Why Labour is Struggling

Worthwhile reading for anyone interested in Labour’s progress (or lack thereof). Kiwi in America is an ex Labour activist with an in depth knowledge of the party.

Guest Post – Why is Labour Struggling in 2014? An Essay on the History of Labour’s Predicament

David asked me to guest post this while he was away so here’s some reading over this stormy Easter weekend (I’m in soggy Christchurch as I write this). With Labour consistently polling between 28 and 34% (current poll of polls has Labour at just under 31%) since its defeat in 2008, it has a number of problems convincing voters that they are an alternative government in waiting for the 2014 election. Labour’s problems are three fold and the purpose of this essay is to posit the origins of their problems by drawing on my time inside Labour to provide some explanations:

1 – Why its policies are less appealing to the vote rich centre ground of NZ politics
2 – Why Labour has such a shallow pool of caucus talent from which to choose an attractive leader
3 – How, under MMP, Labour have boxed themselves into a relatively narrow ideological centre left electoral corridor crowded out to the left by the Greens and Mana and to the right by National

KIA goes into detail on Labour’s recent history. He concludes:

Labour was once a great party. It attracted people of energy, passion and ability from many walks of life. It had reforming zeal usually tempered by the realism of its once broader membership base and if it went too far, the voters returned the Treasury benches to the safer hands of National.

Labour’s 1984 to 87 Cabinet, despite their leftist roots, embarked on a series of dramatic reforms that have transformed NZ into the more vibrant and dynamic economy it is today.

The left of the party waged a war so total and absolute to purge the party of that instinct that it has destroyed modern Labour and left it a shrunken left leaning shell of its former self that struggles to attract electable talent, will not rejuvenate its caucus, offers policies that excite only 25% of the country and fights with the Greens (who are seen as more pure and virginal) for the centre left vote.

The harder left base are tone deaf to the electoral realities of New Zealand politics believing that they will win the day if the great unwashed knew what was good for them and if the policies of the left were articulated better.

Without a major change of direction, Labour’s prescription is a recipe for long term electoral oblivion!

Posted at: http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2014/04/guest_post_-_why_is_labour_struggling_in_2014_an_essay_on_the_history_of_labours_predicament_.html

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  1. Brown

     /  18th April 2014

    I think that this country is still socially conservative and therein lies Labour’s dilemma. We are not really ready for a political party that rates hookers, humping, horis and homos above mainstream orthodoxy. I wonder if the cycle of bullshit that passes for social policy will just shift back, forced there by disasters in other liberal socialist paradises and Labour will have to dump the zealots or be consigned to history. The Greens will replace them until people work out they are Marxists and equally disfunctional as Labour, rather than sensible environmentalists.

    I don’t see any conservative govt looming either – we seem hung between two poles with indecency on one side and a different indecency on the other. We are shallow, not knowing if we believe in anything or not. If we were otherwise the baubles of election year would mean nothing.

    For someone like me there is simply no one to vote for.

  1. The right wing only want to help us - The Standard

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