Labour of Love or a Poll Dancer

By   /   July 28, 2015  /   13 Comments

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If Labour want to start stepping out and bring the sexy back they just need to stop being Labour Light or even worse, dressing up as Labour Right.

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At the moment Labour is acting like a lousy lover. The kind of lover that is saying whatever you want to hear but at the end of it all is not willing to commit. The kind that won’t sleep over, doesn’t introduce you to their friends and always expects you to come to their place. It is not a flattering look and it is not going to serve them well in the long run because if there is one thing most people require in both a lover and a political party it is fidelity and reliability. That may sound conventional and old fashioned but alas it is also true of most long term committed relationships. Of course the beauty of MMP is that it allows for a bit on the side.

In previous blogs I have suggested that publicly slagging off the parties of the left is not conducive to building a strong opposition. At this point it is hard to place Labour left of anything apart from left behind the eight ball making them fair game. Besides, like any good friend, if you see your buddy getting treated badly by their partner at some point you have to speak up. The big split from the migrant Chinese community was loud, public and embarrassing for everybody watching. They didn’t break up so much as Labour ditched them in the worst possible way. This was worse than dumping your partner by text. This was more like checking your Facebook and finding your spouse has changed their relationship status and then they upload a photo taken at a club with a pole dancer.

I know it is a cliché but is it possible Labour is having a midlife crises? As the party flounders from one miscommunication meltdown to the next it is starting to look increasingly desperate. Like the fifty year old divorcee who suddenly grows their hair, pierces their nose and takes up skateboarding in a bid to remain attractive there is a risk of appearing ridiculous. There is also a risk of serious injury. As Labour continues to flounder in the polls it is apparent that trying to present as different things to different people will leave you attractive to no one that matters. At the rate they are going I wouldn’t be surprised to discover Labour has a secret Tinder account or a whole other family stashed in a different part of town.

The thing is if Labour would just stop slutting around and trying to be a ‘player’ it would be a far more appealing proposition to a lot more people. It’s not that tricky. A relationship with a political party is no different to any other relationship. You are looking for a few core values that resonate with your own, but apart from that most of us are looking for honesty, integrity, respect and commitment. At the moment with its constant flux of reinvention Labour is attractive to no one and even the long term admirers are losing hope.

If you go the Labour website you will see that it still rates itself as the party that puts people first promising affordable homes, more secure jobs with higher wages and that our kids get the best start. The next thing you notice about the website is that it hasn’t been updated since the black election. It’s as sad as the  people on Findsomeone using a ten year old photo and the picture includes an amputated arm of the last failed relationship.

This is the party that historically has claimed it is for workers and yet has constantly been off message. There is no thought, no planning and mostly they aren’t listening. If I was Labour and trying to woo me back I would start with perhaps trying to just being themselves. While it is true that the nature of employment has changed, the people doing the work haven’t. We all still want the same things. We want Labour to stand up and speak and not embarrass everyone with a bad rap.

We all know that Labour is keen on courting workers so why not just ban trial periods?  Don’t replace it with a probation period, come out punching. At the same time ban zero hour’s contracts. There two things right there that workers will benefit from. Stop pussyfooting around for fucks sake. We know Labour wants to increase the minimum wage. Make me an offer I can’t refuse.

Labour has been ogling small business and contractors from the sidelines for ages. These are the Labour parties’ exes that are now looking at other offers and finding Labour lacking. They are going to need something concrete. Labour are still talking up Kiwi Build but haven’t promised anyone a piece of the pie. Perhaps explaining how small business is going to be a part of this massive building project would be a start. Let them know that this isn’t a one night stand and that Labour is looking for a long term commitment. Nothing says commitment like building your dream home!

If Labour really wants New Zealander workers to feel loved why not ensure effective health and safety legislation but also put the inspectors back in the mines. In fact why not commit to ensuring that MBIE has the resources to train a hundred more labour consultants / inspectors that are there to ensure employers are fulfilling their duties and when they aren’t, ensuring they are prosecuted. This weekend Michelle Boag stated that wages were low because unions weren’t working hard enough for their member’s. I am expecting a strong response but am not willing to hold my breath in anticipation. Maybe Labours relationship with the unions has reached a point where we need something in writing. It is time to renew the vows.

Perhaps Labour can win back some of the migrant support it has woefully taken for granted and actually ensure there are steps being made that stop migrant workers being exploited.

