It’s not what you say, but what they hear



It isn’t easy being Green 

The American pollster and political commentator Frank Luntz wrote a book called “Its not what you say, but what they hear”.  It’s a fantastic book about the use of language in both business and politics and recommended reading for anyone interested in the art of successfully crafting a message.

One of the biggest challenges for Labour this year is to get its language right.  A good start would be to quickly change the way in which the media talks about the scenarios re the next government.

We always hear about the Labour-Green coalition v the National government.  I cannot remember if this was coined by the National party and adopted by the media or vice versa, but however it came about, it’s damaging to Labour’s brand.  Labour has to start talking about ‘the next Labour-led government’ and get right away from talk of a Labour-Green coalition.  There are three reasons for this:


  • 1. it is not a certainty that a Labour led government would be in coalition with the Greens.  While any Labour-led government would certainly need the Greens support on supply-and-confidence, the nature of politics means that Labour may end up entering into a coalition with NZ First at the expense of the Greens.  There is, of course, a very recent precedent for this.  If the Greens did opt to form a coalition with the Nats (most unlikely but not inconceivable as Russell Norman and Met Turei don’t have the philosophical or political courage of their convictions that Rod Donald and Jeanette Fitzsimons had) then the likelihood of their long-term survival as a party is minimal.  Ref the Lib Dems in the UK or even the Maori Party in NZ – both likely to disappear at the next election due to their support for parties (and power) against the wishes of the majority of those who gave them electoral success in the first place.


  • 2. While the Labour and the Greens are reasonably close from a philosophical perspective, the only way the Greens can grow their vote is predominantly at Labour’s expense.  To have any chance of forming a government post election, Labour, however, has to win voters from National.  A Wgtn Green insider once told me that he believed that at least 80% of their voters would support Labour if the Green party did not exist.  The likelihood of National supporters switching allegiance to the Greens is remote, so the Greens must target the Labour vote in order to increase their parliamentary presence.  Labour will need to fight for each and every vote: this includes against the Greens as well as the Nats.  While I don’t expect head-on attacks, I don’t expect any quarter to be given either.


TDB Recommends
  •  3. There are elements of the Green party that turn off an important sector of would-be Labour voters that Labour needs in order to win the election.  Russell Norman’s earlier expressions of interest in the finance portfolio, even though righty dismissed by Labour, has still created the perception that the Green’s may have an important role to play in the economic agenda of any Labour-led government.  The simple truth is that this concerns a number of voters.  The reality is that even though some of the Green policies are aligned to Labours (e.g. CGT) a number are not, and it has always been the major party those economic manifesto has dominated the political agenda.  Does anyone really believe that Revenue Minister Peter Dunne under both Cullen and English had any say in the major tax decisions of either government?


All that aside, I believe that one of the biggest losers in 2013 was Russell Norman.  When Shearer was the Labour leader, the media often sought Norman’s opinion as an opposition voice due to Shearer’s inability to clearly articulate a position and his team’s consistent failure to respond to media requests in a timely manner.  Now that Cunliffe is leader, and is very articulate with an extremely competent press secretary who understands the game, we once again have a true ‘leader of the Opposition’ and Norman is relegated to fighting for media scraps like any other leader of a minor party.

The Green party received 11.1% at the last election.  History will show this is the high-water mark for them.  I expect them to get around the 6.7% they polled in 2008; or even close to the 5.3% they got in 2005.

With Cunliffe firing, the Labour caucus united and the growing perception that Key is only there for his rich mates, the battle for 2014 is between a Labour-led opposition and a National-Conservative coalition.



  1. Interesting observations. It would appear Labour is torn between it hatred of the Greens and its fear of National, if I am reading the tone of the piece clearly.

    The Green party seem to have consolidated a reasonable chunk of the party vote, which I would put conservatively at 8% to 12% – 12% being the more optimistic end of the spectrum.

    The Green party received 11.1% at the last election. History will show this is the high-water mark for them. I expect them to get around the 6.7% they polled in 2008; or even close to the 5.3% they got in 2005.

