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Political Strategy for a Progressive Majority

Written By: - Date published: 8:53 pm, May 25th, 2015 - 66 comments
Categories: campaigning, greens, labour, nz first, social democracy - Tags: ,

Sir Michael Cullen discussed political strategy at the “Destination- Next Progressive Majority” seminars held recently by the Fabian Society in Auckland and Wellington. He started by sharing what he used to say to his students when they were facing a test – “never forget to state the obvious.” For a progressive majority that means get more votes than the others –  you can listen to his speech here and the contents are summarised below.

So many people on the left ignore that simple point – my view is that we get elected so that we can do some good things and shift the balance over time and win the debate over the direction of society.

Don’t get hung up about language of left and centre-left: we lost the vast majority of the population because they are not interested. We are interested in the left’s language because we are part of it and the distinctions are sometimes useful. Even with the language of progressive and conservative we need to be careful because we need to attract the votes of people who consider themselves conservative.

In the modern world anything up to 50% of the population can be considered as swinging voters. We got 25% last time, National got 22% in 2002 and neither of us hit rock-bottom. To rephrase the obvious we have to persuade enough swinging voter to switch.

There are some facts we need to take into account.

First, John Key is a phenomenon – the modern-day Holyoake. We spent 12 years underestimating Holyoake to our cost – we’ve spent nine years underestimating Key. Every now and then we think the tide is turning but I see no evidence of that in the polling data. Key still has numbers which are stratospherically good by historic comparisons – we must recognise that, and the amount of time that we spend on attacking Key is largely a waste of time.

Second, Labour is well behind on leadership and economic credibility – no-one has ever won government by being behind on both. Labour is the core of any progressive government so those things have to change one way or another.

Third in spite of false dawns, there is still a high level of confidence in the government  despite manifold problems with the excessively short-term focus.

What are the three things we have to do?

First establish emotional connection with swinging voters. In the Labour Party we are phenomenally bad at doing this – we see a swinging voter and whip out a manifesto. Secondly have credible policies that address the issues that voters care about – when we have identified the issues that voters care about we have to have answers that we believe in that they can believe in and are willing to vote for. Thirdly we have to develop an image and a reality of co-operative differentiation between the parties seeking a change in government.

Starting with co-operative differentiation. The parties are competitors. Excessive similarity will reduce the chances for a change of government. We can’t be identical twins or triplets – we have to maximise the total vote by maximising the vote each party can get. Labour’s vote is the key determinant but that creates tension – but we can also demonstrate that we can work together so there has to be some spoken or unspoken criteria as to how the parties can work together. This is being done well – symbols are important – the key moment in Labour’s win in 1999 was Helen Clark being invited to address the Alliance conference. Broad areas of agreement on policy – sustainability which for me is the unifying over-arching concept. Issues of inequality and poverty – but let us talk about levelling up instead of levelling down – that is why growth is important because we have to redistribute the dividends of growth – no government has every got elected by redistributing a static cake. Third area is independent foreign policy.

Second credible issues of policy. Labour in particular has to stop its tendency to look inwards to talk about itself all the time, instead of talking about what other people want to hear about – which is what Labour is going to do to help them. Both New Zealand First and the Greens are much better at doing that. Both Labour and Greens have tendency to drop into policy wonk mode and lose the emotional connection. Swinging voters are not that interested in politics, they have feelings but not great knowledge, and they are heavily influenced by popular media especially commercial talk-back radio most of which is very right-wing. Finally they are less rational than those committed to those who are committed to one party or another.

Third establishing emotional connection with voters. Policies can be a means to this but rarely the most important means. This is Key’s huge strength – he has enormous emotional connection with voters. The sloppy language we like to make fun of is the language most people speak, not like University lecturers like Helen, Steve and I. The casualness to turn things aside, not important, at the end of the day.

We have to understand that emotional connection but we have one significant advantage that he doesn’t have.  We are three significant parties and Greens appeal to youth, NZFirst has affinity with elderly, Labour’s ability to work the business of government, the stable rock around which the government can be built. Which is why when Labour looks unstable we are all down the tubes.

