Little’s budget speech

Andrew Little’s budget speech has been slammed by opponents, not surprisingly,

John Key “That was singularly the worst reply speech by a Leader of the Opposition this Parliament has heard.”

David Farrar: “Andrew Little’s Budget speech is the worst I can recall from an opposition leader. He made David Shearer look like David Lange. It was incoherent, he lost his way several times, and just stumbled from one page to the next. I think he even repeated a few lines by accident.”

FromThe Standard:

Alwyn “I’ve heard some terrible speeches from Little but this one takes the prize for puerility.”

Greg Presland “It was not the best I have seen him give but I do not expect perfection. It was still miles better than Key’s. You have to understand the opposition gets little notice of what is in the budget so initial speeches are always somewhat reflective.”

Karen “Little’s speech was workmanlike rather than inspiring but his transphobic joke at the beginning was unforgivable IMO. It is one thing not to support increased surgery because of budget constraints, it is another to make a joke at the expense of vulnerable people. Bad form Mr Little.”

Little’s comment: “I do not know what he is trying to hide: some sort of fiscal gender-reassignment or something—who knows what it is. But he cannot produce a surplus. ”

Nordy went in to bat for the team “Little’s good, direct speech was full of substance – something we aren’t used from Key & Co. A continuation of the real thinking about the future and what is needed for our country we have seen from Labour and other parties on the left. Whether he is or isn’t ‘inspiring’ is really of no consquence – substance and hard work for all New Zealanders is what he provides ans what we need. No wonder he worrys the ‘right’.”

One line from Little that forgets a bit of major recent history: “This is a Government that has been 7 years in office—7 years in office—and that has enjoyed the best of times: record high dairy prices, record high export volumes, and growth of over 3 percent. ”

Draft transcript:

Appropriation (2014/15 Supplementary Estimates) Bill

Speech – ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition)

ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition): “Wait until tomorrow.”, they said. “One sleep to go.”, which was a bit rich for a Government that spent 7 years sleeping at the wheel. If this is a plan that is working, then why have we seen today one of the biggest spends on alleviating child poverty, which this Government has known of for 7 years and done nothing about until now?

Why has this Government been panicked into doing something about the desperate Aucklanders who cannot get to own their own homes? They are hardly features of the Budget at all, and we know why: because the Government cobbled it together in just the last few weeks alone.

I move, That all the words after “That” be deleted and be replaced with “this House has no confidence in a Government which has failed to deliver the jobs, the incomes, or the real surplus they promised, squandered the golden economic weather, failed to diversify our economy, failed to meaningfully fix the housing crisis, neglected regional New Zealand, and is tired, out of touch, and out of ideas.”

This is a Government that is demonstrating management by sleepwalk, because that is what this Budget is. This is a Budget that manages the decline.

There is nothing in this for the long-term future of New Zealand that will give hope and confidence to those who are working hard and struggling to get ahead. So we see now this surplus of $176 million for next year. Well, just remember—just remember—last time the Government promised a surplus of over $300 million, and the deficit is over $600 million; the billion-dollar gap. It is the billion-dollar gap that has materialised in 1 year alone.

So my message to New Zealanders is this: the Government might have promised it, it might have budgeted for it, but you cannot trust it because it never, ever happens. It is a continuation of the Dance of the Seven Veils.

Poor old Bill English there, ever since about 2010 another veil comes off and a promise is made. In 2011 another veil comes off and the promise is made again. We have had that repeatedly and now we have had another veil removed and we know that there are still more to go.

I do not know what he is trying to hide: some sort of fiscal gender-reassignment or something—who knows what it is. But he cannot produce a surplus.

This is not a real surplus in this Budget, and he knows it. New Zealanders will see it for what it is: a desperate Government that cannot fulfil the core election promise that it made last year that it would return the books to a balance and a surplus.

And there is a good reason why. Good Governments manage the Government’s books to achieve a surplus. There is a reason why the last Labour Government managed the Government’s books to achieve nine successive surpluses, because when you get a surplus you do the stuff that builds a nation.

You can put in place your New Zealand Superannuation Fund to prefund superannuation, because when you take a close look at these books, what you see is that by 2018 the cost of New Zealand superannuation is going to rise—it is going to increase—by nearly $1 billion a year, in just 3 years’ time.

And what is this Government doing for it? Absolutely nothing—absolutely nothing. That is the disgrace of this Government: no forward looking, no sense of the future, manage it by sleepwalking, hope that nobody notices, and come back next year and it will all be the same again. That is what this Budget represents.

There is no future in this Budget. There is no hope in this Budget. The next generation, and the next Government, and the future generations of New Zealanders are going to have to cobble together and patch up the failures of this Government, including meeting the cost of New Zealand superannuation.

This mob over here have no sense of future and do not know what to do about it, so they crib around the edges—a million dollars here, a million dollars there. It is not enough to build a strong, resilient New Zealand. They failed. They have failed.

So we have had the surplus, we have had the surplus chimera, we have had the ethereal result—it will not happen. And then we have got the challenge of dealing with child poverty. Well, we will give them some credit for that. They have taken a step.

They have taken a step: they have increased benefits. But they paid for it by taking it out of the future-building initiative: KiwiSaver .

It has taken away the kickstart for those future generations of New Zealanders who need to save—and know it—for their retirement, all those parents lining up to sign their kids up for it because they know that at least if they get that, at least if they get that kickstart, then by the time they get into their adult lives, they have got a little nest egg to continue to build on.

It is just an incentive you have when you are a youngster to carry on the saving. This Government steals from the next generation, and it does not know what to do about their needs. That is what it is doing. It is taking off the top of Working for Families to pay for it.

This is a “fiddling-around Budget”. This is a “fudge-it Budget”. The Government is doing it again. It has no long-term plan.

And then there are the initiatives on housing. Well, this is the biggest rort, of course. This is the biggest rort. It has got new tax plans, new rules that Bill English proudly announced today: “We’ve got new rules on tax.”

Two days ago he was saying that they probably will not work. I do not know how they got left in the speech when 2 days ago he was saying that they will not even work, but he has put them in there.

I want to say this about the house build programme, because the Labour Party has been saying for some years that the way to deal with the housing supply problem, the way to make sure that more Aucklanders get into an affordable home, is that the Government, the State, must lead the house building programme. So I credit this Government for taking the first step of saying that it will do that, of putting land aside.

But I want to say this: we will support that initiative on one condition. I look at John Key and I look at Bill English and I look at Nick Smith and I look at Steven Joyce and I look at Paula Bennett. None of them will look back.

I say to each of you, because you are the ones in charge of housing, you know what is going on: make this promise to New Zealanders.

Make the promise to New Zealanders that every single one of the houses built on the land you have released in the announcement today will be an affordable house that ordinary New Zealanders can get into. Make that promise today. You have got a dozen TV cameras around here you can make it to. Make the promise today, Mr Prime Minister.

Do not get on your hind quarters in 15 minutes’ time and flap about like a rooster on heat and give your usual dog and pony routine. Make a genuine promise, one that you are prepared to stick by. Be straight with New Zealanders. Tell them: “We are serious about affordable housing.” Make sure those houses are affordable houses.

