I think it’s really great how many people have constructive criticism for Labour these days!
Bryce Edwards has an excellent summary in his Political Roundup: Labour languishing outside the zeitgeist. (Yes, a piece about the need to get in touch with the electorate kicks off with the word “zeitgeist”). Pundit after pundit opining on the state of Labour. You have to read the whole thing to get the full effect.
So what should Labour be doing to get in touch with the electorate – to be “relevant”. Surely they should be talking about issues that matter to real people – issues like jobs and housing. And they are…
On jobs there is the important and forward-looking Future of Work Commission. While National calls workers “pretty damned hopeless” and “too lazy or drugged”, Labour presents a Youth employment scheme. And somehow it is Labour who is irrelevant and out of touch?
On housing Labour proposed KiwiBuild, which redefined the landscape of the housing debate. Now they have a “comprehensive housing package” focused on affordable homes, and proposals for emergency accommodation to address the urgent homeless crisis. Meanwhile National claims that Auckland houses are more affordable than they 8 years ago, fails to build affordable houses, and tries (and fails) to sell-off urgently needed state housing stock. And somehow it is Labour who is irrelevant and out of touch?
While Labour tries to operate in the real world of facts, it’s every policy costing analysed with a microscope, Key gets to ignore any figures he likes, keep promising uncosted tax cuts, ignore and disparage scientists and so on. And somehow it is Labour who is irrelevant and out of touch?
I could go on and on. (Really, I could!)
Despite having the right policies on the issues that matter, it’s true that Labour aren’t moving in the polls – hence all the doom and gloom stuff. In part because people tend to believe what they read / watch / hear. Here’s a gedanken experiment for you (I know some German words too!). What if, just say, in the same way that the media in America created Trump (and completely missed the significance of what they were doing so were shocked when he won), what if our “Mike’s Minute” media creates Key? What if there was balance instead? What if there was less focus on political beauty contests and clickbait, and more substantive analysis of issues that matter? (Not meant as a criticism of individual journos, sadly the incentives of our media system are set up to deliver the former, not the latter.)
Oh and by the way, we lefties need to stop being our own worst enemies too, and keep selling Labour’s strengths and successes!
Could Labour be doing better? Of course they could. Could the pundits be doing better? Yeah – they could be doing better too.
Just as an aside, I venture to suggest that Labour’s MPs are much (much) more in touch with the electorate, and its challenges and needs, than the average political pundit. Spend a day or 3 in an electorate office some time. It’s enlightening.
Yes I do appreciate the irony and the futility of a nobody pundit grumbling about pundits. Yes, yes I know it’s really all Labour’s fault and it’s pointless to blame the media. But am I in a grumpy mood today? Yes, yes I am. I really should hit delete not publish.