In terms of Labour itself there are four things we nee to recapture. First is choice – for young people what they want to know is that we will enable all people to have choice. Second is aspiration  – party that has stood for hundred years for opportunity has lost the concept that we help all people to get ahead. Need to be careful – attacking the super-rich easily turns into people feeling that we are attacking those who are trying to do well. Third responsibility, to connect with people who are looking for parties who will talk about reponsibility. Greens do that in the environmental area – one quick example Companies Act has exclusive focus on shareholder interest which focuses life purely on short tem profit making. It is completely different model to a stakeholder approach where the workers and society are also stakeholders. A small change in Companies Act and a Charter of rights and responsibilities – water rights – property right which people have had since 1840 – there are good progressive reasons fro charging for water rights for large users. Finally  the notion of national pride and independence – we should be able to claim that concept away from New Zealand because we stand for an independent New Zealand. We should be holding out the welcome mat for Syrian Christians who won’t be able to go back. We should look at what we can do

Spell it out clearly and go out to the pople and say this is about us as a people and what we can do. Make and emotional connection as Winston did in Northland – an emotional connection not a policy connection.

Plenty of food for thought.

 

66 comments on “Political Strategy for a Progressive Majority”

  1. just saying 1

    Yeah, I’ve read this before from him.
    This is a man who has chosen to have other people call him “sir”.
    I think he has the intelligence to recognise the craven, self-serving nature of the status quo he continues to advocate in the face of the biggest challenges humanity and many, if not most, other species have ever faced.
    Arise Sir michael.
    And piss off.

    • Colonial Rawshark 1.1

      Couldn’t have said it better. Plus his consistent advocacy of Grant Robertson as Leader ahead of Cunliffe and Little. The performance of Labour since 2008 is a direct reflection on the caucus left by Cullen and Clark.

      • RedLogix 1.1.1

        Disagree totally. MC is still the most astute politician on the left in a generation. By a country mile.

        And note carefully how his words about John Key pretty closely mirror my own sentiments earlier this evening. We keep on underestimating Key and like Holyoake – Key will stay pretty much in power as long as he can be bothered.

        And Holyoake didn’t have the propaganda machine of the modern era either.

        • AmaKiwi 1.1.1.1

          The three cardinal rules of politics:

          1. Get elected.
          2. Get elected.
          3. Get elected.

          If you want to embark on a holy crusade for socialist purity, get used to National being in government for the foreseeable future.

          If you want to be in power, pay attention to what Cullen is saying.

        • Colonial Rawshark 1.1.1.2

          Disagree totally. MC is still the most astute politician on the left in a generation. By a country mile.

          Did I say that MC isn’t an astute politician? He’s the most astute centrist politician in a generation, maybe. But look at the shape that Labour was left in. Look at the inner conflicts and mismatches which were never resolved, merely papered over.

          You mentioned something about how he recognised that the Left could never effectively combat the MSM for long? He knew that. He was astute enough to see that. So what did he do about it with TVNZ? Or with RNZ?

          Yeah, MC was an astute First Officer when he was on the bridge, but the ship ran aground pretty much straight after.

          That says something to me.

        • Anne 1.1.1.3

          +1000 RedLogix.

          Can I give an illustration:

          I have a part-time job which supplements my super and enables me to pay my bills. It’s a retail position and never again will I – as a former public servant – look down on retail employment. It’s hard work and requires a level of skill I never previously understood. Our customers are in the middle-aged to elderly category. They are deeply conservative by nature and the majority would be National voters. But they are honest, decent people who simply have no real understanding and knowledge of political affairs. Every once in a while a major political event will occur that might prompt comment from customers. Their level of understanding of the issue is invariably appalling, so I will (gently) mention what I know about the matter. They trust me, and they will often leave the premises metaphorically scratching their heads. I had given them food for thought they had never before encountered. That’s the emotional connection Cullen is talking about. Key is brilliant at it.

          The key (no pun intended) is… learn to understand these people and you will be so much closer to winning them over. Lecture them as Labour (in particular) is inclined to do, and we will never win their hearts and minds.

