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Note to Labour leader: Rudimentary thoughts I

Written By: - Date published: 12:51 pm, October 18th, 2013 - 98 comments
Categories: labour - Tags:

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

98 comments on “Note to Labour leader: Rudimentary thoughts I”

  1. mickysavage 1

    Can I kick off the debate by advocating a counter view, that turnout is all important and the only way that you can do this is with a principled alternative view of the world that inspires people to vote.

    You cannot underestimate a combination of passion and competence.

    And there should be a role in persuasion and education in a campaign rather than relying on triangulation and matching policies to reference group data.

    • karol 1.1

      what does Labour stand for if it continues the old “neoliberal” approach – target the centrist voters. i thought this was what Cunliffe’s Labour was turning away from.

      A principled view is needed. The people most in need of Labour’s support are those who have been neglected by this “game” approach to politics – it’s not all about winning. It’s about democracy, and the greatest good for the greatest number.

      • Tim 1.1.1

        Indeed Karol!. And if Labour want to ditch many of its founding principles, particularly those that don’t give those most in need a fair suck of the sav, then at least they should have th common decency to change their name. “NeoLabour perhaps” … maybe even Me-Me-Me-o-Labour.
        Since Cunliffe, for my money they’re only JUST beginning to make me consider voting for them again (at least electorate vote-wise).

        • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.1

          The Black Rod is advocating the virtues of a Light Blue alternative to National. More significant than that though, they have demonstrated zero understanding of the financial, monetary and central banking disasters unfolding offshore.

          Note to all: the 21st Century is the century of energy and resource decline. In this environment of real economy contraction, the middle classes have been staying afloat by pushing down opportunities available to the working classes and the under classes. Just as the 1% is determined to stay afloat by pushing down the middle classes.

          • Rogue Trooper 1.1.1.1.1

            This: Half of employed New Zealanders, in low waged employment, temporary contracts, and the precariat .Surveys conducted this year identified that this Half of the employed population are either coming up short financially, or receive just enough to meet their, and their families’ needs.
            As the Viper identifies, in the formerly Anglo-Saxon dominated nation-states, the UK, US, Aus, for examples, the middle-class are being continually squeezed and demoted, often replaced by new-comers of different ethnicities, Chinese, South East Asians, Polynesians and Indians, who often hold different aspirations despite their socio-economic bracketing.
            Then there is the tangata whenua, with their youth increasing rapidly in number, yet being generally neglected by parties, other than Mana.

            The ‘middle-class’, their promotion heavily dependent on oil, coal, resource depletion, private and public debt, and all the other trappings associated with Status Anxiety . In time, as a collective ‘class’, they will be swamped and displaced by competitive peoples from Asia (primarily).

    • stargazer 1.2

      i’d agree with this. we’ve already tried the “go for the centre” approach for the last 4-5 years. didn’t do us much good. on the other hand, as part of the leadership contest, we had the contenders pushing some very progressive left-wing positions & had increase in support. what we do need is strong planning and organisation around policy releases, but i don’t see that appealing to the centre is what people likely to vote labour are looking for.

    • emergency mike 1.3

      Agree Mickey, it’s to those 800,000 who couldn’t get inspired enough to vote in 2011 for a NAct nor Lab/Green govt both trying to win the mythical ‘centre’ vote that we should be looking.

      I feel that most ‘pocket book’ voters are more or less fixed in their voting patterns. How about we quit insulting/underestimating people’s intelligence and give people something to be inspired about? Let NAct carry on the fine job they’ve been doing giving people something to be disgusted by.

    • lprent 1.4

      I disagree with this as well. But Mickey can write faster than I can…

      It is a tactical approach rather than a strategic one. What you get out of it is one election, and maybe two if the opposition is weak enough. Not enough to win the decade required to implement real change.

      Note to Labour leader: Rudimentary thoughts I

      • tamati 1.4.1

        I disagree with this as well. But Aaron Sorkin can write far more candidly that I can…

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let_Bartlet_Be_Bartlet

      • Mary 1.4.2

        It is true that Labour needs to capture the support of the middle class, but not by pandering to views generated by a neo-liberal agenda. It’s about creating a climate of opinion that values participation based on citizenship. New Zealand was that caring society for most of the last century until it began to fall apart in the mid 1980s followed by total decimation by the end of the 1990s. We’ve never recovered from that. Generations have cemented in a type of thinking your average National voter in the 1950s or 1960s would never have contemplated. Hatred of the poor is now commonplace. The poor are lazy therefore don’t deserve our help. In the 1990s the argument was about whether benefit levels were adequate. Remember Labour saying in the 1990s that it’d reinstate benefit rates to prior the 1991 cuts? It flip-flopped on that straight away, of course, but the discussion’s now moved to whether benefits should be paid at all. That’s where we’re still firmly planted. Adequate social security’s not on the agenda anymore, not in the mainstream, anyway. The issue shouldn’t be about Labour trying to be everything to everyone, rather than one of culture and values. We should instead be striving to regain the caring society we once had. What’s depressing is that I just can’t see how we can ever get to a point where we will even want to do that, let alone know how to do it.

