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Home thoughts from abroad

Written By: - Date published: 7:19 pm, February 20th, 2014 - 55 comments
Categories: election 2014, labour - Tags:

Porirua mayor Nick Leggett has put up a couple of  interesting posts for an international audience on progressonline,  about Labour’s prospects in the upcoming election.   While I don’t necessarily agree with all his specific policy preferences, I think his political message is timely and accurate. I  agree with him that Labour’s approach to this election cannot be “just a list of things that you’re against.”

I could write National’s election pitch now. I don’t know where to find Labour’s in one place. The components are certainly there, as Nick Leggett points out. But they need to be pulled together, not buried under an endless barrage of negative press releases that sometimes appear to be more about personal point-scoring than focussing on the things that matter to voters.

I’m pleased Nick has aired his concerns. Politics is about perceptions, as the cliche has it. And he’s not the only one that has concerns. It’s time for Labour to focus more on the things that it’s for, and what it will do. That could be very popular with voters.

55 comments on “Home thoughts from abroad ”

  1. newsense 1

    Kiwi Assure
    Early Childhood education, Paid parental leave, Baby payment
    Auckland rail link started in 2016
    Charter School to be scrapped
    Single power buyer model
    A promise to look at the Greens well received solar power scheme
    Living Wage for all public servants employed by the Government
    Prioritisation of living wage contractors in government contracts
    Re-assessing the casino deal

    That’s a fairly good start and that’s just off the top of my head.

    • karol 1.1

      Agree, newsense.

    • Mary 1.2

      What about the Social Security Act? Or is that still a no-go zone for Labour? Worse still, will it be more of the same from Labour?

    • Richard McGrath 1.3

      So you mean

      Kiwi Assure (which Kiwibank has been providing already)
      The baby bribe (which has turned off the middle class, leading to today’s horrendous poll result for the left)
      Scrapping charter schools (which is all about protecting teacher union members and nothing about offering choices to parents and kids)
      Single power buyer model (nationalisation by stealth)
      Greens solar power scheme (unviable without taking money from others – fortunately people are waking up to the voodoo economics of solar)
      Living wage – creates unemployment in the private sector, but not in the cossetted world of the public service, far removed from the real world of supply & demand and reward commensurate with productivity. And why is the living wage not $50 an hour? Or $100?
      Casino deal – I agree the government should not be involved in gambling and giving any corporate welfare to casinos (or banks, or any other private enterprise). One thing to which I can relate.

      Come on Labour, lift your game.

  2. karol 2

    I’m really not clear on what Nick Leggett is offering as an alternative strategy for Labour.

    And there are things in his two posts that I find questionable:

    Post #1: Labour needs to poll higher to have “the moral authority” to govern?

    The 2nd post: Labour should not be chasing the non-voters? But should be aiming to take votes off National?

    “But there is clear majority support in the wider electorate for both a pursuit of strategic mining and a far greater investment in motorways. ”

    Support for raising the retirement age?

    I’m fine with more apprenticeships and trades jobs.

    • swordfish 2.1

      “I’m really not clear on what Nick Leggett is offering as an alternative strategy for Labour.”

      As a resident of Porirua (of which Leggett is, of course, Mayor) I can tell you he’s pure Blairite. Very much associated with the Goff/King Right of the Party. Along with his good friend and former Goff insider, Phil Quinn, Leggett was a fan of Rogernomics and, as a youngster, was inspired to join Labour by Mike Moore (of all people !!!!!!!!! Imagine being inspired by someone who played a leading role in the betrayal of Labour voters while, at the same time, burbling on endlessly about Lamb-burgers).

      He gives a broad hint that, like Labour’s Right, his strategy is to move to the “centre” to win the swing vote (as opposed to mobilising the non-vote). He’d no doubt call it “modernisation”.

      Legget’s a guy who, for instance, in his first term as mayor, evicted a whole group of poor single elderly people (whose sole income was the pension) from social housing provided by the council. People who lived through Depression and War unceremoniously chucked out of their homes of a decade or more presumably so that the highly ambitious, upwardly mobile young Mayor could say something impressive about “rationalising Council assets” on his CV.

      The website he’s posted on also appears to be of a British Blairite ilk. I see there’s a post by some git calling for British Labour to challenge the Co-op’s boycott campaign against Israel’s illegal settlements. He even describes the Palestinian territories (illegally occupied by Israel according to International Law) as “disputed territory.” Israel’s leading apologist in the New Zealand media – the neo-conservative bore, David Cohen – wrote a Listener piece last year promoting Leggett as the next Labour leader. Perhaps Leggett shares the Israel-Right-or-Wrong Policies of Britain’s Blairites ? (who made membership of ‘Labour Friends of Israel’ compulsory for anyone in the British Labour Party with any Cabinet ambitions).