          • RedLogix 1.1.1.3.1

            Anne – insightful as always.

            This idea that because everyone gets a vote means that they must all equally have the same intellectual grasp of politics – is of course wrong. Just like the idea that because we all have bodies we must therefore all make equally good surgeons is a nonsense.

            But what we do all have in common is that emotional, non-rational evaluation of what a politician stands for and whether or not we trust them as a strong leader.

            And that we must respect.

            • Colonial Rawshark 1.1.1.3.1.1

              the labour movement used to fill this gap – educating ordinary people about politics and all matter political. The unions knew how important this was – the stories of union hall libraries where workers taught themselves to read and write so that they could read the political philosophers and political literature of the day.

              Today, as Chris Hedges would say, be have been left with nothing more than stylised imaged based political narratives. Exactly the way that the 1% want it. The unfortunate upshot of all this is, the 1% are often now just as ignorant about politics and history as everyone else is. Too bad. We could do with a few more of them reading Orwell or understanding the horrors of the French Revolution.

      • lurgee 1.1.2

        How did that ‘Not having GR as leader’ thing work out, anyway?

        • Colonial Rawshark 1.1.2.1

          Just as well as having GR as Deputy and also in the very senior role of Finance. And by the way, how many elections has he helped oversee as part of the senior team?

    • Heather Grimwood 1.2

      To JS..your reply makes me think that whether consciously or brainwashed-by-rightist-propaganda, you are afraid of the truths expounded by Michael Cullen.

  2. Clemgeopin 2

    Wise words. The modern Labour leaders, members, supporters, well wishers and activists need a paradigm shift in thinking to shift more people back from National to Labour once again.

    • Colonial Rawshark 2.1

      “a paradigm shift in thinking” – do you know many of the people higher up in the hierarchy of the party? Do you really think that what you are suggesting is even possible? Have a look at UK Labour. They are a party which really requires “a paradigm shift in thinking.” So far it looks like that is going to be Nu Labour Part 2 – the Wisdom of Tony Blair Returns.

      • Clemgeopin 2.1.1

        What is your idea of the expected ‘paradigm shift’? Remember it has to be something that is acceptable to the voters. Otherwise, it is of no practical use.

        The world has changed. The economic dynamics has changed. People are aspirational for themselves and their children, for education, career, jobs, houses, security and wealth. That is human nature. It is essential to have fair policies, fair taxes, fair services etc that are good and acceptable to all, including the employees and the employers, the wealthy and the poor, the businesses and the self employed, the young and the old, the healthy and the sick, the employed and the jobless.

        Labour is the best party for all of those broad needs and wants of the broad electorate, as it has always been, including for the present non voters and the swinging voters that have gone from Labour to National after the advent of Key.

        Key has managed to capture this by his charm, lies, spin, dirty methods and also by stealing and copying many of the Labour party policies, while primarily working for the wealthy, continuously increasing the income/wealth gap between the rich and the rest, while creating a ever increasing huge debt burden for the future generations. Unfortunately, the people haven’t cotton on to all that yet! Labour has to help bring about a paradigm shift in the thinking of the swinging voters to be electable to lead a progressive government.

        National by itself has about 48% of the support. Labour and the Greens have only about 38% of support. The vote for the progressives HAS to primarily come from National. That is the challenge. Also remember that by and large MOST people ARE doing fairly well in pay and living conditions in the modern

        The main thing for Labour is to work for the good of all the people and good the country for the long term, including for the future generations

        • AmaKiwi 2.1.1.1

          @ Clemgeopin

          Politics is personalities. Even today most American Republicans think Ronald Reagan was the greatest modern president. Reagan had Alzheimers! People didn’t care that his policies were illogical and destructive because his personality was so likeable.

          Reagan’s dear friend, Margaret Thatcher, also had Alzheimers!

          If we (the Left) want to regain power, pay attention to Cullen’s main message: leadership personality and a Labour, Green, NZ First partnership.

          • Gosman 2.1.1.1.1

            Or find someone with Alzheimers it seems.