And to Paula Bennett I say: make sure you discharge your responsibilities to all New Zealanders, to good New Zealanders, the hard-working New Zealanders who still hold on to that dream of getting their own home. And make sure you deliver. Your failure to deliver, if you cannot guarantee—

Hon Dr Nick Smith: The member opposed HomeStart.

ANDREW LITTLE: —if you will not guarantee, Nick Smith, that every single one of those houses will be an affordable home that ordinary New Zealanders in Auckland can get into, then you will have failed. You will have failed New Zealanders and you will have failed the test that you have set for all Governments, which is to look after average New Zealanders.

So far all you have done is look after your rich mates. That is not a policy. Your home build policy is not a policy for the property developers who contribute so handsomely to National Party coffers. It ought to be a promise to ordinary New Zealanders who want only to get into their own home.

That is what I ask you to do. That is what I am asking you to do. I want to say this about ACC. We have had the repeat of the promise about ACC, and we know that it is not a promise. We know that it is not a promise. It is “It could happen.”, “It might happen.”, “It’s 2 years away.”, “We’ve got further work to do on it.”

So I say this to Nikki Kaye and to Bill English and to John Key: make the promise. Look New Zealanders in the eye and say that you will cut ACC levies.

Sue Moroney: Do it now.

ANDREW LITTLE: You could do it now; Sue Moroney is right. You could do it now. You have not. You have held on to the cash. You have deprived good businesses and hard-working New Zealanders of their cash. Now you have promised that it might happen sometime in the future.

Make the promise now. Mr Prime Minister, look in those TV cameras when you are up there prancing around, and make the promise to good New Zealanders that you will see through to make those ACC cuts so Kiwis will have some money back in their pockets. Make a promise you are prepared to stand by. Make a promise that New Zealanders can rely on and trust. It would be the first one in your political career. This is a disappointing Budget in so many other ways.

This is a Budget where New Zealanders were hanging out, looking for an expression of hope for the future.

This is a Government that has been 7 years in office—7 years in office—and that has enjoyed the best of times: record high dairy prices, record high export volumes, and growth of over 3 percent.

Now we know it is all going down. You look at the projections and they are all about to go down.

This is as good as it gets. New Zealanders deserve better—New Zealanders deserve better.

They deserve a Government that is thinking about the regions, that is thinking about what happens to the regions when that dairy cash dries up and those small towns and hamlets across New Zealand struggle to wonder what to do next.

The farmers, the stock and station agents, and all those who contract to the farming sector have to buckle down, batten down the hatches. They are wondering what to do next. They are going to look at this Government and say: “You let this happen. It didn’t have to be like this. You had the opportunity. You had the good times. You could have prepared better.”

And they will say and we will say that you blew it. Bill English and John Key, you blew it. You have turned up today with a Budget that just continues the same sleepwalking, somnambulant management that we have got used to for the last 7 years. It is not good enough—it is not good enough.

New Zealanders deserve better, and we need better. We are facing some difficult times ahead. The Government knows it; we all know it. New Zealanders know it, and they were looking for an expression, for a statement of vision and leadership such as we have never seen before with this Government. And we have not got it.

It has been more of the same—fiddle around the edges, faff around the sides, and carry on as if no one is noticing. Well, they are noticing.

What we now need is a Government that is genuinely focused on the future. It is not just about dealing with the issue of making the books give the appearance of a surplus that is not going to happen.

It is about a Government that is focused on building a nation, and on giving people opportunities.

It is fine to lift the benefits, fine to help those people, even though you are making it harder for sole parents with kids at the age of 3 and over. That is going to be the real hardship. How are those folks going to cope?

It is fine to make some of those gestures, but what those people who are out of a job want is a job. What those people who are desperately in need want is more work—not the 1-hour jobs that Steven Joyce promotes and encourages; they are only half jobs, the sort of minuscule jobs.

They want real jobs that mean they can earn a living income and get ahead. That is what New Zealanders want.

The Government cannot even keep its promise to add the 150,000 jobs by next year. The Government has had to abandon that one.

The Government cannot even meet the promise to lift incomes by $7,000 a year extra by next year either. It has had to push that out too.

The Government knows how bad things are, and it serves us up this sort of mess of potage today and pretends that it is all sweet and rosy. Well, it is not, and New Zealanders know it.

New Zealanders are hanging out for a Government that is serious about lifting all New Zealanders, serious about what is happening in the regions, serious about what is happening down on the farm, and serious about what is happening in small to medium sized enterprises.

There is nothing in this Budget for them, except continuing to hold on to the ACC levies that the Government does not need to. The Government has whacked on a few extra taxes—a departure tax and an arrival tax—and it is going to tax every user of the telecommunication services with a new levy on the operators; $150 million a year.

Do you know who is going to pay for that? Ordinary New Zealanders. Do you know why the Government thinks that that measure is an OK thing to do? It is because it does not care about ordinary New Zealanders.

That is why for 7 years the Government has shut New Zealanders out of their own homes.

That is why for 7 years the Government has not cared about those living in dire poverty. The Government just does not care. We have seen more of that in this Budget today.

New Zealanders need a Government that is focused on a number of core things—diversifying our economy; making sure that the State plays its role in investing, and encouraging private investment in other sectors in the economy to boost and diversify it; making sure that our people, our education system, is prepared for the future; preparing young people for the jobs of tomorrow, not repeating the jobs of today; and really, genuinely fixing our housing crisis. It is nice to have the building plan, but it will not be fast enough, and there will still be people without a home in years to come. I think of people like Gene Simmons—not Gene Simmons; Gene Harris. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Andrew Little. [Interruption]

[Continuation line: LITTLE: There is Gerry Brownlee. Gerry Brownlee says he was asleep.]

ANDREW LITTLE

There is Gerry Brownlee. Gerry Brownlee says he was asleep. Well, he has woken up after 7 years now. He has woken up after 7 years and come to life.

I think of people like Gene Harris, who is in his 30s and is a marketing manager. He rents a two-bedroom flat in Hillcrest on the North Shore with his partner and his baby. He contacted us, because he is sick and tired of this Government, its arrogance, and its contempt, and of this Government laughing at people like him.

He told us this: “The opportunities are few and far between. Even if you’re on a good wage, you can’t get ahead, and there’s something just not right about that.”

Like so many thousands of other New Zealanders, a good man is struggling. He is working hard to get ahead and he cannot because of the failures of this Government. That is what this Government represents; that is what this Government has achieved. It has let down far too many others.

So Gene Harris is looking forward to a Government that is serious about building the nation, building our economy, strengthening it, giving him and his family an opportunity, and letting them realise their dreams of homeownership and a secure future.

Then there is Simon Paterson, who has also been in touch with us. He is an IT manager from Mosgiel, who has a family and, like many other Kiwis who live in the regions, he is sick and tired of seeing the regions neglected. He told us this: “Middle New Zealanders like me are feeling increasingly left out in terms of stuff like health care and education.”

We know that those figures on education today are not enough to fill the gap that has been slowly developing in funding for that sector.

He said: “There’s been tax breaks for the rich, but nothing for anyone else.” That is how he summarises this Government, and it is impossible to disagree with him.

