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Meme to Labour: Enough of the Should be, more of the Would be.

Written By: - Date published: 11:17 am, July 19th, 2009 - 87 comments
Categories: labour, phil goff - Tags:

After 9 months of watching the rich get richer, with their triple dip cuts, first in taxes, then in private school fees, and now in getting subsidies to upgrade insulation in rental homes, and the poor getting poorer with no wage rises and tax cuts cancelled for the next two years, where are Labour?

Phil’s video on keeping Kiwis in Work bored me senseless. There was 90 seconds of waffling about what the government is doing, which many already know having experienced it first hand, and a brief snippet about what “Should be done”. Skills training should be in place, there should be directed tax cuts. Should should shouldis all I heard, and no doubt for the other 358* viewers on youtube that is all they heard too.

I don’t want to hear what there should be. I want to hear what Labour would be doing if they were the government. So how about it Labour? Are you prepared to become a proper opposition and go on the offensive and tell Kiwis that;

Labour would beboosting adult and community education funding for more people to upskill after losing their jobs
Labour would be keeping the apprenticeships scheme and providing more funding
Labour would not have provided $35 million to private schools – the wealthy don’t need subsidies.
Labour would not have had a jobs summit long on talk and short on actions – Labour already has policies to keep Kiwis in Work
Labour would not have cut the public service
Labour would not have implemented the 90 day right to fire bill.

If Labour are prepared to be an effective Opposition, it requires action. It requires being offensive. It requires guts and determination. It requires not letting National come out again in 2011 with “tax cuts in 2012 for all” thereby hoodwinking the gullible that believe “because National did it once, they’ll do it again I’m sure” (Labours October 08 cuts will be long forgotten in 2011)

If Labour starts saying “we would be doing this” it will capture the mood of the nation and bring home those voters from 2008 who have been badly burned by Nact, but have no credible alternatives to change their vote except a should, not would, opposition.

The current whingeing and pleading coming out along the lines of “stop the ACE Cuts” and “government should be keeping apprenticeships going” does nothing to endear the wider community to Labour.

Come 2011, the only way that Labour will win again is be saying what you would be implementing now if you were in government. People want to hear what you would be doing as government in these dark times, not what should be done. There needs to be an alternative to National, but Labour just aren’t providing compelling evidence that they are.

Outline what you wouldbe doing, and you’ll be getting a lot more than 358* youtube hits.

* as of 2pm 17 July

– Jasper

87 comments on “Meme to Labour: Enough of the Should be, more of the Would be. ”

  1. stormspiral 1

    Why are you surprised? Phil Goff is to the Right of Helen Clark. Always has been; it’s no secret, and he has to be careful not to offend others of his leanings in both the Party and the Parliament.

    We need FULL employment as the number one goal. It can be done. Helen never promised it; neither did she try for it, but at least she tried to contain it.

  2. Bill 2

    Good observation Jasper.

    The Labour Party as a labourious gaggle of whinging poms or somesuch?

    Fair comment and hardly going to result in the electorate taking them to heart.

  3. graham 3

    although i am a tory i agree with you we want phil goff there in 2011.He will be another bill english(2002).His basic problem is that he stands for nothing so we will kick his arse.the other problem is that trevor mallard maybe loved by core labour voters like your mates but is lothed by the general population (like tizzard).Untill heads go at the top you will have to get to like john key

    • Anita 3.1

      Do you really think the average NZ voters has a strong opinion about Mallard? It seems to me that the C|T inspired National strategy was to focus on damaging Clark’s image to the extent that criticisms that could have fairly been made of other Labour MPs were retargeted on her.

    • Noko 3.2

      I’d disagree strongly with that one.

      Tizzard openly tried to put through policy that benefited large corporations (representing by the RIANZ) and that hurt everybody with no due process. She did this recently.

      Mallard, is Mallard, he’s got nothing to give you strong feelings about.

  4. dave 4

    Perhaps Labour should change its leader. Would Labour do it? That’s what you should suggest. Would you do that?

    • the sprout 4.1

      No. He’s doing well overall and has what it takes, he just needs to adjust a little. Hardly cause for a change, that’d be a more National thing to do.

    • Jasper 4.2

      No, I’m not suggesting that Labour change it’s leader. Goff is more than competent and I can’t see anyone else in the party I’d like to see as leader right now.

      Goff has been through all this before in the 90’s so he’s well equipped with knowledge of what has happened before (all of this has happened before, and will happen again)

      Unfortunately, Goff isn’t presenting this in terms to the public. National cut higher income taxes, diverted funds to private education, and cut ACE funding in the 90’s.

      The more things change…

  5. the sprout 5

    great post Jasper.

    i agree that Labour has to take control of the agenda and talking about what it would do is the better way; framing yourself in reactionary terms only gives further oxygen to what you’re reacting to. National has already proven itself as being marvellously inept in its attempts to control the agenda so it shouldn’t be that hard.

    if it doesn’t happen and the focus stays on what should be, after another two years of heightened economic uncertainty, voters will stick with the devil they [think they] know in 2011 and Labour will lose.

    • Jasper 5.1

      Cheers Sprout

      I’m also basing this on National saying “should should should” for the last 9 years. It wasn’t until last year they started saying “we will do this..” that made the electorate change their vote.

      Contrary to what the MSM say, anecdotal evidence suggests that a lot of votes went to national simply for the tax cuts.

  6. jason 6

    Notional tend to arsehole anyone who aint gonna win them an election. Shonkey will be next, mark my words, graham.