On the weekend the National Party announced changes to migration legislation that is aimed at moving more migrants to the regions. This is an opportunity for Labour to start building bridges, at least metaphorically. As John Key talks to the needs of the employers in the regions perhaps Labour can speak to the needs of the workers. There is a reason that employers in the regions have problems attracting staff, especially in the areas of horticulture and hospitality. I have worked in both areas. Pay is low, conditions are often poor and exploitation is rife. This happens in the city as well. Migrants are particularly vulnerable.

At heart Labour is just a bunch of well-meaning mainstream social democrats. They aren’t radically left and I am not expecting anything extreme. I will need another party to fulfil my political proclivities but there are plenty of fish in Labours fishing grounds, they just need to stop pissing around with soft bait.
If Labour want to start stepping out and bring the sexy back they just need to stop being Labour Light or even worse, dressing up as Labour Right. Start looking at a way to give workers what they want. Secure work, enough paid hours to live and not just exist, and a place to live. Throw in the occasional summer camping trip and long weekend and it’s possible that everything can be sorted by the next date night.

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13 Comments

  1. wild katipo says:

    Well….interesting analogy’s…I wouldn’t have perhaps used that terminology…but you made the point well.

    In other words…Labours got to grow a pair.

    And I cant see that happening until the ageing – and embarrassing – Rogernomes are dealt with . And that means a right royal purging of the dead wood. Its been these nefarious creatures who have been holding Labour back.

    And its been these same nefarious creatures who have ensured Labour is , in fact ,..National lite.

    This is why ….they seem so limp. This is why ….they have no concrete position on anything other than tagging along with National.

    This is why…. they dealt to Cunliffe and anyone else who tried to rise above the parapets.

    35 years of shit has emanated from these Rogernomes.

    The good thing…people are getting sick of National and Key…and this Auckland housing crisis in the making is highlighting the agenda of neo liberalism. And that extrapolates directly to Labours Rogernomes.

    NZ politics is now reaching the stage where there needs to be a fast and furious sweeping of the house clean from these neo liberal sell outs.

    And with the recent events of Labour illustrating the dodgy practices going on with foreign speculative buying locking out legitimate NZ citizens from ever owning their own homes…this is the time to really push that advantage and keep the momentum going.

    Strong and gutsy leadership opposing neo liberalism’s 35 years of treachery against its own citizens is needed now – not some watered down ‘ more of the same ‘ ideological mantra in some other reconstituted form or another….

    And perhaps Little might take the hint and move on the situation….however…when viewed in the light of the TTPA , workers wages and conditions , housing , privatisation …they are still waking up like a man who went on a bender and needs to lie back down again and sleep it off.

    They have much work to do. MUCH work anyway you want to phrase it.

    • J S Bark J S Bark says:

      Well said Mr Pungwerewere! I completely agree with what you said.

      “At heart Labour is just a bunch of well-meaning mainstream social democrats.”

      My response to that statement is that the neolibs are still too much part of the old festering brew and sweet and kindly socdems are very easily out-trumped.

      Which means Kate is dead right, the socdems need to grow some major cojones!

      DO SOMETHING!

  2. Cagey says:

    Yes – Labour does need to lay their cards out for the nz workers – I know a lot of people who are still unsure of them as their real wages and conditions go down (and not just minimum wage earners).

    However I think – in the context of your personification – that Michelle Boag’s vitreol to the union guy Robert( I can’t remember his name right now, sorry ) was like after you say your worried about the kids, we need to do something” your partner saying “It’s your fault, your the mother”.

  3. Gosmanbearpig says:

    [Please come up another User Name. Having a User Name that refers to another poster is not a trend we want to see develop. – ScarletMod ]

  4. CLEANGREEN says:

    Well this Labour Lite tactic is so far smarter because a poker player doesn’t win by showing their hand do they.

    It is far smarter to do what FJK has always done by leaving the details secretive as he is always doing, so if Kiwi’s have been living with his approach and haven’t rebelled yet why not Labour lien use the same technique and give themselves some FJK wriggle room also?

    I do love the chronology of a “Lousy Lover” Good article Kate.

    Clearly todays politics is a game and Andrew Little is up against playing against the master stroke gremlins Kate.

  5. Roy says:

    Another thing they might do is put on some new threads, instead of wearing those tired old rags they keep on the front bench.

    Perhaps a trip to the political VD clinic; you know, just to make sure the rot hasn’t completely set in.

    Oh, and don’t be rude about my friends just to make your own friends.

