Phil Quin on Labour’s problems

The feral inbreds at The Standard think that Phil Quin supports the government, simply because he speaks out about the parlous and failing state of the Labour party.

He has written a great piece at Stuff which will ensure his continued excommunication.

Much like the gallant Argentinians in Hamilton on Saturday night, Labour MPs will be reeling.

After a sustained period of frenetic activity, most of it on their terms, much of it in favourable territory, they ended up on the receiving end of yet another in an unbroken stretch of one-sided wallopings.

Any similarity ends there. Whereas the Pumas players and coaching staff gracefully acknowledged being outplayed by a better team, Labour leader Andrew Little grumpily dismissed the poll, which had Labour at 26 per cent, as “bogus” and trudged off for Canada, where his colleagues must be hoping he has scheduled deportment lessons from Justin Trudeau.

Heading off overseas the day after such a dismal poll would usually be a perilous exercise for an Opposition Leader –– while the cat’s away, after all, the mice will do the numbers. But Little needn’t worry; with the union bloc vote in his back pocket, he will be Labour leader until whichever comes first between his retirement and the party’s complete disintegration.

The reason why Little released his shabby little con-job of a poll is to ensure he isn’t met at the airport, on his return, by the president and told he no longer has the support of caucus like Jim Bolger suffered when Jenny Shipley rolled him.

Of course, Left partisans are enraged by the One News Poll, but not because their side of politics is failing to gain traction, or that they haven’t moulded themselves into a plausible alternative government after eight years in opposition.

No, bloggers and tweeters of the left are either up in arms over an alleged conspiracy between the “mainstream media”, polling companies and the National Party or, among the more Pollyannaish, they add the Greens and NZ First to the pile, concluding that Labour is actually on the cusp of an historic victory.

Deranged conspiracy theories or mindless optimism. Take your pick.

I think it is more deranged than anything else.

This echo chamber thinking –– the tendency in politics to believe only what suits and reject everything else as a conspiracy –– is not new. In fact, confirmation bias is a ubiquitous force in all human affairs, as powerful as gravity.

I’ve worked on campaigns in deep blue seats where nothing could convince Labour candidates and volunteers that a stray encouraging word from a solitary passer-by isn’t evidence of a coming landslide.

It makes sense at the level of human psychology; otherwise, wouldn’t we just give up and go home? And yet, politics requires far less sentimentally, at least from those in leadership roles.

The reverse of that problem also exists. The problem where people will say to their face they are voting for them, but come polling day and it is obvious that their preferred party is about to lose the election, then in the punter either doesn’t vote because they can’t bring themselves to align with a loser…or worse they go into the booth and vote for the perceived winner. Right now people are lying to Labour and being polite. Come election day there will be a blood bath and more handwringing will ensue.

A hard-headed assessment of Labour’s performance cannot but conclude that the party lacks talent along with basic political competence. Contrast its current frontbench with those that preceded Labour victories in 1984 or 1999.

The best of the current lot, by a comfortable margin, is the veteran deputy Annette King who featured in both. Phil Twyford, who got lucky with his portfolio, generates a fair few headlines, but his recent call for a State of Emergency on housing affordability, along with earlier targeting of Chinese surnames, suggests questionable judgment, not to mention an alarming propensity for hyperbole.

Among the others, Kelvin Davis is one of few who seems to understand what an opposition’s job is. The rest seem to spend most of their time on social media retweeting people who already agree with them.

Even if it were possible, replacing Little won’t solve anything without root and branch party reform and a ruthless cull of caucus deadwood.

Labour’s caucus is dead set useless with a few notable exceptions. Labour’s goose would be cooked if some of those defected to NZ First. Meanwhile Andrew Little is off to Canada, probably looking for some of the missing million.

Mark my words…Labour is at risk of slumping below Bill English’s 2002 result. Such a result would likely finish off Labour as they lack the depth of membership that National still enjoys.


– Fairfax

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