NZ Herald asks What’s wrong with Labour? Len Richards, Service and Food Workers Union organiser, provides some explanations, but not in the way he intended.
What went wrong?
More than a decade of dirty politics aimed at demonising and destabilising the Labour Party by well-organised and well-funded opponents have taken their toll.
The ‘dirty politics’ excuse is wearing thin. Attempts at “demonising and destabilising” opposing parties have been a part of politics forever. Nicky Hager overplayed the ‘dirty politics’ hand to swing the election and failed – it helped National more than the left.
I don’t like dirty politics but that’s a criticism aimed as much at Labour and the left as National and the right.
The opinion polls reflect the public mood deliberately created by the spin doctors of the right, and the very poor election results for Labour over the last three elections reflect the polls.
“The polls are rigged” is another tired old excuse. Like David Cunliffe Richards is avoiding responsibility, but poll conspiracies tend towards nut-job territory.
In response, our last two campaigns were run by many electorates as if MMP did not exist. Labour tried to win electorate seats rather than the party vote.
Blaming some electorate MPs is indicative of the factional rift that is tearing Labour apart. It’s up to the party leader and organisation to lead the campaign for party votes.
This time Labour received 200,000 more candidate votes (34 per cent) than party votes (25 per cent).
Perhaps that’s an indication that while some candidates are well supported by voters the party as a whole was not seen as a viable lead party in Government. Failure from the top again.
With 34 per cent of party votes we would be in government.
A forlorn “what if”. If Labour had got 34% instead of 25% (a huge reality gap) with Green’s 1-11% they would still have relied on Winston Peters to choose Labour over National.
How can Labour fix it?
A leadership change now will do more harm to Labour than good. David Cunliffe is more than a match for John Key. Our problems lie elsewhere.
The current lack of leadership – Cunliffe barricaded himself at home after the election, emerged to take a battering from his caucus on Tuesday and then disappeared back home for the rest of the week.
Cunliffe was far from a match for John Key, talking over him in a few debates didn’t win anything.
Heads in the sand won’t revive Cunliffe’s leadership. Who wants a Prime Minister who goes into hiding “to contemplate his future” when the going gets tough? Cunliffe was unpopular with voters last Saturday. That has likely deteriorated significantly since then.
Labour’s policies are not “too left wing”. We lost votes to NZ First because Winston Peters outflanked us on the left. Labour pulled its punches.
Peters outflanked Labour on the left and right.
Labour needs to build its base among the people it represents. We need to turn outwards, to recruit, and to organise.
Yep. Should have been working on that after their 2008 defeat. Now it’s hard to know what people Labour represents apart from some out of touch unionists.
We need to go on the offensive and put up a credible alternative to the domination of society by the pursuit of profit at any cost. And campaign for the party vote.
“The domination of society by the pursuit of profit at any cost.” Out of touch with reality unionist. There’s a few on the left who believe this bull but most voters don’t see it as anything other than ideological nonsense.
If a business pursues profit ‘at any cost’ it will probably cost them their business.
Is the party prepared to do it?
The party showed over the last period that it is prepared to take a strong stance. The change in rules to democratise the election of the leader and the election of David Cunliffe is evidence of this.
This resulted in the election of a leader that didn’t have the support or confidence of his caucus. That’s proven disastrous for Labour in the election and this week.
The party needs to continue to stand firm and deal with its internal discipline problems.
Deal with it’s internal discipline how? Sack the majority of caucus? That’s not even possible, they are elected for another three years.
The Labour Party has a rock-solid social base. We can take heart from these supporters who gave us more than 60 per cent of the party votes in some electorates.
- 2002 – 41%
- 2005 – 41%
- 2008 – 34%
- 2011 – 27%
- 2014 – 25%
Very few electorates gave Labour more votes than National last Saturday.
As the problems of a system in crisis worsen and proliferate, Labour solutions will gain support if we organise and mobilise around them.
This is tragically ironic as the problems of a Labour in crisis worsen and proliferate.
The people see through old Labour and old unions with their forlornly fading fulminations.
Sorry to Len Richards for picking on him but he’s symptomatic of the entrenched old guard at The Standard and elsewhere in social media and the Cunliffe residence.
Labour needs something different, new and forward looking. That won’t happen if they continue to be dragged down by denial and delusion.