    • graham 6.1

      True national dosent like losers .But john key is not as controling as helen clark “thank god”normal non political people like him.true labour guys hate him But it is the centre ground that he controls that is the key he could go 12 years .phil goff please you guys keep him there we dont want to do a don brash on him lol

  7. gobsmacked 7

    “People want to hear what you would be doing as government in these dark times, not what should be done.”

    Evidence? Among the general public, as opposed to the small minority who are politically engaged, especially on the left?

    Labour, like all opposition parties, show where they stand by voting in Parliament. But they will not be governing in these “dark times”. They may be campaigning to get elected in better times, or worse – who knows?

    Commitments now will either be broken later, or totted up and cited as evidence of profligate expenditure, increasing debt. For example, Jasper wants to hear: “Labour would not have cut the public service”. Well, Grant Robertson has been effective in holding the gov’t to account, and exposing the gap between National’s rhetoric and reality (cap versus cut, back office versus front line, etc). But he and Labour are in no position to promise a guaranteed increase in the public sector workforce from 2011, as if the state of the economy were irrelevant. Why would they? Whose votes would they win?

    Labour should be working on developing policy, but not in the reactive way Jasper suggests. Rather, by exploring an alternative vision, based on their own beliefs, on their own, social democratic terms. And they certainly don’t need to be moving from developing to announcing policy, when nobody’s listening.

  8. the sprout 8

    gs i agree with a lot of what you say, especially about not being reactionary 😉

    but you can provide vision and assert your own values and aspirations without having to commit to too many concretes.

    it’s also the case that very few are listening now, but shifting public opinion starts with shifting the opinions of the Gallery. a long range strategy would have Goff saying thse things now so he isn’t accused of suddenly coming up with a plan and vision a few weeks before the next election. Labour needs to be inspirational/aspirational early in the piece.

    As times get harder the audience for such a message will increase substantially.

    • jarbury 8.1

      To be fair I think Labour have been getting there in the last few weeks with their focus on jobs and their criticisms of the Jobs Summit etc.

      As unemployment rises a focus on doing whatever it takes to save jobs will be fruitful path for Labour to take I think.

    • Jasper 8.2

      It’s not amongst the small minority. It’s growing but the MSM are ignoring it, for now. A lot of people I’ve spoken to aren’t happy with the ACE cuts, lack of action from the jobs summit, and Key’s own goal with the Great Roots Cycle Way is making him a laughing stock – he just doesn’t realise it yet.

      People are increasingly starting to ask themselves why and what could be different? Unfortunately there’s no easy way to explain to them why, but what could be different is much easier to do, especially if Labours message starts getting out into the electorate.

      As far as I know, Labour already have a few core policies in place. They had a whole raft of policies in place prior to last year – they should be reasserting those policies again to make people realise what they lost.

      It’s all about fear of loss, and what has been lost. When you drive home what’s been lost, people tend to start thinking differently. Labours MP’s need to tell their electorates “this is what we would be doing right now” and leading into the 2011 election, as their “would be” message has filtered out, they can start saying “we will do this”

      In this way, there’s no real chance of their “would bes” coming back to bite them (as jarbury says below) as a “would be” promise is totally different to a “will be” promise.

  9. Very good post jasper, although I must say I also agree with what gobsmacked says above.

    I am a big fan of Labour outlining more what their alternative vision for the country is, and how they would do things different. A Labour version of the “Green New Deal” would have been a good idea in my opinion.

    But on the other hand, I do understand that promises made now – a “we would be doing blah blah blah” could come back to haunt Labour in the future. Maybe they also don’t want to give away their tactics for the next couple of years. Bide their time – as they say.

    Perhaps the final thing is that Labour perhaps don’t know what their vision is going into the 2011 election. Their 2008 message got soundly spanked, so there could be a good argument that for this year and next year they should be spending their time working out what went wrong, looking at what suggestions people have and go from there.

    To answer the following questions really:
    1) How did you lose West Auckland?
    2) Why did South Auckland not turn out to vote?
    3) How did you lose the provincial cities – New Plymouth, Napier, Rotorua etc. etc.?
    4) How can you win these places back?

    The odd thing is that I think the answer to all these questions is that Labour lost the centre to National in 2008. While I, from a personal viewpoint, don’t really want to see Labour shift to the right, in a way I think it possibly has to (at least a little bit) in order to win that centre back from National in 2011.

    • Anita 9.1

      Do you think Labour lost the centre to National in 2008 on left-right politics or branding and spin?

      • Jasper 9.1.1

        Definitely on branding and spin.

        The electorate didn’t want to believe that the election was all about trust, yet it has proven to be so with personal guarantees no longer counting for anything. Once a personal guarantee has become worthless, the trust is no longer there is it?

        Or would blind belief that “anything is better” be a driving force?

      • jarbury 9.1.2

        As much as I would like to say “branding and spin” I think the answer has to be “both”. I don’t think it’s constructive for us on the left to moan about how we were robbed by Crosby/Textor lines etc. etc.

        I think it’s important to recognise the concrete reasons why Labour lost and go about remedying those things in time for 2011. While I do believe that there was a lot of “gosh we’re sick of the same faces on TV each night, let’s give the other bunch a go” I think at the same time as a centre-left supporter I have to look at what the justifiable reasons for the country’s decision last year were, and look at what we can do to get a better result in 2011.

  10. Daveski 10

    I actually think Trevor himself graced this site and gave the pragmatic political response to this – the only poll that matters is likely to be in 2011 and until then it’s immaterial.

