Phil Quin, a longtime Labour party insider continues to snipe at Labour’s inept strategy.
In the NBR he strikes out against their abiding belief that they would somehow have the moral mandate to government despite hovering around 30% in current polling.
Delusions have consequences. If Labour persists in the belief it can somehow stitch together a governing coalition with a fraction over 30% of the vote, and that this is possible through a deft combination of coattail trickery and unprecedented turnout among non-voters, what can possibly persuade them to change course?
The problem with redefining defeat as almost-victory is that you deny yourself the urgency that comes with the prospect of imminent humiliation; you eschew bold risk taking for careful equivocation when the former is badly needed; and you end up with a great deal more bathwater than baby.
Labour needs to act like a party that knows itâ€™s losing, starting with an acknowledgement it as failed as yet to make the case that National under John Key has run its course. Thereâ€™s no point blaming David Cunliffe, even if itâ€™s true he has proven no more capable than his predecessors of denting the PMâ€™s formidable popularity.
No traction, no dents, despite attempts to portray National as crony capitalists, crooked and corrupt. The plan has failed but they persist with it.
During the race to replace David Shearer, Mr Cunliffeâ€™s supporters made much of his superior debating skills and media polish. But the notion that sharper presentation alone could rescue Labourâ€™s fortunes was always far-fetched. As excuses for losing go, itâ€™s a fallacy as pernicious and commonplace as that which holds voters to blame for refusing to know whatâ€™s good for them.
Among rivals for the Labour leadership, only Shane Jones seemed to understand the gravity of Labourâ€™s predicament, or sense a way out. Before making a credible claim on the Treasury benches, Mr Jones argued that Labour would need to set the bar at 40%, not 30%. Mr Jones, admittedly a flawed candidate in many respects, attracted close to no support among party and union elites who saw his call for a broader church as more evidence of unreliability.
Populism has no home in todayâ€™s Labour Party, a proposition Mr Jones made sure to test one last time before quitting Parliament altogether. His departure was calamitous for Labour for two reasons: it looked like a vote of no confidence in Labourâ€™s chances and, just as importantly, reinforced a growing perception the party has become inhospitable for a Greens-baiting, unashamedly pro-growth populist.
And yet, the activist clique which governs Labour and adheres most stringently to the Thirty Percent Doctrine couldnâ€™t have been happier with Mr Jonesâ€™ exit if they had overseen the purge themselves.
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