  6. Helena says:

    In my view, if Andrew Little does achieve his end goal, he will be faced with a country controlled by the money changers. He is going to need the support of ALL the people never mind his party.

  7. anker says:

    Thanks for your article Kate. But I am sorry I don’t agree. Neither does it seems do the polls.

    Cunliffe, very clear, committed to a more left wing agenda and the media canned him……………………

    I am not sure your Labour bad lover analogy works……………

    The bad (abusive) lover is National and we have to get them out.

  8. Andrewo says:

    Try and follow this logic:

    1/ If you’re serious about wanting to get elected then you have to appeal the middle ground. (Stats 101)

    2/ The radical left is not the middle ground

    3/ Conclusion: Radical left policies won’t get you elected

    • wild katipo says:

      We aint talking about radical anything buddy – were talking about commonsense community affairs over your narrow ‘ Little ‘ fear of loosing your tenuous grip on the wealth you think is owed to you and your ilk.

      Namely – the conning of the middle sector to shit all over the group one step lower…..

      Types like you are a liability in any military operation – they risk not only themselves but that of the unit. Its for that reason the military goes to great pains to weed those unreliable types out – their lack of discipline and ability to work as a team can mean death to all members – and quickly.

  9. Nick says:

    An analogy is sometimes useful to illustrate your point but it is never a proof.
    You answer yourself when you declare essentially that acting like the character in Salvador Dali’s “Civil War” painting is never a good idea.
    So don’t do it.
    Sneering bullshit is great fun but fundimentally unhelpful.
    If you really believe you need to share your recipe for the perfect political pie, go do it.
    If on the other hand you hope for a brighter future. Get your superior head out of you ass and make a constructive contribution.
    No one is attacking new Kiwis or New Zealanders of Asian origin.
    Dog-whistle pooches like you may perpetuate the nonsense, cheered on by Rightist and cosmopolitan trolls, but anyone who can see through the red mist will see that the purpose will help Asian Kiwis as much as anyone else.
    I suspect you already know this and your goal is not to create a more coherent and cohesive Left, but rather to forment discord in the stupid hope of forming another moderate-radical scism.
    I Simone-purity more important than replacing a clearly damaging administration?
    You choose.

  10. Puzzled says:

    What on earth does this kind of sneering crap achieve? You can’t even get your facts right. Labour have called for a ban on zero hour contracts, Andrew Little even got them personally removed from Parliament. There has always been a probationary period going decades back, even the Alliance supported it, it’s the lack of fairness introduced by National that’s been the issue. I could go on.

    The point is the population are ready for change but they’re not radical left, they want incremental change for the better and aren’t ideological about it. You want a Labour Party that speaks to you but not to the 40-50% of New Zealanders they actually need to appeal to if they want to get elected. It’s easy to sneer from the sidelines and condemn the Labour Party or even the Greens for not being left enough, it’s much harder to actually get elected.

    Besides, the latest polls show your analysis is nonsense. They’re appealing to middle New Zealand with a solid, centre-left social democratic agenda and the polls are going up. If they win they’ll improve New Zealand for the better, but you’ll probably still hide behind your keyboard and condemn it for not going far enough fast enough.

    Here’s an idea. Why not do something constructive instead of just pissing all over everything?

  11. Mike in Auckland says:

    I share some of the criticism expressed here, but few solutions or little good and useful advice to give to Labour.

    As I have been rather tired of Labour myself for some time, and as the Greens are also not quite what I would wish to have lead this country and society in a progressive way into the future, I come to the same conclusion, again, and again, it may be time for a NEW LEFT or NEW PROGRESSIVE PARTY.

    So far many have clung to the idea, that Labour can still be reformed, can with some fresh blood get it right. But it is true, their website is full of old and newer, somewhat contradictory information, actually rather little real information, and the “review” they had, seems to still have not resulted in something “new” and convincing.

    We will soon have the first year of the third National government’s term reach its end, and we are still discussing the same old, the same old problems.

    Sadly I also see too much division amongst the left of centre, and few that have the capability or imagination to start something new, or at least set off a movement, that may combine forces and also take hold of Labour, to turn itself into something strong and successful.

    Having the neoliberal and conservative block occupy half of all voters and the opposition split into three or more parties, that is a dilemma, it does scare voters off the alternative. A government in waiting must be ready to not only attack, but deliver new programs and stand there, ready to take over the reign.

    So far I see NONE of this.