    Further, part of the reason why Goff et all are sensibly taking a softly softly line is that (much to the disgust of many here) they would have done largely the same in terms of their response. More so, they realise that the economic malaise is one that is not largely of this or the last Government’s doing and that the Government’s main focus is on the long term macroeconomic basics. The problem in any case is not the govt’s finances per se but individuals.

    I heard Goff on the Nat Prog last Friday and his response was almost word for word the type of boring mainstream economic fundamentals I get rubbished for 🙂 For all the Pollyanna talk, Labour will have real problems if the Leader is out of touch with the plebs … or is it that the plebs’ self appointed reps here are out of touch?

    • jarbury 10.1

      I think the saying that “the only poll that matters is in 2011” is utter rubbish. Polls matter A LOT. If Labour were ahead in the polls at the moment there would be much more pressure on the government to do things differently. The way the polls are now means the pressure is on Labour to do things differently.

      • Daveski 10.1.1

        I understand what you saying but the only poll that matters is the one in 2011 or earlier if that happens.

        I think it is smart politics by Labour – for the same reason that National isn’t getting hammered in the polls at present (the extent of the international crisis), Labour hasn’t got much chance of getting listened.

        Any way, YOU tell Trev his comment was utter rubbish 🙂

  11. BLiP 11

    I agree. Labour looks to be just sittng around waiting for the inevitable shift in polls when the reality of the John Key National Party Inc’s policies hit home. But, perhaps this is a good strategy; not to fire all of your guns at once but to wait for opportune moments to take out the generals with sniper fire, reduce the National foot soldiers’ sense of coherence and then bring on the artillery?

    I was contacted by a friend over the weekend and asked to deliver a Phil Goff pamphlet around my area – I’ll do it as a favour to a mate but, really, its an exercise in nothing. The pamphlet just says how much Phil cares about us all – but nothing about what he and the Party will actually do. I bet I will see the pamphlets blowing in the wind over the next few days.

  12. gingercrush 12

    The initial post is fine. But then you Jasper like so many others on the left start being quite naive.

    “Contrary to what the MSM say, anecdotal evidence suggests that a lot of votes went to national simply for the tax cuts.”

    Nonsense. The Foreshore and Seabed issue and a leader that the right-wing could get behind (Don Brash) and an attack on Cullen and him wasting surpluses saw the right-wing vote rise sharply. Where before it was NZ First, United Future and Act sharing that vote with National. National took those votes off them. The 2008 election was built on much more than tax cuts. Remember Labour had their own tax cuts in the 2008 budget. One can hardly say the 2008 election was built around tax cuts.

    t’s not amongst the small minority. It’s growing but the MSM are ignoring it, for now. A lot of people I’ve spoken to aren’t happy with the ACE cuts, lack of action from the jobs summit, and Key’s own goal with the Great Roots Cycle Way is making him a laughing stock he just doesn’t realise it yet.

    People are increasingly starting to ask themselves why and what could be different? Unfortunately there’s no easy way to explain to them why, but what could be different is much easier to do, especially if Labours message starts getting out into the electorate.

    This would be the same thing you lefties always do. Irishbill said straight after the election in a post, saying he was talking to lots of people that now thought they made a mistake. Its the classic, I talk to a few people that aren’t happy and somehow this comes to a conclusion that if my friends aren’t liking National, neither is anyone else. Such thinking is nonsense.

    Definitely on branding and spin.

    The electorate didn’t want to believe that the election was all about trust, yet it has proven to be so with personal guarantees no longer counting for anything. Once a personal guarantee has become worthless, the trust is no longer there is it?

    In other words. Jasper doesn’t believe National and John Key and don’t think they can be trusted. Thus, every other person in New Zealand also doesn’t trust National and John Key.

    ——

    Meanwhile I see The Sprout believes National and John Key are just useless, thus it won’t be hard for Labour to win the 2011 election.

    —-

    Another post that actually talks about what Labour needs to do. But then one reads the comments and you lot on the left haven’t learned a thing.

    • the sprout 12.1

      good work gc, a perfect score of 100% wrong on my position 🙂

      • gingercrush 12.1.1

        National has already proven itself as being marvellously inept in its attempts to control the agenda so it shouldn’t be that hard.

        worked for National in 08

        More belief that National operates solely on spin. Labour of course is always substance and no spin.

        It’s not like I haven’t read other posts you’ve made Sprout. They’re all, OMG John Key is so tired. OMG John Key is a bumbling idiot. OMG National is so useless. OMG National runs on spin.

        You take that position constantly. That is why you believe Labour will win the 2011 election.

        • the sprout 12.1.1.1

          i believe it shouldn’t be hard to wrestle the agenda off National because they have done a piss poor job of controlling it since the election.

          i also believe that if Labour doesn’t change its spin soon it will lose in 2011.

          i don’t believe National are useless when it comes to campaigning, even if they are hopeless at governing.

          • jarbury 12.1.1.1.1

            Just playing the devil’s advocate here, but if National are so useless at governing how come they’re still doing so well in the polls?

            • the sprout 12.1.1.1.1.1

              where would you like me to begin, the validity of polling or the relationship between political action, its consequences, and public opinion?

    • felix 12.2

      Nonsense. The Foreshore and Seabed issue and a leader that the right-wing could get behind (Don Brash) and an attack on Cullen and him wasting surpluses saw the right-wing vote rise sharply.

