There is an increasing groundswell of opinion from a number of commentators across the political spectrum that signal Labour will be returned to Government at the 2014 General Election.
A question that has yet to be answered is: by how much? And for how long? The majority won in the 2014 general election will, to a large extent, determine the length of term in office.
It may upset some Labour members who position themselves to the Left in the Labour camp, but in broad terms Labour should seek to target and capture the support of those who generally consider themselves centrist. And those who would consider themselves to be an intermittent Labour voter. This is the real ground to be captured in 2014.
Most middle-class New Zealand electors are ‘pocket book’ voters. They are most interested in how a government is to contribute to the stability of their household. Like any first world middle-class group, they desire a stable economy with fair not penalising taxation, a world class free education and health sector, the ability to comfortably pay a mortgage over the course of their working life on quality and affordable housing. They want these advantages, and this stability, for their children.
Importantly, the middle-class wants to ‘get on’; live a life of achievement based on their efforts. The middle-class is driven by a quiet, sometimes latent, aspiration. This could be to be a small business owner, freehold homeowner, an apprentice who would dream to be self-employed, or the trained self-employed professional.
Aspirant middle-class electorates such as Invercargill, New Plymouth, Waimakariri, Whanganui, Napier, East Coast, Auckland Central, Christchurch Central, Ohariu, Hamilton West, and Maungakiekie should all be considered as marginal; to be won by Labour.
At a policy level, Labour should paint itself as a friend of the aspirant. On the one hand the supporter to the most vulnerable in New Zealand but equally a steadfast supporter of households and their aspirations.
The Left of the Labour Party may regard this kind of approach as a wretched departure from the founding themes of the Labour movement in New Zealand. Fear not; the Labour tradition is ostensibly progressive. None of our true believer Labour folk will be forgotten.
The aspirations and capture of the middle-class hold the key to Labour’s success in 2014 and beyond.
The Black Rod