Saturday Synopsis – Can Labour win in 2014?

It is hard to imagine any a scenario where Phil Goff becomes Prime Minister after the 2011 election, unless a sex scandal or ethics scandal completely undermines National.

The Election result will determine how effective Labour can be in opposition in the next term. If Goff leads them to ruin like Bill English did to National in 2002, it will be 2017 before Labour can seriously contemplate winning an election. Too few MPs means an inability to put a government under real pressure, and too many challengers to incumbents which makes winning votes expensive and difficult.

If Labour continue to track within a band of 27-33% of the vote they are going to struggle in the next term not just because of the size of their caucus. More worrying for Labour is the deadwood that will be preventing new blood coming through and connecting with the electorate.

There are two types of deadwood, those who have limited contributions to the Labour caucus but keep out good people. In this category fit Rick Barker, Steve Chadwick and Ross Roberston. MPs like this can be safely ignored, because though they potentially hold up someone good they do not get in the way of senior Labour MPs connecting with the electorate.

The bigger problem for Labour is the second group of deadwood, deadwood that thinks it is still alive long after it has died in the minds of the public. Labour still have a large number of reasonably competent people from the Clark regime exerting huge impact on the culture and direction of Labour. These people represent the failures of the last Labour government, and have continued to recycle Clark era policies in a totally changed world. They still have expectations of making it back into cabinet, but realistically they are past their used by date and will never again be able to connect with voters on a mass scale.

Included in this group are Phil Goff, Annette King, Lianne Dalziel, Ruth Dyson, Trevor Mallard, Maryan Street, and Parekura Horomia, all assured of a place in the next parliament. While they are still around it will be difficult for the very grey men, Parker & Cunliffe to change the culture of the party, even if these people will leave Parliament in 2014.

These seven MPs will likely retire or be pushed in the next term, some potentially forcing by-elections, but while they remain in caucus they provide a huge barrier to Labour successfully rebranding and reconnecting with the public.

As a party Labour have failed to regenerate, and failed to make a clean break with the messy past. The likely outcome of this is another messy term where they are unable to make National look inept or corrupt, the key role of an opposition wanting to win back power.


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  • middleagedwhiteguy

    Whale. I wonder what would happen if Goff lost in Mt Roskill. Is that a possibility? Well, if you consider that Labour only got 187 more votes than National, you would argue that there is a lot of support for National in that electorate.

    At the same time, National is polling higher and higher, while Goff is failing to make any traction as leader.

    National needs to put a strong candidate in Mt Roskill. Imagine Goff on the election trail while his polling is telling him he might lose his electorate?

    • hollyfield

      I would love to see some analysis on figures in Mt Roskill.

      For the last six years I have lived a few hundred metres from Mr Goff’s electorate office. I have never seen him in the electorate. I’ve never bumped into him in the supermarket opposite his office, at the coffee shop etc. I do not see photos of him in the local newspaper attending community events. He will have name recognition, but how much loyalty does he have from his constituents? (As a comparison, I’ve often seen Rodney Hide either walking or driving in his electorate.)

      I have, however, on numerous occasions seen an elderly gentleman (no, not Mr Goff!) driving a red “Phil Goff” van. (By the way, I always thought the gentleman was Michael Wood until I saw him on TV during the Botany byelection!)

      I work in a primary school, where virtually everyone votes Labour (it’s very trying for me leading up to an election). Several teachers have told me what a poor job Mr Goff is doing. One has even told me she has met him several times and had interesting conversations with him, she thinks he is intelligent and a very nice man, and she can’t understand why he is now so useless.

      How much impact will people’s low opinions have on his electorate vote?

  • andrewo

    Time moves on but Labour has not

    Who exactly is their target market? It seems to be a very narrow slice of NZ society which gets ever thinner as the baby boomer hippy/socialist faction becomes demographically insignificant.

    So who is left?

    1/ Trades Unionists. Which consist mostly of teachers and the PSA these days

    2/ The ‘sexually alternative’ crowd

    Not enough to get elected: They’re out of touch with todays workers and should remain out of power as a consequence

  • titanuranus
  • spiker

    Labour = political Amish :) :) :)