      That was the 2005 election. And since then? “Tax cuts, nanny state, tax cuts, nanny state”. For 3 years. They didn’t want to talk about anything else. Kept all their policy statements to bullet-pointed lists with zero detail. Wouldn’t talk about their plans except tax cuts. Wouldn’t let Key be interviewed in any depth. “Explaining is losing”. Do you really not remember the last 3 years?

      Where before it was NZ First, United Future and Act sharing that vote with National. National took those votes off them.

      ginge, those are the right-wing parties in NZ. I’m not sure what you’re saying here. Did National pick up right-wing votes from the other right-wing parties or did the right-wing vote increase overall? I’d say a bit of both. Anyway…

      The 2008 election was built on much more than tax cuts.

      Then what? Light bulbs? Instead of just re-stating your first thought, how about expanding on it. What was the election about if not, “tax cuts, nanny state, time for a change”?

      Remember Labour had their own tax cuts in the 2008 budget. One can hardly say the 2008 election was built around tax cuts.

      I think that shows just the opposite. Labour don’t believe in tax cuts after all, do they? Just a bribe, wasn’t it?

      So ginge, if you want to make the case that the 2008 election was about more than tax cuts, you should probably tell us what it was about. Otherwise, well it just looks like you’re blowing smoke.

      I assume we’re talking about things of substance, not “nanny state” or “time for a change”. Are we?

      I’ll even give you one to get you started. Peters and his shenanigans were a bad look for Labour. Even though there was nothing to charge him with, even though it wasn’t Clark’s doing, still not a good look. Probably cost a few votes.

      So there’s one, still really just about perception though, not a policy issue. See if you can come up with some examples of policy issues the election was fought over. 3 2 1 go.

  13. So Bored 13

    The situation faacing NZ two years from now may be very different, so there is always the danger for Labour of proposing policies now that could catch them out later. My prediction is that we will have another oil shock demolish any recovery, and that the new debt created to bail out the international finance system will start to bite in the form of high inflation. Keys crew wont have a clue how to fix it, but the current leadership of Labour wont either. They are too far stuck with the “conventional wisdom”, and thats irrepairably broken.

    • jarbury 13.1

      I would agree with you there “So Bored”. The “oil spike, recession, oil spike recession” yo-yo has quite a few more rounds to do until we finally break our oil dependency and come out the other side.

  14. jarbury 14

    where would you like me to begin, the validity of polling or the relationship between political action, its consequence, and public opinion?

    LOL fair enough. I think polling is generally reasonably accurate – since 1996 just about all the election results have been quite close to polling data so I have no real reason to distrust polls.

    Regarding the relationship between political action and public opinion, yes I think it’s quite possible the general public doesn’t care much about politics at the moment and because of their disengagement have no reason to backtrack on the decision they made last year.

  15. BLiP 15

    I agree, So Bored. The John Key National Government Inc is so obviously bereft of its own ideas they’ve got their Crosby/Textor operatives trolling the blogosphere for ideas. Anything Labour comes up with would just be ripped off, rebranded and applied. The job of opposition is to oppose, not assist. Its a dicey game and timing is crucial when announcing new policy. Now is not the time and, yes, New Zealand is going to be a very different place in two years.

    • Pascal's bookie 15.1

      If they are stealing your ideas, you’re winning; it’s as simple as that.

      If the Labour party is putting out ideas you agree with and the Nat’s implement them, then you are getting what you want. (It also makes room for Labour to move further in the direction you approve of). woot!

      If the Labour party is putting out ideas you agree with and the Nat’s do something else: point of difference and the peeps will decide.

      If the Labour party is putting out ideas you don’t agree with, why should you want them to win based on that?

      If the Labour party is not putting out any ideas at all, then what is there to support?

      • BLiP 15.1.1

        As always, you’re right. Labour has given me no reason whatsoever to even consider why I might vote for them in 2011. And,yes, adopting ideas from the left would improve the lot of the left. In an ideal political environment we could lay down our arms, sit round the table and nut out a way forward that will benefit as many of the citizens as possible.

        With John Key, this is impossible. Anything Labour puts up the flagpole would be shot to pieces – not because there’s anything wrong with the ideas as such but more because the John Key National Government Inc would reject it out of hand simply because it came from Labour. Also, given the current state of the polls (as the trolls here remind us daily) there’s no pressing need for National to consider the best interests of the nation, let alone anything the Labour Party might put up.

        • jarbury 15.1.1.1

          Anything Labour puts up the flagpole would be shot to pieces not because there’s anything wrong with the ideas as such but more because the John Key National Government Inc would reject it out of hand simply because it came from Labour.

          Which, in a slightly strange way, is why the Green Party’s MoU with National is quite useful. At least there’s one way for the Nats to get some sensible ideas over the next two and a half years.

          • BLiP 15.1.1.1.1

            That’s a clever wee spin on Russell The Muscle’s cave-in to tory flattery. I see the Greens are learning the dark arts of PR, you do your masters proud, Grasshopper.

            But, yeah, I’m swinging in the wind here, hoisted by my own petard. It would be great if some of the Old Greens’ ideas were to filter into government actions. Well done, take a point. I suspect, however, the MoU is more a softening-up and muffling of dissent than it is access to the levers of power. Please, please, prove me wrong before 2011.

            • jarbury 15.1.1.1.1.1

              The Greens MoU makes sense to my brain, but that doesn’t stop it hurting my heart to see them dealing with the Nats.

              Basically I hope that it leads to a few good ideas filtering through to National and that’s pretty much it.