[It’s easy to disagree with that claim – any well informed politician would know that.]

We need a Government that is focused on the future; that is focused on all of New Zealand; that wants to fix the real problems; that is thinking far ahead; that is not tinkering at the edges; that is not sleepwalking around letting more and more New Zealanders down; that is creating those real opportunities; that when it says it is going to generate more housing seriously does so; and that when it says it is going to lift incomes by $7.000 a year actually is serious, genuine, and honest about it and does so.

Not like this one—not like this Government that loosely makes promises it has no intention of keeping. That is what characterises this Government time and time again.

It is time to have a Government that can write a Budget that is good for New Zealand; that is good for all New Zealanders; that makes a difference; that will support the wealth generators and the wealth creators; that sustains the entrepreneurs, the innovators, the dreamers, and the doers; not a Government that faffs around the edges supporting the extremely rich who contribute to the National Party coffers but that does nothing for the vast majority of the rest of New Zealand.

Some of them seem to believe their rants

A couple of days ago The Standard had a strange post obsessing about David Farrar and I supposedly obsessing about them. Anthony Robins wrote:

David Farrar has a bad case of STD (Standard Titillation Disorder). He seems to find us endlessly fascinating, if the desire of him and his Dirty Politics mates to spy on / hack this blog are anything to go by. Take this post on us today, we’re flattered, really we are. David Farrar and Pete George, who can even tell them apart these days?…

I’m sure Anthony can tell us apart. It’s curious that he seems to be trying to link me in with the ‘Dirty Politics’ agenda – he doesn’t usually go down the dirt track, but where there’s mud there’s a muckraker.

Then lo and behold felix chimed in.

Oh dear. Went and had a look in Pete George’s dismal hole for the first time in a while and noticed four things:

1)In spite of his pretensions to politeness, he lets some pretty hateful stuff happen in his comments.

2) Whenever he posts on any topic that Cameron Slater has an interest in, his comments section is overrun by what appears to be one person using several handles (handles I’ve never seen before) to shout very loudly over anyone else.

3) He has begun to refer to the PM by his first name, beginning a post thus: “Graeme McCready’s criminal prosecution against John has been rejected by the District Court. ” lolz 

4) He is still utterly obsessed with everything that happens here. Forget about Big Brother. Weird Uncle is watching you.

Will check it again next year and report back if anything changes.

It’s common the hear people claim they wouldn’t ever go near xyz blog but just happened to notice something. “Weird Uncle is watching you.”  Very funny. You get to know who the “utterly obsessed” are.

If I referred to Key as ‘John’ it was a typo, I normallyrefer to him as ‘John Key’ or Key. I’ve never met him nor had any communication with him in anway, unless he comments on blogs under a pseudonym like ‘felix’.

But if missing a word out like that can get felix and Anthony all excited about where I might fit in within the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy maybe I should try it a bit more often.

Then the master of self-unawareness, lprent, posted this:

I see the pingbacks to the posts goinga into spam. Occasionally I click into them and go over to rev PG up a bit more in his obsessional spiral. I’m getting interested in testing how extreme I can make the guy get by simply pointing out his personality flaws.

It appears to be petty I know. But he really has this interesting inability to see himself as others see him, and never seems to have developed the self-critical ability that most people have that allows them to learn from criticising their own performance. I’m interested in how far I can push before he starts to develop it.

There has to be a name for the condition – it is like megalomania, but probably less extreme. I have observed it before (Pat O’Dea seems to have it as well) and I’m still kind of puzzled about how adaptive such people are. They are a pain on the net because they seem to pull all of the opinions out of their arse and hate discussing alternate viewpoints. They also are usually pretty poorly informed on their obsessions because they never seem to research them.

I won’t bother responding to most of that. Anyone who knows me and just about anyone who has observed lprent here or at The Standard can judge that for themselves.

Except I will say that I think I’m fairly well informed about The Standard, having done a fair bit of research and having experienced a lot of the comaraderie there first hand. That seems to get up their noses a bit going by their ongoing reactions.

And then Sacha repeated an absurd claim despite having been told before how ridiculous it is (and being told at The Standard about the dangers and the stupidity of online psychological diagnosis.

I reckon he might be an aspie. Not that it means anyone should have to tolerate the crap way he engages in conversations.

I don’t know and don’t care what Sacha’s mental condition is, all I know from observation is that he is intolerant of people having different views or approaches to politics that he has to the extent that he actively tries to shut them out of forums.

Sacha and lprent are well known intolerants. Robins is, or has been, different. When he jumps on the ‘Dirty Politics’ bandwagon and makes nonsense assertions and insinuations then it’s more notable (whoops, I shouldn’t have referred to him as ‘Anthony’ earlier, felix might start to think I’ve been colluding with him).

Some of them at The Standard seem to believe their nonsense. Some just get sucked in to the dirty party game.

And when people like Little and Robins do it doesn’t bode well for a Labour recovery. It may simply be the lack of other viable options that keeps them on life support.

I await Lynn coming back here to “rev PG up a bit more in his obsessional spiral”.

I’m getting interested in testing how extreme I can make the guy get by simply pointing out his personality flaws.

Prentice really did post that line. How extreme can I get? Letting him display himself perhaps.

Reaction to Little’s speech from the left

There has been some loyal party responses to Andrew Little’s pre-budget speech at the Labour leaning Standard but there has been far from a universal approval.

One of the first comments is from ‘Reality':

Excellent speech. Andrew Little gives a great sense of being a genuine “good guy” not smile and wave PR driven.

The pseudonym is ironic, and one I haven’t seen at The Standard before. Looks like a one off party PR driven promo.

It didn’t take long for a different thread of response.

Roflcopter

Same speech we’ve heard from all the leftie leaders over the last 5 or 6 years, just worded differently.

No vision, no solutions deeper than empty rhetoric and one-liners, and nascent xenophobia.

And the left wonder why they fail to get traction.

Sable

Labour is hardly a left leaning party. They have more in common with your money wasting mate Mr Budget Blow Out Key…..

tinfoilhat

Strange you say that – when reading through the speech I tuned out a thought it could as well have been john key giving it.

Bah and humbug we need some green power in parliament !

Tracey:

I thought similarly tinfoil… a little like his 2008 campaign speeches.

Then Labour Party maverick Colonial Rawshark:

Any government which believes in surpluses as a good thing, is a government which believes that austerity, tax increases and service cuts are a good thing.

We should be damned pleased that National is abandoning its goal of getting to surplus. If you really want to push them to achieve their surplus, you know how they will. Tax increases on the poor and service cuts for the poor.

Jones:

It’s like Labour have looked at what’s worked for National and said, “ok… we can do that too”. They are trying to create the steady as she goes image so that WHEN the electorate get tired of FJK (and they eventually will), there is someone “safe” to take over.

It’s not leadership… it’s management. It’s not visionary… it’s pragmatic. It’s not what NZ needs but it probably what NZ wants.

Jenny Kirk fights back for the party:

Yep – I expected the negative criticism as above.

