Labour “despises the people who used to vote for it”


The biggest challenge the New Zealand Labour Party faces as it enters its second century of existence, according to Matthew Hooton, is it “basically despises the people who used to vote for it.”

Speaking with NBR Radio’s Andrew Patterson, Mr Hooton says he is thinking of “those big suburbs in West Auckland and West Harbour and South Auckland, parts of Christchurch that have traditionally been Labour and have become National.”

The nub of the problem, he believes, is “the Labour Party is fixated on its past, and it seems to think that pleasing its extreme left-wing activist base and the union bosses in Wellington, with tales of nostalgia about Michael Joseph Savage and what was achieved in the 1930s, is the path forward for Labour.

“Well, it’s not going to get anywhere while it worries about what those nutter people in its membership think, what the nutters on Twitter think, what the union bosses think.”

Instead, Mr Hooton says, it should be catering to the aspirations of what left- wing columnist Chris Trotter describes as “Waitakere man” – the voter who’s a chippie or a courier van driver, lives in West Auckland, has their own business, is GST registered, benefits from house price inflation, and so on.

“They’re not interested in Israel, or transgender issues or joining a union or any of those things,” he says, despite what party activists may think.

“Until they have some respect for those voters, they’re going nowhere,” Mr Hooton says.

One thing, and only one thing, that Andrew Little can take credit for is that the divisions within the Labour party are no longer airing their laundry in the media. This isn’t, however, being mistaken for a unified party. In fact, as soon as there is a bit of stress, the Tipline starts to spin at high speed as factions dump dirt again.

The major reason that nobody is causing much trouble is because the wise heads know 2017 is a dead duck. Little has been tagged to go down with the ship, again. At that time some of the older wood will disappear as well. Labour are so inward-facing that they actually have no idea what their public identity is, or should be.

One hundred years on, Labour will never again know the popularity that it enjoyed in the past. The party is simply no longer the same as the one that truly cared for working people.


– Nick Grant, NBR


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