In a post about the silence of American left-wing blogs on anti-war MoveOn founder Zach Exley's sudden switch to working for the re-election of the pro-war Blair government, Nick Barlow speculates on the reasons for their apparant utter disinterest in the issue, and in news from non-US blogs in general. He concludes that the differences are significant, and that
maybe we shouldn’t be constantly looking towards the US for linkage - despite the appeal of getting their thousands of readers to glance over our scribblings - but instead try to build links with those we do have more in common with in the rest of Europe and even across the world. For instance, reading No Right Turn recently, I’ve found that there appears to be more in common between British and Kiwi politics than there is between Britain and the US.
What are some of those commonalities? There's an obvious constitutional similarity - the New Zealand constitutional structure is essentially the British one without the House of Lords. We used to have an equivalent - the Legislative Council - but we did away with it in the 50's when we realised that it was just a sinecure for retired MPs and party hacks and didn't really do anything useful. Likewise, our parties mirror those of the UK; we have a conservative landowner / business party (National), and a party which used to be "of the working class", but isn't really any more (Labour). And we have the shared experience of prolonged suffering under neo-liberal (Thatcherite) policies which caused immense social damage and a crisis of legitimacy for government. Which means that politics now is dominated by the aftermath of those changes - and whether they should be restarted or rolled back.
All of this is boosted by New Zealand political parties' habit of imitating whatever seemed to work for their side in the most recent foreign election. So if Blair uses a pledge card or tries to outflank the opposition on the right, so does the New Zealand Labour party. And if George Bush wins an election by whipping up bigotry and homophobia, National tries the same.
There are differences, however. One is that our local anti-immigrant hysteria is driven more by rich asians (whether students or businessmen) than by poor middle eastern refugees. And another is that here, "New Labour" was the brand of an offshoot to the Labour Party's left...