The size of the problem

John Armstrong illustrates the size of Labour’s problems:

While National was promising a brighter future, Labour was  offering a better past. But no-one lives there any more. Labour had lost touch with middle New Zealand. . .

Labour’s overall vote shrank by 15% at the 2008 election.  That was not unusual for a party that had been in power for nine years. But Saturday night’s result saw Labour’s vote shrink again, this time by 23% on the 2008 provisional result.   

All up, nearly 300,000 voters deserted Labour between 2005 and 2011 – that amounts to 35% of the party’s 2005 election  night tally.

The reasons for this are many.

John Key’s popularity and increasing support are among them but they are more symptoms than causes.

Labour had some really silly policies – GST off fruit and vegetables and not-working for families.

Even David Cunliffe admits that was stupid:

“People must always be able to earn more in work than welfare . . . “

Labour spent most of the election campaign attacking John Key and misrepresenting National’s mixed-ownership model for state assets policy as asset sales.

Phil Goff’s ratings improved as people saw more of them but the party went backwards.

After National’s disastrous defeat in the 2002 election the leader Bill English and president Judy Kirk with Steven Joyce’s assistance undertook a complete review of the party. A special constitutional conference re-wrote the rule book and provided the foundation for rebuilding the party.

Labour will have to do the same. Armstrong says:

The Labour Party can dither no longer. Some of its most sacred cows are in need of      slaughtering.   

The magnitude of last Saturday’s crushing defeat dictates that whichever David – Cunliffe or Shearer – emerges triumphant from the leadership tussle, his first action should be to initiate a rigorous, thorough and preferably independent top-to-bottom review of the party’s structure and practices.   

Nothing should be exempt from scrutiny. Not even that most delicate of subjects – the role of the party’s trade union affiliates.

Failure to do so won’t just make it difficult if not impossible to win the next election, it will gift the Green Party the opportunity to become the major party on the left.

9 Responses to The size of the problem

  1. Colin McIntyre says:

    One can’t help but wonder if history would have been re-written if Bill English had fallen on his sword in 2005?.


  2. homepaddock says:

    I don’t think so Colin. Bill got blamed but National’s problems then were the legacy of nine years in government, disconnect from members and voters, too much dead wood, poor party structures, no campaign for party vote, . . .

    Labour could have learned from our mistakes but didn’t, Phil Goff got blamed but changing leaders alone won’t solve the problems.


  3. Colin McIntyre says:

    Ele—Bill was around during those nine years you quoted along with a high ranking in theNational Party.

    It’s good down at Wendon Valley today.


  4. homepaddock says:

    Yes but he wasn’t among the deadwood, Colin.


  5. JC says:

    People forget that English had been Leader just seven months when Clark called a snap election. That left English just 6 weeks to prepare himself, his party and supporters for a general election.. an impossibility for a new Leader of a party in disarray.



  6. Andrei says:

    ,blockquote>an impossibility for a new Leader of a party in disarray.

    Nope, a test of leadership, if he had the goods, he would have delivered


  7. homepaddock says:

    Andrei, no leader could have delivered the goods for National in 2002 just as none could have for Labour this year and for similar reasons.


  8. robertguyton says:

    The meme you are promoting – that Labour needs to sever itself from the unions, is amusing.


  9. Not at all Robert, Ele is saying we failed to learn from Nationals mistakes, but I would suggest that not so much separating from the Unions as radically reducing the power the yield in the party.


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