        • This.

          Labour should vie for the centre vote from the Left. That means it has to sell its left-wing approach to the centre, not that the whole party has to shift to the right. Labour has already abandoned the idea of radical reform- it doesn’t need to go any further right to appeal to the middle class. Overall it will get more votes this way, but by still positioning itself close to the centre but with a distinctly left wing point of view, it both overlaps the Greens to ensure there are no wasted voters who fall between their approaches, (which was definitely a huge problem under Goff and Shearer) and also leaves the Greens room to pick up any more radical or simply differently inclined voters who want to veer even further left. It’s sound strategy both ways.

          What it needs to do is point out that a strong safety net helps all of us, even the rich. It needs to point out that an economy is built from the bottom up, and we can’t get prosperity for those centre voters without sharing it with those least well off in our society. It needs to be a broad tent, and welcome in all comers, provided they can get along in a broad tent. That means there’s room for Shane Jones and others like him, so long as he can keep his bigotry under control.

    • newsense 1.5

      Can I quote from Gordon Campbell about Obama:
      http://gordoncampbell.scoop.co.nz/2013/10/18/gordon-campbell-on-the-police-being-above-the-law/

      “Bi-partisanship simply hasn’t worked ; and the quest for it was never the basis of his mandate. Way back in 2008 when there were such hopes for this presidency, Obama was given a strong mandate for change. The presidency is deceptive in that respect. Ostensibly, the office is meant to be bispartisan in that Mr President governs for all Americans. In reality though, those Presidents seen as great ( eg Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy on civil rights and yes, Reagan) have been those who made their partisan agenda into the new norm for the nation. Obama was elected to lead in that mould, and his only victories have arisen from the very few times that he has acted on that mandate”

      Similarly the centre has been dragged so far right I don’t think we should be aiming for the centre where Key has dragged it under the stalking horse of not being Don Brash. If you look at the instant poll changes of late, it is clear that there is a large number of people who are much happier with a centre further left and some who are waiting to be convinced about it.

      Remember just a short time ago that asset sales were considered political suicide given the examples of TranzRail, AirNZ etc etc. There is no reason why Labour can’t be the party the aspirational turn to and why an evidence based Labour direction should be attractive to a large cross section of Kiwis

  2. weka 2

    “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.”

    Where would those votes be coming from?

    And how would Labour achieve this at the same time as getting the missing 800,000 out to vote, some of whom aren’t voting because Labour is not that much different than NACT, or their needs aren’t being met by centrist govts? Or are you suggesting that Labour go after the centre vote at the expense of more marginalised people?

  3. lprent 3

    As I was saying to The Black Rod when this came in, I feel that this is a tactical rather than a strategic approach. Sure you can stroke the centrist votes and get them to vote for you. But why?

    They tend to be quite fickle voters and they can change their minds every three years because who the government is doesn’t matter much for the reasonably well-off. For the nearly the last 30 years with minor diversions, this has been the group that all major parties have tried to tickle. The reason why is because they virtually always vote.

    But it takes more than three years for most social and economic change. It usually takes a decade or more. So electoral strategies should be focused on that time frame.

    Chasing almost exclusively this centrist group has been the *main* reason that the number of people voting has been dropping rapidly during this period. If you have two major parties dedicated to patting the affluent and looking pretty damn indistinguishable then why vote at all?

    Now I’m just a hard headed “centrist” and probably centre right in most of my attitudes. I’m definitely neither a “leftie” nor a bleeding heart. I’m a reluctant socialist by intellect rather than by instinct. But I got trained to think strategically and over longer time periods. I’ve also spent much of the last 20 odd years supporting Labour as an activist and specifically with campaigns. For Labour a falling number of voters is terrible over the long term.

    So the down and out don’t vote, and they don’t do so because they *know* that both major parties only care about the centre… Probably good tactics to chase the centre but really dumbarse strategically.,

    Edit: Strategically the best way is to chase the missing voters and drive National out of the centre by moving the centre leftwards.

    • Te Reo Putake 3.1

      I think you’re onto it, lp. I had some really disheartening talks with potential voters during the last campaign who simply did not see any party offering anything that impacted positively on their lives. For mine, I think a strategy of engagement with the middle class and working and non working poor makes sense.

