It is almost universally that the Labour Party is in dire straights. On top of this they risk further deteriorating into yet another divisive leadership battle.
Labour remains burdened by a massive malevolent malaise, where intolerance of different points of view and vindictiveness against any deemed enemy – and also amongst it’s own.
They have transformed from a three term success to what looks like being a three term failure, unless they can turn around their attitudes and their fortunes.
Political fortunes are earned, something Labour has failed to invest in with any degree of success. They have pissed the last six years against the wall, and are stuck with another three years of little more than the same old in their ranks.
A comment from ‘Goldie’ aptly illustrates Labour’s predicament.
While 2002 was an even worse defeat for National in terms of the % of the vote, in many ways, Labour is in a much worse place than National was in 2002.
First, National in 2002 had still managed to bring in fresh blood despite the rout (this was when John Key entered parliament). Michelle Boag gets a lot of brickbats, but she did manage to rejuvenate the party, despite the short-term ructions this caused National.
The contrast with the hapless Moira Coatsworth is notable. Labour have not rejuvenated – they are pretty much the same failed team that crashed in 2008, lost badly in 2011 and got routed in 2014. Do Labour MPs rely believe that “the fourth time is the charm”?
That Labour did not seek to promote young talent like Deborah Russell is bewildering, while leaving an embittered old tusker Trevor Mallard in a safe(ish) electorate says how useless the Labour leadership is.
Second, after 2002 National did a complete policy review. National sought to attract talent, and outside independent advice. And after 2005 National decided to swallow rats (WFF, interest-free student loans) as the price for power.
Labour’s problem is that they have no policy unit to speak of. Labour went into this election with badly conceived or (to be polite) incomplete policies. There is no sign of that getting better.
Third, Labour is struggling for a raison d’être. Clearly there is a vague willingness to intervene in the economy, but why or how seems to have not been thought through, and Labour’s current “policies” are completely incoherent. I think it is because Labour don’t have a coherent ideology.
Helen Clark had her “third way” (which was basically copied from Blair and Clinton) – hence why Labour under Helen Clark was generally ideologically consistent and therefore were able to project a strong vision and unity.
But the current Labour Party is floundering for ideological coherence and an overarching vision. (Overseas, left-wing parties are faced with the same problem, so Labour is not unique).
Still – 2017 is a long time away. Given the right leader, Labour can solve these problems.
Getting ‘the right leader’ is important, but it’s also essential that the Labour caucus and the Labour Party gets in behind their leader with something far more constructive than knives and backs them fully.
Appearing to be constructive and positive through most of the next term is also important. Trying to market ‘vote positive’ when appearing as anything but positive was one of Labour’s many failures.
It will be very challenging for Labour to lift themselves back into realistic contention in 2017, but they have to at least make significant progress towards rebuilding and reconnecting with the electorate.
I’ve voted for Labour more than for any other party. I last voted for Labour in 2005.
After Clark’s loss in 2008 I approached Labour offering a fresh perspective and help to rebuild. I didn’t feel welcomed nor valued so I decided to try other ways of doing something in politics.
Labour supporters in the blogosphere are far from welcoming. I do confront issues and things I disagree with or think need examination but I mostly avoid personal attack politics, but most of the reaction I get from the left is personal attacks and exclusion.
I’ve been banned from all the major Labour leaning blogs – Red Alert, The Standard and Public Address. Unless you join their chorus they drive people away.
And Labour wonders why voters are deserting them. If their most ardent online support – predominately exclusive, intolerant, vindictive and negative – is any indication of the state of Labour then they have to do much more than switch leaders again.
A good leader can inspire and change attitudes – but when this same negativity, and intolerance overwhelms in the guts of the party then Labour will keep getting kicked in the guts by voters.
Unless Labour can reverse a massive malevolent malaise they will keep shedding support and wither away.