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Written By: - Date published: 11:26 am, September 17th, 2008 - 39 comments
Categories: election 2008, labour - Tags:

I’ve just come across Labour’s tragic new campaign website, Labour08.co.nz, and I’m of the firm opinion that someone needs to get their shit together very quickly.

Let’s recap here. Labour, according to the polls, is anywhere from 6 to 18 points behind National. Even accounting for the quirks of MMP it’ll be a bloody hard slog to retain power and, more importantly, keep the Tories from the Treasury benches. Labour’s campaign has got to be an absolute killer.

And then they come up with this.

For a start, it’s way too busy. The flashing images are headache-inducing. Labour’s colour is red, not white. The clashing rainbow colours at the top are stupid and distracting. The press releases are already out of date. The site crashes in Firefox. Until yesterday the donations page was broken. The text on policy comparisons runs over the box. The mirrored Labour08 text at the top looks like something out of a fourth form design class. Even the picture of Helen Clark is far too intense, and the way it’s cropped she looks like she’s topless under that black vest.

Sure, a bad campaign website’s not the end of the world, but if it’s a sign of things to come then I’m deeply concerned. If Labour wants to win in ’08 they’re going to have to do a lot better than this.

[Hat tip: DPF]

39 comments on “Poor ”

  1. Tim Ellis 1

    Even the picture of Helen Clark is far too intense, and the way it’s cut she looks like she’s topless under that black vest.

    Tane, apparently you don’t ascribe to the idea that any criticism of a picture of Helen Clark is mysogynist, then?

    One of the features I find particularly amusing is the policy section. You open it up, and there’s a bit of waffle about what Labour has done, and then when you open up the policy for that area, it says: “No Policies”.

    You really couldn’t make this thing more incompetent if you had deliberately set out to do so. Is there any chance this is a hoax?

  2. Felix 2

    Perhaps they didn’t want to waste the red ink?

  3. Felix 3

    No Tim, not any criticism of a picture of Helen Clark is misogyny, just the misogynist criticisms.

    Come on Tim, I know you’re not the sharpest knife in the back but you’re not that stupid.

  4. Tane 4

    Tim. I think criticism of Clark for her looks is mysogynistic. I don’t think my criticism of their designer’s poor cropping of a photo is.

  5. It’s not going to be a webpage that will cost Labour the election. Its going to be their,w e know what’s best for you attitude that this government has had for years.

    Dr Cullen’s statement that “National’s planned $50 a week tax cuts would put the Government’s books in a poor state” sums up the Labour party.

    They don’t want people to have money in their pockets, they want the government to have the people money.

    Still I agree it’s a shocking webpage.

  6. Daveski 6

    Tane – good to see some criticism – albeit constructive – of Labour.

    It’s hard not to take the view that this is less partisan and more party given the fawning behaviour from some of your fellow posters.

    A lot of corporates struggle with their web sites when the senior management gets too involved rather than relying on best practice and web experts.

    There’s almost no content above the fold. I’m amazed that the site appears to be less why vote Labour rather than why not Key. Surely Labour should be campaigning on its own achievements and policies?

    As for Helen, the issue isn’t her looks but why the extend of the airbrushing. Again a trivial matter but the airbrushing ironically draws attention to it.

  7. r0b 7

    Its going to be their,w e know what’s best for you attitude that this government has had for years.

    An idea that the right are pushing hard, but in fact it is team National who have big plans for what’s “best”. Troubled teens: send them to boot camp. Solo mothers: force them to work. New employees: take away their rights. Minor criminals: lock more of them up. Nats know best with their conservative social agenda on the ultimate personal choices of marriage laws, drugs and abortion.

    If we get a National government out of the coming election we’ll soon see which party thinks it “knows what’s best for us”…

  8. Bill 8

    Appearances are not always deceiving. I’ve had the recurring thought for quite some time now (more than a few years) that both Labour and National are ‘yesterdays’ political vehicles.

    Both parties advocate neo-liberal economic policies that have proven disastrous. Both sound 1950’s with late 20th century upgrades attempting to make them compatible with the 21st century.

    Both parties are heavily weighted with individuals so out of touch with the electorate that they rely on media manipulation to have them appear as ‘normal’.

    I reckon the billboards plus the websites are a fair representation of the mindsets of both these parties. Fucking terrible

    Like the end of any dynamic, there will be a time lag before inertia; before these two dinosaurs are consigned to some dark little side-room of a museum that nobody visits.

    So keep on, Nat and Lab with your antiquated ideas and frankly, bloody awful public personae. My only regret is that neither are hobbling off down the road to oblivion fast enough, while those pesky little annoyances to ‘business as usual’…. like climate change and resource depletion have kind of headed us all off at the pass.