            • s y d 2.1.1.1.1.1

              rofl

            • Clemgeopin 2.1.1.1.1.2

              We have that in the present ‘brain fade’ leader, The Parnell pony tail puller with his ‘so very honest’ personality. There was that other leader from ACT who didn’t come on the cabbage boat but conveniently forgot so many things regarding his KDC affair!

              • Colonial Rawshark

                What is your idea of the expected ‘paradigm shift’? Remember it has to be something that is acceptable to the voters. Otherwise, it is of no practical use.

                Need I remind you that pushing for a paradigm shift from Labour was your idea (comment 2), not my idea. I think that I made it clear that I did not think that such a shift is possible from the current NZLP.

                You seem to believe it is possible however and I am interested to know what direction you think it should be in.

                • Clemgeopin

                  Mostly Centre left and Centre, and slightly right in certain issues like not putting up excessive taxes etc. Also centre right in allowing ownership of property and having sensible economic measures such as mining, drilling, oil exploration etc but done with modern methods and extreme care for economic growth, prosperity, jobs and wages. We can only move much more towards the left when the voters (and indeed the western world in environmental measures) begin to clearly indicate a more definite desire/move towards that. The bottom line is that it is the voters that do the call in a democracy, not just the party machine. It is a delicate balancing act.

                  Lofty wishes and lofty ideals are one thing, getting lofty support and lofty votes is quite a different issue. Most often the twain don’t easily meet .

                  Also, Labour should not be predominantly extreme left like Mana in social/economic issues, nor be like Greens in extreme environmental/economic stances and control. If people are comfortable with those policies, then Mana and the Greens would not have been hovering at 10% or less in electoral support consistently. Is it not?

                  Most of the Labour economic, environmental and social policies are based on socialist principles of fairness and care. Policies that will have a better chance of a broader support from the voters.

                  To me, personally, the ideal situation would be for

                  * Mana to concentrate on Maori, extreme poverty and low wage issues.

                  * Greens to not interfere in general social and economic issues at all (publicly deferring them to Labour) and exclusively concentrating on environmental, earth, water and air issues with solutions and broadly acceptable policies.

                  * Labour to concentrate on the general do-able practical economic, social, environmental, business, worker, family and tax issues. (Labour could publicly endorse some of the doable non extreme green party environmental policies)

                  With that sort of understanding, hopefully, the progressive parties could be/would be able to defeat National and form a Labour led coalition ‘compromise’ government. NZF too, hopefully may be part of such an administration. But that is a known unknown!

                  What I think we need is Labour at about 30% plus, Greens at about 10% plus, Mana at 5% plus and NZF at about 10% plus.

                  • Colonial Rawshark

                    Mostly Centre left and Centre, and slightly right in certain issues like not putting up excessive taxes etc. Also centre right in allowing ownership of property and having sensible economic measures such as mining, drilling, oil exploration etc but done with modern methods and extreme care for economic growth, prosperity, jobs and wages.

                    OK I can see where each of these points come from, but its not really “paradigm changing” from the Labour we know and have today: more like tweaking the emphasis here and there.

                    Also your view of the Green Party is for it to be blue green.

  3. Bill 3

    ..no government has every got elected by redistributing a static cake

    Simply not true.

    Not only that, but said party then increased its vote in the next election it stood in. Said party also obliterated the erstwhile dominant party; the one that concentrates on ‘swing voters’ ; the one that tries to connect with a voting base, or several voting bases that it’s essentially clueless about; the one that speaks of re-introducing concepts like ‘aspiration’; the one that continues to see itself as the central pin around which everything else on the left must gravitate.

    But the NZ Labour Party (and not just the NZ Labour Party) doesn’t want to know of any of that or learn anything from it. Such is life.

    • Clemgeopin 3.1

      It is of little use if the votes simply move within the progressive parties. Each of the progressive parties, primarily Labour and The Greens, need to attract votes from National and even from NZF and the Maori party, and not from each other, for that does not serve much practical purpose to be in a position to form a government at all.

      NZF is an unknown factor because we do not know for certain which government it will go into coalition with after the election because Winston never says that, which is a good thing from his point of view.

