You know, if you look back to all the elections since 1957, there’s only three you would say the Left lost outright – 1975, 1990, and 2008.
In the Holyoake years, too much of the vote was being wasted on Left-leaning Social Credit, Muldoon lost 1978 and 1981 but got more seats, the country voted overwhelming Labour/Alliance in 1993 but lost because of FPP, and in 1996 was let down by Winston breaking his word.
Even if you just want to look at the last ten years, the bulk of people voted Labour, or left of Labour, three times out of four. There is a natural Left majority in this country, if it can be mobilised.
The Nats think that with their golden boy they can keep the public amused and voting for them as long as he stays around (early 2013 if he gets a second term, earlier if not) but they’re just believing their own hype. Under Key they only managed to win as many votes as they were polling back when Brash was leader. The guy’s ratings as preferred PM is dropping and is actually lower than what National polls.
All Labour has to do is win back about 3% of voters who voted for them the last three times, maybe more, but switched this time, and give another 3%, who are their voters but stayed home last time, a reason to get out and vote.
Job security, decent employment conditions, better wages, that’s the issue. It is an issue where there is a strong distinction between the two parties and one of increasing importance as employers look to put the clamps on workers’ conditions and pay, under the guise of the former recession.
Labour gets it to a degree. They’ve out up private members bills. They fought hard on the minimum wage increase and the Fire at Will law. Darien Fenton’s Redundancy Protection Bill and her petition and postcard campaign is getting the issue talked about at workplaces around the country. But, and this is no disrespect to Darien, the running of these issues shouldn’t be left to backbenchers.
I want to see Phil Goff leading. I want to see him calling on employers to give workers a fair pay increase to at least match the increasing cost of living. Workers aren’t asking for much, just what’s fair. Employers should do their part to help out Kiwi families. The rhetoric writes itself. I don’t see why we can’t see Labour MPs out their supporting workers on pickets lines. There’s no political risk, these are ordinary Kiwis fighting for what’s fair. Fighting for what the Labour Party was founded to fight for. What is National going to do? Argue Kiwi families deserve a lower standard of living?
I understand that a number of Labour MPs (not all of them, which is a shame) have been generous with their own money in supporting workers locked out or threatened with redundancy or striking for fair pay. There’s no reason they can’t match that private commitment with public political action. Work with the unions. Stand for the people the party was built to stand for.
I reckon that there would be a lot of votes in it from those natural Labour voters too.