      • karol 2.1.1

        Thanks swordfish. My feelings on the subtext of the two posts was – Goff as leader, good; Cunliffe not doing as well.

        Trotter: Q.E.D.

      • bad12 2.1.2

        Nicely put swordfish, as a Porirua boy by birth i would have described Leggat in far harsher terms, you have tho encapsulated the main points nicely tho…

      • Tracey 2.1.3

        Thanks swordfish

        I hadnt read your post when I wrote mine at 720. I had the feeling I was reading someone who wants national lite but wondered if I was too jaundiced.

    • Tracey 2.2

      I thought the same about those two points.

      To take off national you have to be offering broadly the same failed ideology cos thats what moved them from l to n. Stop trying to get back the people who loved what roger douglas did.

      Moral mandate is straight from the nat playbook.

      The mayor seems to have bought the nat message pretty strongly which is important because it shows how easily the nat meme travels. Labour and Greens get your memes going.

      a few pithy things and say them over and over

  3. newsense 3

    affordable housing too…

    • Herodotus 3.1

      Affordable housing is only a pr policy. There is nothing contained within the Labour (or national) policy that will improve the current situation. And I am sure that Labour strategists are fully aware of this, yet they feel obligated to be seen to be doing something.

  4. xtasy 4

    That post or article by Nick raises as many questions as it tries to answer, it is neither here nor there, rather exposing more lack of clear direction of what Labour NZ stands for, I am afraid. Do NOT celebrate this, please, it should be seen as more reason to re-assess and re-orientate, while the time for this, and clear cut, progressive policies is slowly running out in this so important election year.

    I sincerely hope that Labour get their act together and present some truly modern, progressive, constructive and supportive policies in the coming months, otherwise they are likely to stuff up again.

  5. Clemgeopin 5

    I agree that Labour leaders should continuously talk about their policies clearly as public memory is short and easily distracted by National’s muckraking and PR stunts.

    Keeping our policies in the minds of the electorates is the key, not Key..

  6. Chooky 6

    Good interesting Post …and yes agree xtasy….”I sincerely hope that Labour get their act together and present some truly modern, progressive, constructive and supportive policies in the coming months”

    …….Labour should just IGNORE NACTs game playing ( and stop playing a defensive role all the time)

    ……..Labour needs to set in place a NEW GAME ( I sincerely believe they need an advertising agency or professional outside help to do this)….an attacking game and a positive game as you point out

    …….Labour needs to appoint NEW SPOKESPEOPLE for its most important policy portfolios

    As Mike Smth says :”It’s time for Labour to focus more on the things that it’s for, and what it will do. That could be very popular with voters”.

    ( and of course I think they have Winnie in the BAG…after Key’s spying on him)

    • Stuart Munro 6.1

      The new game is a good idea, but I think advertising agencies are to be avoided. They’re not genuine enough.

      You’d do better to recruit Dotcom – a man who knows how to connect with the cloud.

      Labour should be preparing a kickstarter-like initiative for regional development – this will generate sustainable growth and success stories.

      Documenting the ‘failed nation’ of planet Key will also help pull New Zealanders together to rebuild our country. It’s never needed it more.

      • Chooky 6.1.1

        @Stuart Munro ….yes you are probably correct about advertising agencies…and Dotcom’s help could be brilliant…if it could be pulled off.

        …also your other ideas seem REALLY GOOD to me!

        • Stuart Munro 6.1.1.1

          Thanks… like most of us I’ve been worrying about this stuff for decades.

          But I also got to spend a bit of time with Lee Kie-Hong before he died. The bloke whose economic plans took Korea from where it was in 1950 to where it is today… I don’t know a tenth of what he knew – but the character of his reforms – bottom up, empowering communities, prioritising education I learned somewhat.

          • SHG (not Colonial Viper) 6.1.1.1.1

            The bloke whose economic plans took Korea from where it was in 1950 to where it is today…

            With the country run by a group of families and where the government is practically indistinguishable from the operations of the chaebol conglomerates? Yeah, that sounds awesome.

            • Stuart Munro 6.1.1.1.1.1

              It’s not perfect certainly. But in 1950 it was poorer than Somalia. Somalia has not progressed.

              The thing is, all these neo-liberal reforms NZ suffered were predicated on generating a miraculous surge of growth. Neo-liberalism doesn’t work though, so all the sacrifices have only made New Zealanders poorer. All these politicians who like to talk about growth ought to be very interested in a system actually generates growth. But, oddly enough, they’re not.

