- Date published:
12:29 pm, April 17th, 2016 - 51 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, journalism, labour, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: audrey young, heather du plessis-allan, opinion
Largely prompted by our ongoing need to construct narratives out of the margin of error, there have been two opinion pieces on Labour this weekend. Audrey Young:
Labour’s new focus is all about the leader
I’m not sure the headline is correct, but never mind.
Frustration at fall in polls will blow over and party’s best shot at recovery lies with Andrew Little.
I’m in agreement there.
In another era, Labour’s poll dive this week would have sent the party into a spin. A whispering frenzy would have ensued about Andrew Little, who is the fifth Labour leader to hold the office to National’s one.
He should be more aggressive, some would have said.
He should be less aggressive.
He should go for John Key’s jugular.
He should avoid personal attacks on Key.
He should get rid of that lefty schemer Matt McCarten.
He should bring back that Australian strategist Mike Richards to put a bomb under everyone.
We need to cover our left flank. We need to move to the centre.
What do we stand for? Where are we going?
All these conversations took place this week but among the media, tweeters and observers, not in the Labour caucus. The caucus was disappointed at the poll but it was not spooked.
Little is the best leader the party has had since Helen Clark because he has controlled the factions.
This I think is a good assessment of Little’s major contribution, and the platform for moving forward. Little was sold as a negotiator and a unifier, and he has delivered.
The quickest way to deal with Labour’s identity problems over policy is to forget the policy and make it about the leader.
But here I disagree. Labour needs to deliver an coherent and positive vision and set of policies for NZ (preferably in conjunction with The Greens as a government in waiting). Labour’s recent focus on The Future of Work (and the role of Grant Robertson) is an example of this.
Establishing a negative impression of Key is everything; nuance is non-existent and facts are a luxury in this new clobbering approach of Little’s.
Oh please. Up against Key’s full scale embrace of dirty politics, Little’s “clobbering approach” is small-scale push back, and it won’t win any elections. As above, Labour needs the vision and the policies.
Let’s leave Young there and cross live to Heather du Plessis-Allan:
Labour needs a hero and a cause
Trouble’s brewing in the Labour Party. They’re talking of cutting Grant Robertson. They’re talking of cutting the chief of staff. Watch this space. That was two weeks ago. That was before the party hit 28 per cent in the latest poll. You can only imagine the plots being hatched involving Little, the candlestick and the drawing room.
HdPA bases this on a couple of claimed conversations, but I think Young has a better informed take!
Your problem is, despite many changes at the top, many years in Opposition, you are still completely unsure of what you believe in.
Oh bollocks – see below.
Labour has it tough. Labour parties across the world have it tough. These were parties formed to save workers from unjust working conditions. The parties have mostly succeeded. Workplaces and employment legislation is a million times better now than in 1916. So what does a political party do when its mission is accomplished?
That’s about as daft a piece of political “analysis” as I have ever heard. The struggle to protect workers is ongoing (see Talley’s and Bunnings for two current examples). And the changing nature of work is going to create huge challenges for the future (hence Labour’s Future of Work focus). Labour’s original mission is as valid as it ever was.
Unfortunately it’s all down hill from there. After some nonsense on the flag fiasco:
Labour told us it stood for free tertiary education for all. But, that just sounded like a crappier version of Helen Clark’s interest-free student loans.
Labour told us it stood for keeping Indian restaurant chef jobs for Kiwis. We pondered why we had never seriously considered a career as a chef in an Indian restaurant.
Being authentic is a difficult and brave thing to do. If it was easy, Labour would have nailed it. And yet it’s as simple as this: at its heart, Labour in 1916 stood for making things fairer. Labour in 2016 should also stand for making things fairer.
Gee thanks for the advice! Perhaps you might like to have a look at Labour’s Policy patform, which begins: “Chapter 1: Labour’s values 1.1 Labour’s values are enduring values. Our Party was formed in 1916 by working New Zealanders determined that the contribution of all people to our nation should be respected and valued. They strove then, as we do now, for a fair share for all, support for the vulnerable, and hope for a better tomorrow”…
Free Tertiary education, supporting NZ workers for NZ jobs, both things that you just finished making fun of, are also aspects of working for fairness, if only you could see it.
In the past fortnight, we found out how unfair tax is. Rich people with links to the Panama Papers dodge tax, Facebook pays us less than $50,000 tax in a year. The Government shrugs and looks away. There you go, Labour. Try fixing the age-old inequalities in tax. There’s something you can stand for.
I guess that’s why Labour is calling for crackdowns on tax havens, capital gains tax and the like. Sigh.
In closing, I have some suggestions for the media (fair’s fair eh!). Stop covering politics as if it was a horse race, praising “winners” no matter what their tactics and what the cost. Look outside the game to the purpose of the game, to the state of the county and the world. Less clickbait, more analysis of evidence. We as a country would be better served by better journalism.