What none of you negative types are taking into account is the fact that Labour IS working on its work/jobs policy and WILL come up with some realistic policies within the timeframe announced – and you are just all going to have to be patient and wait for it.
Rome wasn’t built in a day – and neither will the rebuild of the Labour Party be done in a quick space of time !

Phillip Ure:

it reads like it was written by a committee..

..are there no decent speech writers in labour..?

Roflcopter:

Yup, and every time Labour comes up with these policies, they’re like Little’s speech… the same old stuff worded differently.

Nothing has changed, nothing will change.

The “same old stuff from the 90’s” doesn’t work any more… get that through your head, that’s why Labour keeps getting rejected… the world has moved on, but Labour is still looking backwards.

Jones:

Just has to be in time for the next election… I won’t hold my breath. Coming from a staunch Labour family, which included a Labour MP in the First Labour Government (the values of which still resonate strongly with me), it seems to me the sun has well and truly set on the party it once was.

The Murphey:

Jenny it makes no difference what the policies are because they are underpinned by a failed ideology which is literally destroying the earth and its inhabitants

The speech was a waste of air and until someone addresses the money as debt situation then listening to them is a waste of time.

Anthony Robins fights back for the party:

Excellent analysis of the problems and missed opportunities. Light on the alternatives going forward, but you’d expect that at this stage. Overall a very good speech.

But Bill disagrees:

I disagree. We all know it’s fucked. Who cares about the precise details? Damned few. All he had to do was say things are fucked and that Labour believes in and is committed to change. Then lay out that roadmap of hope that takes us to big change.

Timorous wee beasties.

Atiawa:

Little is playing the long game. What would be the point in showing your best hand this early in the electoral cycle. The gloss is fast wearing off Key & his government and Little is establishing his cred’s with the electorate.
Little is the only alternative and if you don’t like it, bleating won’t produce the answer you crave.

Bill:

It’s not a fucking game. It’s people and real lives. Given that, there is no ‘best hand’ – there is only ‘getting your shit together’ and boldly representing people and their wishes.

Or should politicians sit above us all and gamely compete with one another and on their own terms, for a spectators cross on a ballot paper every election? The winners!! Yay!!! Now back to the sports TV, the drudge and the nonsense….my team won/lost.

Te Reo Putake (a party activist):

It pretty much is a game. At least in the sense that it has rules, competitors and judges.

Atiawa is dead right. And not just because we don’t want to give the right two years to attack the policy platform. It’s also because Labour are doing exactly what the SNP have done for the last couple of years. Listening to the people and trying to find policies that the people actually want. I don’t see a problem with that.

Colonial Rawshark

Trust me, NZ Labour are NOT doing “exactly” what the SNP have done LOL

Bill (who has Scottish links and a good knowledge of the SNP):

I can’t agree with you on this TRP.

NZ Labour’s main internal force is its crushing inertia.

What they’re doing is essentially what UK and Scottish Labour did…they saidthey were listening, but ignored everything that didn’t fit with their pre-conceived notions of what the right thing was. For those things that kind of fitted with their view, they tweaked what they heard to make it fit better.

NZ Labour is at best going down the same track as UK Labour in England, or worse, the track they took in Scotland where, yeah…they’re dead. They won’t be coming back.

There’s a lot of negative, which is sort of surprising from a ‘Labour left’ blog. But I’ll leave some of the last words to some party stalwarts.

Jenny Kirk:

It seems, finally (after 7 years in the wilderness), Labour has a Leader who has real old-fashioned Labour values, knows how to articulate them – and what is more, can deal to the current government in terms that we all understand.

Anne:

That is exactly my impression from meeting him and attending several events where he spoke. Consistent, never wavers, knows exactly where he is going to take the party and it ain’t down any neo liberal track!! The other thing I like about him… he is not the least bit phased by Key. There’s nothing Key and co. can throw at him that he hasn’t encountered before.

I know its frustrating – I get frustrated too – but be patient folks. He would be a fool to articulate policy details now. Time after time over the decades Labour announced their policies too early only to have National pinch them and walk away with victory. Holland, Holyoake, Muldoon and Bolger governments all did it.

  • Holland Government 1947-1951
  • Holyoake Government 1960-1972
  • Muldoon Government 1975-1984
  • Bolger Government 1990-1999

We are in a different age of communication. People aren’t patient. News cycles are very short. Issues come and go quickly.

Hoping to get things right in two years time, leading up to the next election, is a huge risk, something that hasn’t worked for Labour in the past two elections.

Last term Labour went through three leaders in impatience for a turnaround.

Little’s problem with this speech is that it will have struggled to impress the centre, too negative, vague and obviously out of step with reality.

And reaction at The Standard shows that apart from party faithful it failed to impress the left.

The Daily Blog doesn’t appear to have even covered Little’s speech. Neither has Public Address. Neither has Pundit.

Polls don’t ask voters “will you support Labour in two years time if they come up with some worthwhile policies?” Poll momentum, or lack of momentum, reflects what people think now.

If Labour are intent on playing ‘the long game’ they risk playing to a crowd that has long gone to something where there’s been some sign of action.

Andrew Little’s pre-budget speech

Labour leader Andrew Little gave his pre-budget speech yesterday to an audience at Mac’s Brewery in Wellington.

It is also being promoted to a wider audience it has been posted via Labour’s website. The intro:

Thanks for reading my pre-budget speech. In it I talk about how National has broken so many of its economic promises, how it has failed to prepare us for the future and why so many New Zealanders feel they are missing out right now.

Due to an awful layout it’s hard to read through, there are too many changes of format and font. And as this intro suggests it concentrates on slamming National.

The most reported line was :

A lot of effort has gone into glossing over the broken promise. But I see it for what it is — one of the biggest political deceptions in a lifetime.

That may have attracted attention but  it was More than a Little over the top – especially considering that in Little’s lifetime the Lange/Douglas Labour government is famous for a far bigger flip in the 1980’s than failing to quite reach a preferred economic target.

Little’s intro also says:

We need to create more wealth and share it — that means putting jobs front and centre, investing in a more diverse productive economy and boosting our regions.

He gets to what he thinks National should have done about two thirds of the way through his speech.

What they should have done

So, what would a responsible government have done between 2008 and today?

I say there were four major missed opportunities.

  • First, a responsible government would have laid the foundations to diversify the economy.
  • We should have used the economic growth of the last four years to increase our investment in innovation. The government ignored that approach.
  • The third missed opportunity is that a responsible government should have revitalised New Zealand’s regions. Instead, this government ignored them.
  • Finally, this government should have reformed tertiary education to prepare for the coming tidal wave of change in the future of work.

Then he gets to what his vision is. I won’t put this in quotes to retain the formatting.

New Zealand’s next government

I began today by telling you that it is rare for a budget to profoundly affect people’s lives. But that’s the sort of Budget we need now. This could have been one of those budgets. With good growth and low inflation, this is the moment for visionary thinking.

So what is my vision?

I want a New Zealand where neither your postcode nor your parents determine the success you can achieve in life, only your effort does.

I want a New Zealand seizing the opportunities of new ways to do business this century, not struggling to catch up as the world moves on.

A country that trains its young people for the jobs they’ll actually do, not the jobs their parents did.

