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Monday, 22 September 2014

SOUNDS PROPHETIC: YOURNZ.ORG 30 JANUARY 2014 - 'LABOUR FACE DISASTER AT THE NEXT ELECTION'

Labour have struggled to make an impression since Helen Clark and Michael Cullen departed after their 2008 election loss. They struggled under Phil Goff. They struggled more under David Shearer. And they continue to struggle under David Cunliffe. It must be more than a leadership deficit. The Labour caucus and the Labour Party machinery seem to be in perpetual struggle mode. In the last few days alone – launching their election year, a time when it was essential Cunliffe and Labour made a strong impression – Labour have lurched from embarrassment to stuff-up. Their ‘baby bonus’ launch has been overwhelmed by controversies. As well as strong criticism for offering people on high incomes a baby benefit the policy has been beset by controversy and David Cunliffe has had to admit he made mistaken claims. And amongst this Dunedin North MP David Clark, once promoted as a fast riser in the Labour ranks – Shearer promoted him to 12 in the Labour rankings – has made a major blooper suggesting the Government should be able to threaten to ban use of Facebook if the multinational didn’t pay enough tax. 3 News reported: Banning Facebook was an extreme suggestion from Labour Party MP David Clark – and it took party leader David Cunliffe just 24 hours to shut it down. Mr Cunliffe has now ruled it out completely, but ridicule from the Government still came hard and fast. Just 24 hours? That was far too long, this embarrassment should have been dealt with swiftly. It wasn’t. In yesterday’s post David Clark attacked from all sides on Facebook farce ‘Goldie’ commented on the litany of Labour errors. The comment by Kiwi in America is spot on. First, it underlines the lack of talent in the Labour caucus. Dunedin is a Labour stronghold, so the MPs should be the stars of the party – instead you have Clare Curran and David Clark. Second, it shows the lack of discipline in Labour – there is absolutely no way, when the policy focus should have been the “baby bonus”, that Clark should have been permitted to talk on anything else. Cunliffe’s office is not operating as it should. It lacks grip over its MPs, and can’t control its own issues (witness the speed with which the “baby bonus” policy got derailed). Third, Labour have not been able to uncover a single major scandal on the Government and Labour have not been able to make a single policy that has not been widely shredded within days in three years. It says to me that the political machinery behind the scenes – the party researchers and advisers – have become “hollowed out”. In contrast, the Greens are busy, focused and confident. They have the great advantage of not needing to appeal to either centre or apathetic voters, but only to people who are going to vote left anyway. As National look increasingly like they will win the election, left-leaning voters will have less reason to stay disciplined to Labour, and will “shop around” (like what happened to National in 2002). Labour face disaster at the next election. It’s very early in election year but Labour, who desperately needed a strong start, have stuffed up again. And again. Unless Cunliffe can transform himself into a strong and positive alternative (too many mistakes and too much sneering snark), unless the Labour caucus can look united and competent, unless the Labour media machine can provide competent advise and support and unless the Labour Party can function effectively then it’s on the cards that Labour could face disaster at the next election. If that happens it will be bad for New Zealand politics. We need strong party leadership and performance, especially from the large parties. Labour is losing it’s way, losing credibility. If this continues we all lose. Update: It appears to be continuing unabated. Good grief. David Parker this time, in Parliament yesterday. See Labour says Apple et al plundering NZ economy. LINK: http://yournz.org/2014/01/30/labour-face-disaster-at-the-next-election/

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