    • BLiP 15.2

      And, while I think about it – I’m not sure “oil shock” is the best term. Try “oil bubble”.

  16. Tim Ellis 16

    It seems to me that a number of people here have the view that Labour lost the election because the electorate was hoodwinked and/or are stupid, and fell for National’s brand and spin.

    I don’t think repeating that line will be a vote-winner.

    • felix 16.1

      What are you doing working on a Sunday, Tim?

      I for one don’t think it’s fair to say that the electorate, in general terms, are stupid.

      However I think you would be very stupid if you thought that the electorate, in general terms, are engaged and informed enough to take much interest in politics beyond hype, spin, marketing, branding and personality.

      • Tim Ellis 16.1.1

        Commenting at the standard is hardly work, felix.

        The other side of that coin is that the electorate may have believed that Labour was out of touch and arrogant, and that this was a big factor in Labour’s loss last year. Believing that the electorate, in general terms, is not engaged and informed enough to take much interest in politics beyond hype, spin, marketing, branding, and personality is a sign that you haven’t learnt your lesson yet.

        Maybe when Labour does learn its lessons and starts engaging with voters rather than dismissing them as ignorant or superficial, then they might win some votes back.

        • felix 16.1.1.1

          Not sure what you mean about me learning my lesson, Tim – I don’t speak for Labour and they don’t speak for me.

          But it seems you agree with the thrust of my comment in that swing voters switched from Labour to National not because of any substantive policy considerations but because of a perception that Labour had been in power for too long, it had gone to their heads, and it was time to give the other lot a go.

          Nice to be in agreement with you for a change.

          • Tim Ellis 16.1.1.1.1

            No, Felix, I didn’t say anything of the kind and there’s nothing in what I said that remotely expresses that sentiment.

            • jarbury 16.1.1.1.1.1

              Tim, I think the argument people are making is that Labour got its message across poorly during the 2008 election campaign. They went too negative, they seemed tired and so on.

              Maybe the electorate did fall for National’s branding and spin, because Labour did a poor job at the branding and spin game.

              (Although see my comment above that says I think it was a combination of both real dissatisfaction with Labour and losing the branding & spin game that cost Labour the 2008 election).

            • felix 16.1.1.1.1.2

              Sure you did, Tim:

              …the electorate may have believed that Labour was out of touch and arrogant, and that this was a big factor in Labour’s loss last year.

              That’s branding, spin and marketing, Tim, not policy. And it worked, just like any well planned marketing campaign works.

              National did it better. Labour lost.

              But it’s not policy – the Nats ran on a platform of keeping Labour’s policies largely intact (which turned out to be bullshit of course).

  17. Steve 17

    Great post Jasper, rather than just opposing the govt, by engaging the public in what they would be doing differently, Labour would be seen as more relevant given that what the govt are doing is not helping much. By constantly hammering a message that what the govt are up to is wrong this would then serve as the perfect springboard for late 2010 the message to be about what will be different and show the party as a government (leader) in waiting. It won’t take much to swing the next election I don’t think and it is vital that this govt is a one-term one as I for one think we’ll see a lot more hard right policies in a second term.

  18. graham 18

    i agree with tim.if you lefties keep telling new zealand that we were stupid to vote national and he is a crook role on 2011

    • felix 18.1

      I don’t think the general population are stupid, Graham.

      I’d be surprised if you can tie your own shoes without a walk-through though you dim-witted freak.

  19. SPC 19

    Quite right.

    Any fool with a blog can say what the government should be doing.

    Only Labour can say what they WOULD do. They are the only alternative government and should speak with the authority of our next government. .

  20. SPC 20

    Labour’s main problem at the moment is their support for National borrowing a billion dollars a year to subsidise peoples private savings accounts.

    If we had a surplus (and wanted to encourage savings) or we all had such accounts this would have some merit, but we don’t.

    Sure one can point out how come National will borrow to contribute for private savings yet not for the governments own future need (when Super costs rise in the late 2020’s) – but the government subsidising Kiwi Saver with borrowed money, when there is more merit doing so for the Cullen/English Fund, is as daft as it gets. And where’s the opposition?

    • Tim Ellis 20.1

      SPC, I don’t think Labour’s going to abandon the whole Cullen fund idea just yet. Not after they spent two of the last three years while in government saying National would destroy it.

      • SPC 20.1.1

        Tim

        From what of what I wrote did you get the idea that I was opposing the Cullen Fund?

        My criticism was of National borrowing to fund private accounts in Kiwi Saver (which was developed to allow the then budget surplus to be used to encourage saving), when it would not borrow to fund public savings in the Cullen Fund.

        There is clearly a better case for government money or government debt being used for public saving/purpose rather than lining the pockets of private individuals.

  21. Tim Ellis 21

    Jarbury, I appreciate that your view is more balanced than many. There are however many commenters here and some posters who believe that there was nothing wrong with Labour’s policy or strategy at the last election, but that somehow Mr Key and his crosby-textor cronies engineered a way to rob the treasurer benches from Labour by telling a lot of lies just so they could sell the country down the river to their tory mates.

    There does seem an unwillingness from a lot of Labour party people to admit that they did anything wrong, that a fresh approach is needed, and that a fresh policy prescription that defines what Labour will do, rather than what the government should be doing (the point of this post).

    I know that it’s early days still in opposition for Labour, and I’m not one of those impatient for Labour to start articulating what it will do. That will come with time. I think Labour has to be a bit more contrite about its failings last year before they have a hope of communicating anything just yet.

