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Perfect time for a positive programme

Written By: - Date published: 3:56 pm, May 8th, 2014 - 35 comments
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With the government increasingly on the back foot over its lack of integrity, and the Morgan poll indicating a possible shift in sentiment, now is the perfect time for Labour to come out with a succinct and positive programme for its approach to alternative government in the interests of all New Zealanders.

Labour has a lot of great policy to offer, and four months out from an election people want to hear it – preferably all in one place, with all the dots connected up, and clearly presented so that all of it is relevant to regular Kiwis’ interest.

This is particularly important when the economy is improving, but the lives of most Kiwis are not. The Government is always keen to talk about averages, which distort the picture when wealth and income for those at the top rises rapidly, pulling up the average. Most people know its not that good, and Labour needs to put across something positive to help them out. “Read the manifesto” doesn’t cut it, nor does nit-picking about National.

Labour in Britain, where I have just been, has made ‘cost of living’ the centre-piece of its messaging and policy, coupled with wide community engagement and organising. They are doing consistently well in the polls and look well set for the election due early next year.

35 comments on “Perfect time for a positive programme ”

  1. shorts 1

    the perfect time was directly after the new leader was appointed -to set the tone in the long lead up to the election

    Currently the opposition should continue to try and claim govt scalps and wait to launch policy or focus on whats there when the news cycle is going to be slow – so as not to disrupt the govt looking bad to the voters media spotlight

    Launch policy now and the National Party will focus on pulling it apart in easy to digest soundbites akin to “show us the money” and the spotlight turns to Labour looking silly with their long wordy answers

  2. ianmac 2

    Yes Mike. A good time to present a solid policy which would resonate with ordinary wage earners.

  3. John 3

    The damage has been done re Collins, and the opposition MP’s have backed off accordingly. She’ll be back (presumably) and the intricate dissecting can re-start then. For now it’s all about limiting the hay that the National government will be hoping to make from it’s up-coming budget debacle. To my mind Labour should be re-iterating the simple messages from their own economic plan, and working extremely hard to undo the stage managed drip feeding of National policy right up to it’s announcement.

    • Karen 3.1

      I agree. The case against Judith Collins has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt, and John Key’s response has been shown to be weak to anyone other than rabid Nacts. Now Labour have to show they are a government in waiting. Let Winston keep throwing the dirt and get the policy out there. Sadly, Parker made a detailed presentation of Labour’s environment policy on Tuesday and it barely got reported because Judith Collins dominated the media. Today, both Mallard and Hipkins were thrown out of the house after accusing Woodhouse of taking bribes. I think this kind of behaviour not only puts a lot of people off Labour, it means policies are not being discussed.

  4. chris73 4

    I would start by making sure the information given out to journalists is correct and up to date

  5. Disraeli Gladstone 5

    “Labour in Britain, where I have just been, has made ‘cost of living’ the centre-piece of its messaging and policy, coupled with wide community engagement and organising. They are doing consistently well in the polls and look well set for the election due early next year.”

    Labour has been trending down in the polls since the 2012 budget. They were up 12% at one point, now the polling average is at 3-4%. 3-4% with a strong UKIP vote which has historically disintegrated and moved back to the Tories 2-1 at general elections. We have no idea if the UKIP vote is more resilient this time or not.

    Add onto the unexpected Lib Dem element, the only way Labour is well set is due to the quirk of FPP that they can get a majority with a lesser win than the Tories.

    The most likely result is either a very small, unmanageable majority for Labour or a hung parliament. In fact, the latest prediction by looking at polls, long-term trends and historical trends is a Labour win of 0.4%. A hung parliament.

    UK Labour isn’t a healthy party at all.

    I’d advise New Zealand Labour to look well away from the Labour of Ed Miliband.

    • ianmac 5.1

      Why thankyou Disraeli for your benevolent concern.

      • Disraeli Gladstone 5.1.1

        It’s real concern. The last place NZ Labour should look to is UK Labour. One of many examples why is that UK Labour’s response to Tory beneficiary bashing has been to bash harder.

        I would like to see New Zealand Labour put forth a narrative of what they would do in government and bring all their policies together into one overarching story. Now’s the time for it as National flounders. Move beyond the neoliberal language.

        Labour in the UK has oohed and aahed on numerous topics. They have a shadow chancellor that the rest of the party doesn’t care for. Doesn’t know their left from their right. They don’t know whether to stick or twist.