      Firstly, the recent poll results suggest the floating centre has already made up its mind about Key, so Labour needs to find policies that bring them to us, rather than have their voting block dissipated on NZF or the Conservatives or whatever. The housing policy is an example of how that can work.

      For working Kiwis nearer the bottom of the heap, we need to give them reasons to enroll and vote. Better work rights, support for their kids, a living wage etc. We need to find the issues that resonate with them and put put up policies that will make them make the effort.

      For people living on the various forms of state support, again, it’s finding issues that resonate. Retooling WINZ so that it’s an agency of help, rather than a form of state repression would be a start.

      If Labour can shore up its vote by a couple of percent in all three of those sectors, they’ll be home and hosed.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1

        Retooling WINZ so that it’s an agency of help, rather than a form of state repression would be a start.

        That and putting in place a Universal income. Support people to create their own work.

      • weka 3.1.2

        “For people living on the various forms of state support, again, it’s finding issues that resonate. Retooling WINZ so that it’s an agency of help, rather than a form of state repression would be a start.”

        It would be. However I’m not yet convinced that Labour understand what the actual issues are. The main thing I’ve seen from Cunliffe is that the solution to welfare problems is to create jobs, as if all people on welfare are unemployed. They’re not.

        • Draco T Bastard 3.1.2.1

          Yep, just because someone isn’t employed by someone else to make the latter person richer doesn’t mean to say that they’re unemployed.

    • Rogue Trooper 3.2

      This also

  4. richard 4

    … but in broad terms Labour should seek to target and capture the support of those who generally consider themselves centrist.

    Bollocks.

    Labour has been overtly pandering to the mythical centrist voter ever since they first got into power under Helen Clarke. In every election since then they have lost votes. Since Helen left, the pandering got even more overt with the appointment of two successive leaders from the right of the party. The results were near devastating for the party’s very existence as a meaningful political entity in NZ.

    • weka 4.1

      I think the post is also confusing the middle class vote (which varies across the political spectrum), and middle NZ (whoever that is, it’s not just the middle classes).

  5. Philgwellington Wellington 5

    I wonder how long it will take before the the ideology as expressed from Cunliffe, is watered down, or disappears completely, as per Obama.
    Also don’t underestimate the growing influence of the Asian vote, particularly in Orkland. Just ask Len!

    • karol 5.1

      In his speech to the CTU, Cunliffe talked about a “values based” strategy, and government for “all New Zealanders.

      Why are some Labourites already asking to turn away from that?

  6. Policy Parrot 6

    Part of the reason why Labour has in fact become arguably more popular is that the Government has in fact, by neglect or design, moved increasingly away from the centre. Add in the odd scandal/ministerial resignation, and the leadership primary for Labour – which actually switched people on to Labour for the first time since the interest-free student loan policy –

    and hey presto, Labour has de-facto become a serious contender for the centrist voter. However, I do not agree with the premise that Labour should default back to managerialism now that it occupies the Government-in-waiting position. The centre is partly attracted to Labour because of the distinction it offers in its policy position, e.g. capital gains tax, remove LVRs, raise pension age for able bodied, support for a living wage, restoring balance to employment relations etc.

  7. McFlock 7

    The trouble is that the vast majority of voters aren’t “pocket book” voters. Some of them are aspirational voters (they vote for the pocket books of where they think they should be, rather than where they are), or noble voters (they vote for what they think is good for the country, rather than regarding themselves as part of that equation), or they are alienated voters (a plague on both your houses).

    Most people, if they think about the economy at all, would know “deficits bad, inflation bad” and not much more. This is why national have a reputation for financial management and can yell “tax and spend” at the left, when it’s nact who run the country into the ground every time they touch power.

    So to echo MS in comment 1, the left need to de-alienate poorer and middle class voters who have disengaged. This is not so much flashy campaigns as actually reconnecting policies with the problems they will solve – I think our postmodern campaigns of banalities and pithy policy statements have lost that connection to an individual voter’s personal situation. And that would also address a number of voters in the aspirational/noble categories, too.

  8. gobsmacked 8

    Black Rod’s post is fine as a preamble to some substance. But then it just stops.

    What does this “centrist” appeal mean? If it means understanding ‘average’ household concerns (power bills, rent/buy home, schools, health costs, groceries etc), then who on the left would disagree? And Labour seem to be doing this already. A range of policies address these issues. More to come, hopefully.

    If it means constructing a mythical bigot and pandering to him (always him), then no.

    So yes, let’s have this discussion, With specifics, please.

  9. Pascal's bookie 9

    Awful lot to be said about this, but I’ll just say for now that “middle class” is not the same as the ‘political centre’ in terms of number of votes.

