy families to grow and thrive. Instead, it was turned into unproductive profit for those who had the capital to turn housing into a lucrative investment for themselves – and an undeserved future benefit for their children (my own family also benefited from this easy profit).
Why were taxi drivers annoyed with alcoholics and drug addicts but never mentioned multinational corporations or billionaires who blindly robbed us all by not paying their fair share of taxes and hiding their money in offshore accounts? Weren’t they the main source of misery in his country? Why wasn’t he more bothered by that than by the right of someone with a penis to call themselves a woman (yes, that came up in the conversations as well).
So what does all this have to do with the New Zealand Labor Party? Well, similar false impressions about the work are forming in New Zealand – namely that it works primarily for Maori, beneficiaries and minorities, rather than for the long-term benefit of all New Zealanders.
If the Labor Party is serious about changing this harmful perception, it must succeed in convincing people that the real source of unearned advantage in our society, now and in the future, is heritage capitalin which wealth is passed from generation to generation, and also that any advantage given to Maori and other minorities is to level up and achieve social harmony through equality – not to cede undeserved benefits.
It’s a shame that so many people assume the world is going to hell because of women with penises or men or beneficiaries or refugees arriving on boats and so on.
In 2017, Oxfam reported that only eight men have the same wealth as half the world – and the wealth gap continues to widen. Shouldn’t we all be talking more about this – and how the twin threats of climate change and nuclear war can drive humanity to extinction?
Luckily my driver agreed to let us do it.