    This is surely little more than the fantasies of a Labour party apparatchik. If we contrast the Greens commitment to a more democratic internal party process with the recent re-engineering of the Labour party’s internal selection processes, the Greens parliamentary wing still appears eminently more accessible than anything the Labour party has on offer. How many Green party members schmooze with Sky City execs in their corporate box?

    The Labour party really needs a wake up call and Nash’s comments clearly demonstrate how far they are from connecting with those who are the fodder on which the wealthy feast. I would have thought that when Cunliffe ascended to the leadership position through the bare knuckle support of the rank and file the first thing he would do was attempt to develop a more democratic process within the party system – serving as a means of more closely involving the membership while consolidating his position and signalling to the general public a more attentive style of governance, it does not appear to have been the case.

    Still, good on Stuart Nash for snuffing out any illusions that the Labour party had changed for the better.

    • Interesting comment, and perhaps the musing of someone who wanted to read something in the post which actually isn’t there. At no point do I express a ‘hatred of the Greens’. In fact, I acknowledge that any Labour-led govt will need to rely on the Greens.
      Re Cunliffe’s leadership speeches – I believe they are closer to Labour ideals than any I have heard for a long while. And please don’t talk about the Greens commitment to a ‘more democratic internal party process’. David Hay may have been a liability but the way the Greens shut him down completely belies talk of any ‘internal party democratic process’. He could – and should – have been dealt with in a more democratic way than he was.

      Anyway, lets deal with the facts: I believe the Greens have a natural constituency of around 5 – 6% (ie this percentage of people will vote for Greens no matter what). Not since 1999 have the Greens dropped below 5%. Historically, the Greens party vote has been:
      1999 4.3%
      2002 7.0%
      2005 5.3%
      2008 6.7%
      2011 11.1%

      So unless they completely stuff up, the Greens are always going to have a presence in Parliament. 2011 was an anomaly based on the fact that Labour did so poorly. I have seen polling undertaken straight after the 2011 General election which stated that around 4% of the greens 11.1% said they would have voted Labour if they thought Labour could have won. Labour will have a great chance of winning in 2014, so expect the Green vote to return to its ‘natural’ base of around 5.5% – 7%.

      Labour doesn’t ‘hate’ the Greens at all, but neither should Labour be afraid of going hard for votes from across the spectrum. As mentioned, don’t expect to see Labour attack the Greens (like the Greens attack Labour) but don’t expect Labour to hold back: after all, we are targeting the same base in terms of drawing on a key constituency.

      • 1999 4.3%
        2002 7.0%
        2005 5.3%
        2008 6.7%
        2011 11.1%
        “Anyway, lets deal with the facts: I believe the Greens have a natural constituency of around 5 – 6% (ie this percentage of people will vote for Greens no matter what). Not since 1999 have the Greens dropped below 5%. Historically, the Greens party vote has been”

        Poor analysis there Stuart. Anyone that knows anything about NZ politics would say that under the circumstances it looks like the Greens have had stable and growing support. 2005 was arguably their lowest point over the past 15 years. And considering the socio-political environment in 2008 (nanny state myth and Greens having the guts to ban smacking) 6.7% was a very good result. Then a jump up to 11.1% in 2011 despite Labour being an embarrassment.
        Looking forward I’d be surprised if the Greens drop below their last effort. I’d say that 15% should be their target. Perhaps Mana might skim some of their votes.
        Its clear that green politics has become hegemonic throughout the West, even to the point that right wing parties use the term ‘sustainability’ as much as anyone. I don’t know what sandpit you’ve had your head in for the past 10 years, but the environment has become the political issue.
        If you need some political advice I charge $0 per hour

  2. What a load of nonsense. The Green polling has been steady throughout this whole term, and they have a loyal base that remembers how many times Labour has shafted the left. Your point that “80% of Green voters would vote Labour if the Green party didn’t exist” is pretty facetious too. Here in the real world the Green Party does exist, and is seen by its supporters as a party to actively support, rather than just being the lesser of two evils in the Nat/Lab duopoly. Get a grip Nash, and start figuring out how you can win using MMP tactics rather than this tired FPP mindset.