    That aside, I think one of the big problems for Labour (and it is the problem of being an opposition at any time) is they have to be very careful what they promise. Labour has already effectively promised billions more in spending just in the past few months. They haven’t said how they will fund it. There will be a big credibility gap until they articulate what they’re going to do, and how they’re going to pay for it.

    • jarbury 21.1

      My political beliefs put me almost quite literally at the cross-over between the Labour and Green parties, so therefore obviously in my opinion Labour’s policies are much better than National’s.

      However, I certainly think that Labour’s strategy before the 2008 election can be critiqued. In my opinion it was too negative – they should have focused on their very significant and very real achievements over the past 9 years. Like how Working for Families has lifted so many children out of poverty for example. Instead they simply went negative on National – and probably alienated a lot of potential voters while they were at it.

      It was too easy for National to sell the message that they were “Labour with bigger tax cuts”. Labour should have focused more on how they were different to National, particularly in their ideology.

      Regarding policies, perhaps they alienated “the centre” somewhat. However, personally I wouldn’t want Labour to shift anywhere to the right. I would rather they got their message across better and made the centre-left mainstream like it was in the earlier 2000s.

    • SPC 21.2

      Tim

      National had to move to the centre to win power off a three term government.

      Labour was dismissed because of the perception of hubris and the offer of a little policy change new government.

      This is not an environment where Labour has been/is a policy debate loser.

      National needs Labour to abandon its advocacy of WFF, interest free tertiary loans, no sale of state assets etc or its decision to campaign with policy change in 2011 will come at some risk to their continuance in government.

      National will spend the rest of its term trying to convince commentators that we need more of the same tired old policies that National ran with and/or advocated back in the 90’s. There is no need for the party which won so convincingly in 1999 to change its own policies to win back power.

      • jarbury 21.2.1

        Good points SPC. Therein lies National’s problems in the next few years.

        1) How many dead rats do they continue to swallow to ensure they don’t lose the centre vote?
        2) How do they keep their inner neo-liberalist at bay?
        3) What do they do if the economy doesn’t recover quickly and they see most other countries around the world that did adopt a more hands on approach to economic recovery actually doing better?
        4) Can they really win the 2011 election on a “shift further to the right” platform?

      • Tim Ellis 21.2.2

        National needs Labour to abandon its advocacy of WFF, interest free tertiary loans, no sale of state assets etc or its decision to campaign with policy change in 2011 will come at some risk to their continuance in government

        Interesting idea, SPC. I disagree however. I think there needs to be a positive reason for voters to vote Labour, and a negative reason for voters to vote National out. Voters don’t generally change a government without a strong motivation.

        John Key is one of the most popular prime ministers ever. National’s support is at record highs. I think the assumption that a major change to this situation will somehow happen in the next two years, without a really big catalyst, is fairy-land thinking.

        • r0b 21.2.2.1

          John Key is one of the most popular prime ministers ever. National’s support is at record highs.

          Yes, and as long as they keep running with Labour’s policies that will probably continue. As everyone has remarked, National spent the last budget preserving as much as possible of Labour’s policy framework (WFF, interest free loans etc), while abandoning its own (tax cuts).

          I think the assumption that a major change to this situation will somehow happen in the next two years, without a really big catalyst, is fairy-land thinking.

          I agree, but there are at least three really big catalysts in play. Rising unemployment from National’s do-nothing approach to the recession. Mismanagement of Auckland. And National’s privatisation agenda as it gets let off the leash.

          Mt Albert showed just how beat-able National is.

          • jarbury 21.2.2.1.1

            Good points Rob. Labour certainly won the battle in terms of ending the extreme neoliberal ideology that was a feature of our political scene in the 80s and 90s (which they shamefully took part in). The question I have is how long National can handle having to continue all these Labour policies.

            Just read a few comments threads on Kiwiblog (if you can handle it). The right wing is hurting having to be so centrist. And it makes me doubt how long they can control their urge to lurch to the right.

          • Tim Ellis 21.2.2.1.2

            Interesting points r0b.

            I agree, but there are at least three really big catalysts in play. Rising unemployment from National’s do-nothing approach to the recession.

            Labour has to present an alternative view of what it will do for this to have any effect. It doesn’t seem to me that Labour is scoring too many hits on this so far. They have to pin the effects of the recession on John Key’s government. That seems like a tall order to me.

            Mismanagement of Auckland.

            There doesn’t seem to be much evidence, if this is happening, that the public are aware and/or concerned about this. One would think that if this were a major issue then it would be filtering through in the polls, which it isn’t.

            And National’s privatisation agenda as it gets let off the leash.

            Wishful thinking r0b, and more of the scare tactics that failed so spectacularly at the last election. The chicken little approach didn’t work last time and there isn’t evidence that it will work now.

            One of the major problems Mr Goff has is the real disconnect between Labour’s stated philosophy and his acceptance of the competitive market as the basis of the economy. It seems many of Labour’s commentators are far to the Left of Mr Goff and aren’t happy with the economic direction that various governments have pursued over the past couple of decades.

            • jarbury 21.2.2.1.2.1

              Yes Labour needs to present an alternative vision for how it would save jobs. Their approach on this issue (see today’s newspapers for example) continues to be messy and reactive, in my opinion.

              Regarding Auckland, the problem for National is that this is an issue that won’t go away. If the people of Rodney and Franklin districts suddenly do find themselves forced into a super-city arrangement they don’t want there may be quite a significant fallout. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the final legislation looks like.