      Dunne and the Maori party have shown to be principle-less bauble seeking sell outs anyway.

      • Bill 3.1.1

        I take your point about the pool of the Labour/Green vote.

        But then, I don’t think Labour and the Greens need so much to steal votes from the Nats as change the playing field. I’ve commented time and again on what I think that will take.

        Meanwhile, and until then, a Fixed Term Parliament Act would do a world of good for parliamentary governance in NZ.

        • Clemgeopin 3.1.1.1

          (Labour and the Greens) need to ‘change the playing field’

          What the heck does that even mean? Like play marbles on a golf course? Can you clearly explain what you mean please?

          • Bill 3.1.1.1.1

            Like playing marbles on a golf course

            Well, no. Analogies aside, get the public engaged in a wide-ranging debate on something that touches on all of our lives.

            React positively to what falls out from that. Meet the demands of the public.

            You think the parameters of acceptable political debate would be the same, and as limited, then as they are now? I don’t.

            • Clemgeopin 3.1.1.1.1.1

              Ok, here is a start.

              Sign this petition I just received from Jacinda Ardern if you want to and agree. I do.

              http://action.labour.org.nz/child-protection?utm_campaign=150526_cyfs&utm_medium=email&utm_source=nzlabour

              Her email says this:

              Dear Clem,
              Right now dozens of children are being abandoned by the government at the very time they need continued support.

              Currently, child protection law means a young person leaves CYFS care at 17, but other state support, like housing and student allowances, doesn’t start until age 18. This means a young person who has been in foster care or a CYFs residence is suddenly left to fend for themselves. For some this means becoming homeless – for others, it can get even worse.

              Clem, her government is leaving these young people out in the cold.

              This isn’t right. But we have a chance to change this right now.

              The government is reviewing this part of our child protection laws. If enough of us sign a petition telling the government to raise the child protection age, the minister responsible, Anne Tolley, will be forced to listen to us or face a backlash as hundreds of Kiwi kids are left without any support every year.

              Will you sign the petition calling for the Minister to raise the age of protection?

              Kellie was one of those children.

              “Leaving care for me was especially stressful because my birthday is in November, right in the middle of NCEA exams. Thinking back now I remember it was a period filled with confusion and frustration. I wasn’t sure whether I would continue to live with the same foster parents as I had or move to another, or whether I had to move out. No 17 year old should ever have to worry about these issues.” – Kellie

              Seventeen is too young to have to fend for yourself without any support. All Kiwi kids deserve to be looked after until they are old enough to support themselves. Click here to sign the petition.

              Together, we can help these vulnerable young people out of their desperate situation.

              Thanks,

              Jacinda Ardern
              Labour’s Spokesperson for Children

  4. Bill 4

    Sorry. Can’t resist.

    Sir Michael says…

    We should be holding out the welcome mat for Syrian Christians who won’t be able to go back. We should look at what we can do

    Now, I wonder if he’s essentially channeling the desperate madness of Jim ‘the glue head’ Murphy, soon to be ex-leader of Scottish labour Party, on that one?

    In a letter to Free Church of Scotland Moderator Rev David Miller, the Scottish Labour Party leader said he was “furious at the persecution and the plight of large sections of the international Christian community”.

    http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-stories/labour-would-create-worldwide-christian-envoy-jim-murphy-1-3758414

    • ropata 4.1

      Do you have a problem helping persecuted minorities?
      21st century Christianity looks a lot different than western media portrayals.

      It is predominantly young, black/brown, third-world, and in the Southern hemisphere.

      • Bill 4.1.1

        No ropata. But when only one persecuted minority is singled out as ‘worthy’…

  5. Stuart Munro 5

    I’d say that Labour continues to miss the point that without the Greens they do not govern. The promise of a cobbled-together-coalition possibly featuring Winston Peters is probably less appealing to voters than Mana/IP was post media sabotage at the moment of truth.

    I like Cullen – but he cannot attract my vote unless he makes common cause with the Greens pre-election, and explicitly rejects investor state provisions in the TPPA. I’m not holding my breath – the greatest battle UK Labour has ever fought has been against reality. They lost overwhelmingly.