    • Of course Green polling has been steady through the first 18 months of this term, but once Cunliffe, Parker and co get up and running and Labour enters into election mode, expect the Green numbers to drop. I take neither delight or dread from this fact, but it is simply the reality.

      Cunliffe is a very strong, articulate leader who will, I believe, dominate opposition politics though 2014, and this will naturally translate into party votes for Labour; of which a number will come from the Greens, a number from the enrolled non-vote and a number from the Nats.

      As for the 80% comment – it is a Green observation and not mine. Having said that, I expect the Greens to come out fighting and support their party, but it is also very important to understand the political demographics of your party’s support. As for MMP v FPP – not too sure where that came from if you read the post as it is the MMP reality I am commenting on.

      • you..nash..are kinda the david hay of a revitalised labour

        ..the similarities are striking..

        ..there you both sit..out there on the right-wing..

        ..stuffing yr fists into yr mouths/and choking back sobs..

        ..’cos yr party has not gone even further to the right.. you/paganis/those neo-lib goon former clarkist ministers still staring out at us from labours’ benches..all want..

        ..but instead has made an (alarming to you) lurch leftwards/back to old-labour..

        ..and this is all part of a destabiling-plan you/paganis plan on running right up to the

        ..and an election you/paganis want labour to

        ..’cos that wd suit yr grand-plan

        ..and do you know what that fact/ongoing destabilising makes me want to say to you/paganis/neo-lib labourites..? actually is a spew of serious/creative-invective that wd take up about three lines..

        ..and wd not get thru moderation.. are the stellar example of everything that was wrong with the neo-lib clarkist-govt..

        ..and the dregs of it that still cling to the party..

        ..why don’t you do us all a favour..

        ..and just accept reality..?

        ..and go and join the tweedledum-party..?

        ..i think you will feel far more at home are on the wrong side of history..

        ..and are about to be flattened by

        ..phillip ure..

        • “ are the stellar example of everything that was wrong with the neo-lib clarkist-govt..”

          Hmmm. Philip, I suspect we are never going to agree on much, however, if you disagree so much with who I am and what I stand for then I look forward to seeing you on the hustings.

          Just a note thou; I see on your site that you encourage debate. So do I. Just one rule when debating my politics with me – leave the personal abuse and nastiness at the door and lets debate the facts. Thanks

          • @ nash..

            ..ok..the only facts of any significance are that you are from the neo-lib wing of labour..

   are a defender of the clark govt..

   want labour to move to the right..

   want to continue doing nothing about poverty..(and just because market-research tells you you should ‘care’..about poverty..and so you say you do,..

            ..does not make it

            ..especially when one considers that record of doing nothing for nine long years..(except strip away ‘allowances’ for

            ..was that yr nadir in uncaring..?

            ..or was it when clark fretted about those ‘struggling’/’deserving’ fsmilies on seventy-grand otr so..

            ..and she ws so ‘fretted’ she just had to give them a serious cash-top-up..

            ..the poorest..?..nah..!..nothing for…?)

            ..this is the record of yr time in nash..

            ..and you want be to speak fucken ‘nicely’ to you..?

            ..and to politely debate yr twisted/rand-ite/anti-labour ideology/beliefs..?

            ..sorry..!..that ain’t gonna happen..

            …i disagree with everything you stand/have stood for..

   how tell us yr concrete ending-poverty policies..

            ..and not just aspirational/arbeit macht frei spin/

            ..real/concrete policies/ and poverty..

   tell us you ‘care’..

   what would you do..?

   end poverty..

            ..phillip ure..

