Where is the sense of urgency from a Labour party that doesn't seem terribly fussed about winning this election, or at least seems quite happy to leave it to potential coalition partners to get it over the line?

The biggest crime a Labour Party caucus, activist base and affiliated unions can commit is to not put their party in a position where it can realistically when an election. They can claim all they like to want to bring new talent into parliament through the list, but on current polling, it's rhetoric – no new faces will make it come September.

The Labour Party was founded on basic principles that appealed and applied to most New Zelalanders. The right to a job with decent wages and conditions, the right to clean and warm roof over your head and for kids to get equality of opportunity in the classroom and therefore our wider society.

Parts of the community I represent badly need Labour to be effective, yet still the party continues to dilute the importance of significant policy announcements like compulsory Kiwisaver or job-rich manufacturing in favour of the beltway pursuits against Collins and Williamson that clearly earn no votes around the country.

It seems the underlying premise of recent comments by some "outsider" activists and politicians like myself are correct: Labour isn't
 aiming for 40% plus of the vote because they neither want – nor know how – to go about winning it. Those in charge of the party know the only way to keep the agenda and the caucus small is by keeping the vote low and encouraging the Greens and Mana-Internet to grow their support in the next Parliament. "Hopefully," they say, "we can stitch together a rag-tag coalition of the weird and the wonderful."



As a life-long (moderate and pro-enterprise) Labour supporter, I would rather the party win significantly more people like me and get the vote to say 38%, than appear as they do, which seems to be a preference for Hone, Laila and the Greens to be elected to the next Parliament instead of good candidates further down the Labour list.



A talented Wellingtonian, with proven electoral appeal told me that last year he offered himself up as a prospective Labour candidate for Ohariu. He was advised however by the senior party person he asked not to bother because he wasn't a woman. If I revealed who he is, I'm sure most people would agree that had he been selected, Peter Dunne would now be looking down the barrel of voter-enforced retirement.

Deciding also against a well-credentialed and popular local candidate in Kapiti District Councillor, Penny Gaylor, Labour sent an unmistakable message that winning Otaki off National is not a priority. 

(Ed - Rob McCann won that nomination). These are two examples that show how far Labour has positioned itself away from communities. The party appear not to care about re-establishing bases in and amongst communities in provincial and suburban New Zealand by selecting candidates who god forbid might actually win some votes.

Meanwhile there are list MPs approaching their third and fourth election this year in seats that should be winnable but somehow they have never managed to win. Some of these MPs have again been rewarded with high list placings, so where is the incentive for them to win those electorates? The bigger question is, why doesn't the party appear to care?

It seems Labour has given up on gaining votes from aspirational workers who want to own their own home, those who strive to run a small business and the people pottered throughout every class, culture and community in New Zealand who care deeply about reforming the systems and policies that continually fail our children.

Labour has to start behaving like a force that stands for a cause again, rather than a defender of the status quo that screams madly every time the government says it wants to reform something. It must move again to become a party for the public, not just the public service. 

Better still, it would be great to see some reform ideas from my party.

We created the welfare system because we believe in being there for these kids and for families when they fall on bad times. We should own the debate about reforming it so that these kids don't stay in poverty, rather than risk a third term National Government savaging our social security system.

Where is the sense of urgency in Labour that says it’s not OK for generations in a single family to be stuck on the dole? Labour is never satisfied with the status quo – we believe that tomorrow can be better. We have a divine discontent that makes us strive to improve on what is.

It would nice for all this be reflected in the Labour Party that faces the 2014 election.

Comments (10)

by Katharine Moody on July 01, 2014
Katharine Moody

I'm a bit of a junkie reader of social history - so not now and never been a member of the Labour Party - therefore not really qualified to comment. But from an outsiders perspective, If you describe yourself as a "moderate and pro-enterprise" Labour supporter, then you're not (to my mind) a supporter of what I would see as these "core Labour values" that alot of Labour Party members seem to talk about. 

Oddly, Hone and Laila (whom you refer to as being part of the "rag-tag.. weird and wonderful..") display far more of what I'd see as core Labour values (i.e., the beliefs,  conviction and character) defined by the Labour greats, Savage and Kirk. Lange had those core values (and might have become as great in history as Savage and Kirk) but he failed on that conviction aspect. But who could blame him however for not seeing just how pernicious neoliberalism would be for Western democracy at large. Clark too had the core values but compromised on her conviction to them. This lack of conviction seems to be the character trait of the "moderate and pro-enterprise" (which BTW using the word 'enterprise' seems to be the Labour-modern way of meaning pro-business, pro-capitalist but in an "acceptably" moderate way)  Labour supporter.

The centre (i.e., moderate) has never reflected (to my mind) core Labour values. Helen decided she couldn't win without appealing to that centre - although I'll never forget her quip when lining up for a first caucus photo, the photographer asked the mob to move further to the right  .. and she said, "..but not too far to the right".

