Trotter on Curran

Chris Trotter has a very good blog post on what he describes as Clare Curran’s Cri de Coeur.

In the first of her postings, Clare tells us she’s “had a gutsful of the white-anting of Labour from both the right and the left of politics”. It’s not exactly clear what she means by this, or to whom, exactly, she’s referring. (Although, by the second posting, it’s pretty obvious she has the Greens in her sights.) Coming through loud and clear, however, is Clare’s immense frustration with what she obviously regards as the puerile quality of contemporary political discourse in New Zealand.

Why is it impossible to have a serious political discussion about the social and economic problems bearing down on Australia and New Zealand, or the major parties’ policies for dealing with them? Why are there so few forums for such discussions? Why is the news media so obsessed with trivia?

As an accomplished public relations practitioner, Clare should know the answers to all these questions. But then, Clare has always demonstrated a somewhat Pollyannaish understanding of PR. Seeing it, rather naively, as a suite of techniques for enhancing public understanding. That PR might, more realistically, be understood as the techniques employed by those with power to confuse and/or misdirect the public’s comprehension of important events and issues never seems to have registered.

Which is a pity. Because a little more familiarity with the dark arts of politics would do Clare and Labour the world of good.

It is a pity that Clare hasn’t re-read her paper on “Owning the Language”, that said perhaps she has and not really grasped why it is that Labour are so listless.

Instead of calling dibs on that ever-decreasing pool of well-educated, middle-class New Zealanders interested in “politics”, and snarling at the Greens for dropping a line into what used to be Labour’s favourite political fishing-hole, Clare and her comrades should strike out for an altogether larger pond, bearing much more effective tackle.

Do that, and the feelings of impotent rage will quickly disappear.

In her third posting, Clare describes a man who turned up at her electorate office weighed down by burdens no single human-being should ever be expected to carry alone.
“This man was a valuable contributing member of our society. He paid taxes. His skills were worth something to our economy. As a direct result of this government’s policies, he, and others like him, do not have jobs.”

But then Clare says: “What are his options?”

And right there you have it – the reason why Labour is performing so badly. Less than 100 days to go before the General Election and Clare still cannot tell her constituent in unequivocal, easily understood language what his options, under Labour, would be.

Trotter shows there why he is still one of my favourite commentators to share discourse and a beer with. He understands. Labour’s big game changer policy sank without a trace. In less than 100 days so will Labour. It is hard to imagine that Labour has any bigger policy announcements than CGT, and so they will be ignored.

Will Labour, in short, undertake to bring working-class New Zealanders back to the centre of the political stage (from which the Labour Party of the 1980s ruthlessly expelled them). Will it arm them with the same weapons the First Labour Government placed in their hands?

Or won’t it?

Has Labour got a story to tell the desperate working man on Clare’s doorstep?

Or hasn’t it?

Clare knows that Labour will not, and that Labour has not. And that is why she is so angry and so ready to lash out at others.

The Maori have a proverb: Ka pu te ruha, ka hao te rangatahi. The old net is cast aside, the new net goes fishing.

Labour must weave a new net, Clare, if it is to land the catch it is seeking.

If it is to become a fisher of men.

In particular Labour needs to become a fisher of “Waikatere men”, as Chris Trotter likes to describe them. Right now those Waitakere Men will be voting for a tart in a cart, they are lost to Labour.


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  • Rusty Kane

    I’ve been waiting for the Labour westie.. Andrew Little to do a Cri de little about Labour leadership to confirm his union working class roots and stamp his mark on the party as the only way forward for Labour. It he took the opportunity now to stand up and say Labour leadership and direction needed to change now before the election. Then announce his supports for David Cutcliffe as labour leader. He would not only rid Goff but also Cutliffe after the election. Leaving the Leadership open for himself to take Labour back to it’s working class roots. But like the rest of them he hasn’t got the balls. All he talks about is Labours CGT and taking GST of fruit and Vegetables.

    • thor42

      I think that if Andrew Little (or anyone else) “took Labour back to its working-class roots”, then Labour would be even more rooted than it is now.
      Times have changed – the world has changed. I think that quite a few voters now realise that when the unions had a shitload of power in this country, they ***completely and utterly rooted*** the economy. The wharfies, the boilermakers, the Cook Strait ferryboys – all of them held the country to ransom, and the teachers’ unions still try to do the same.
      Everyone in the country knows for a fact that if Labour were in power again, they would ***NEVER*** do anything that would upset their union mates. That’s just a recipe for disaster. A recipe for continued mediocrity in the education system.

  • jabba

    “Clare still can­not tell her con­stituent in unequiv­o­cal, eas­ily under­stood lan­guage what his options, under Labour, would be.”.
    This says it all really .. they will not come out and tell the people where they will create jobs that won’t bankrupt the country and we all know it. The flakey idea of taking gst off fruit and vegies along with increasing the taxes on rich pricks does NOT cut the mustard. They will have to find more tax revenue from somewhere .. maybe their ETS will add a few million .. puft