  3. I rarely come over over here to this blog and have seen this post more by accident than design. Stuart has exposed the deep seated fear that lies within the Labour Ranks. labour are aware that the extreme left policies of the greens are a major turn off for the majority of New Zealanders.
    Helen Clark of course avoided doing a deal with the Greens in 2005 instead swallowing a dead rat (festering stinking and diseased rat ) to go with the corrupt and impossible Winston and his ego. But that was a better course of action than the greens. Nothing has changed, except in the event labour can form a government they must go with the greens. And they will want power and more than their slice of the cake.

    Such a coalition will be very unstable as the impracticality of the green policies are exposed and the clash of the egos of cunnliffe and Norman make constructive government near impossible.

    • Firstly, Peter, don’t be reluctant to participate and share your views. We might disagree, but therein lies the seeds of good, healthy debate.

      Secondly, RYC;

      labour are aware that the extreme left policies of the greens are a major turn off for the majority of New Zealanders

      Can you be more specific as to what you might regard as “extreme left policies”. We keep hearing references to the Greens’ “extreme left policies” – but little in the way of actually explaining what they supposedly are.

      A point to consider – more New Zealanders support the Green Party than ACT. The only way ACT got back into Parliament was a dirty little deal and “cuppa tea” between two shonky Johns.

      By contrast, the Greens needed no such dodgy, cosy arrangement with Labour (nor anyone else) and won their seats fair and square.

      Thirdly, RYC;

      Such a coalition will be very unstable as the impracticality of the green policies are exposed…


      Could a Labour-Green coalition be any more unstable than National’s coalition partners, John Banks and Peter Dunne – both of whom have lost their ministerial portfolios, and exist only at the pleasure of the Prime Minister?!

      Again, contrast to the Greens, who have stability and none of the Party ructions of ACT (Holy Leadership Coups, Batman!) nor Peter Dunne (Dude, Where’s my Party?).

      If you want “unstability”, I submit, for your consideration, a journey into the political Twilight Zone with Banks and Dunne.

      ’nuff said.


      Helen Clark of course avoided doing a deal with the Greens in 2005 instead swallowing a dead rat (festering stinking and diseased rat ) to go with the corrupt and impossible Winston…

      Hmmmm, I’m no fan of Winston Peters. I certainly don’t trust him on the matter of his coalition preferences.

      But “corrupt”?

      That’s a strong allegation to make, and not one that I am comfortable with. He may be a consumate politician (as is John Key), but “corrupt”?! Yeah, nah.

      Anyway, it strikes me as curious that you believe that coalescing with the allegedly ” dead rat (festering stinking and diseased rat ) […] corrupt and impossible Winston” was “a better course of action than the greens”?!

      Your preference is for (allegedly) “corrupt” rather than (supposedly) “extreme left policies”?

      I doubt many would share such a preference.

    • “labour are aware that the extreme left policies of the greens are a major turn off for the majority of New Zealanders.”

      Peter, you are using the word “coalition” here in your comment above, and that is exactly what is not at all likely to be the form of a future Labour led government. You are making presumptions, or jumping to conclusions, which again serves to further mislead the already rather poorly informed, biased public, who are fed “news” and “information” that consists more of slogans, headlines, twitter tweets and superficial summaries of events or news releases these days.

      To understand what the Greens actually stand for it is necessary to look deeper into their policies and program, and how they work. They only have their 14 MPs, and there are more well qualified, high calibre persons on their candidate and member lists.

      I would hardly call it “extreme left policies” that the Greens stand for, as much what they propose are middle ground policies in many developed European countries.

      It is the sloganised talk that is being adopted from National and a few of their supportive media spin-masters, that the media use, and this gives many in the public a very superficial, uninformed impression of the Green Party and their policies. I hear stupid comments from people saying, the Greens want legalisation of marihuana, want to close down all mines and industry, and that kind of stuff, which is totally twisted and untrue rubbish. Those people have never read the Green Party policies, but they think they know what they are talking about.

      The same applies to Russel Normans former suggestion to apply a moderate bit of “quantitative easing” policy, to keep the NZ dollar down and to provide finance for the Christchurch reconstruction and investments in the economy. All that was ever talked about was “money printing”, which is bizarre, as most countries have done what he proposed.

