HDPA on Labour’s lack of a honeymoon

Heather du Plessis-Allan thinks Labour’s honeymoon is over, but did it ever start?

Five days to go. If you are counting down to the Christmas break, spare a thought for the Government.

It has been slogging its guts out for weeks, but it hasn’t paid off.

It has been a disaster for Labour, mainly because they were distinctly unprepared to govern. They had no plans, no strategy and no foresight.

The first poll since taking office will likely have been gutting for Labour. The party’s support now sits at 38 per cent, up only 2 per cent from election day. Worse still, the party kicked out of power has gone up, too. National’s now on 46 per cent, up from 44 per cent.

You’d have expected a bigger bump for Labour. You’d have expected voters who didn’t like the idea of change to realise change isn’t that bad.

A bump well within the margin of error is no bump at all. Helen Clark enjoyed an 11% bump, and so did John Key. Anything less than that, especially one within the margin of error, is a failure of acceptance of the backroom deals done.

It feels like Labour’s honeymoon is over. In fact, it probably didn’t have one. It probably used up its honeymoon during the election campaign. That sucks for Labour. John Key’s went on for years.

You can bet this is not what Labour wants voters talking about over beers and the barbecue at the bach this summer.

Summer chats are like thousands of little ad campaigns for a Government.

If it nails things just before summer, the voters tell their mates how great the world is.

Fail to nail, get slagged off instead.

When you end a year on a bum note, there’s only one thing do to: come in hot the next year.

So, when you’re cracking open your champagne on New Year’s Eve, spare a thought for the Government again, because they really should be back at their desks not long after, despite the hangover still stomping around behind their eyes.

To turn these poll numbers around, Labour can’t afford much of a holiday. The best thing it can do is get back to work, sort out what was going wrong, and start getting stuff right.

But, ever the socialist troughers, they are all planning on bolting for holidays after such a poor start.

The stuff that was going wrong was the past few weeks’ constant trickle of little mistakes: Kelvin Davis floundering as Acting PM, Shane Jones surprising the actual PM with his Work for the Dole idea, Stuart Nash messing up his first speech on his first Government bill in Parliament, Chris Hipkins messing up his first vote in Parliament. It’s a lot of oops in a short time.

Unprepared and not ready to govern. The problem is they are using taxpayers’ money to try out their training wheels.

The stuff to get right starts with the year of free study.

Arguably, this is Labour’s first real test of a major policy roll out, and with that many students and providers involved, a lot can go wrong.

And it will. The first thing to go wrong will be the uptake, which will be larger than budgeted for. Then the failures will start: failure to follow through on study, drop outs, and massive debt as a result.

Then there are a billion trees to plant, 100,000 kids to lift out of poverty and 100,000 houses to build. No pressure. Those are a lot of very precise goals that will be held like tape measures against the outcomes.

There’s a good chance Labour can turn around its fortunes. It’s no easy task launching straight into Government, even harder when your leader is brand new to the job and harder still when you possibly didn’t expect to be here.

A few weeks of catch-up work while the rest of us are distracted may be all that’s required.

Unless they are going to?build 1,431 houses over Christmas and plant 14.3 million trees they are never going to catch up on their promises.

When Helen Clark is stating, at private dinners, that she thinks Jacinda Ardern is going to tip over and that the government and PM lacks proper support then you know things are awry.

Labour didn’t have a plan to govern, which is in stark contrast to Helen Clark. She had extensive plans, funding and political backing to implement her policies. Jacinda Ardern didn’t do the work, neither did Grant Robertson. They simply had a collection of bumper sticker policy ideas but no depth. Cutting and pasting some other people’s work and calling it a Commission and using glib phrases like “Future of Work” was not preparation for being Finance Minister.

There was no attempt to build a team to go into government because no one expected to go into government. No talent pool, no pathway to develop talent and all the competent people have been burned off and are working in the private sector. As a consequence Labour is floundering.

Grant Robertson as finance minister is the unexploded missile in the silo of this government. I don?t want Steve Joyce back, but I would take David Parker any day of the week. He is the only member of the Labour caucus capable of disagreeing with a bureaucrat. But it?s as clear as mud. Labour will not reach the necessary credibility threshold with such an obviously ill-suited finance minister.

Andrew Little is just hiding in the corner like a red headed step-son. Wise heads from inside Labour think that Iain Lees-Galloway is the dumbest, nastiest politician in Labour post Sue Moroney. There is much to dislike about Labour and the arrogance we saw from National only in their third term is apparent in this crowd already. Grant Robertson, Iain Lees-Galloway, Chris Hipkins and Phil Twyford are the worst offenders. One day soon someone is going to video their antics in planes and Koru lounges.


-NZ Herald