The good kind of conspiracy theory

Yesterday Labour’s David Parker gave a speech to some of Labour’s strongest, most loyal supporters in Wellington. According to The Standard's Mike Smith and the Dominion Post's Vernon Small it outlined some of the specific “hands-on” economic policies Labour was considering, including tax credits for exporters and targeted public works, along with Labour’s other previously announced economic policy commitments.

Mike was impressed, saying:

It was good to see Labour getting on to the front foot. It looks like there will be a real economic alternative on offer through to the next election. The other good thing about the event was the debate and discussion afterwards. It looks like the policy formation will be open and the key players receptive to good ideas.

But Mike and others across the leftie blogopshere had decried Labour earlier in the week for, in their view, abandoning its base by way of a 100 word anecdote in a recent David Shearer speech, and threatening to become an unprincipled pack of National-plus-epsilon nihilists in red costumes.

Taking these events together, I have two points:

  1. It looks like Labour does have an ideology and an alternative vision and is consulting its base and all that good stuff after all. Phew! This was, of course, pretty predictable;
  2. Hopefully we can all use this sequence of events to learn the folly of hitting the panic button too early, as I think some did this week.

Comments (4)

by Lynn Prentice on August 17, 2012
Lynn Prentice

I rather suspect that you're joining up the dots a bit yourself. Perhaps you should point out where social policy (in this case sickness benefits) and broad economic policy (export and jobs policies) overlap except in the broadest sense.

Political parties often have radically different policies in different areas and so do individuals. You only have to talk to most politicians for a short period to detect this. I've always soupported Labour on some parts of their policies while strongly disagreeing on others. Picking parties to support is a matter of balancing.

The problem as I see it is that activists have been wanting ot get a feel for how David Shearer felt on different areas. One of those was social policy, another was what can be loosely called considered balance, and another was what he'd compromise on to win an election. 

David used an anecdote at the start of one of his few speech on social policy because it displayed a complete lack of consideration (how can anyone feel qualified to make a diagnosis of sickness from across the street - see Bill's post on the subject) and was a rather blatant bit of plagarism from the depths of the kiwiblog sewer (which rather said he'd sell anything to win an election).

Most people on the left had been rather worried about the resounding endorsements that he and his advisers been getting from those on the right. That anecdote rather confirmed their worries.

Personally I rather suspect that it was simply a particularly dumbarse and extraordinarly inept attempt at targeted messaging aka dog-whistling. However these days range of social media makes it quite difficult to target one audience while not pissing off another because it is very difficult for it not to get quite a lot of vocal analysis in social media. It'd be nice if some of the idiots in Wellington would start to figure out how to consider social media effects rather than just media. 

by Brad Gibbons on August 17, 2012
Brad Gibbons

But of course, you just cannot receive aplomb from the right! That would be ideological treachery!

by Rob Salmond on August 18, 2012
Rob Salmond

@Lynn: Of course decisions about political parties are about balancing support for some areas of a platform with misgivings about others. That is true for all of us. Which is why it was pretty premature to declare the Labour party complete ideological sellouts on the basis on one anecdote in one policy area.

by Simon on August 22, 2012

Parker says "I don’t agree with some Greens when they say we don’t need economic growth."

Why is Parker adopting the neoliberal spin of David Farrar ( and Stephen Joyce ( that the Greens are against growth?

How can it be smart left politics to adopt your conservative opponent's tactics against your potential left-of-centre coalition partner?

Parker is also a former Minister for climate change issues. Why has he omitted any mention of climate change from his speech? Does he or Labour just see climate change as unconnected from NZ's economy?

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