              When New Zealanders are reduced to eating tree bark, and 30% of us starve, as will happen soon enough if National and ACT have their way, it will pay to know how to rebuild.

  7. BM 7

    Labour only has one policy.

    Tax the fuck out of the majority of kiwi workers and redistribute that money to their supporters.

    Can’t say it’s won me over.

    • newsense 7.1

      really about time I changed handles with you…

    • Arfamo 7.2

      Um…have you been checked for alzheimer’s? That’s the Nats’ policy.

      • BM 7.2.1

        No it’s not.

        This baby start policy is a pitch at low income breeders, which the vast majority of are labour voters.

        Living wage is a pitch at low skilled workers, which the vast majority of are labour voters.

        Money for these policies have to come from some where and that some where is higher taxes or more taxes.

        The 1% ain’t going to pay for these bribes it will be the middle income wage earner.

        • Tracey 7.2.1.1

          50% of working kiwis earn less than 22 bucks an hour for a 36 hour week bm

          These middle income earners you speak of… earning 25 bucks an hour are the target of labour?

          What are you pretending to earn these days bm?

    • Clemgeopin 7.3

      BM, You are OK with unlimited wealth and income of the small % at the top of the chain and do not care enough for the well being of the vast majority in the country? The 1 to 2 billion dollars of tax cuts EACH YEAR, that primarily gives a bonanza to the wealthiest, by reducing a modest tap rate of tax from 39% to 33% is ok with you? Do you really think that 39% of tax at the top end of income is TOO much? Do you prefer a rich man favouring indecent government or a progressive and caring fair government?

      • BM 7.3.1

        Most of the people that make serious coin tend to use serious tax minimization strategies,which tends to provide a shield from tax increases.

        It’s the people who are in a waged position that cope all the tax increases because they can’t write off any of their income.

        • Arfamo 7.3.1.1

          You’re right. So the answer is to remove the serious tax minimisation loopholes for the serious coiners. These people probably really should be shot but that’s going a bit too far these days. And we’d probably have nobody left in Parliament if that happened.

          • bad12 7.3.1.1.1

            Arfamo, wrong,wrong,wrong, not about the first part, the second tho should become mandatory…

            • Arfamo 7.3.1.1.1.1

              It’s interesting isn’t it? How so many people believe that the more money they make, the less tax they should have to pay. And that it’s fine for the low paid to have to get by on inadequate wages and be clobbered by direct and indirect taxes. And for how long the plebs have put up with this shit. I must do some more reading about the flat tax idea.

          • srylands 7.3.1.1.2

            Could you please name these “serious tax minimisation loopholes” in New Zealand that would allow someone on a salary of (lets say) $200,000 to reduce tax liabilities? What exactly are you referring to? And what changes to the tax code would you make?

            Someone on that income pays $56,920 in tax. That seems like a fair whack to me.

            So tell me about these “serious loopholes”. How does this person wack say $10,000 off their tax bill?

            • Arfamo 7.3.1.1.2.1

              Why are you asking me? Ask BM. He’s the one claiming serious coiners use serious tax minimisation strategies. Why should there even be the ability to minimise tax if you’re wealthy?

            • bad12 7.3.1.1.2.2

              SSLands, you work for the small firm of Wellington tax lawyers, i am sure you are well versed,

              Then again as the bean counter of other peoples loot you are probably a minor fish in the pond not privy to the good info,

              Next time your boss is giving you grief over your use of His computers to continually make your abysmally empty comments on political web-sites why don’t you ask Him to explain how such tax rorts work,(not necessarily for the wage worker but then how many wage workers earn 200 grand), at the least the question will take the bosses mind off of the idea of a written and final warning…

              • Tracey

                He does?

                Then why was he jetsetting to oz to find employees cos nz lacks those skills? Seems odd cos aussie tax structure is quite diff to ours.

            • Tracey 7.3.1.1.2.3

              If they have a company they can split their income with their spouse by making him or her a director. Regardless of whether they do any work for the company.

              Its not a loophole of course. Its a law.

              In whatever imaginary role you have cast for yourself today do you work as an employer or contractor or business owner?

        • Tracey 7.3.1.2

          So you vote national to perpetuate that system?

          do you have a trust?

