Friday, June 12, 2015


Far too many people seem to have written off the Labour Party as a force in New Zealand politics.   I disagree.  As with Mark Twain ... 'reports of the death have been greatly exaggerated'.     The latest from the respected commentator and columnist Chris Trotter in his blog 'Bowalley Road'.   You can access it here.  It is an interesting read from a 'left' perspective.

Of course Labour does not help itself.    Saddled with an uninspiring leader who only gained minimal caucus support in the race for the top job and riddled with factions, some of whom take greater pleasure sticking it up a 'colleague' faction over attacking their political opponents.    Add to that a Trade Union movement that is but a shadow of its former self with a latest reported membership of just 371,613 c/w 683,006 thirty years ago together with an historic and increasing disconnect from the business community which impacts on its ability to raise funds to fight election campaigns and you might be forgiven for treating the words of Chris Trotter as gospel.

That would be premature.   There will always be room for a Party positioning itself as representing the centre-left of New Zealand politics.    Note I have said 'New Zealand' politics.    New Zealand has its own right-left divide that does not easily translate to the more traditional view.   There are crossovers from right to left and left to right.   The real danger for Labour is that unless they get their act (no pun intended) together they might well find themselves playing second fiddle to the Greens as the dominant force on the centre-left especially now that Party has elected James Shaw as its co-leader.   He presents a more voter-friendly face than his renegade Oz Marxist predecessor.

To an extent Labour is marooned in the political spectrum.   It can't move to the right because of the likelihood of a revolt by those with a morbid fear of a return to Rogernomics while the Greens have captured the territory to its left.     But all is not lost.    It starts with a bedrock 25% voting demographic support; it has huge mana (again, no pun) in Maoridom and in Pacificia; the Union Movement can be relied on for cash and feet on the ground while the urban liberal vote is up for grabs.   A bigger challenge is for Labour to reach out to provincial and rural New Zealand which talks an entirely different language to city New Zealand and is not overly interested in beltway politics.    Above all Labour needs to rid itself of its John Key disarrangement syndrome. It is counter-productive.

Can Labour do this?    Wrong question.   It has to do this if it is to survive as a credible political force.    A new leader like Stuart Nash or Kelvin Davis would be a good start.


Adolf Fiinkensein said...

"A new leader like Stuart Nash or Kelvin Davis would be a good start. "

And some decent candidates of good repute with pre=existing name recognition and a strong performance in any field but politics or academia.

The Veteran said...

I see that Rob Hosking in the NBR has reached much the same conclusion as Chris Trotter. Interesting that commentators from both sides of the political divide agree to agree on 'where to Labour'.

pdm said...

From what I see and hear of Nash locally (that is within Hawkes Bay) he tends to be a somewhat divisive character whose self promotion seems to get him off side with most political spectrums. Based on that I am not sure he has the mana or nous to unite what is currently a very dysfunctional Labour Party.