    And, no. That does not mean that I think the answer lies with the Green Party.

  9. Draco T Bastard 9

    That has got to be the worst website I’ve seen for awhile. Even the page formats don’t match – actually, that may be because the page is designed to open in a new window but one of the links just takes you to the page.

    I’ve got to ask – was their page designed and put together by professionals or by amateurs?

  10. monkey-boy 10

    Do you think they are ‘trying’ to lose the election?
    Seriously it would be the only plausible way to rebuild the party and maybe have a fighting chance at the next election with a new guard in place.

  11. Anita 11

    The policy bit is just dreadful.

    1) You go most of the policy pages and the only link from them says “view aggregation” (which is better than a few days ago when there were two links and the other one gave an error message).

    2) You figure out that what you must want to do is view the/an aggregation (well it’s the only option, so it’s not a bad idea), so you click on it

    3) You get a badly formatted webpage which might (or might not contain some links to “View Portfolio”. It definitely includes some “Close Window” not links which don’t do anything (not being links and all).

    4) So you figure out that you want to view a portfolio (well it’s the only option, so it’s not a bad idea) so you click on it.

    5) “Page not Found”


    How can anyone get something so simple that wrong?

    Not to mention that Labour knew exactly when the website had to be ready.

  12. Anita 12

    http://labour08.co.nz/Funstuff – hee!

    Excellent, the page source has things commented out and typos.

  13. toad 13

    Oh dear!

    Policy Comparison – Climate Change
    Labour – Fair and balanced plan

    National – No plan

    Whoever put this together was stupid enough to use the term “fair and balanced”, obviously with no thought to the connotations.

  14. Anita 14

    Perhaps we need to set up The Standard’s Crack Website Fix-It Crack Squad and help out ailing political parties?

    Once we’ve sorted out Labour we should probably move on to New World Order (no website) and the South Island Party (no website and don’t even seem to be registered although they do have broadcast funding).

    recaptcha: ratiflea-

  15. Draco T Bastard 15

    3) You get a badly formatted webpage which might (or might not contain some links to “View Portfolio’. It definitely includes some “Close Window’ not links which don’t do anything (not being links and all).

    Yep, those are the ones that are supposed to open in a new window. They’ve had the left and right columns taken out so that only the center part with the required info is there and the close window link. It would work if it opened in a new window of the correct size but they’ve left out the coding to open the new window. Doesn’t help when people like me who come along and go right-click – open in new tab which bypasses the new window coding anyway.

  16. Anita 16

    Draco TV,

    Ok, so you can be our crack linky-fixy crack troubleshooter.

    I’ll remove the word “aggregation” and it’s friends and relations of geeky-earnestness.

    Now we need someone to make the website not shudder across the page as it resizes.

    I wonder if we can lprent to join us for moments of “Service Unavailable”, and Robinsod to put the apostrophes right.

    toad might be too much of a liability, aiming for accuracy in political party websites might just be a bridge too far. Tho an unerring instinct for unintended double entendres might be well worth it.

  17. fiona 17

    Tane, while I think Labour is going to win the election, it will be in spite of, not because of Labour Head Office (who I presume are behind the website). Fortunately there is good organisation within the electorates as Labour HQ don’t appear to be aware that there is an election in 8 weeks, and that we are behind in the polls. They absolutely need to get with the programme !!

  18. toad 18

    Also wondering if whoever designed the Family Party’s website and brochures reaslised that their extensive use of black and yellow associates them with this.

  19. Anita 19


    They’ve changed it! It used to have some Samoan on the front page and be even more black-and-yellow.

    “Process Membership” must be their version of Labour’s “View aggregation”.

  20. toad 20

    So they have! Shows you how often I bother to go there.

  21. the sprout 21

    tane, i’m afraid you’re quite justified in your concerns.

    the site is really poor and reflects an ongoing talent deficit with communications, both digital and other. it’s a crying shame.

  22. outofbed 22

    I quite like it, must be something wrong with me

  23. the sprout 23

    hey oob, nice to see you.
    i’m sure there’s nothing wrong with you, you may just have overly refined tastes perhaps?

  24. the sprout 24

    i guess it’s a passable effort, but it also seems like a wasted opportunity.
    it could be sooo much better. as it is it looks decidely amateurish and half-arsed, like it’s been done by someone who doesn’t realise this election is winnable.

  25. outofbed 25

    Hi Sprout I’m sure I do. for example on Sunday I managed to tell Nick Smith Nationals billboards looked like a Tampax ad.
    and to be fair to Nick he agreed that the Greens Billboards were better fantastic infact.

