Chris Trotter, the ever observant student of modern political history points out why Bill English may be boring but why he may also squeak into power again despite the ear to ear grins of the Labour party.
“WITH FIFTY-ONE PERCENT SUPPORT in the latest CM Research poll, the Labour Party is cruising towards the Year’s end on an enormous wave of public support. What is the secret behind Labour’s winning political formula – a formula which has so far eluded all of its competitors? To hear Helen Clark, or Michael Cullen, or Steve Maharey tell it, the story of Labour’s success is a simple one: “Under-promise and over-deliver”.
According to this theory, New Zealanders no longer believe in big promises – so don’t make any. Nor do they expect “the gummint” to do very much of anything to help them out. So, keeping those small promises, and, even more astonishing, actually doing a little bit more than you promised, leaves the voters feeling pathetically grateful.
More cynical observers point to Labour’s utter infatuation with opinion polling and focus groups. Its apparatus for taking the public pulse is state-of-the-art, and provides the political leadership with more-or-less instant feedback. Knowing how the electorate is responding to Government policy allows Clark and her ministers to remain in lock-step with public opinion. As the French revolutionary, Danton, is supposed to have remarked, seeing a throng of Parisians passing below his host’s window: “Excuse me, I am their leader – I must follow them.” Read more »