What about the party workers?

June 4, 2015

Labour’s campaign review has been leaked:

This review was into what went wrong and reveals Labour is totally broke.

The review also warns that if Labour does not find some cash quickly “it will continue experience electoral failure and place the status of the party as a political institution of influence at risk”.

It says Labour’s campaign was “undoubtedly hindered by a lack of financial resources”. . .

The review found plenty of other problems, too.

Among them, it says the party’s campaign preparation was “inadequate”, “tension around the leadership and disunity within caucus seriously undermined Labour’s credibility” and there was also a “general lack of message discipline”.

The review, by 76-year-old former British labour MP, has taken over 8 months to find “the policies put forward at the election were often complex, difficult to understand”.

And as for proposed solutions?

Well, “Labour must commit to a vision of a united New Zealand, founded on the Treaty of Waitangi”.

And Labour will set up some more committees – an executive and a campaign committee. . .

The full review is here.

It states the obvious – the party is broke, disunited, has an undemocratic candidate selection process, had an unpopular leader and an abysmal campaign . . .

But what struck me is what isn’t there – there’s no emphasis on the importance of broad-based, engaged membership – the party workers..

The review talks about how National spent much more on its campaign but doesn’t draw the dots between National’s many members and its ability to raise money and gain votes.

National still has tens of thousands of members. It is they who mobilise to provide the people-power which still counts in winning party votes and electorates; it is they who have significant input into policy development and it’s they who provide the solid financial base on which supplementary fundraising builds.

Eight months after its shattering defeat at the polls and into its second term in opposition, the review fails to acknowledge the importance of members and leaves Labour no better equipped to win the next election than it was to fight the last one.


Want voters but not govt

June 2, 2015

New Green co-leader James Shaw wants to woo National Party voters:

“I think there is a huge number of people out there who are concerned about the environment and they are concerned about the economy,” says Mr Shaw, “and they have been holding their nose and voting for the National Party. . .

Concern for the economy and environment aren’t mutually exclusive and people vote for and against parties for a variety of reasons.

But environmental concerns and initiatives aren’t the preserve of left-wing politicians and Shaw has sabotaged his campaign to woo National voters by ruling out going into government with the party.

Like his predecessor, he’s moored his party on the left flank of Labour which means its doomed to be in opposition if National wins another term and has no guarantee of being in government if Labour wins.

If Labour has a choice of coalition partners it would more likely opt for New Zealand First, safe in the knowledge the Green Party has nowhere else to go.


Opt in should be rule for any deductions

May 29, 2015

UK Prime Minister David Cameron is proposing a law change which could drastically reduce Labour Party funds:

. . . After leading the Tory Party to its first majority for 23 years, Mr Cameron unveiled legislation that could see donations to Labour fall by tens of millions of pounds every year.

In a surprise move the Conservatives introduced a new law to reform the way union activists pay a “political levy” to Labour.

Under the Conservative plans, union members will have to opt-in to paying an annual amount to Labour, rather than opting out as at present.

It will dramatically reduce Labour’s funding from the unions and would significantly hamper the party’s ability to fight general elections.

In Northern Ireland, which has an opt-in system, fewer than 40 per cent of union members chose to pay into political fund. Under the current system in the rest of the UK just 8.8 per cent of union members opt out. . .

It’s a long time since I paid any union dues. Back then membership was compulsory and I have no memory of being asked my views on the union donating to any political party.

Now that union membership is voluntary does anyone know if union deductions here are opt in or opt out and how much say members have on donations from the unions to political parties?

This move may well be politically motivated but it is based on an important principle. The rule for any deductions from people’s pay should be opt in not opt out, except those like tax, child support and fines which are mandatory.

The opt-in rule should apply not only to deductions from pay but to any add-ons to purchases, for example insurance or other extras when you book travel, too.

Hat tip: Tim Worstall


Opposing for opposing’s sake

May 27, 2015

Labour is opposing for opposing’s sake and in doing so shows it doesn’t know who its constituency is anymore.

Take the criticism of the government’s plan to sell public land in Auckland to help increase the supply of housing:

The Labour Party has accused the Government of planning to build on land that includes a power sub-station, pylons, a cemetery, a fire station and school playing fields. . .

There have been suggestions that children living near pylons have a greater risk of developing leukemia after a cluster of cases. However, that was thought to be a coincidence not the cause.

As for the rest of the land – why shouldn’t houses be built on playing fields if they’re surplus to the schools’ requirements and what’s wrong with living near a cemetery or fire station? Lots of people already do and how will they feel about Labour when it’s disparaging about the location of their homes?

It is wasteful for the government to sit on land it doesn’t need. There’s the opportunity cost of the value of the land and it costs ratepayers because public land isn’t rateable.

Then there’s the angst about the end of the $100 kickstart for KiwiSaver.