A country where we reward the risk takers, the innovators, the unafraid.

Where we celebrate growing wealth, and where everyone who works for that success shares in the rewards.

A country where owning your own home is still an achievable dream.

None of this will be easy. The deep, structural problems we face in New Zealand don’t have any quick fixes. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a fraud.

Tackling New Zealand’s problems takes commitment, perseverance, vision, and the willingness to take risks. Doing the right thing for New Zealand requires focus, not focus groups.

That’s why our Future of Work Commission, led by our finance spokesperson Grant Robertson, is a two-year commitment where we listen more than we talk, and we come to pragmatic solutions that will guide our policy in the decades ahead.

The Commission is a model of the way we’ll approach all the big issues. We’ll listen, we’ll deliberate, and when we act we’ll make a real difference. That’s the only kind of government I want to lead.


The challenge ahead

We’ll be holding this Government to account on New Zealand’s big issues next week and beyond, in the House and around the country.

That’s our job, that’s what we do.

But there’s a role for you, too.

After the budget each year, Ministers hit the road.

John Key, Bill English and Steven Joyce will be speaking to businesses many times in the coming weeks.

That’s the opportunity for everyone to raise the issues the Government hasn’t delivered on.

Hold them to their word. Ask them:

· Why haven’t we hit surplus?

· Why are we still so reliant on so few commodities?

· Why are you still ignoring the housing crisis?

· Why are you still neglecting the regions?

· And, most importantly, where’s the plan to diversify our economy?

Put these questions to the Government, and see if they have any answers.

Next Thursday, this government has an opportunity to start answering these questions. They have a chance to chart a new course for the New Zealand economy.

It is imperative that they take it.

It’s not unreasonable for every New Zealander to want the best for New Zealand.

· We deserve a government in surplus

· We deserve a solution to the housing crisis

· We deserve vibrant regions

· And most importantly, we deserve a plan to diversify the economy, bringing good jobs to all.

That’s what a responsible government would deliver.

Thank you.

We deserve less exaggeration and nonsense claims about what National have done and haven’t done.

We deserve some detail on what Little and Labour would actually do different

That’s why our Future of Work Commission, led by our finance spokesperson Grant Robertson, is a two-year commitment where we listen more than we talk, and we come to pragmatic solutions that will guide our policy in the decades ahead.

Opposition parties should listen and learn. But they also need to give some indication of what they would do.

Labour have had the last six and a half years to listen and to come up with pragmatic solutions. It sounds like we’re going have to wait another two years to find out what their policies will be.

The Commission is a model of the way we’ll approach all the big issues. We’ll listen, we’ll deliberate, and when we act we’ll make a real difference. That’s the only kind of government I want to lead.

It doesn’t sound much like leading. As much as people like to think they are being listened to they ultimately look for leadership.

All Governments try to ‘make a real difference’. There’s too much vague speech writer babble.

And too many clashes with reality. For example how much have Labour consulted and come up with a pragmatic solution to low voter turnout? Labour proposes withholding tax credits unless enrolled to vote may be a policy in progress but it’s been reported that not even the Labour caucus was consulted about that.

And in being so vague and promising to listen there’s risks. Little’s speech was to a business audience. If the business community say they and the country would benefit from lower business tax rates what sort of ‘pragmatic solution’ would Labour come up with? Pragmatic for whom? New Zealand businesses? Or party appeasement?

This speech seems too long, too negative, too vague, and clashes too much with reality.

Too much blah blah blandrew.

What happened to the blunt, direct, believable Andrew Little of the first few months of his leadership?

He seems to have been transformed into just another package of palaver dominated by pissy pouting.

As one person remarked, this looks like a speech by committee. Labour has lacked effective leadership since 2008. After a brief glimmer of hope it looks like the party under Little is back in it’s rut.

More than a Little over the top

Andrew Little was more than a little over the top claiming National’s ‘promise’ to return to surplus by this year was “one of the biggest political deceptions in a lifetime”. Especially considering what Labour said in the same campaign.

In his pre-budget speech today Little said:

That promise, “to return to surplus in 2014/15” sat proudly as their number one commitment in their election material, distributed to every corner of New Zealand.

But their promise was clear. Their good economic stewardship would see us in surplus.

And now they’ve abandoned their promise.

National’s talk now is about how achieving surplus was an “artificial target” and that getting a surplus is “like landing a 747 on the head of a pin.”

A lot of effort has gone into glossing over the broken promise. But I see it for what it is – one of the biggest political deceptions in a lifetime.

It was election rhetoric that has come back to haunt National a bit. They said it, they have to cop flak for not achieving what they claimed they could do. Finance can be fickle. They should have qualified their claims more carefully.

But the gross overstatement from Little is hardly any better. Especially considering Labour’s own campaign rhetoric, like:

Everything is paid for plus we’re in surplus

Labour’s Alternative Budget

As Kiwis we all want to be able to raise a healthy and happy family, have a well-paid and secure job and the chance to buy our own home. To give every Kiwi those opportunities, we need to grow a strong economy. That means we need solid and stable economic management.

Labour will balance the budget and run surpluses every year. We’ll reduce net debt faster than the current government and pay off National’s record debt by the end of our second term. All of our policies are carefully costed and funded. 

No more carefully costed and funded than National.

Little’s statement that National’s election claim was “one of the biggest political deceptions in a lifetime” may not be one of the biggest political overstatements in a lifetime, but it’s more than a little over the top.

Labour source: http://campaign.labour.org.nz/everything_is_paid_for_plus_we_re_in_surplus

UK Labour had the data and expert advice

There’s been a lot of discussion about the supposed inaccuracy of the UK polls. And there’s been many claims that the Conservatives with the help of Crosby Textor have an insurmountable advantage in data gathering and expert advice.

But a BBC article shows that Ed Miiliband and Labour had an expert pollster assisting them (it’s obvious they would be have but this puts it into facts).

James Morris, a partner at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, worked for Labour from when Ed Miliband was elected leader in 2010 until the election last week.

And according to the BBC Labour leadership thought public polls were too optimistic.

Morris  told Newsnight that…

…while “the lead in the public polls suggested Labour had got past the issues that sunk the party in 2010 – its record on the economy and immigration – we knew we had much more work to do and were still dogged by a loss of trust.”

That is why, he said, the party ran a campaign based on a more “pessimistic scenario” than was the political consensus.

He continued: “While the public polls had Labour ahead until the spring of this year, in our polls cross-over [when the Tories overtook them] came right after conference season in 2014. A four-point Labour lead in early September turned into a tie in October, followed by small Tory leads prompting the party to put reassurance on fiscal policy and immigration at the heart of the campaign launch.”

And Labour also used focus groups.

Mr Morris said: “As focus groups showed the SNP attacks landing, we had Labour behind in the marginal seats.” This was, he said, despite the fact that “a public poll in a similar set of seats at the same time showed a three-point Labour lead”.

Using internal polls and focus groups sounds just like the Crosby Textor/National approach here.

So if Labour in the UK had the data and they had expert advice why did they do so badly?

Economic credibility (of the major party plus coalition options) and public perceptions of leaders are probably the defining factors in elections.

