The first of my weekly E-newsletters to members and supporters, from the desk of the Labour Leader
These e-newsletters are a chance for me to keep in touch, and to let you know what your team of Labour MPs and I have been working on in the week gone by.
When I became Labour Leader I promised to get around the country and listen to the concerns of real people, and I’ve being doing just that. Labour struggled in the regions in 2011 – polling just 22%. We need to re-connect with rural and provincial New Zealand.
This week Labour’s message was all about our heartland. If our regions don’t succeed, our country won’t succeed. National is neglecting regional New Zealand, and it is time for a new partnership between the Government and the provinces. Labour is re-committing itself to work alongside rural and provincial New Zealand to support local development, create jobs and economic growth.
I headed to Nelson on Wednesday, and spoke about the challenges facing the heartland. Another 11 MPs from Labour’s caucus put the focus on their regions. Grant Robertson highlighted National’s cuts to polytech funding, and Phil Twyford put the case for regional roads rather than just holiday highways. It was a great team effort, highlighting major issues for the country, and resulted in plenty of coverage in local newspapers and radio stations – getting Labour’s message out to those communities that need to hear it most.
To read my speech and check out what Labour is saying about your region, head to Labour’s website: www.labour.org.nz/heartland
The importance of our regions was underlined on Thursday, with the release of the latest unemployment data. Despite all the promises and years of rosy forecasts from the Government, unemployment went up in the last three months to 6.8%. That’s simply unacceptable, and National doesn’t have a clue what to do about it. Led by our team of Davids (Shearer, Parker, Cunliffe and Clark), Labour does, and we’ll be talking a lot more about this in the weeks and months ahead. In the meantime, David Parker gave the Government a serve following the release of the latest data and our Youth Affairs spokesperson Megan Woods pointed out that young kiwis are ready, willing and jobless.
Labour’s also fighting the good fight on education. Once again the Government proved this week it is driven by slogans and ideology in education, rather than what is best for our kids. The Government’s plan for school league tables by stealth will push poor quality information out to parents, doing more harm than good. And that’s on top of last week’s bizarre idea to put unqualified and unregistered teachers in front of classrooms in charter schools. Nanaia Mahuta and I will have more to say on education in the coming months, and rest assured it will be based on evidence and on best educational practice.
So, despite Parliament being off for a week, it has been a busy week for your Labour MPs. We have been out in our electorates and the areas we cover, working hard and listening too. But being in Opposition is not always plain sailing and we’ve had our challenges this week as well. Opposition requires the whole Party, from the Leader to the MPs, from the President to local members, to pull in the same direction. I’m committed to that and will be working alongside Moira Coatsworth, the Party President, to provide the leadership required to make it happen. We can always work harder, and do more – and we will.
As the saying goes, a week is a long time in politics, and we have well over a hundred weeks before the next election. Your MPs, Party officials and I are working every day to make the next week better than the last one for Labour and for New Zealand.
Cheers, all the best,
Leader of the Labour Party