    Also the centre isn’t a group that is easily defined. They are a group of groups, each having their own idiosyncricies. What appeals to some of the ‘centre’, makes other’s toes curl.

  10. Philgwellington Wellington 10

    I also wonder when any major political party will do the right thing and acknowledge the magnitude of the issue of climate change, and the matter of dwindling resources for watering and feeding the people of the world. Perhaps this could be a happy marriage with the greens? Limiting population and growth has to be the priority. Can’t see that happening. The alternative is depressingly inevitable. No wonder our politicians don’t want to know.

    • The Lone Haranguer 10.1

      Philg,

      Most folk are interested in whats in it for them and their family first, whats in it for people like them second and the people “not like them” are a distant third if they rate at all.

      As for feeding the folks of the world? forget it, unless the Government has looked after priority one first, and priority two second.

      Dont believe me?

      Just get Labour to say they are going to make a refugee quota for intakes at the Universities and make their fees free and wait for the screams from all over the place.

  11. Steve 11

    I agree with Micky & Weka that the most important group for the Labour to mobilise are the disenfranchised voters who simply have not been turning out to vote.

    Having said that, policies that appeal to that group need not be at the expense of “middle-class” aspirants. The failed neo-liberal experiment of the last 25 years has been at the expense of all but the 1% elite. The middle class have been clobbered by these policies with falling real wages and hollowed out public services.

    The challenge for labour is to explain and educate “middle-class aspirants” that progressive social democratic policies will benefit them as much as the less fortunate in our society.The trick is to re-define the centre, not continue as National-lite.

    I am very excited about the future as Labour/Greens could be one of the first governments in the developed world to carve out a new progressive way forward that begins to roll back the disasterous experiment of neo-liberalism.

  12. bad12 12

    MS, without actually saying so you seem to be alluding to a Labour/Green Government also finding the space to include NZFirst,

    Of course such would rely on NZFirst surviving the 2014 election something i would suggest is less at this point in the electoral cycle than a 50/50 proposition,

    Obviously a Labour/Green Government is going to move to the left, just how far left i would suggest in the first term after 2014 will rely upon the rump ‘right’ of MP’s who privately still believe that the Douglas prescription ‘was the right thing’ as far as what was done to the New Zealand economy all those years ago being able to stomach having it unpicked bit by bit,

    This is MMP politics and while some put much weight upon the ‘prestige’ of electorate seats, in the greater scheme of things these mean little when it comes to the totaling of the vote,

    Could even a five term Government of the left be possible under MMP, my opinion says Yes, if Labour as the major Party in the next Government is willing to actively Build Coalition Partners,

    This of course would mean the next Labour/Green Government including not only NZFirst,(needed to make a majority or not), but, also including Hone Harawira’s Mana Party while giving that latter Party credit for the likes of State House builds,

    There are a lot of people that would probably oppose such, but, in terms of ‘coalition building’ there are large electoral gains across the spectrum, Labour/Green/Mana for agreements to not stand candidates in specific seats,

    The mechanics of arranging this are at this point in time beyond me and perhaps beyond the relevant political parties but i would suggest to achieve a four or five term Government of the left at some stage such an arrangement must be reached…

  13. Enough is Enough 13

    What a pile of bollocks.

    This isn’t just a game where winning an election is all Labour needs to achieve. If you win and continue the same misguided policies of the past 30 years, then we may as well leave National in. At least I don’t feel betrayed by them like I will if Labour tries to be National in drag.

    Labour needs to lead and influence public opinion. It needs to demonstrate why the neoliberal dream is a fucking nightmare for most of the public and why we need to change course. It must advocate truly socialist and economic friendly policies.

    Unless it does that then why change?

  14. Zorr 14

    One simple thing

    A leader leads – this is why I am enjoying Cunliffe so much and am reinvigorated by his leadership

    They don’t pander – this is distinctly pandering just to gain votes with no other goal in mind and would be like a cold shower

  15. This post is not only wrong strategically but tactically. To win the middle you have to break it up so that those who are self-employed only because there are no jobs get jobs.

    Following PhilGWells point, this is particularly true of the migrant population often excluded from jobs and forced into self-employment. Creating jobs is the way to win them from the politics of the right.

    This means job creation and full employment that is targeted at the under- and unemployed workers can also win those sections of the middle to jobs and unions. Double whammy.

    The blind aspirationals who who just want to escape the working class you don’t want anywhere near the Party anyway. They are fascist fodder.

  16. Ad 16

    I think the writer of the post shows a sad and cynical mistrust of New Zealanders to not vote unless their self-interest is appealed to. It only works to a degree (eg minor poll upswings after tax cuts, interest free student loans).

    Labour’s Hopey-Changey stuff is backed by solid and hard hitting policy that makes Cunliffe’s words seem believable.