        Rather like the Liverpool defence.

  6. TheContrarian 6

    Labour needs to get their shit together and use Nationals current weakness to full advantage

  7. not Petey 7

    Fuck a post on The Standard I agree with…. must report to HQ for reprogramming !

  8. Descendant Of Sssmith 8

    Cool get to post my short-list again. Don’t figure my longer list will help at this point.

    8 hour workingday
    40 hour working week
    Decent minimum wage
    Increased taxation of the well off
    Increasing benefit rates to a liveable amount – at minimum putting the $20-00 per week back on benefits – you know the $20 per week they put back on super and the one they had 9 years to put back on benefits but did not
    Centralised wage bargaining forcing firms to compete on the quality of the product and service not on who can pay the crappiest wage
    Ensuring minimum salaries are say 120% of the minimum wage to stop employers getting around the minimum wage requirements
    Building more state housing and letting people live in their state houses for their entire life if they wish – you know giving people security
    Employing people with disabilites and young people in the public sector to give them an opportunity for a decent life and a good start – cause the private sector won’t and will never employ them all
    Regional development to support rural areas and not just farmers

  9. Mary 9

    “Labour has a lot of great policy to offer…”

    Yeah, like this one:


    Reading Moroney’s speech shows she doesn’t understand what this amendment has done, but surely there must be some in Labour who do. Despite this I cannot see find one single instance where a Labour MP has spoken the truth about what this amendment was about – not one. Instead all we got was the same old government generated rhetoric which has nothing to do with the problem it’s meant to fix, and which Labour bought.

    If a government is judged by the way it treats its poor I don’t think you can say Labour has a lot of great policy to offer at all.

    • DH 9.1

      “If a government is judged by the way it treats its poor I don’t think you can say Labour has a lot of great policy to offer at all.”

      Spot on Mary. More & more people are being condemned to a lifetime of renting and Labour wilfully ignore it, indeed they make it worse by taking disposable income out of their pockets.

      Been a lot of talk about housing inflation but not a word about rent inflation. People who still rent when they retire will need an enormous Kiwisaver balance which is far beyond their ability to save.

      Even at an unrealistically low longrun inflation rate on rents of 3% pa a person paying $300 week in rent now will be paying $610 week in 25 yrs time. With a Kiwisaver account returning around 4% after tax (and Labour are promoting continued low interest rates) you’d need a balance of $800,000 just to pay the rent. It would require saving $335 per week to achieve that balance in 25yrs (at 4% compounding).

      Kiwisaver is just a joke for those on low incomes who rent, they haven’t a hope in hell of retiring on it. (You can’t draw down the balance because you don’t know how long you’ll live so you have to live off the dividends)

      Annyone who thinks a 15% CGT will stop housing inflation needs their head read. Long term investors don’t buy for the profit from capital gain by itself. They also buy for the rent increases, it only takes a few years before the renter is paying off the entire mortgage. At 3% rent inflation the $300 per week renter is going to pay $178,000 in rent increases alone over the next 25yrs (they’ll pay a total of $570,000 in rent)

      • karol 9.1.1

        Those on lower retirement incomes, 65 years plus, can get an accommodation supplement. However, that, of course, subidises the landlords.

        I don’t think being a lifetime renter is an issue – there just should be renting caps and policies to stop using housing as a source of easy money. And there’s too much focus on everyone trying to buy their own housing.

        • Mary

          Yes but renting caps and policies that stop use of housing as a source of cheap money increases home ownership. If one helps cause the other the focus should be on encouraging home ownership as the objective rather than cheap rent because of the wider protections home ownership provides i.e. the importance of being asset rich even if income poor. Cheap rent is limited in this way for example no security of tenure should the political climate change as we’ve seen in recent times. Part of looking after the poor is building in protections that help stop families getting wrecked just because someone loses a job. But of course nothing’s going to change when there’s more than 100 MPs in New Zealand who don’t care about the poor.

          • karol

            I’d prefer lease hold to free hold.

            • Mary

              But it still depends on who owns the land.

              • karol

                Well, yes. Better for the land to be public land.

                I’m really not big on private ownership of property – especially the property people need for accommodation.

                Too many people have got in in their heads that TINA to private home ownership.

      • Ergo Robertina 9.1.2

        +100 DH.