Although Winston Peters is often portrayed as being in the 'centre', to me he's no moderate (as centre right or left politicians often try to position themselves). He's got conviction.. in spades.  Hone's got conviction.. in spades. Laila's got conviction.. in spades. They seem to be the sort who wouldn't live anywhere else other than New Zealand - no matter what - whereas our current PM has a holiday/bach in Honolulu and sent his daughter off to study in Paris. Is he a Savage or a Kirk in terms of his convictions and commitment to a set of unique, core New Zealand values and to New Zealanders right to be sovereign and individual? Nope, I think JK's also in the centre, clinging to power (as opposed to conviction) - on his way to something bigger offshore (like Helen Clark) someday.

Who is David Cunliffe? For whatever reason, we don't really know, but he's likely a centrist too, like John Key.

The political values of the centrists these days are what I'd call 'globalist' values - not definitively socialist (left), or conservative (right) or even definitively New Zealand - instead they court the status quo of the poltical ideology of globalization.

They are not local (local as in NZ unique) social change activists, like Savage or Kirk. And I think it is that activist trait that is at the "core" of what Labour values meant historically.

 

 

by Nick Gibbs on July 01, 2014
Nick Gibbs

Great to hear a Labour Party member speak to the political center and talk about the needs of small business owners, aspirational workers and the need to prevent welfare becoming a way of life for entire families. This is a message that would resonate with a large number of kiwis. More so than banging on about the GCSB, Dong Hau Liu and the usual beltway nonsense.

by Kat on July 01, 2014
Kat

Rachel Jones in Tauranga could have a chance, a new face at #25 on the list.

by barry on July 01, 2014
barry

I'm sorry Nick, but you sound like Shane Jones.  Someone who identifies with the Labour party as family and and wants it to be like them.  I don't vote Labour because it is too wishy washy.  If it made up its mind what it stands for then it might alienate a lot fo people, but by not standing for anything it gives people no reason to vote for them.

by Ross on July 02, 2014
Ross

the party continues to dilute the importance of significant policy announcements like compulsory Kiwisaver or job-rich manufacturing in favour of the beltway pursuits against Collins and Williamson that clearly earn no votes around the country.

I couldn't disagree more. What you seem to be saying is that if Government ministers behave corruptly, or give the appearance of behaving in such a way, the Opposition should simply look the other way. That is absurd.

And I have seen no evidence that significant policy announcements are being diluted.

by Nick Gibbs on July 02, 2014
Nick Gibbs

I couldn't disagree more. What you seem to be saying is that if Government ministers behave corruptly, or give the appearance of behaving in such a way, the Opposition should simply look the other way. That is absurd.

But who has been convicted of corruption? What evidence is there that money has changed hands in appropriately? There's nothing. Yet still Labour and the Left bang on about GCSB, Collins, Dong whoever... the vast majority of kiwis don't care. They want to know more about the issues and concerns that Nick has raised.

by Tom Gould on July 04, 2014
Tom Gould

Labour has indeed "given up on gaining votes from aspirational workers who want to own their own home, those who strive to run a small business and the people pottered throughout every class, culture and community in New Zealand." It has given up because it no longer understands these people. Those who run the party have been besotted by indentity politics for so long now they simply cannot relate to the everyday aspirations of the vast bulk on people. The list system is nirvana, allowing marginal individuals to inhabit a comfortable politically correct bubble existence surrounded by and speaking for people like them, and sustaining themselves through transference of preceived guilt and a carefully constructed single-issue mantra. Nice easy work if you can get it, I guess. But as for the rest of the electorate, they will need to look elsewhere to find representation.

by Joronda on August 31, 2014
Joronda

Helen Clark's 9-year "rein of terror" saw house prices in Auckland double and electricity prices go up 72%.  The Salvation Army were taking thousands of blankets out to drape around the shoulders of elderly people who could no longer afford to heat their homes. 

If Cunliffe spend more time building his own personal popularity, maybe Labour would attract more voters. 

86% of New Zealanders don't think Cunliffe would make a good Prime Minister, 96% don't think Russel Norman would make a good Prime Minister.

The NZ Green Party could have been in a Coalition with National eons ago if they had allowed some of their rough edges to be knocked off their weird policies.

Norman and Cunliffe should milk a herd of cows at 5am for a few months to find out what the grass roots are about.  Nothing better than some physical work to bring their heads out of the clouds.

by Joronda on August 31, 2014
Joronda

It seems almost too true to believe that Labour can change their spots after so many decades of over-spending.  Labour is promising fiscal responsibility, but their hopes/dreams are based on collecting an additional $4b from new taxes from the very people who create jobs in NZ.  The Sherriff of Knottingham would be impressed at the tax grabs that Norman/Cunliffe are plotting to introduce.

by Joronda on August 31, 2014
Joronda

Shane Jones was promising to make Maori do community work if they wanted help from WINZ.  I guess Shane believes in no free handouts.

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