    • RedLogix 5.1

      Starting with co-operative differentiation. The parties are competitors. Excessive similarity will reduce the chances for a change of government. We can’t be identical twins or triplets – we have to maximise the total vote by maximising the vote each party can get. Labour’s vote is the key determinant but that creates tension – but we can also demonstrate that we can work together so there has to be some spoken or unspoken criteria as to how the parties can work together.

      I’d suggest MC is signalling pretty much exactly what you are asking for.

      The point is of course that Key doesn’t really have this problem; National can pretty much govern on it’s own for the foreseeable future – the left however is stuck with this eternal muddle of competing/cooperating interests on the left. It’s just another reason why swinging voters will stay away.

      Personally I’d suggest either Labour or the Greens should just go away if we are to ever see a progessive govt in this country. NZ voters are simply never going to put a Labour/Green coalition into power – they’re just too conservative.

      • Colonial Rawshark 5.1.1

        I think that NZ voters would be prepared to put a LAB/GR coalition in power – but not a pale pink Super cutting Labour apologetic about this and that and the other thing.

    • Clemgeopin 5.2

      I presume you are already a progressive voter (be it Labour or the Greens).
      So, who you would want to vote for, Labour or Greens, is not the crucial question here at all. Your saying that you would not be attracted to Cullen (Labour) is neither here nor there. He is NOT trying to attract the green voters. If you are a National or NZF or ACT or Maori Party or a UF or a Conservative supporter, then your vote shifting to Labour (or the Greens) is what matters! That is the point.

      • Stuart Munro 5.2.1

        Yes I understand that that is what MC is saying. But Labour lost six points, and the Greens three when Labour rejected making common cause prior to the election. That’s just about enough to win. I believe that these were marginal voters who gave it up.

        NZ Labour, for ABC reasons, did not pursue a strategy that would bring out the vote. The vote did not increase. National did not greatly increase their take – Labour lost much of theirs – following the same strategy MC recommends.

        The parallel with the UK is obvious – for some reason Labour thought they could beat the SNP by resting on the accomplishments of pre neoliberal Labour. This proved not to be true.

        I expect it will continue not to be true. I’m tribal Labour – but I can no longer support them. They need to keep their own just as much as they need to find more.

        • Colonial Rawshark 5.2.1.1

          The parallel with the UK is obvious – for some reason Labour thought they could beat the SNP by resting on the accomplishments of pre neoliberal Labour. This proved not to be true.

          And perversely UK Labour may now head into another round of Blairite Nu Labour as the “antidote” – when it is in fact the poison.

  6. The lost sheep 6

    Absolutely dead straight common sense on the reality of what is required to get into a position of government.

    Bet this thread gets underwhelmed…..

  7. John 7

    The concern for Labour must be that the demographic they represent just isn’t as big as it used to be.

    The baby boomer bulge as discussed elsewhere is likely to get more conservative as it ages.

    With new technology, factory workers, manual workers in road and rail gangs, freezing workers etc – have either disappeared completely or are only a fraction of their former number.

    Anybody on a benefit is probably better represented by a party further left than Labour.

    So unless the economy goes really badly (i.e. has to be worse than the worst recession in 70 years – the GFC), then 20-30% may be the new normal Labour demographic.

    As someone who has voted left nearly twice as many times as right, Labour are a long long way from getting my vote back.

    They had some interesting ideas for housing at the last election, but they didn’t tell people much about it as they seemed more interested in mudslinging, which put me off completely.

    • The lost sheep 7.1

      Yup. The traditional Left is gradually disappearing up it’s own dogma.

      If something goes catastrophically wrong for the Nats in the next couple of years, we might just see Labour have a last stand as leader of a NZ First constrained opposition that has both buttocks firmly on the right side of the fence, but then it’s lights out.

      A new party will be born that will sweep aside the Nats. It will be firmly committed to Enterprise Capitalism, Minimal Government, and aspirational individualism.
      But it will also have a religiously strong sense of the need to evolve the current system in order to produce a sustainable future for the planet and a just and fair society for all it’s inhabitants.