Labour’s biggest problems – The Standard

Following on from Labour’s biggest problems – Dim-Post Danyl’s post has been re-posted at The Standard. It looks like Greg Presland did the reposting as he’s first off the blocks in comments.

Agreed!

One of the aspects of this is generally the Nat’s framing of issues is closer to optimal than Labour’s. This is because they have polled and focus grouped the hell out of issues.

This really shows at times of crisis. After Dirty Politics and Ponytailgate Key and the nats looked really messy and out of touch and it took a few days for them to work out their lines to counter these issues. Then the consistent message is decided on and they then keep saying these things ad nauseum.

The superior resources is a big part of this. For the left to improve things it will have to get better resourced.

Political money follows success. To be better resourced (ie get more donations) Labour needs to be get better resourced – in personnel, in party activists, in blog support.

Presland (who is active in the Labour Party in West Auckland) is hoping for a Labour Lotto win to deliver them what he thinks they deserve. Elections don’t work like Lotto.

Another Labour member Colonial Rawshark (Tat Loo) he has a more realistic take on it.

The professional political left is culturally disconnected from the majority of potential voters. More resourcing will not fix that.

I’m particularly worried about the staffers and advisors. And the List seems to have made things even worse – now there’s a whole class of MPs (the majority of the Labour caucus) who don’t have to engage with ordinary people in ordinary electorates at all.

Tat battles the party status quo in Dunedin South and in social media. But he is only partially right here:

One MP who shall remain nameless was overheard while watching an anti-TPPA rally comprising of several hundred people (a very solid turnout) – he remarked that the people at the protest didn’t reflect the views of middle NZ regarding the TPPA and therefore didn’t really count.

A ‘very solid’ few hundred protesters don’t reflect the views of middle New Zealand. Anti-TPPA is another in an ongoing series of cry wolf protests that are part of the left wing struggle. Anti-GCSB and all the other anti-protests didn’t swing the last election.

Rent-a-protest and rent-a-petition seem to be major strategies being used by the left and they are not exciting the masses.

From the UK election, the common narrative now is that all the polls were wrong and we need to have an inquiry into why all the polls were wrong.

I run with a simpler concept: the polls were all mostly correct within the margin of error – but the analysts and pundits who were interpreting the polls were the ones who fucked up because their perspective (personal hopes and fears) was off. That is where I think NZ Labour is also at now.

Pretty much.

It’s not an issue for them because they have enough highly paid advisors who are good at their jobs and who have figured out what the right things to say at the right time are.

Critically, I also believe that the Right ask better questions of their focus groups than the left does.

They ask what people think and what people want. And listen. And act accordingly.

Lew at Politico after last year’s election:

Mostly the responses I get from the faithful fall under one or more of the following:

– National has inherent advantages because the evil old MSM is biased
– the polls are biased because landlines or something
– the inherent nature of modern neoliberal society is biased
– people have a cognitive bias towards the right’s messaging because Maslow
– it inevitably leads to populist pandering and the death of principle
– The Game itself devours the immortal soul of anyone who plays ( which forms a handy way to demonise anyone who does play)

Evidence and strategy are here to stay. Use them, or you’re going to get used. The techniques available to David Farrar and the National party are not magic. They are available to anyone. Whether Labour has poor data or whether they use it poorly I do not know. It looks similar from the outside, and I have heard both from people who ought to know. But it doesn’t really matter. Data is only as good as what you do with it. Whatever they’re doing with it isn’t good enough.

…effective use of data: not asking questions to tell you what you want to hear, but to tell you what you need to know.

But Labour and the left generally seem to think they already know best and expect the voters to recognise this and reward them with votes, so long as money, the media, consultants and aliens don’t unfairly foil their ambitions.

Labour and the left still have big problems that many of them fail to recognise. Just a few days ago Labour’s Party secretary scored another own goal – Labour proposes withholding tax credits unless enrolled to vote – that one was slammed from across the spectrum.

The part secretary is supposed to attract donations so, as Presland said, “for the left to improve things it will have to get better resourced”. Which donors would want to throw money at crap like that?

One of Labour’s biggest problems is repeating dumb politics.

They need to either fix the dumb or replace the dumb. Neither will be easy or quick.

Labour’s biggest problems – Dim-Post

Danyl at Dim-Post looks at similarities in the failure of Labour in the UK and Labour in New Zealand in Elections in the anglo-sphere but the response by commenters mostly disagrees.

There’s loads of analysis about on the outcome of the election in the UK; most of it is focused on Labour. What went wrong? Did they choose the wrong Miliband brother? Should they return to Blairism? And so on.

Seems to me that one of Labour’s biggest problems – both here and in the UK – is that they’re faced with an opponent that is (a) better resourced than them and (b) uses those resources to make themselves far, far better at politics than their left-wing opponents.

The Conservative Party’s strategy in the UK election was pretty much the same as National’s strategy last year. It’s because they have the same strategic advisers of course – the infamous Crosby/Textor, who are also very active in Australian Federal and state elections.

Infamous on the left when th left lose lose. Crosby/Textor don’t always help centre ‘right parties succeed.  In the 2010 and 2013 Australian Federal election campaigns “Textor was the principal national pollster and chief external strategist for Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party”. A 50/50 success rate there.

“In 2012 Textor was strategist and pollster for Campbell Newman’s Liberal National Party election campaign; one that delivered one of the biggest majority for any party in the history of Queensland politics.”  The Liberal National Party crashed out in their next campaign, in January this year, and Newman lost his seat.

Which gives their clients a huge advantage. Not only can they deliver data and market-research driven advice, they can trial-run lines and strategies across multiple separate-but-similar electorates, hone the techniques and sell successful ideas on to their other clients – who are all right-wing parties that want to see each other succeed.

Often when something goes wrong for John Key and the media goes ballistic, Key will often ‘talk past’ the media and deliver lines directly to the voters. And it always works. He gets to do that because of a huge wealth of empirical data about how voters react to different issues, gleaned from years of study across these multiple electorates.

Labour and the other opposition parties in these other electorates can’t do that. And it shows.

Why can’t they do that? Labour can use whatever strategies they choose, They can employ whatever strategists they choose.

They could use some common bloody sense and they would do a lot better.

They’re forced to experiment, releasing policies or taking positions on issues on a trial basis. Will the public like it? Do they respond? And if the media reaction is critical then they reverse position. They’re playing a complex game in which they know the desired outcome, but not the actual rules, against opponents who know the rulebook back-to-front as well as all the loopholes.

That’s bollocks. If Danyl knows all about the problems then there’s more than a tiny chance that someone in Labour could also work things out.

There are other structural factors at work, of course. But the triumph of empirically based political strategy and messaging is a very big deal that’s getting missed alongside all the chatter about Labour ‘moving to the left, or the center’ etc.

Something that Danyl misses here, that Labour in New Zealand has been missing and something Labour in the UK struggled with:

If parties (and their strategists) put lipstick on their pig voters see a made up pig.

Consultants, research, packaging and marketing can help. But a pig’s a pig. And voters are more perceptive than losers are willing to admit.

