Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why Labour took a drubbing

If I could say it in a sentence - Labour makes us feel bad about ourselves.

We are told we should be ashamed to live in a country that tolerates  inequality and poverty. It's implied that success is a matter for sheepishness when others are missing out. We are heels for feeling any aversion to taxation, or the idea of increasing it.

They ran what was billed as a positive campaign but talked, almost always, negatively.

If things were really dire it might have worked. Oppositions can run winning campaigns built on bad news if it's real and pervasive.  But economic and social statistics are nearly all trending in the right direction. There were no traditional battlegrounds on which Labour could build a case for change. Not the economy, health, education or welfare.

They tried to bribe the have-nots and guilt trip the rest. But the working have-nots figured out they would lose other subsidies with any wage increase, and didn't like the idea of beneficiaries getting the tax credits they've been working for.

Jose Pagani relates an anecdote about a conversation she had with an ex-Labour voting truck driver who said, "National is for the rich and Labour is for the poor. Who is for me?"

She relates this during her advocacy that Labour needs to return to being a party for workers. "Look at their name," she remonstrates. "It's Labour for heavens sake."

Trouble is National is now picking up low-wage workers votes. Note the PMs insistence today that a gap must be preserved between income from welfare and income from wages. Another Labour line he now espouses and they stupidly abandoned.

Forget their inward troubles. Their inability to look competent and trustworthy.

They have lost a large share of their old constituency by not moving with the times. Clark and Cullen wanted to bed Labour in as the natural party of government by keeping a majority of voters reasonably happy. But the new guard took the party backwards. Now it would have to be conceded that National could fairly hold the same ambition.

Update
A reader sent me through this link. It's relevant. In Christchurch National beat Labour in all but the most deprived quintile:

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

The short answer is that NZ simply does not need the Labour party any more. Based on this election result (below 25%) they can no longer be considered a major party; and the magnitude of National's victory (55% when you add in the Conservatives & ACT's votes; and more like 64% "right of Labour") there is no way Labour will be back for at least two terms, and quite possibly, forever. Labour's leadership stoush shouldn't even be news, let alone on the front page of the DomPost --- but then I guess Labour is about as relevant to mainstream NZ as Wellington is: we could easily do without both of 'em!


I guess we will see how National adopting the "child poverty" rhetoric goes; probably the same way they adopted the paid parental leave; the WFF; the Student Loans; and on and on and on: Key has never saw a policy Helen Clark didn't like, even if he called them "communism" when he was opposition leader!

I suppose it's possible the policy to throw 75,000 off the benefit will actually have some teeth, in that people will be thrown off the bludge - but it' more likely they'll just could it as the number of people who go off the benefit into work, never mind that say 70,000 went off work and back on to the benefit.

We all know the only real way to enact welfare reform is to deny people benefits. 75,000 people denied benefits, well that's only 4% even if everyone voted - and they probably already vote left- if all their family voted too and this policy cost say 10% then the right would still be comfortably on about 54%

Given that neither ACT nor the Conservatives were capable or running an effective Rightwing campaign against Key --- hell Key was on TVNZ on Monday saying he wished there were *more* ACT MPs so he could run a more rightwing policy! ---
I see no reason why National should not remain in government for the foreseeable future gradually moving into coalitions with ACT, Conservatives, perhaps later on NZF and even a reformed Blue-Green (say 6-9 years from now).

A large amount of leftist muck-throwing hasn't tainted Key's appeal one bit; he's distanced himself from Ede and Collins, and in 15 years time he will still be younger than Winston is today.

This result is VERY different from Helen Clarks 2nd term 2005 win over Brash; that was actually very close, by all accounts Labour didn't expect to survive for a third term, thus all their bribes at the end of the second term. In the last election, Phil Goff ran Key very close - 8,000 votes in Christchurch as Matthew Hooten - whereas this time around they LOST BIG.

To me, the last 6 years often felt like a continuation / return to the cautious, pragmatic first 6 years of the Clark/Cullen government
(although borrowing rather more than Clark ever did).

The real Key government starts now, and has at least another 3 terms to run.

Anonymous said...

could you please just define 'success 'Lindsay...thanks in advance.

Shane Pleasance said...

I have said it before - socialists are misanthropes.

Barry said...

Anonymous said the NZ doesnt need a Labour party - maybe - but we certainly need an opposition (even if I do agree with much of National are doing).

Labour has a deep and old problem. Their loss has nothing to do with the election campaign and all that. Their problem is that they can do such things as propose a 'man ban' on candidates, and their leader says 'hes sorry to be a man' and they cant see that these attitudes are just so wrong & undemocratic.

Labour is infected with a desease that seems very hard to get rid of. They are infected with a belief that Special interest groups and Identity politics are more important than society as a whole. They have been in this mode for so long that they are unable to look at the whole of NZ without prejudice - everything they look at they see through glass that have filters on them. They can only see small groups - they see multiple property owners or feminists or the poor or transgender or maori etc, etc. They seem incapable of seeing the whole of society at the same time.
Because of this they are forever doomed to be disliked by all the people they annoy each time they comment about some group.

Anonymous said...

Oh I suppose so - tho' Singapore does OK! - we do need real opposition on the right!

ACT and the Conservatives - until they're really needed for government. On the left the Greens and NZF will do fine.

tranquil said...

A good article - that's a really interesting graph too.
I would *love* to see the same graph done for other electorates as well. It would be great to see if the same pattern is repeated across the country (it may well be).

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Anon 10:51

I meant financial success in this context.

peter petterson said...

Your propaganda never changes. NZ needs a Labour Party more than ever. It has been around since 1916. It has just lost its way again, like in the 1990's when neo-fascism had gained a grip in NZ. Even Rob Muldoon was totally surprised to get a third term. The Greens have hurt Labour. It has to learn how to get on with them, politically and philosophically. National really doesn't have anything to offer NZ and New Zealanders. just keep the masses unemployed and reliant on social welfare. Key will be gone when it suits him. He wants a knighthood first, that is why he is pushing for a new flag - his legacy if you like.

peter petterson said...

You people wouldn't know a socialist if you fell over one. I don't know any real socialists,but I know a few social democrats. but rave and write your rubbish here. Three more terms? there won't be one more term and Key will be gone before the next elections. Hopefully under his own steam. I wouldn't wish harm on him or anybody else. But never forget the possibilities of another Ashburton.