      It will have a compelling vision of what that future looks like, and it will communicate with an irrepressible conviction.

      It won’t be called Labour.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1.1

        Such sincerity of concern.

        Oh embodiment of sincerity, you tell a story of your betrayal of your family and fellow citizens during the 2000’s.

        It was the Orewa speech that convinced you Brash was your man, eh.

        • The lost sheep 7.1.1.1

          I’m just telling you what is coming to pass OAB.

          If you are looking for something to do while waiting for the new party that you and i will both vote for I suggest you settle down with the latest Roy Morgan results.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1.1.1.1

            I suggest you wait and see if Roy Morgan stops bouncing, hubris boy.

            • The lost sheep 7.1.1.1.1.1

              Bounce back down to 49% you mean?

              How long do you back an obviously flawed plan of attack before you concede it simply ain’t working and go back to the drawing board OAB?

              As opposed to just ‘waiting’ for the population to wake up one morning and realise that the Left had it right all along and they all just couldn’t see it up till now?

              So we’ll wait, and I’ll keep popping up to tell you how it’s going.
              Because it ain’t going to change until the Left does.

              • RedLogix

                TLS does have a point. Six years of polling have never seen a Labour/Green coalition within ten points of forming a government.

      • KJT 7.1.2

        The party that you wish for, ACT, is doing sooo well.

    • Hanswurst 7.2

      What mudslinging are you talking about?

  8. Charles 8

    “never forget to state the obvious.”

    First post states the obvious, BAM. Made my day. Other than that, if you’re a middle-class type who has a conscience, thinking like M. Cullen isn’t all bad for NZ, in a-very-general-trend sort of way. Better than the “Kill the poor” we get from National. Stuart Munro “states the obvious” @ post #5.

  9. lurgee 9

    Funny how we’re always keen on the right wing parties swallowing rats, yet less willing to do it ourselves. Cullen is probably right (in both senses). You have to win power on a compromised platform, prove your ideas work, and then shift the ‘balance of society’ a bit your way.

    It has risks, of course – you might go Tony Blair and get so stuffed full of the baubles of office and the privileges of power that you shift the other way, and occasionally invade Middle Eastern countries. But at least you have a chance then. Where as sitting on the opposition benches …

    • Hanswurst 9.1

      Funny how we’re always keen on the right wing parties swallowing rats, yet less willing to do it ourselves.

      It’s not really funny at all. Everyone is more keen on their opponents’ conceding ground than they are on conceding it themselves. I would have thought that that was one of those “stating the obvious” things that Dr. Cullen was referring to.

      It has risks, of course – you might go Tony Blair and get so stuffed full of the baubles of office and the privileges of power that you shift the other way

      Yes, that is why it is important that anybody seeking to take that route be subjected to unfettered criticism on fora like this one. If their ideas are strong enough, they should be able to withstand it. I’d rather put up with National governments for a few terms than see Labour constantly swallowing neo-liberal rats to nothing but the cheers of compliant “leftists” drunk on electoral success.

      It is entirely possible to see the compromises of political pragmatists as being necessary, but to be heavily critical of them in practice.

  10. Vaughan Little 10

    I’d like to point out that if you call yourself progressive then you’re calling your opponents regressive. This might possibly be ok, but for the fact that history doesn’t appear to have a back or a front.

    • Hanswurst 10.1

      Yes it does. The past is the back and the future is the front. That’s actually fairly indisputable.

      Furthermore, “progressive” in a political sense is usually used in contrast to “conservative” or “reactionary”, rather than “regressive”. It’s about the idea that it’s better to question why things are the way they are and formulate policy based on a vigorous discourse on how they can be altered for the better, whereas conservatism attempts to retain as much of the status quo as is feasible, and reactionaries attempt to shut out ideas that compete with the values that are familiar to them. The terms are a simplification, of course, but that doesn’t prevent them from being useful.

    • Stuart Munro 10.2

      Regressive is a pretty good description of the Key junta – which provided the meme behind Jurassic Park three – mammals led by reptiles.