    Fully agree with Mickey’s response, and lprent’s. I think people will continue to get excited by Labour with strong values, articulate leadership, and a sense of cohesion and purpose that can be transferred to getting more people out to vote.

    Helpfully Labour now has a leader that can achieve that.

    The dream run before Labour heading towards Christmas is the party conference, referendum, by-election and further asset sales, John Banks trial, and inevitable major cabinet reshuffle. I see 5 further points in that.

    The polls say there is no reason at all for David Cunliffe to change his existing themes or strategic direction – which is precisely the opposite direction of the posting writer.

  17. BLiP 17

    . . . 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 . . .

    Are you havin’ a laugh?

  18. Red Rosa 18

    John Key is the slick salesman for a National Party which is Extreme Right. Not Centre-Right.

    Did NZ’ers really vote last time for a mishmash of Weird Right policies which include charter schools, return of knighthoods, further asset sales, gutting DoC & the RMA, more pokies and creepy bennie-bashing?

    The current mix of sleaze and farce is turning off many Old Nat voters, who for all their faults are at least honest. And many NZ’ers must be wondering now about TPP, the GCSB Bill etc, as Key’s credibility sinks to new lows.

    A capable and articulate Labour leader in David Cunliffe has revitalized the whole scene. All credit also to the Greens for plugging away under a barrage of smears.

    My guess an autumn election, once DotCom vs Key hits the headlines.

    • The Lone Haranguer 18.1

      Quote Red Rosa

      Did NZ’ers really vote last time for a mishmash of Weird Right policies which include charter schools, return of knighthoods, further asset sales, gutting DoC & the RMA, more pokies and creepy bennie-bashing?

      Yes they pretty much did. The Nats said what they were going to do, and then once back in power, got on with their agenda.

      And lets be fair, the return of Knighthoods was a winner for the Nats. The public are confident with it and even Labour types put their hands to trade in their indigenous NZ awards for an upgrade to a Gong once Helen was sitting in her New York apartment

      • weka 18.1.1

        No they fucking didn’t. For a start, the number of people who voted for NACT doesn’t equate to “NZers”, it’s only a portion of them, not even the majority of voters. Not to mention the 800,000 that didn’t vote at all. And the UF/Dunne/Ohariu factor.

        Then there is the fact that many people don’t pay that much attention to politics or policies other than the ones thrust in their faces or ones that directly affect them. Lots of people would have no idea what the issues with the RMA are, nor why DoC is being gutted.

        I’ve love to know if any proper research has been done on voting in NZ, who votes for what and why. Mostly I think we have no idea.

  19. Is there any evidence or analysis to support these claims about the motives, values and voting behaviour of ‘the centre’ or presumed ‘middle class aspirants’? Perhaps the evidence will be supplied in later posts? And is there any data on the size of such a group? Or, that ‘aspirational’ is the best word to characterise them?

    I would expect to see some polling evidence, for example, tied to voting patterns over a reasonably lengthy period that shows correlations between responses to values and attitudes surveys and voting behaviour.

    In the United States, for example, there is evidence from such polling and surveying that on many social and economic issues (e.g., health care) the policies of both the Democrat and Republican parties are well to the right of the public. There is also evidence of an extraordinary ‘volatility’ in voting behaviour in the US.

    The words “None of our true believer Labour folk will be forgotten” are also a bit curious. Perhaps it is just loose writing, but the ‘will be’ seems to assert a direction that ‘will be’ taken, as opposed to one that is just being advocated.

    • Puddleglum 19.1

      There is also evidence that, in the US electorate at least, more ‘liberal’ ideology (e.g., in terms of support for taxation) emerges during periods of income growth while more ‘conservative’ ideology (e.g., lower support for taxation) emerges when income growth declines.

      That is, ‘aspiration’ is perhaps better called ‘desperation’.

      • Colonial Viper 19.1.1

        Plus feeling better by bashing marginal and vulnerable groups, egged on by right wing assholes.

      • Lloyd 19.1.2

        Does the growth cause the liberal ideology or does the liberal ideology generate policies which cause a growth in the economy?

  20. Tangee 20

    I think DC have made it clear we are swerving left and as long as he is clear all the way and no doubling back then he should take the next election and what he does during the next term in government will ensure the return of labour for the next election if he follows through with his promises.
    A lot of people have been left behind and the trickling down effect should now be called the hardly trickling down effect. If more is distributed to the mass most of it will come back into the economy whereas if it is passed to the rich as it is now then it is sent to savings or used to avoid tax.