There’s some good comments responding to Danyl, the first from PaulL worth repeating in full here:

Partially true Danyl I think. True that the sharing goes on. Untrue that the left don’t also do this sharing. Julia Gillard’s senior team came from the UK and a number of them went back. In the last Australian election one of the big stories going around was that the left had imported important expertise from the Obama campaign in social media and motivating particular categories of voter. I’d expect much of that experience then carried through into people who turned up in the NZ or UK campaigns.

I’d be more inclined to the view that the strategy that the winners took is credited with the win. If Labour had won the election we’d be talking about how Labour outplayed the Tories on the ground.

My personal view is that most of these elections are explained by the middle, by the economic performance of the incumbent, and the likeability of their leader. Gillard wasn’t likeable (nor was Abbott), things were going south fast in Australia economically, and Gillard was moving left in her coalition with the Greens (no longer in the centre).

Cameron has governed from the centre and the UK’s economic performance (as compared to the rest of Europe) has been pretty good. Miliband was unlikeable and pushing hard to the left. On average people in the UK thought that they didn’t want to be more like France, Spain or Greece, which is really what Miliband was selling.

In NZ, Key has governed from the centre, and Labour promised a move leftwards, along with having a potential coalition with the Greens taking them further left. Notwithstanding the beliefs of many on the left, NZ is actually going reasonably well, and when a political party promises to change everything (but things are going reasonably well for most NZers) that scares them.

I think the lesson here is that in a country that’s doing OK you win elections by saying “we’re mostly steady as she goes, other than these 5 specific things that we think those crazy baby eating capitalists have got wrong.” When you say “the whole country is screwed and we want to change everything” then those people (most people) who are doing OK get scared.

Herald journalist Dita De Boni backs Danyl:

Totally agree Danyl. As someone pointed out, in the UK CT and the Conservatives planted the idea that Miliband was “weird” – the same way they did here about Cunliffe. Very effective. Although neither did anything as weird as pulling repeatedly at a woman’s ponytail.

That’s mostly nonsense. National and CT may have promoted and tried to accentuate Cunliffe’s ‘weirdness’, but Cunliffe planted plenty of weird seeds all on his own.

And he was relying on some weird partner parties. Many people like the Greens but not many people want a Green dominated Government.

Another weird party leader at least recognised his mistake – too late.

The best example from this campaign isn’t Labour, however — it’s Kim Dotcom. He said on election night that it was only in the past two weeks that he realised how tainted his brand was. He threw $4.5 million at the Internet MANA campaign and it polled less than the Māori Party, who had the same number of incumbent candidates and a tiny fraction of the money and expertise. Had he thought to spend $30,000 on market research* asking questions like those asked by Curia about what New Zealanders think of Kim Dotcom, he could have saved himself the rest of the money, and saved Hone Harawira his seat, Laila Harré her political credibility, and the wider left a severe beating.

That is effective use of data: not asking questions to tell you what you want to hear, but to tell you what you need to know. This electoral bloodletting is an opportunity for the NZ political left to become reality-adjacent, and we can only hope they take it. Because if they don’t, reality is just going to keep winning.

http://www.kiwipolitico.com/2014/09/reality-adjacent/

Simon Garlick explains Labour’s ‘awesome’ fallacy, something that left wing activists also seem afflicted by. They often complain in defeat that the money and the media and excuse excuse excuse prevented the voters from seeing how awesome they were and how loathsome their opponents were.

NZ Labour is an organisation the has no idea how to communicate effectively, which is a bit of an impediment when you consider that it’s in the business of politics.

While I’m sure that the Labour comms team occasionally and temporarily counts talented communicators among its ranks, collectively the organisation is ignorant of the techniques and methodology of effective communication. To them Crosby Textor’s success is a complete mystery. I’m not sure that they even know what Crosby Textor does.

Remember that Gary Larson Far Side cartoon about “What you say – what dogs hear”?

I suspect that when you say to Labour, the organisation, “you need to do focused polling not on what people care about but how much they care about it, you need to use that information to develop key points that will influence people to vote for you in the places that you need votes the most, and then you need to work out what to say, when, and also about what things you need to say absolutely nothing, and you need to sit down with a calendar and work out when and where the best places to be seen saying things are”, what Labour actually hears is “ooga booga magic dust”. Otherwise there’s nothing that can explain the fish, and the ginger hairdo, and the man ban, and the “my house is a doer-upper”, and the “let’s penalise beneficiaries for not voting”.

The really depressing bit about Labour is that it is totally 100% religiously convinced of the self-evident awesomeness of its platform. “We’re awesome, and our policies are awesome, and if people don’t vote for us that means that the people are stupid sheep who don’t deserve our awesome.”

The thought that the people might need to be listened to and that the policies might need to be amended based on what the people care about is just crazy talk. Ask third parties for advice? Pffft. Hire third parties to help work out what people care about? Pffft. Get third parties to identify what policies will most likely make a difference to the way people vote? Pffft. Magic dust. Beneath us. Our awesome is self-evident.

Hey, Labour and Labour and Labor, all of you have been buttfucked on national TV recently, and each time it’s been by an opponent who used the services of one particular campaign strategy firm. Did any of you think of maybe hiring a campaign strategy firm yourselves? Like, maybe even Crosby Textor? Or like maybe finding out if Crosby Textor has any strong competition and hiring that firm? Like maybe seeing if any of Crosby Textor’s key talent could be incentivised into jumping ship and setting up a competitor? No?

Didn’t think so. That sort of nonsense is for political parties who aren’t awesome.

After last year’s New Zealand election it was common to see left wing activists expressing bafflement at the result (Martyn Bradbury a prime example). They had been convinced they would be rewarded and couldn’t fathom why they were punished by voters.

Labour’s biggest problem is itself and the people who make the biggest noises on the left. They are too blind and deaf, and they are often wrong about what voters perceive and what voters want.

Delusions about Labour defeat

Gosman posted a link to this at The Standard, saying “Much of that can be applied to what people here state about why the left in NZ is not doing so well.”

10 delusions about the Labour defeat to watch out for

As Labour tries to explain its defeat, look out for the following untruths

1. THE MEDIA DID IT No left-wing account of this defeat will be complete without a reference to the Tory press (bonus drink for “Murdoch-controlled”) and its supposed inexorable hold over the political psyche of the nation. Funny: the day before the election everyone decided The Sun was a joke and nobody reads newspapers anyway.

Blaming the media for unfavourable political outcomes is common here too, especially from the left but also from some on the right.

2. THE ESTABLISHMENT STITCHED IT UP Obviously related to (1). but with a wider scope. The forces said to be ranged against a Labour victory will be described as powerful and subterranean. They will include bankers.

Blaming ‘the establishment’, the capitalists, the 1% or aliens for unfavourable political outcomes is common here too.

3. CLEVER TORIES It will be said that the Tories, in their ruthlessly efficient way, pinned the blame for austerity on Labour and Labour allowed it to stick. Clever Tories. Few will mention that the Tories were, for the most part, a hubristic and directionless shambles, divided amongst themselves, the authors of several howlingly stupid own goals that would certainly have sunk them had they not got so lucky with their opponent.