  11. RedBaronCV 11

    I heard that speech and yes “making the emotional connection is the answer to getting the votes and winning.” Unfortunately the Nacts are very good at portraying themselves as the in crowd – if you aren’t with them you are a loser while the reality is that they are the charming school playground bully.
    Winston is the only one who has managed to break through that emotionally – basically with ” where’s your share”.

    but for all that it still felt like an “old person’s speech” . The single line that stood out was “greens appeal to youth” . While that isn’t strictly true it raised the question of what was labour and the others doing to appeal to them.

  12. Stuart Munro 12

    NZ needs an SNP to finish off dysfunctional Labour. We have an austere Right, “red in tooth and claw” the left to survive must be equally committed.

    • Colonial Rawshark 12.1

      Ironically, it won’t be long before some Labour MP again proposes a bill to legalise euthanasia.

      • Stuart Munro 12.1.1

        The Rogergnomes will not go quietly into that good night, but rage rage!
        like a Celtic poet caught stealing some of Homer’s finest lines…

  13. Michael 13

    I agree that making an emotional connection, rather than being too policy-wonk is a good idea.

    • Bob 13.1

      Yip, but Labour are at least 6 months away from having any policy to discuss, and in the meantime they seem stuck on the “John Key is ruining your life….” line which they think IS making an emotional connection.
      At the moment, Labour are the workmate that constantly complains about everything and doesn’t have any plan to fix anything.
      Expect the polls to continue to slide while they sort out a platform, loose so much ground they can’t make it up in time for the election, then rinse and repeat…just like the last two elections.

  14. Binders full of women 14

    ++ Syrian Christians, and French + British Jews, and Myanmar Muslims. Any persecuted non-mysoginist is okay in my book. good point sir Michael.

  15. SHG 15

    By the looks of this thread, National will continue to govern in perpetuity.

    • Stuart Munro 15.1

      Can’t happen – all that borrowing will get called in soon – and the surviving Gnats will be lucky if they are only imprisoned.

      • gnomic 15.1.1

        Isn’t Borrow & Hope up to $86 billion now? The sum our greatly beloved leaders have spent on on our behalf to keep the dreamland going so they can continue smashing the state and enslaving the workers. Rumour has it Great Fiscal Cockup II is nearly here, but this time there is no fake money left.

        • Stuart Munro 15.1.1.1

          I’d characterise it as borrow and no hope. Plan A has failed and the Gnats never had a plan B. They’re fucked. They’ll do a bit of damage going down mind.

  16. Dont worry. Be happy 16

    Labour really want to be worthy of our votes?

    Reject the TPPA. Loud and clear. Tell the 1% to take a hike. Tell the Yanks to piss off.

    Bring the soldiers back from the Middle East and send medical teams to the refugee camps.

    When Key and his minions start trashing our Parliament with misuse of urgency and mockery instead of answers, get up en mase and walk out. Everytime.

    Tithe your wealthy wealthy MPs and donate that money.

    Dump the free travel for life and similar perks and challenge the rest to do the same.

    Show up at the frontline and be seen where the cops are throwing their weight around. Get arrested. Defend freedom of speech and the right to protest before a Court.

    Never give a speech, if after three sentences the crowd is not roaring its passionate support. Speak from the heart. Let us see and believe in that.

    And stop looking and sounding like shysters or real estate agents.

    Too much to expect? Well then you can piss off too.

  17. “Peak oil / never heard of it”
    Michael Cullen 2005 ish ? …….. wanker

  18. Toby 18

    I generally vote center right but could be swayed if I felt a center right government was off track and out of control.

    I’m a hard worker and I pay an eye watering amount of tax.
    I can identify with Cullens statements…
    To win me over the left needs to convince me that they aren’t out to screw me over.

    I earn less than $100k a year so by today standards not exactly rich considering how hard I work (2 x full time equivalent jobs), but I really resent being called a Rich bastard. which I hear all the time from some of my hard core lefty friends.

    The left needs to stop attacking people like me because under the current government and environment, the number of people in my situation are growing (surely that is a good thing isn’t it) and focus on what messages will appeal to me.

    Stop trying to wack people like me over the head and you might actually get somewhere.

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