              And regarding privatisation, Labour’s approach has succeeded in that the Nats are shit-scared of selling anything, or even making it look like they’re considering selling anything. I would say that privatisation is off the agenda for a long while yet – which is a victory to Labour. Just looks at the 85% of respondents to a survey on the North Shore (a National stronghold) who opposed the sale of any council assets.

            • r0b 21.2.2.1.2.2

              Labour has to present an alternative view of what it will do for this to have any effect.

              Labour presented an alternative view right from the start, before the election:

              If actions speak louder than words, Labour was the winner on Day One of the official election campaign – game, set and match.

              Key’s earlier speech at National’s campaign opening in Auckland’s SkyCity Convention Centre said nothing new on economic policy. In fact, it said nothing new about anything.

              If that was not bad enough, Labour was getting ready to lay out something really meaty just a few blocks away in the Auckland Town Hall.

              There, Helen Clark trumped Key by delivering the recovery package he had been demanding, including contingency plans to save jobs and the promise of a mini-budget in December.

              The upshot was that Labour looked like it was governing; National looked complacent and flat-footed.

              When the electorate is ready to listen again, I rather think that Labour will be ready with policy.

              They have to pin the effects of the recession on John Key’s government. That seems like a tall order to me.

              Easily done. This is a government that was on holiday for the crisis. It dithers. Its cavalier response is badly out of step with the international community. What it did do was just rebranding Labour initiatives. This is a government without a clue what to do – asleep at the wheel

              There doesn’t seem to be much evidence, if this is happening, that the public are aware and/or concerned about this.

              You mean apart from the Auckland opinion polls?

              Wishful thinking r0b, and more of the scare tactics that failed so spectacularly at the last election.

              Why’s that Tim? Are you claiming that National doesn’t want to privatise – ACC, prisons, Auckland assets? Really?

            • Tim Ellis 21.2.2.1.2.3

              Easily done. This is a government that was on holiday for the crisis. It dithers. What it did do was just rebranding Labour initiatives. This is a government without a clue what to do.

              If that’s the case r0b then Labour really are failing to connect with voters to present this case. The polls don’t show Labour’s winning any votes or that National’s losing any. John Key’s popularity isn’t waning.

          • r0b 21.2.2.1.3

            The polls don’t show Labour’s winning any votes or that National’s losing any

            George W Bush had pretty good approval ratings at the start too.

            If that’s the case r0b then Labour really are failing to connect with voters to present this case.

            Labour hasn’t tried to present this case, it’s still too soon. But when the electorate is ready to listen, the case (unfortunately for all of us) is certainly there to be presented…

      • BLiP 21.2.3

        Brilliant SPC! That’s why I love The Standard it puts up with me and is full of patient, sane people with sound arguments well put which challenge my position and, in, this case, force a change.

        You’re right. Labour does have policy and National, using its sneaky operatives, is seeking to change that perception so it can “go over the top” and claim those trenches. Nine months in, I’d sort of lost my “big picture’ view and nearly fell for their filthy tactics. In fact, I’m going to pick up and re-deliver those Phil Goff pamphlets I find blowing in the wind. Even though its the Labour Party, the more I think about it the more I realise the people in my area need reminding that there are politicians on their side and, further, not one of those politicians can be found in the John Key National Government Inc.

        Cheers.

    • r0b 21.3

      I’m not one of those impatient for Labour to start articulating what it will do.

      That’s odd, because you spend an awful lot of time trying to make milage out of lack of policy! You should pick one line and stick with it Tim.

      There will be a big credibility gap until they articulate what they’re going to do, and how they’re going to pay for it.

      I dunno, that seemed to work fine for National last time. Even in government their costings are atrocious (cycleway, broadband, oops sorry no tax cuts).

    • felix 21.4

      Yawn. Tim, sometimes I forget that you don’t have any honest intentions here.

      Nobody thinks Labour didn’t fuck up the game, but they didn’t lose on policies – that’s why National promised to keep them all.

      Of course, they lied, but we’ll get to that as 2011 rolls on. Can’t wait.

      • Tim Ellis 21.4.1

        Putting aside your flow of abuse felix, I don’t think Phil Goff shares your optimism. Not when he’s struggling to register above the margin of error in preferred prime minister stakes, and still trails Helen Clark for popularity eight months after she resigned. Good on you for being so hopeful though.

        • felix 21.4.1.1

          If you feel a “flow of abuse” it’s because you are a vacuum and all things will naturally flow to you to fill the void.

          Just wondering, Tim, do you actually comprehend the distinction between “policy” and “politics”? Because it seems that whenever you mention the former, you’re actually talking about the latter.

          Just a thought.

  22. graham 22

    so felix i am a dim witted freak. No clever answers just abuse are you getting advice from trevor mallard.The man who goes on about richard worth cheeting on his wife but remind him that he did it to and she what he says.Look if you guys want to keep phill on great.If you think somehow we stole the election also great.Because untill you understand why you lost you cant win again so abuse me call me stupid but keep trevor and phil in front of the camera please

    • jarbury 22.1

      Graham I think the jury is still definitely out on Phil Goff. While I think everyone would agree he’s an extremely competent politician, perhaps he is a bit “old school” for Labour to really challenge John Key and National in 2011.

      I have been quite impressed by Cunliffe lately. I guess if Labour don’t win in 2011 he would naturally take over?

