Labour ex-MP calls 4th term for National party on Labour’s 100th birthday

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As it celebrates its centenary, former Labour cabinet minister and ACT leader Richard Prebble believes the Labour Party is in such disarray that a National victory at the polls in 2017 is looking increasingly certain.

“If you’d asked me a year ago if National could win yet another election I’d have said statistically that’s extremely difficult,” he tells NBR Radio’s Andrew Patterson.

“But gee whiz,” he shrugs.

Mr Prebble identifies a number of core issues. First, there’s the fact “John Key is the best Labour prime minister the country
has ever seen. We thought Helen Clark straddled the centre of the spectrum but he’s gone and taken it to a whole new level. Fundamentally he’s squeezed Labour out to the left and they don’t know how to respond.”

Then there’s Andrew Little, the product of allowing a “party membership that’s way to the left of Labour voters” to select the party’s leader, something he notes is also bedevilling Britain’s Labour Party. Not only does Mr Prebble think Mr Little is a “very unattractive leader,” he also views his strategy of forming a “coalition, alliance, whatever you want to call it, with the Greens” is “sheer lunacy.”

“He’s basically giving permission for people to vote Green, a strategy Helen Clark was adamantly opposed to and that Shorten in Australia is opposed to.” It’s one, he says, that could result in the Greens could potentially usurp Labour as the primary progressive party in New Zealand. “Being on the progressive side of politics is actually much more challenging,” Mr Prebble notes.

“It’s pretty easy to be in favour of the status quo … but to be a radical politician of reform, that requires real talent.”

Which brings him to another issue.

He believes the party is “looking out for talent, any sign of it, and they’re making sure they don’t select it.” Instead, he says, “They’ve used the list system to basically provide jobs for second-rate trade union organisers. “Labour has become an anti-intellectual party, which is quite extraordinary,and that is why people who are educated and on the left are now far more likely to vote Green.”

The only bad thing for the country is that National are not in a fight for their life. That means that they are playing it safe and things that need doing, but are essentially electorally risky, remain undone. Competition brings the best out of people.

Unless you are Labour, of course. They simply appoint another union stooge and hope for the best.

– Nick Grant, NBR

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