Inland revenue’s regulatory impact found that KiwiSaver hasn’t substantially increased savings despite encouraging enrolment of a large number of individuals.

The KiwiSaver scheme currently costs around $800 million in subsidies per annum and the Government has spent in excess of $6 billion on it since inception in 2006 . There are currently two subsidies: a one – off $1,000 kick-start payment paid to all new enrolees in the scheme (the kick-start) and an annual member tax credit paid to members of up to a maximum of $521 (annual MTC). The scheme also has ongoing Inland Revenue administration costs.

A seven year evaluation of KiwiSaver concluded in 2014 . . .The Evaluation has broadly found that the scheme has been successful in attracting significant numbers of members and Inland Revenue’s role in the scheme has functioned well. However, the scheme has delivered very poor value for the Crown’s subsidies. A high degree of leakage to people outside the target group for KiwiSaver and substitution from other savings has occurred. Estimates range from zero to one-third of KiwiSaver balances representing new household savings. . .

 The scheme delivers poor value for the public subsidies, most of the subsidies go to people who need it least and it hasn’t led to a significant increase in overall savings.

If Labour really thinks that it is better to subsidise the savings of people more able to help themselves than to spend the money on those in genuine need it really has lost its way.


Quote of the day

May 22, 2015

. . . An enormous gulf has opened up between what used to be the core Labour voter, particularly in provincial regions, and the metropolitan elites, with their state-funded salaries and public sector pensions. The consequence is the current generation of Labour politicians are stumped when it comes to enunciating policies for the delivery of a better life for working people.

There is now a fundamental unease in the NZ population the collectivism inherent in the original concept of the welfare state doesn’t necessarily deliver the results originally envisaged. It is based on evidence the safety net the welfare state was intended to provide has been turned almost into a lifestyle for many who spend years on benefits. Now when the Govt says testing for spending effectiveness (in welfare programmes) will be core to the new processes it is introducing, and funding will be re-prioritised to providers to get results, Labour doesn’t seem to have an answer, or an alternative. . . Trans Tasman


Labour’s lost constituency

May 14, 2015

Does this sound familiar?

. . . The real problem facing Labour isn’t that the party turned its back on working-class voters — it’s that working-class voters turned their backs on the party, and have been doing so for nearly 50 years. . . 

Labour’s epic crisis is not a case of ‘left-behind voters’ but of a ‘left-behind party’, rejected by the very people it was founded to represent. . .

Labour was being sustained by the middle classes, while lower classes went back to the thing they’d been doing for decades: deserting Labour.

The Blairites are often accused of ruining Labour, abandoning its traditional voters and ideals. This turns history upside down. New Labour is better understood as a response to something that had already happened: the slow but sure abandonment of Labour by working-class voters, which left Labour a shell, ripe for a takeover by a middle-class professional set. It was working-class voters who sealed Labour’s fate, not Labour that sealed theirs.

This isn’t semantics, this question of who abandoned whom. Yes, it’s all interrelated: working-class voters deserted Labour because they felt the party had in some way screwed them over. Chicken, egg, etc. But understanding that working-class voters have been turning their backs on Labour for ages is important, because it shows that the crisis facing this party today is more profound — infinitely more profound — than the current post-election soul-searching lets on.

For what we have is a party whose foundation stone, whose very reason for existing — to represent the working classes — no longer exists. Labour is facing more than a crisis of communication or a dearth of likeable leaders. It’s facing a crisis that is about as existential as it is possible to get: what becomes of a party whose founding constituency just isn’t into it anymore?

All the talk of reviving Labour with a re-injection of New Labour or Blue Labour or Brownite Labour is like discussing what colour lipstick to put on a corpse. Labour is dead. Its soul — working-class voters — has gone. It’s now little more than a zombie party being puppet-mastered by metropolitan elites and the media classes in a bizarre political danse macabre. A Frankenstein escaped from the 20th century. Well, they can keep it, these Labour-sustaining luvvies, because working-class voters have no more need of it: they’ve made Labour a left-behind party.

Brendan O’Neill is writing about the British Labour Party but much of what he says applies to its counterpart in New Zealand.

It was taken over by different sectors using the party to advance their interests rather than a united group with a vision for the country.

Hat tip – Utopia


Quote of the day

May 8, 2015

. . . But it brings me back to the heart of this issue, which is that Labour always wants to spend more, regardless of whether it works and regardless of whether it changes anything, and it cannot stand it when it thinks someone may be being careful with the spending. . . 

The great thing is we have a country where there are thousands of people with thousands of new ideas about developing the economy. It is my job and the Government’s job to support them. Labour’s view is that the country should wait around for Grant Robertson’s new idea, and apparently his new idea is work. Labour has discovered work; it is just that it is against all of the policies that create work. Bill English


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