  21. captain hook 21

    Sometimes the people are very hard to lead and no matter what they are promised they stubbornly refuse to budge for what be in any in depth analysis rational reasons.
    KEY AND HIS LOWBROW mates were asssisted into power by the incessant promotion from Steven Joyces private radio network and the hair and teeth brigade from TV1 who took the line it was Nationals TURN.
    Well they have had their turn and left a frigging mess for the NZ Labour Party to clean up.
    Which they will.

  22. aerobubble 22

    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.

    RUBBISH.

    Labour will lose if this is the goal. The whole idea is to win and that means in our present politics to not cede ground at the outset. Take to National base, to farmers, to small business owners, and explain to them why National backward ideology (and Labour when it was taken over by the extreme economic lobby) has decimated NZ leaving a hollowed our economy, always begging, create smelly, leaky, homes and financial companies.

    Labour will lose if it cannot speak to farmers, business people and labour rank and file, they are not mutually exclusive outside of parliament why would we be fooled into beliving they were inside of parliament.

    Its an oxymoron to say you want to be centralist yet ignore the right. Being centralist means talking to the right as much as the left. Winning means cooling the left and winning the right. You march right over to the right, strip Key bare of his false clothes and expose the right for the pillage of the last thirty years.

  23. Rich 23

    Invercargill, New Plymouth, Waimakariri, Whanganui, Napier, East Coast, Auckland Central, Christchurch Central, Ohariu, Hamilton West, and Maungakiekie

    We have MMP – Labour could lose in every one of those seats and still win the election. Party votes in safe Labour seats and safe National seats count as much as any in a marginal seat.

    • Te Reo Putake 23.1

      You’re missing the point, Rich. Winning the electorates is important because then we have local MP’s who will actually assist their constituents.

  24. Philgwellington Wellington 24

    It’s called inclusiveness. Cunliffe has to convince the non voting 800,000 that Labour has policies which give them hope. Low turnout reflects this disengagement. It’s not rocket science. But getting MSM onside would help.

  25. Draco T Bastard 25

    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.

    Labour tried that and lost with both Goff and Shearer. The upswing in the polls that we’ve seen recently is, IMO, due to the fact that DC is more left than centre.

  26. Richard Down South 26

    We need to stop screwing around with labels and address the issues

  27. s y d 27

    Holy shit….I just got my membership card in todays mail. For the LABOUR party and already this geezer is talking about the third way. Didn’t we all just vote on that with Robertson and that other guy?
    Black Rod can piss off, the centre is wayyyyyyyyyyyy off to the left of where we are…..

    • weka 27.1

      I think the centre is not where it used to be, and it’s not just a matter of shifting the political spectrum. We now have several generations of people who’ve grown up since Rogernomics and been socialised into selfishness as the norm. I don’t think it is too late, NZ still holds enough of its egalitarian ethics, but it’s quite a job to centre us back in that. Not just a job for the politicians either.

  28. risildowgtn 28

    The centrist /right wing policies of the past 30 years havent delivered nothing but heartache for those @ the bottom.

    Time for a change

    That change is Cunliffe

    If he decides to carry on with the status quo then he will lose

    I think honestly people have had enough of these policies…..

  29. Crunchtime 29

    “The Black Rod” sounds like the voice of the ABC camp. “Target the centrist voters” sounds to me like carry on with the same old tired neoliberal policies.

    Target the nonvoters. there were 800,000 of them (as Shane Jones pointed out 800,000 times during the Labour leadership campaign). More people didn’t vote than voted for Labour last election. It’s these disenfranchised people that Labour now needs to include, motivate and empower.

    Besides which, Labour policy has “dramatically shifted to the left” and they are already polling significantly higher.

    Doesn’t sound to me like there’s any need to “target the centrist vote” as The Black Rod puts it.

    To me, Labour Policy has “dramatically shifted to the left” in recent years and is now pointing at the centre – it was a bit to the right there for a while.

    • greywarbler 29.1

      Thinking of targeting voters in an election reminded me of this piece on The Vault machine from the Spectator in 2004 by Peter Oborne. It was startling then and still is.
      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Oborne
      http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/12829/the-mean-machine/

      The idea of picking on key voters to ‘stroke’ and woo, and bypassing the old faithful and ignoring the intransigent who are not likely voters, but still part of the polity to be represented is not good democratic thinking.

      I remember Brian Easton writing years ago on the voter pie chart for NZ. I’ll see if I can find it. It may be still meaningful.