      • Tim Ellis 22.1.1

        jarbury, there are many who think that Phil Goff is just a temporary leader. Mr Cunliffe is an interesting example. It would be interesting to see if he actually has much of a following either within the labour party or the wider public. He has some personality traits that I would think would be distinctively damaging to his leadership prospects. He is certainly very intelligent, and was a competent minister, but humility doesn’t come to him naturally.

        The same could be said of Shane Jones.

        Darren Hughes seems like a nice, genuine guy by comparison. Maryan Street strikes me as very competent and with a strong party background, and Ruth Dyson is hard working, effective, and a very decent person from all reports. I think Clayton Cosgrove is a bit of an ambulance chaser, but he clearly has leadership ideas.

        I do wonder if apart from Mr Goff, anybody within the Labour Party has the gravitas to hold the leadership and be able to make a good fist of it. Mr Little seems like the only person in the near future who might be able to do that.

        • jarbury 22.1.1.1

          Yes I think Cunliffe needs a bit more time – which is why I think Goff is certainly the right person to be leading Labour at the moment. Although Labour did lose a lot of seats at the 2008 election, they also had a lot of new MPs come into parliament who will be very impressive in the future. In a way they have certainly made a good start at their inter-generational change.

          People like Hughes, Twyford, Little (I assume he’ll become an MP eventually), Shearer and others will form a strong core for Labour in the future.

          Cosgrove seems too much like Mike Moore, Street is intelligent and quite effective but perhaps a bit too much at the far left end of the party while Dyson hasn’t made life difficult for Tony Ryall so far at all – even though health is an area where National traditionally struggle. I agree with you on Shane Jones, although he has a pretty strong background. He just needs to lay off hassling the Maori Party all the time – Labour need to win their support back not alienate them further.

    • felix 22.2

      No clever answers to what, dipshit?

      You haven’t written a coherent sentence yet, let alone posed any questions.

      Don’t get run over or anything, will you?

  23. graham 23

    i think cunliffe dosent come across well i know hes not a fool but he sort of talks down to you.I know whale jokes that shearer will be the next pm but it will be someone who wasnt a cabnet minister last time or very junior.Also you have a chris trotter out there at the moment trying to rally the left aganist phil.Where national is ruthless is that if they think a leader wont win they will sack them.your lot would rather lose a election it seems that being in charge of the party is more important than the country.you guys should have sacked helen in march last year

    • jarbury 23.1

      Helen Clark’s ratings as prefered Prime Minister almost always were above Labour’s polling – right throughout her nine years as PM. So I certainly don’t see what the logic would have been in sacking her.

      • Pat 23.1.1

        Colin Espiner once described Cunliffe as “vainglorious”. I think he is the most ambitious on the Red Team, and I reckon he will bide his time until he thinks he can get the numbers against Goff.

        He speaks more naturally than Goff’s monotone style, and he debates well on his feet. But Cunliffe needs to knock out a bit of his natural pomposity to appeal to the everyman – show more humour, perhaps. Cunliffe (and Mallard) seem to take personal offence almost everyday in Question Time.

      • Tim Ellis 23.1.2

        I agree jarbury, Helen Clark was Labour’s biggest asset going into an election that they were probably always going to lose after nine years. I guess a generation change is always hard for a political party. Labour need to do some soul-searching before they find their way again.

  24. Galeandra 24

    Labour had a cobbled together look about it in its last term.
    The leadership made a few misjudgements, and the electorate were unforgiving over issues like smacking, electoral law reform etc. They bought the tax argument and eyed the ‘bloated bureaucracy’ that the media uncritically floated across the sky like an advertising blimp for Nact.
    National spun the idea of refreshment, and trust became a cynical amd failing angle for L to pitch to.
    The rump in places like Tara bleeding naki had its day ad nauseum in the local rags and talk back and resentment of Nanny State and she-who-wears-trousers exercised the public mind and stroked its prejudices.

    Jonkey seems flakey when interviewed or when required to think, as Finlay M’s blah blah column in SST showed today but he still wears suits nicely and his smiles manifest success. And he doesn’t tork like a toff.

    But why should L gain traction with the public? As Jarbury says, where’s their Green New Deal? And if policy specifics are premature as of now, where is the policy differential that will make L’s a viewpoint to be sought out?

    I’m totally unimpressed with the assumption on this blog that ‘we’ (L) need to oust ‘them’ (N) for some undefined reasons,mostly historical, based on outmoded largely invalid philosophical differences. I don’t want to get into a rant about capitalism, socialism etc. My understanding though rudimentary by most people’s standard is sufficient. I mean to point out that L thinking ( and thereby policy )shouldn’t be a reflex or default setting, like genuflecting in church or crossing yourself. For example, I believe in social welfare, but believe it to be morally debilitating for the recipient….eventually. Room for robust argument there?

    Sean Elias made excellent points in her speech. Where was Labour on this? (silence for thought…?) Labour has been part of the problem. Time to step up and join the debate and rethink our views about penology. Take a risk even if the electoral costs outweigh the gains.
    Foreshore and Seabed? A can-of-worms in the opening. Time to join the debate(where are L at moment?), drive it and force Nact and the Maori Party to clarify and reason their stance.
    A successful governement will have MPs of outstanding quality. That’s why Nact is in danger of substituting its bang with a whimper.
    But what about Goff and co?
    Where are the outstanding leaders-to-be in Labour? Is there sign of any readiness to stand tall and be unpopular?Where is the recognition of the strength & contribution of some of the Green and Maori MPs? And acknowlegement of their policies? Where is there the display of skills of governance?

  25. graham 25

    to felix we won you lost eat that

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