That doesn’t apply as much here because apart from a few embarrassments National are widely seen to have managed the economy well in difficult times. But National are helped substantially by a lack of a credible or palatable alternative.

4. VOTERS ARE STUPID AND VENAL You will hear much wailing about the selfishness of voters, their hard hearts and closed minds.

This has been a common claim at The Standard – the voters who vote for their unfavoured party must be stupid or duped or selfish or greedy or or…

5. THE SNP STOLE OUR VICTORY It is true that nobody, but nobody, foresaw the SNP tidal wave. But it’s not true that Labour would have won or even done OK without it. Labour saw a net gain of one seat from the Tories in England. One. Seat. One seat, in an election where everything favoured them. One seat, after five years of a shabby and meretricious government making unpopular decisions and a third party that virtually donated its voters to them. An epic failure.

Labour went backwards here last election, as did Mana, and the Greens stalled. And yes, there’s been claims along the lines of “XXX stole our victory”.

6. LABOUR WASN’T LEFT WING ENOUGH Many of your drinks will be prompted by variations on this perennial theme. Labour accepted the austerity narrative. Labour weren’t green enough. Labour weren’t radical (which has somehow come to be used as a synonym for left-wing). Given that the last time Labour won an election without Tony Blair was 1974 it’s hard to believe people still think the answer is to move left. But people still do. I sort of love these people for their stubbornness. But I don’t want them picking the next leader.

Yes, that’s been repeated here too. Alongside other claims that Labour was too right wing and was too much like the Conservatives. Similar claims are common about Labour here. There are some more perceptive people who say that Labour didn’t look competent enough.

7. TONY BLAIR Rule number one of left-wingery: it is always, somehow, Tony Blair’s fault.

I haven’t seen Blair blamed for Labour’s failures here, but the third way and neo-liberalism sometimes criticised on the left.

8. POLITICS IS TOO SUPERFICIAL This seems to have been Ed Miliband’s understanding of the problem. He made a speech last summer in which he bemoaned the primacy of image in modern politics. Then last Sunday he stood for the cameras in front of a giant limestone monolith. So perhaps he’s ambivalent. But undoubtedly we’ll hear his supporters declare sadly that we live in shallow times. A man can’t even talk about pre-distribution any more without being pilloried. This one is essentially a variation on (4).

Politics is too superficial. Media coverage is too often too superficial. This affects all parties. Of course there are some here who say that the right and their compliant media deliberately keep things superficial to stop the voters thinking about the real issues. Meanwhile this is what the voters are currently most interested in at NZ Herald: NZHMostPopularThere doesn’t seem much interest in an in depth analysis neo-liberalism in the 21st century.

9. ED WAS THE WRONG MESSENGER This explanation will be expressed with ruefulness and come garlanded with references to the former leader’s decency and integrity and intellect. The thing is, they’ll say, he really wasn’t suited to TV (refer to (8) here). In person, my God, it was like Elvis was in the room. Now, this is a tricky one to stand by because the day before the election everyone agreed that Ed being weird wasn’t a problem any more. People who cling to this reason are committing the very sin of which they accuse the voters and media. Labour lost (mainly) because of the message, not the messenger.

Phil was the wrong messenger. David was the wrong messenger.The other David was the wrong messenger. The political experts at The Standard are the right messengers but the media, the establishment, the capitalists, National and Uncle Tom Cobley prevent the voters from hearing their truth.

10. ANTI-POLITICS Ed Miliband somehow ran smack into a wave of anti-political sentiment that David Cameron somehow managed to sidestep. Mystical visions of a new kind of politics rooted in the real lives of working-class people will abound.

And again, same here in New Zealand. Most people are anti-crap politics and there’s far too much of that – including from the excuse making political activists.

The non-delusional explanation is simple. It was proffered, some time before 7 May, by a former Labour leader. When a traditional left-wing party competes with a traditional right-wing party, you get a traditional result.

But but but but…a bit of that – but a lot of “the other lot look worse”.

Labour proposes withholding tax credits unless enrolled to vote

Oh, wow.

Labour has proposed withholding state support such as tax credits and Working For Families from people who are not enrolled to vote. The measure could be justified if it lifts New Zealand’s low voter turnout, the party says.

Getting the vote out is a priority for Labour and in its submission to the Justice and Electoral Select Committee, written by Labour’s general secretary Tim Barnett, the party argues for the idea to be considered.

“The possibility of making enrolment to vote a pre-condition to receipt of various forms of state support (eg Working For Families, tax credits) should be examined,” Labour’s submission states. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11445759

Just wow. Getting the vote out by forcing beneficiaries to enrol.

Mr Barnett said the submission was from the party, which did not set policy, and wanted the committee to investigate the idea – not necessarily recommend it. “It’s not party policy, it’s merely saying, what are the things that could be done? And in Australia that is the system which they formally adopt. “There is widespread concern, not just Labour, with non-enrolment … there is pretty compelling evidence that there is a continuing pattern of people not enrolling.” Working For Families pays extra money to families if they have children and earn less than certain amounts. Asked if withheld state support could include benefits, Mr Barnett said targeting such a defined group could be an issue.

What about pensions?

Low voter turnout tends to hurt the left more. In 2011, about 39,000 people were on the electoral roll in Mangere, whose voters favour Labour, compared to 48,000 in National stronghold Epsom. Mr Barnett said Labour’s focus on increasing turnout was not self-serving.

Yeah, right.

“High turnout benefits the nation … it means more people are engaged in our democracy and you have to accept that’s a good thing.”

The more people who vote the better. But forcing enrolment by threatening withholding financial support seems draconian and won’t force them to vote, with secret ballots that’s impossible. And would be mad. If people don’t want to vote that’s their choice. If people who aren’t interested in voting are pressured to vote it could as easily distort results as it could enhance democracy. Abstaining is a valid democratic right. Monetary threats are an awful way to address voting numbers.

UPDATE: This idea is understandably getting hammered at Kiwiblog (General Debate) and David Farrar has posted Labour promotes enrol for the dole!

And also not surprisingly it’s raised eyebrows of consternation elsewhere – Phil Ure at The Standard.

is this a ‘brain-fart’..?..or not..?

..is this what passes for ‘new ideas’ in labour..?

Red BaronCV:

I just saw that. WTF are they thinking. Demanding that people behave in certain ways because they receive some state support paves the way for more right wing “do as I say” tactics.
Receiving some form of state support doesn’t give governments the right to run anyone’s life and feeds the meme that state support identifies reckless, lazy, uncaring people who need to be told what to do. Where is the evidence that supports this ? Why don’t they target the asset rich tax dodger who is also living off their fellow taxpayer and is selfish uncaring etc etc.
Oh and this is likely to alienate women
Can’t they spell stupid

But in response there’s a Labour supporter:

It’s not ‘tactics’. It’s the law. Enrolment is compulsory in NZ and it makes sense for the government to try and enforce that law at a point at which they interact with the wilfully non enrolled. Enrolling is easy. Making receiving a state benefit conditional on taking a couple of minutes to sign a form isn’t particularly onerous.

Having said that, there is clearly going to be a minority who don’t want to enrol for compelling reasons. Visa overstayers, for example.

Typical defence and diversion from TRP.

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