  30. billbrowne 30

    yeah nah

  31. A TRADESMAN 31

    I have read some of the comments about the labour party over a period of time and have been concerned that some of those submitting opinions have lost sight of the main goal, GET RID OF JOHN KEY you cannot do anything if you are NOT in Government PLEASE UNITE.
    As one of the silent majority we want
    A good paying job with a fair wage that is not subsidised by working for families or to achive a decent wage our children have to go across the ditch. Are we to be exporters of labour
    A warm dry house that we can afford. WE all don’t want a four bedroom house and ensuite tho it would be nice.
    Superannuation sorted out once and for all
    To be able to train apprentices with out it costing a fortune, none of us is getting any younger. What
    is the average age of tradesmen (I hate the term tradies I AM A TRADESMAN AND PROUD OF IT)
    Those of us in the smoko sheds on building sites are not necessarily interested in the things that wind up some of the correspondents.
    Get out and ASK us what we want do not guess and do not forget there is a N Z outside of the cities

    • greywarbler 31.1

      A Tradesman
      I think if you had read much of what has been written on this blog you would know most people want what you want. And we know what is needed, to get Labour into Government, and have a real Labour Government, not just any old bunch who keep running to get the perks of power. Not 1984 lookalikes.

      And what is needed is for tradesmen and anyone else that is working for a wage, doing physical work particularly, to get to and work for the Party and its future.

      And don’t wait to be asked what you want, don’t tell people to ask you, get up and state what you want – to the media, in the streets, at meetings and let people know how important Real Labour will be to all people and the country.

    • Colonial Viper 31.2

      A TRADESMAN

      It’s worthwhile to note that politics fans like ourselves always discuss and debate where things are at, and where they might be going. It’s not a sign of disunity as such, especially at the moment when most people can see that Cunliffe is doing a good job.

      It’s just people commenting on their sport of choice.

      Disunity…well, if you look at some of the acidic comments being made around the time Shearer was making his sickness beneficiary remarks…yeah, that was disunity.

    • millsy 31.3

      Truth be told, you cannot expect to solve this nation’s problems by giving people hammers and tool belts and sending them to a building site.

      More apprenticeships might sound like feel-good politics, but not everyone wants to be a tradesman (or isnt suited).

      • karol 31.3.1

        Educate yourself. Maybe some people want to be involved in the digital side of printing, or forestry, or be a florist, or get an apprenticeship in the service or tourist industries.

        You’re not in the mid 20th century now, mr milllsy!

    • Crunchtime 31.4

      I like your list there.

      A good paying job with a fair wage, housing standards and affordability, apprenticeships, all of this is well taken care of by existing Labour policy (the Greens have great policy on this too for that matter, some of it largely shared with Labour, much of it their own).

      I’ve been watching Labour get out there and ask what people want for the last few years. Their policies are a result of getting out there and asking.

      Have to say “GET RID OF JOHN KEY” almost goes without saying… but it’s too negative to go about shouting this outright. Its more “GET LABOUR IN” that matters.

      What Labour need to do is publicise these policies in a way that makes it real for people.

      They should be open to fine-tuning, change and new policies of course… but the key (ahem) here is that they already have very solid policy. It’s a matter of connecting it with people so they know what they’re getting and that it actually is what they want.

  32. Lloyd 32

    The sad thing about the persons Black Rod says he is aiming at is that the majority of them would be better off with a seriously socialist government.

    They would find that their children could buy a house in Auckland when they leave their boring town for the big smoke. They would be more likely to keep their job so that they could pay off their mortgage. The economy has been shown to be consistently better under a Labour government, so their small business is more likely to proper with the reds in power. The poor people in their town are less likely to rob them or harbour infections that they can catch… the list goes on.

    Sure Labour needs to appeal to Mr and Mrs ‘Centre’, but the policies of the present “centre-right” government are aimed at favouring less than 1/2% of the population, so almost all of the New Zealand’s population’s interests are far to the left of the “centre-right” as defined by the actions of the present government. The whole problem seems to be to set out the alternatives clearly. Where do Mr and Mrs ‘Centre’ get any idea how badly conned they are by the ‘centre-right’ label? No-one is out on the street screaming “I’m being ripped off by John Key and his mates and I’m really mad about it!” Labour should be doing that now if it wants power at the next elections. There needs to be at least an equal amount of advertising of the rip-off as the electrical generation sell-off advertising.

    By having a solid socialist list of policies Labour will appeal to many who didn’t vote. The problem will be to show Mr and Mrs ‘centre’ that those policies are really, really in their best interests and that the present shonkey government has been destroying their chances of achieving their aspirations.

  33. QoT 33

    I feel like this phrase is key:

    those who generally consider themselves centrist

    Because what it says to me is that we’re not talking about policies or ideology, we’re talking about appealing to people who don’t see themselves as having an ideology. That’s where National’s jibes about the “far left” come into play: it’s the view that a lot of New Zealanders call themselves centrists because “left” means Stalin and “right” means Colin Craig.

    I feel like a lot of people who would call themselves “centrist” are really pretty leftwin/non-National in NZ political terms, i.e. of wanting people to get a fair deal, having a safety net when times are hard, getting a good free education and healthcare system for their kids.

