What does Labour stand for?

What does Andrew Little stand for? Does anyone have any idea?

He’s not the first Labour leader to morph into meaninglessness since Helen Clark stood down. He’s the fourth.

Peter Dunne may have swung away from Labour over the decades. He posts on his weekly blog (it’s often an interesting insight) about Labour in the UK and how that compares to here:

The contrast with the New Zealand Labour Party could not be more striking. Rather than standing for anything, it seems to have decided that the best way for it to reconnect with New Zealand voters is to be against everything, despite the absurd situations that creates.

For example, since the time of Norman Kirk, now over four decades ago, Labour has been in favour of changing the New Zealand flag to something more representative of our country today, although it has never actually done anything about it. Now, when the Prime Minister initiates a referendum process to change the flag, Labour is suddenly against the idea.

Similarly with the new Health and Safety legislation. Everyone accepts the current law is inadequate and in need of reform. The legislation currently going through Parliament does not meet Labour’s objectives but is nevertheless acknowledged as an improvement on what we have at present.

But contrary Labour opposes it as not going far enough. In other words, it would rather stick with an unacceptable status quo, putting more people’s lives at risk, than support changes which at the very least improve the current law.

These knee-jerk reactions are symptomatic of a Party that has lost its way, and does not know where it stands anymore.

Who, for further example, would have ever imagined a Labour Party in New Zealand apologising to Chinese migrants one decade for the disgusting, discriminatory poll-tax imposed on their forbears a century ago, in the next decade attacking those with Chinese sounding surnames for buying residential property in Auckland?

Or, with its historic commitment to free speech, singling out particular journalists and commentators for attack because they are perceived to be supportive of the current government?

Labour needs a Corbyn-like threat, a contemporary Jim Anderton if you like, to shake it out of its torpor and to allow it to redefine itself in terms of what it actually now stands for.

As the failings of the Little leadership start to become obvious, and the mutterings begin about possible replacements, the challenge will be to find a candidate to stands for something and is prepared to fight for it.

That forlorn hope probably means Andrew Little is safe for a while, and that Labour’s spiral of angry negativity will continue. It also means John Key’s smirky grin will grow ever broader.

Is this disillusionment with Labour just because Dunne has spend to long in coalition with National?

Someone who presumably still has close ties with Labour also Looks at Corbyn and Labour in the UK. And at his own Labour Party. Rob Salmod (Labour’s pollster and infamous for his Chinese surname data analysis) in In defence of the centre at Public Address:

The part where Monbiot is right is that the centre ground really is where elections are won and lost. (That statement is more controversial in New Zealand than it should be.) There are a ton of people there, and those peoples’ own identities are of being open to voting left or right. Below is a chart showing how New Zealanders perceive themselves, Labour, and National. Over a third see themselves as right of where they see Labour, and left of where they see National. That’s huge.

But “pulling the centre back towards the left” is massively, massively hard. You win those people over by being relevant to them as they are, not by telling them they’re worldview needs a rethink. It is just basic psychology. Tell people they were right all along; they like you. Tell people they were wrong all along; they don’t.

And if you win a majority of centrists, you win. The New Zealand Election Study series records six MMP elections in New Zealand – the three where Labour did best among centrists were the three Labour won.

That’s another message from the adacemic study I quoted above – in Germany, Sweden, and the UK, the elections where the left did best among centrists were the elections where they took power. As their popularity among centrists declined, so did their seat share.

New Zealand’s Labour looks nothing like a centrist party. Andrew Little looks nothing like a centrist leader.

I saw this exchange on Twitter a couple of days ago:

Lance Wiggs ‏@lancewiggs
Fascinating to see UK’s Corbyn vs @AndrewLittleMP’s @nzlabour. Corbyn is offering genuine difference, based on Labour values

Andrew Little ‏@AndrewLittleMP
@lancewiggs @nzlabour That explains opposition to state house sales, opp’n to loss of sovereignty under TPP, support for higher min wage …

Lance Wiggs ‏@lancewiggs
@AndrewLittleMP Some good things but plenty of anti-immigration, and other non-labour values. I’ve no idea what you stand for. @nzlabour

I have no idea what Labour or Little stand for either. Last year Little stood for “cut the crap”. That’s been flushed away by the Labour groomers. Little allowed himself to be repackaged as somethig but no one seems to know quite what.

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