Labour needs to stand up for its electorate, the worker. While National is gutting the infrastructure Labour set up in the last nine years it had in power, like KiwiSaver and the Cullen fund, Labour’s protests are little more than the weak cries of a lamb as it goes to slaughter.
Labour needs vision, a way for the future. The economy is coming out of the first dip of the recession, and it brings with it false hope. As the secondary (and far deeper) recession comes into play, Labour has to show what it will do for the people. It has to explain it’s not about raising taxes and rubbing their hands together gleefully as they watch the money in the coffers rise, but about providing for everyone, through healthcare and education.
The ‘nanny state’ meme still plays a big part in the conscience of the nation, and Labour has to reverse this. Perhaps through actual socially progressive legislature, such as decriminalisation of cannabis users. Big items like that catch the news, and will surely make the 20% of the country that smokes that particular plant very happy indeed. Labour needs to reconnect with ALL it’s voters, not relying on the same old people coming out every year, it has to inspire more people to get off their asses in 2011 and go down to the polling station – and that’s with legislation that gets debates going, and the water-cooler talk happening.
In particular, getting back to roots with work rights is the perfect place for Labour to start, and it has to realise just because the union movement and Labour are tangled together, that does not mean the union member will think to vote Labour first. Removing the 90-day fire at will legislation, making employers give their employees work-breaks, and raising the minimum wage. This is what appeals peoples wallets, which, though unfortunate, seems one of the only ways to get through to people these days. This, plus the appeal to the actually ideological left-wingers could help Labour swing through with a majority in the house next election.
Labour needs the support of the people, and it’s not going to get it by playing the negatives in the news. Instead of saying ‘National is wrong, and this is why’ Phil Goff has to say ‘That’s not right, and this is how we’re going to change it’ and show us why we should vote for them.
Last of all, Labour needs something to capture the imagination. Something like the ‘change’ (however hollow it has turned out to be) that National, trading off Obama’s image, promised. If the recession does get a lot worse, it might even end up being ‘Vote red, get fed’.