      • Herodotus 7.3.2

        The real wealth is unaffected by PAYE tax rates. This is a distraction, and all who are so blinkered to be concerned about increasing the tax rates of workers is only an accessory in the concentration of wealth to the few.
        Worry about what was referred to in TV3’s dock Mind the Gap $1-$5b annually uncollected tax
        http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/08/31/mind-the-gap-guest-tv-review-from-david-cunliffe/
        How wealth is generated and then not taxed or there is tax evasion, and as a consequence in many cases is then shipped offshore deteriorating our balance of payments.
        https://www.interest.co.nz/news/40814/banks-settle-structured-finance-tax-disputes-ird-nz22-bln-update-1
        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10532076

        • Tracey 7.3.2.1

          I wish I could recall the study but many years ago just after Act moved from no tax to a flat tax a study showed that people were only likely to start donating income when their tax rate dropped below 25%.

          I agree that increasing income tax is not the answer. Not increasing it and tinkering at the edges is also not the answer.

          We dont need a third way or a brighter future we need a new way and a new future cos the one we have is greedy self centred and mean

    • xtasy 7.4

      “Bulls(shit) Master” always has an opinion, but is rowing up the flow, against the flow in the river, like swimming against the tide, that will eventually rip him/her into the open sea, while it may be the Greens making up for Labour losses, still ensuring a new government.

      • Tracey 7.4.1

        Bm is a regurgitator of others opinions he thinks are his own.

        There was a time when you could engage with him. I recall a conversation where he had revealled he used to do some trading. But in the last many months he seems to just regurgitate the thoughts masquerading as facts he picks up elsewhere. Drilling deeper finds nothing.

        Hes not the only person on any side of the divide that does this.

        I realise facts are irrelevant. National knows this and its one reason they frustrate the heck out of people who oppose them.

        Frankly if 20% od labours vote went green we might see the kind of shifting sands we need. However the opportunity would be lost in the stampede of fear

    • bad12 7.5

      BM, the head of wellington Bus that runs all the buses in Wellington was supremely unimpressed with calls for safety barriers to be erected on Wellington’s Willis Street after road changes lead to a spate of Bus V pedestrian accidents,

      That of course was until one day as a pedestrian He stepped off the un-barriered Willis Street and copped one in the head, a bus that is, didn’t do much for His health but sure as hell changed attitudes to barriers which began appearing the very next day…

  8. quartz 8

    Progress? Crikey Mike Smith, are you really climbing on board with the blairtes? You should know better than that: http://www.smh.com.au/world/tony-blair-offered-to-help-rupert-murdoch-over-phonehacking-20140220-hvd3a.html

    • Mike Smith 8.1

      No I’m not a Blairite and I’ve posted enough on Murdoch here that I don’t need to revisit. It’s Leggett’s political analysis I agree with – the perception that Labour is too negative. I would like to see that change.

      • geoff 8.1.1

        We’d all like to see that change , mike, but you’d be naive not to realise that a big part of that negative perception is being created by wealthy interests. Labour/greens policies are the first opposition parties to be seriously challenging the neolib status quo in this country, ever. But go ahead give arseholes like leggett more oxygen, do your bit to help National get reelected.

        • bad12 8.1.1.1

          geoff, indeed, look at the recent attacks of a personal nature and then there’s the concert of distraction that hardly looks accidental after every release of policy by either Labour or the Green parties,

          ‘The cynic’ usually banished from the forefront of my mind to lurk in the darkness where all those other voices lurk,(totally unnecessary information),whispered to me the other night that Labour/Green need not bother with such releases of much needed alternative policy to the Neo-liberal paradigm,

          Simply produce the baubles needed to have the comfortable middle class grant their pardon to form a Labour/Green Government and then unleash a torrent upon the Neo-liberal ism in the vein of the 1991 Richardson/Shiply attack upon the poor using a loud TINA as justification just as they did is what the cynic whispered,

          Naughty i know…

        • Saarbo 8.1.1.2

          Yep, it does appear that this year, the attacks against Labour appear to be concerted. DC’s home, Taurima (a former Labour electorate candidate is discovered to be a Labour supporter…surprise, surprise), nit-picking over details on DC’s speech, and in todays NZ Herald “Labour refuses to reveal Leadership contest details” .

          The right wing biased media are on a mission and are unfortunately succeeding…frustrating.

          • Tracey 8.1.1.2.1

            Len brown was their front page yesterday.

            No article about the salvation army report. No article showing a journalist on the streets to see if what the sallies say they see is real or not…

      • Tracey 8.1.2

        Its developed because national repeats it over and over and over. We all know govts get more media time until the campaign starts. Labour needs to sow some seeds now. Pithy lines that every mp chooses from to repeat when asked about anything.

        Bandy 60bn in debt around alot
        Half of kiwis earn less than 22 bucks an hour and can only find 36 hours of work a week
        80% of kiwis are a redundancy letter away from needing support from welfare and their neighbours… I dont know the actual figure but it is way higher than people think

  9. fender 9

    After reading the links I think the guy should leg it over to the National Party.