        In my opinion Labour is making a big mistake in pushing for the removal of LVRs in all but Auckland and Christchurch, and in not speaking in support of them as a principle to reduce the debt burden.
        And yes, the horses have already bolted and so many measures are needed to reduce the embedded inequality. These could include a 50% LVR for second home buyers, limiting to one the number of investment homes permitted, inheritance taxes, a 25% CGT.

  10. Colonial Viper 10

    UK Labour, the champions of pro-banker, pro-armaments industry, pro-Iraq War, pro-Afghanistan War, cosying up to corporate business Blairite “third way” politics. The former Labour PM who is now a “peace envoy” (LOL) to the Middle East cutting multimillion dollar deals for himself and his banker mates at every turn.

    Fucking grand.

    UKIP is going to smash the main parties, not because UKIP have anything good to offer, but because the public has come to realise that both the Tories and Labour are sell outs who do nothing to address the cause, anger and concerns of the common Brit, but will move mountains to make sure that the big players in the City of London aren’t aggrieved.

    • Draco T Bastard 10.1

      Sounds like our own Tories and Labour.

      • Once was Tim 10.1.1

        Seems to me both the Tories and Labour in NZ, Australia and Britain ‘feed off’ each other’s ideas to a large degree – and have done for quite a few years. Look for example at Brit Tories and their welfare reform and bene-bashing, and how it appears to be influencing Pulla Bent’s project …. and soon Tarn Yabbit’s.] or Blairite 3rdwayism and its influence on NZ Labour (hopefully about to turn). We’ll see if Parker’s novel ideas get picked up offshore – I’m picking they will.

    • Disraeli Gladstone 10.2

      I wonder about the UKIP vote, though. I don’t think it’s necessarily going to be like the SDP vote in the 80s.

      UKIP will win the European Elections. They will get a mass of coverage from it and they will get into the 20s in the opinion polls. But they did a similar thing last time and by the time they reached 2010 and the general election, they plummeted. I don’t think it will happen to such an extent this time but I still think it’s very likely, come election day, UKIP are below 10% and fails to win a single seat.

  11. Ad 11

    Anyone in DCs office who thinks attacking donors or opposition MPs will continue to work: stop it.

    Party activists and donors wake up when you radiate confidence, vision and idealism for a better New Zealand.

    Carry on like this and you’ll win a game and lose the series.

  12. karol 12

    I do agree it’s a big issue. I’m a life time renter. Actually, others have done stats that show there’s not that much difference between the costs for lifetime renting vs home ownership. And for those on lower incomes, struggling to buy and mortgage insecurity adds to their stresses.

    I also spent a bit of time in European countries where there wasn’t as big a focus on everyone buying property. Such places are more renter friendly. NZ’s focus on over-emphasising owner-occupied housing is part of the problem.

    A significant increase in state housing will help undermine property speculation and rentier behaviour.

    • Stuart Munro 12.1

      Here in Asia small landlords renting apartments, usually living in the same building, is a preferred retirement income arrangement. It is by no means a form of speculation, and maybe one of the things Labour housing policy could consider is distinguishing modestly public benefiting activities like these from the kind of crude accumulation that produces slumlords and competes for properties with new entrants.

      I wonder if tax bands for some activities ought not to be age related: the natural sucession of a family inheriting a parent’s home ought to incline either to moving in, or disposing of it, not retaining it as an investment property.

      One gamechanger though would be to introduce some kind of rent capping. That could be losing tax deductability above certain rent levels, penal taxes on multiple properties, or an actual maximum. These measures though would tend to erode some socially liberal middle class support.

      So the obvious one is reining in foreign purchases – no voter punishment to fear from this, in fact it probably attracts support. Arguing residential need over investor privilege will also play well, though crocodile tears about xenophobia will be abundant.

      • karol 12.1.1

        Some good suggestions, Stuart.

        Yes, there are alternatives that constantly pushing the home ownership for all line.

        Also, re-retirement: one of the things I’ve learned as older generations in my family have aged, is that, after retirement, most have only had a small amount of time in their own home before they have to be transferred to a care home/village where others care for them or where they are supported more in a shared facility.

        There is a myth that home ownership provides the necessary security for living throughout the retirement period.

  13. Colonial Viper 13

    As for Labour in Britain doing “consistently well”

    They have squandered a 5%-10% poll lead in the UK, and as times get tougher for ordinary people in council housing, Labour support stumbles down to a miserable 31% and the Tories pull ahead in the polls for the first time in 2 years.

    So why are we looking at UK “third way” Labour as any kind of example, apart from what not to do?


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