  26. the sprout 26

    true true oob. the use of light blue makes them look too insipid and very much like any other commodity advertisement.
    glad nicko was lucid enough to appreciate the talent that went into the Green billboards – glad to see they’ve learnt well from their previous efforts’ shortcomings.

  27. Evidence-Based Practice 27

    Well I like the Labour 08 website. I like the white with red which gives strong contrast and type which is easy to read (unlike your codes at the bottom of your feedback box which are really hard to read or hear). I like the rainbow lines which gives cheerful colour, the changing pictures which keep your interest and I appreciate having a lot of choices of things to read and links to follow. The press releases seem to change quite frequently. The voting record down the right hand side couldn’t be clearer.

  28. Janet 28

    I agree with EB Practice. I like the site. What’s wrong with pretty pictures and assorted colours and messages on white? Nothing runs over the edges on the site I looked at (which uses firefox). Maybe it was designed by a woman?

  29. Lyn 29

    I’m seriously considering passing Tane’s post and the following comments on to my multimedia class to see what they make of the situation. I hate to say it, but even though the class are information management majors (plus accounting and marketing) and have limited design tuition, a large proportion of them have presented web layouts in class this semester that look and feel much nicer. I guess the trick is recruiting generation y to Labour so they can do good site design.

    Sadly this is highly unlikely. I’ve asked around in recent times and while some of the class are enrolled to vote, they don’t appear overly conscious of the left-right spectrum and what it means. A site design this Web 1.0 is hardly going to make it easier to make politics (of whatever persuasion) matter to them and I’m sure none of them would be enthusiastic about offering to redesign it or the equivalent site of any political party.

    Labour’s site seems to highlight an expectation that political participation is for the old ones (with no taste). Not optimal.

  30. Monty 30

    This election is so much fun – Labour are incapable of making any intelligent decisions, they have no money (except union money) the EFA is making sure party finances are a high priority with the media and The Winnie Protection racket continues even although every Labour supporter is desperate for Clark to sack him.

    Labour are so focused on fighting fires they have no time to plan strategies that will work – too many websites and no one wanting to back a losing donkey. Web-sites that are cheaply put together (or look cheap) are symptomatic of a desperate and pitiful third term government desperate to save their sorry butts from a defeat that Makes Bill English 2002 result look positively succesful.

  31. Anita 31

    E-B P, Janet, oob,

    Even if you like the design, does it bother you that it doesn’t work? 🙂 Trying wandering around the Policy section and hit the dead ends and error messages.

    I can’t see how Labour can justify launching a campaign website with a broken policy section or, but perhaps this is a pet peeve, the requirement to follow links labelled “View Aggregation”.

  32. Michael 32

    Oh, it’s terrible. I quite like Hamish McDouall, but if I want to find out more he has a blank profile page (as do others). Some candidates come up “Not Found”. And other candidates have links that don’t work.

    Have Labour given up?

  33. lprent 33


    I wonder if we can lprent to join us for moments of “Service Unavailable’, and Robinsod to put the apostrophes right.

    You know that I don’t have time. I still haven’t fixed the Mac/Safari problem with re-edit.

    Only a few more days and I can flip entirely from c++/linux to php/js/mysql for a few weeks. Most of the reason this site is reasonably stable is because I can use well-tested tools. The stuff I’ve been writing from scratch is a bit less reliable.

    But the Labour08 site looks like a work in progress. Probably an activist in their spare time rather than a professional job. One of the problems would be getting the content. But I suspect that there is a CMS somewhere in the backend. Thats is good for building a long-term maintainable system.

    Besides isn’t it Billy doing most of the running with the english syntax at present? Personally I *hate* writing without a syntax checker.

  34. Anita 34


    Ah well, we might need to add Whale Oil for our crack service unavailable crack team then 🙂 I was relying on Billy to recheck ‘Sod’s checking 🙂

    Yeah, it has a very work in progress feel to it, I’m just disturbed that they released it with quite so much in progress.

  35. garth mcvicor 35

    lprent – not an activist’s site.

    labour08.org.nz has been built by FRESCO – the agency of the 2008 campaign manager, fraser carson.

    check the domain info.

  36. lprent 36

    Pity. Generally activists systems often have a longer longevity if they get off the ground in the first place.

  37. Emma 37

    The website does remind me of a professionals property advertisement. But if we want to criticize any party website, it would have to be the Maori party

  38. redfish 38

    I agree. It’s an embarrassment. The http://www.labour.org.nz site has been a mess for ages too. Some candidates’ social networking profiles are controlled from HQ and they all look the same. They simply don’t understand how to use technology to good effect. But try telling their IT people this.

  39. Stewart 39

    Yes the campaign website is substandard, but I have it on good authority that the website builder has had frustratingly little to do with its subsequent design and management.

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