    Shame he didn’t elaborate on what Labour have actually done so far to aim for the non-voters that he calls a “creeping worry”. Raising the retirement age is hardly a “tantalising prospect” or “definitive gem”.

    As Mayor for Porirua he should just keep quiet till after the election rather than try to stir shit to undermine the Leader.

    • Murray Olsen 9.1

      What he’s doing is what all the ABC/Rogernome/Blairites are doing. He’d rather have three (at least) more years of NAct than actually challenge the mythical neoliberal consensus. The best thing people like him could do to help a victory for the broader left would be to join National or ACT. That would leave a Labour caucus that wasn’t scared to actually open its mouth and would actually believe in something partially worthwhile. They wouldn’t be missed.

      • Tracey 9.1.1

        And thats why a vote for change is not labour right now…

        • Murray Olsen 9.1.1.1

          I agree. I was toying with the idea of an electorate vote for Labour, but after the raising of retirement age, not dropping GST on anything, ambiguity on mining and drilling,……… My electorate vote will be Green and my party vote will be Mana. Unfortunately, they won’t become part of government unless Labour gets enough votes.

  10. Ad 10

    Nick Leggett is good at his job and could actually stick to doing it. His mate Goff and the entire goddam ABC Club remain largely unaccountable for Labour’s worst election defeat in decades. Even the full sized ABC puppet Shearer did nothing for them.

    Nick Leggett is no campaign strategist on a national level. If he thinks we are going to win the election with more mining and more motorways he is out to lunch.

    His final point about Labour having to message something like “it’s a great economic recovery happening to someone else” is true, and I would expect to see a major economic development speeceh by Cunliffe in March. I am confident that we will.

    But writing off the 800,000 enrolled non-vote, well I’ve got to tell you that just fucks me right off. They are the people who vote Labour by and large, and wanted to, and Leggett’s hero helped them all to enthusiastically stay at home. They are the poor and brown who ain’t seeing their wages increased, employment conditions increased, or getting any healthier or better housed. They also remain Labour’s best chance of winning the election.

    Responding to social need with policies that help real people’s lives is the core of Labour, and it’s the core of winning this election.

  11. George D 11

    Mike’s right. If all Labour does is present a negative vision then all that we’ll see is depressed turnout. That means a vote in line with polling (which consistently underestimates Labour, except when it does particularly badly). And that means the left loses the election.

    There are a number of ways to be inspirational, and they all start with having a few key unifying themes that every attack and every positive policy announcement reinforces. A ten year old could have told you what the Greens stood for at the last election. Labour must do the same. A huge amount of message discipline is also needed, and I worry about that.

  12. blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 12

    I find the second article by Nick Leggit is a very inaccurate assessment of what Labour has been presenting and promoting.

    This article might be cause for concern for Labour – re getting their message out clearly – however regarding the suggestions re policy settings; the article was factually incorrect and therefore the analysis has no accurate foundation re the policy direction needed.

    Corrections:

    Labour were taking a stand against drilling and then shifted to supporting it – with conditions. The article says otherwise. [n.b. The drop in popularity ratings happened after this occurred]

    -Labour does still aim at raising the retirement age – the article says otherwise [an issue that National dropped on the understanding it was mightily unpopular]

    -Labour have very much been sending out a message of ‘ the recovery is a good story happening to someone else’ ; the difference between ‘economic recovery’ and how that is shared out – the article’s conclusion implies otherwise.

    -Labour have been sending very positive messages out, such as: creating opportunities for all and not ‘pulling the ladder up’. The article says it is coming across as ‘merely listing its opposition to things’.

    I really do not know the stats re how effective a ‘centrist’ approach would be or not and it is up to Labour to research and find out what approaches are popular and what is not – have they done this research? I question that re the raising of retirement age.

    My main criticism of Labour is re the strength of their message (not what they are promoting). They do not appear to check whether they are staying on message. For example: the Australian Supermarkets issue re promoting ‘Australian Made’ which they appeared to be criticising and yet this stance appears a)to go against what Labour would have to do here as far as promoting more jobs here in NZ rather than this importing of products and exporting jobs that is going on now. And b) appears to go against any criticisms re the TPPA re the country having its ‘sovereignty’ taken away due to dubious international agreements. c) (related to b) goes against its own message re the negative impact of corporate cronyism.

    In conclusion: I like the message Labour has been sending out – yet I question whether they are being disciplined about staying on message with their responses to current affairs arising since Cunliffe’s ‘State of the Nation Speech’.

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