    But we’ve allowed this myth of the “centre” to dominate. It’s the Peter Dunne approach: he doesn’t get votes because he’s strongly for a particular political perspective, he gets them because he’s seen as an ideology-free “common sense” kind of guy.

    I don’t think we recapture those voters (if that’s who we really want to recapture) by cuddling up to what National are doing. I think we do it by reminding them that all those values they believe in and take for granted are leftwing values.

    And to his credit, David Cunliffe has already started doing this:

    “If putting a warm dry home around every Kiwi child and making sure their tummies are fed and they have shoes on their feet is suddenly far-left, well go ahead with that tag,” he said.

  34. Saarbo 34

    I dont agree with The Black Rod, because i suspect a “centrist” voter is someone who only has an interest in politics around election time (if at all), and that voter is never going to build a strong support base to build a good 3 term government.

    I agree with a number of the comments, particularly the ones that suggest that Labour needs to shift the current centre to the left, most New Zealanders are familiar with this territory and I suspect one of the reasons that Labour has improved in the polls lately (because cunliffe has moved the party to the left). Our pay rates and conditions to our low paid workers are atrocious, so a move back to the Left in this area is a must. Lower GST, 10% was always a good % and an increase in the top rate and a comprehensive capital gains tax.

    At the same time as doing this though, Labour has to make sure it grows the country economically through exports, not internal debt driven growth. This will probably require FTA’s (that don’t affect our sovereignty of course). This may also include oil and gas…Norway’s Oil Fund is impressive http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Government_Pension_Fund_of_Norway…Clearly there should NO deep sea drilling as any risk to our beautiful coastline is too big, there will come a time when technology catches up and eleiminates the risk, the oil isnt going anywhere.

    I guess what i am saying is we need to move Left on workers rights and conditions, etc…. But also we need to make sure we are generating real wealth for the nation, this can only come from exports, this may require policies that some on the Left are not happy with.

  35. Whatever next 35

    Labour represents cohesion/ cooperation as opposed to National only encouraging competition (which also helps them to divide and rule).
    Everything said above is valid, and if these debates can be held in a spirit of cooperation, as opposed to competition, the 800,000 who could not be arsed to vote may realise their vote counts.
    Key’s appearance of a confident leader in control has served him well, what could be learned by this? Anxious voters like to feel they are in safe hands,? Regardless of the politics
    If Labour really want to bring back decency to NZ politics,and expose National for the Glamour pusses they are, the left will need to inspire those who hover around the middle,for fear they fall for Key’s air of “relaxed, yet confident ” style again.Worse still, stay at home and leave it to the rest of us to decide.

    • millsy 35.1

      I think centrists would dig an oil fund…

      Same with more co-ops like Fonterra…

      Perhaps even things like state owned irrigation companies, state run kiwisaver funds, and so on.

      • Tat Loo 35.1.1

        Winston’s points to do with a state owned insurance company were pretty much spot on as well.

  36. LynWiper 36

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the above replies to TBR’s suggestion for a ‘centrist position.’

    ‘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.’

    And to date, under David Cunliffe’s leadership this has happened without pandering to the centrist position. Very encouraging indeed.

    • Colonial Viper 36.1

      That seemed to be the basic point missed by the post. Offering something different to the electorate is working and the polls are climbing…so let’s go back to the old way of doing things?

      Illogical is not even the word to describe it.

      • karol 36.1.1

        Exactly. Why are we back to debating this issue when time would be far better spent looking forwards to ways of campaigning, and policy development on the basis of this different direction?

      • Tat Loo 36.1.2

        Hi CV 😈

  37. greywarbler 37

    The Black Rod just opens Parliament doesn’t he/she? After that the real work of value goes on. So the position and the accompanying artifact is mainly ceremonial. Nice to have, but not a symbol that stands for the country I want to see for myself and 99% of citizens, and hopefully to stay living in. And the opinion offered from Black Rod seems to match the artifact, a piece of our past.

  38. Whatever next 38

    From the outside of the inner workings of Labour support system, for the life of me, I cannot see what the problem is. I am very concerned that so many opinions/ ego’s will play right into John Key’s hands, who seems to win by inspiring confidence in his sheeple and making 800,000 people feel their vote won’t count at all.
    David Cunliffe has been elected leader of Labour, so what about supporting him, rather than endless advice on how he should do his job??
    In support of Karol’s last entry, I will blog off, and stop worrying about factions, and disharmony which may cost Labour another election, and get on with trying to support whatever needs to be done to capture the great undecideds, who could bring in another term of National.( 18 years of Tories in UK not easily forgotten)

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