Late Labour unspinning

Again Labour have launched policy proposals without any apparent plan to manage the publicity nor the reaction.

The Universal Basic Income idea is worth discussing (this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worth implementing) but Labour seemed to quickly lose control of the narrative, with focus on the Gareth Morgan suggested $211 per week level of payment and the overall potential cost.

A couple of days ago:

Mar 21
Who is in charge of strategy?
Mar 21

Apparently Rob Salmond, mostly. Matt McCarten is said to have little influence these days.

It was Salmond who popped up yesterday to try to put out UBI fires and to complain about the media not doing Labour’s job, with Home-spun non-truths at Public Address.

Versus David Farrar who was quick off the mark for National:

Enter David Farrar. Yesterday he decided he can put a cost figure on this policy, despite nobody having said what the policy is. Here’s his headline:

Labour’s $38 billion bribe!

Ohmigod! $38 billion! That headline sounds massively expensive. But it’s also utterly, hopelessly dishonest.

Versus NBR:

Somehow the editorial staff at the NBR missed this obvious dishonesty, and reposted Farrar’s article on its website, screaming headline and all. That’s shoddy journalism.

 Versus Tracey Watkins:

So what happens when one of these not-true-home-truths becomes ingrained? Well, a small corner of Tracy Watkins’ weekend column provides a clue. In this post I’m not taking any particular issue with Tracy’s assessment of Labour’s performance last week – certainly it was a tricky wee period. I’m taking issue an important, but false, asserted fact:

“Labour used to have a stranglehold on the ethnic vote. No more. “

 Salmond closed his post:

I’ve learned to expect this kind of manufactured-made-up-trope from David Farrar and Cam Slater and other tools of National’s publicity machine. But it shouldn’t take someone like me to point out when its been making it up. That’s the fourth estate’s job, too, yeah?

Is it the fourth estate’s responsibility to manage Labour’s PR?

Surely it’s up to Labour to at least manage the launch of a major policy discussion and have prepared and prompt reactions. Labour’s PR machine should have been all over MSM and social media if they wanted to have some control of the narrative.

It should have been very predictable that the potential cost of a UBI would become a major talking point and target of attack.

Complaining about the media a day or two after initiating a major discussion is not good party communications.

Is Salmond in charge of strategy? Or does he step in because no one else is managing things competently?

And where does Little fit in to this? Is he being pulled in different directions? Or is he leaving communications to his team and being let down?

Little appears to be struggling and so does Labour.

One thing’s for sure, Farrar and the media won’t do their job for them.

Coming in late trying to unspin predictable reactions is not a smart strategy.

Leave a comment


  1. Pete Kane

     /  23rd March 2016

    This was an interesting cross section of views,
    The Panel with Julia Hartley-Moore and Duane Major. Westpac Economist Dominick Stephens talks about the idea of a $200 universal allowance in New Zealand.$200-universal-alowance

  2. Iceberg

     /  23rd March 2016

    You’ve stated a couple of times now that it’s an “idea worth discussing”. Only in the sense that it’s a joke policy. Much the same as “free ponies for everyone”.

    Would it surprise anyone if their next policy IS free ponies?

  3. Pantsdownbrown

     /  23rd March 2016

    Labour complains that they can’t control the narrative after telling numerous media sources they are looking at a UBI, but with no idea how it will work o9r be paid for?

    Andrew Little, Sepuloni ‘happens’ to visit Waitara, Taranaki and ‘happens’ to talk to the media (who happened to be there as well) about how Waitara is affected by changes in the workplace and how a UBI might help;

    “Andrew Little announced two weeks ago they were exploring the possibility of a “universal basic income” (UBI), as part of the Future of Work commission.

    The UBI could see all adults paid a set amount each week regardless of their income.

    Sepuloni said it was in its early stages and the idea would work alongside a number of other proposals, but it was an idea she liked.

    “As social development spokesperson I like the fact that it could do away with benefits,” she said.

    “That you wouldn’t have this stigma of being on a benefit, it’d be a different way of looking at it.

    “But you’d need to know it was affordable. We’re looking at it like a number of other countries around the world.”

    Note how Sepuloni ‘slips in’ the idea that the UBI they are looking at “could do away with benefits” when in actual fact Labour is looking at doing nothing of the sort.

    Note this gem as well: “Sepuloni said they had noticed Waitara in the news, including problems with the Waitara River and the naming of two new streets and decided to find out about them from the community’s point of view” “we all said ‘hey why don’t we go and spend a day in Waitara’.”- surprised the govt didn’t make it a National emergency and get the army in, with there being two streets in Waitara being named……

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  23rd March 2016

      They’d give Stephen Tindall, Bob Jones and Michael Hill $200 a week. Spare me.

      They’ve named TWO streets in Waitara ? That would constitute a national emergency indeed-or a call for another public holiday.

  4. Oliver

     /  23rd March 2016

    They were bagging Trump and then look what happened. Little has my vote. Make NZ great again.

    • Iceberg

       /  23rd March 2016

      If you can just get another 400,000 or so blowhards to vote for him, then he’ll win!

      • Oliver

         /  23rd March 2016

        I’ve never voted before but I will this time. And I’m there are many who feel the same.

        • Sponge

           /  23rd March 2016

          I bet there are not that “many who feel the same” that he will ever be at risk of becoming become PM.

        • John Schmidt

           /  23rd March 2016

          Never voted, how old are you. You harbour a lot of bitterness for someone so young.

          • Gezza

             /  23rd March 2016

            To be fair I knew a helluva lot about everything when I was 18, and I always knew what was right and who was wrong, and I knew I was right because my parents stopped arguing with me and even helped me leave home and get settled somewhere else. 😎

  5. Zedd

     /  23rd March 2016

    At least Andrew IS talking about policy ideas.. did anyone see Key being interviewed on ‘The Nation’ :
    “er, ah, maybe, maybe not, I’m not sure, I can’t confirm that.. er, ah, maybe, maybe not, I’m not sure, I can’t confirm that, er, ah…..” ad nauseum (B-S)

    I just thought to myself & this guy is supposed to be the ‘greatest PM in recent NZ history’ WHY ?? what a total ‘Wak-job’

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  23rd March 2016

      I’m sure that he didn’t say that all in one go.

      • Zedd

         /  24th March 2016


        again.. me ‘paraphrasing’ & using a bit of ‘poetic license’ 🙂

        BUT I’m sure most of those words were from his mouth.. at some point in the interview 😀


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s