Spare a thought for Bryce Edwards

Bryce Edwards, who travels through life wearing red tinted glasses, is suffering at the moment.

He’s suffering so much he has had to write about his biggest disappointment at the moment…the stumbling, bumbling and increasingly irrelevant Labour party.

There’s still hope for Labour being able to put together a coalition government after the election. But there do seem to be a lot of barriers at the moment – especially as opinion polls point to the apparent decline or stagnation of support for the party and its leader, Andrew Little.

Hope sounds desperate doesn’t it?

Why isn’t Labour doing better? A large number of voters must be asking this about Labour’s current polling and performance. Certainly, there are quite a few political commentators trying to explain Labour’s problems and doldrums. Much of this commentary focuses on Labour’s lack of boldness or willingness to take risks. All this means is that for many voters, Labour doesn’t appear to be proposing any sort of superior society and economy if they win.

In fact, there’s an element of staleness in Labour at the moment, and perhaps even complacency. And their general approach of “business as usual” clearly “isn’t working” according to Labour Party member and activist Laila Harré, who went on TVNZ’s Breakfast programme to say that “It’s a bit grim” for Labour at the moment, given that polls show the party struggling to get traction – see: Labour needs ‘bold policy move’ to ‘activate the younger vote’ – Laila Harré.

In this short interview, Harré says: “There needs to be some disruptive element to their campaign – something that is particularly, I think, focused on activating a younger vote. And that will require some bold policy move, perhaps in relation to tertiary education costs”.

Poor old Laila, she’s suffering too. She planned a political comeback…twice, the first time she hitched her wagon to a fat German and then to Andrew Little. At least this time she has decided that discretion is the better part of valour and decided to leave the losing to others.

According to senior political journalist John Armstrong, Labour is now even in danger of losing its place as the main party of opposition – see: Labour is fast becoming a political cot-case. He also points out that, in terms of its plans to cancel National’s tax cuts, Labour might not even be able to do this – even if Labour leads a coalition government, it might not have the numbers to get its way on this.

Might not? Won’t, more like.

For Chris Trotter, it seems that Labour’s electoral demise runs in parallel to its demise as a party of creating radical change for working people. In his column, Hard to imagine Andrew Little inspiring Corbyn-like passion, Trotter suggests that Labour has faded in this role. Compared to the past truly innovative and radical party, “Today’s social-democratic politicians are middle-class professionals who are, by-and-large, as disdainful of the electorate as they are uninterested in its inner emotional life. Not only have they forgotten how to dream dreams and see visions – they don’t see the point.”

In another column, Trotter says: “Labour’s current electoral strategy seems to involve: waiting until the National Party runs out of puff, and then presenting itself to New Zealand Capitalism as a temporary alternative government while the exhausted Nats get their breath back” – see: Labour ‘a seething cauldron of thwarted ambitions, petty jealousies and unresolved grievances’.

And some of this argument about Labour’s failing to focus on working people is confirmed by survey data, which shows that at the last election, for the first time ever, Labour lost its monopoly on manual workers. David Farrar explains: “More working class voters in 2014 voted for National than Labour. I think this illustrates what Chris Trotter has often said – they have lost touch with many working class families” – see: Labour no longer the preferred party of working class voters.

Finally, for an overall evaluation on the health of Labour – with some much more positive conclusions – see Jenna Lynch’s State of the Parties: Labour report card.

Labour has forgotten their roots and their branding. Labour means work…and they used to represent working people. Now they represent bludgers, criminals and poofs.


-NZ Herald

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