Does Labour have a future?

A bunch of lefty twats recently had a dinner preaching to the converted about the future of Labour.

One of those was Simon Wilson, the?very red-centric former editor of Metro.

What is the point of Labour? Is it a twentieth century phenomenon sliding into oblivion in the twenty-first?

If you?re an urban progressive, the Greens look like a more natural home. If you?re worried about modernity in any or all its forms, New Zealand First is ready and waiting. If you?re a M?ori activist, you can choose from the M?ori Party and the Mana Party.

If you?re working class? Any of the above, isn?t it?

In reality, Labour gets votes from all those groups. That?s a good thing: major parties need broad appeal. But Labour doesn?t always treat it as a good thing. They let the inevitable contradictions of being a broad church undermine them ? this is expressed through absurdly frequent leadership battles ? rather than becoming a source of strength.

Actually, there is a point to Labour and it?s a really important one. They?re there to win elections. Labour is the main party of opposition and therefore is likely to be the majority party in any centre-left government. So they have to look credible. They have to be credible.

And that is where the problem is. They are simply not seen as credible. They love using terms like progressive…which really means regressive. Their preference is for bold statements that look great on a?t-shirt, an infographic or a bumper-sticker but means nothing in reality.

Labour have lost their brand. They used to represent working people, it is in their name after all. Unfortunately, they are now the party of whingers, morons, criminals and bludgers. The working people they used to represent get a better deal from that nice Mr Key.

If they?re not, the whole centre-left suffers. A vote for the Greens is a vote for a Labour-led government. Votes for NZ First and the Maori Party are also votes for the possibility of such a government.

Actually, Simon Wilson is wrong here. Winston Peters will not go with the Greens. He almost certainly won’t go with a group of parties who barely scrape through to just over 50%.

Either you believe radical change has to come, and turning the Labour Party into its vehicle is a splendid way to achieve it; or you believe that the purpose of a major parliamentary party must be to win the next election, and the next, so you can implement reforms in office.

The problem Labour has is that they have sunk so low they are left with the embattled and embittered hard left activists, who all think that Labour should go further left. They ignore the electorate, or worse call them stupid.

In New Zealand, it?s generally accepted that Labour?s main job right now, working with the Greens, is to win the next election.

But it?s not obvious this view is shared throughout the Labour Party, where many people clearly prefer to have a leader they agree with, or feel is ?one of us?, rather than a leader with great electoral appeal.

And that, in a nutshell, is the tragedy of the Labour Party. They don?t understand the importance of personality. They don?t have a leader capable of charm and because they changed the voting rules to get rid of the last one they did have, David Shearer, they don?t have the ready means to get another one. It?s not that they can?t win, but they have made it a lot harder for themselves.

Yep, dead right. Isn’t it wonderful I predicted this would happen at the time. The Greens though are basically toxic to Labour. They have to make like they love each other but they also have to make like they loathe each other. This is necessary to hoodwink the electorate.

So, what are the prospects for Labour heading into election year? Andrew Little will remain leader so they have to double down on becoming the voice of the future. That?s about policy and articulating a vision. Becoming the champion of the compact city in all its forms ? from decent affordable housing to creating a cycling city ? is a heaven-sent opportunity.

Will they grasp it? What?s their future if they don?t? On the positive side, there?s only one John Key. When he retires, National will lose its charm advantage. On the negative side, it?s only a matter of time before the Greens find an immensely charismatic leader of their own. When that happens, if Labour hasn?t done the same, they really could be annihilated.

I don’t think Simon Wilson is right here. There are plenty more capable leaders in National, and none in Labour. Helen Clark’s legacy is a dearth of leadership.

Championing a compact city isn’t going to win an election. The only people who want and demand a compact city are those cycle lane advocates who wear cardies and sandals and compost their own shit. ?No one else in Auckland wants this concept…and it is far too late for it anyway.


-The Spinoff