      Perhaps do some study in your free time:

      That is if you want to take your blinkers off, which some people stubbornly refuse to do.

      • “I hear stupid comments from people saying, the Greens want legalisation of marihuana”

        Umm… the Greens have supported drug law reform since Nandor and Metiria defected to them from the ALCP. Anyone who’s actually looked at the evidence of the counter-productive effects of drug prohibition wants major drug law reform *yesterday* (and might have got it from the Clark government had Dunney not flushed it in his coalition agreement). See former US presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton supporting reform in ‘Breaking the Taboo’:

        “want to close down all mines”

        I certainly hope so. All coal mines at least, if we want any chance of keeping global warming under control. If this isn’t their policy, they don’t stand a chance of getting my vote.

        • Danyl – as I understand it, the Greens are pro decriminalisation and also for hemp use for industrial and other purposes. They have a more reasonable approach towards use of marihuana, and I am sure that many Greens support at least the medicinal use of substances in that drug.

          As for full legalisation, I do not have the impression that that is widely supported amongst Greens and certainly not amongst the wider public.

          Re mine closures, I think it would be rather economically stupid to stop mining full stop. Even if people would switch from private motorcars to public transport, there will be an ongoing need for steel, for iron-ore, for coal even, to be used for industrial purposes of making steel and the likes. There are many other minerals that are needed, and our computers contain a wide range of them.

          As for oil drilling and coal mining, I think the Greens are opposed to the risky drilling (deep sea) and mining (seabed and more mines on land), and to expanding it, not to stop mining full stop across the board.

          There will in any case be a transition period, where we still need to depend on oil, gas and coal for time being to certain degrees, to build a more sustainable infrastructure that will cater for alternatively fueled transport, for better built (insulated), energy neutral housing and so forth. More efficient use of existing energy is a start and a priority, and also to prepare the switch over over decades to come.

          I see very little if anything of that being done by National, and Labour are too ambiguous on it all. So the Greens are an essential force to push for this.

  4. Good analysis, Stuart. The Greens’ branding, and the public perception that they are environmentalists only, means that they cannot get far into double figures. And any increase they might get does not actually increase the overall vote for the left. Only Labour can actually pick up swing or middle ground voters in sufficient numbers to win the election.

    • Branding – whether business, political or personal – is about maximising expose to your own value statements and story. Labour has a very powerful story to tell, and should be telling it on its own terms. the term ‘Labour Green coalition’ does not allow this, whereas ‘Labour-led government’ does.

      • the term ‘Labour Green coalition’ does not allow this, whereas ‘Labour-led government’ does.

        And yet, Stuart, the potential authority of an alternative government was never more apparent than when both Labour and the Greens presented their NZ Power policy, with Russell Norman and David Shearer standing side-by-side.

        Or when the Labour, Green, New Zealand First and Mana parties held a joint inquiry into the struggling export/manufacturing sector.

        This is what the public desperately want to see; how the Opposition will work together for the benefit of the whole country – not just for the benefit of their own electoral success. (And this message is directed at EVERY Opposition Party, by the way.)

        Because if you can’t show that the Opposition Parties (or at least two of them, for god’s sakes) can work together collegially (sp?) – then you’re bequeathing the next government to the Nats.

        And say what you will about the Tories (I have!), they can cobble together a coalition and make the bastard work – even when the wheels have fallen off (along with doors, windscreen, bonnet, etc) and the thing looks like the mini from “Goodbye Pork Pie.

        By all means, attack the Nats, ACT, Dunne, and all the other neo-liberal puppets in the system. They have plenty to be attacked over.

        By all means, put your policies forward as robustly as you can.

        You’ll find a lot of willing ears to listen and hands to help you.

        But slagging off your allies and potential coalition partners is not helpful. It is counter-productive in the extreme.

        It puts a nagging doubt in the minds of the punters out in Voter Land just where your priorities lie.

        And really, I’m gobsmacked I have to spell this out to you…?!

        • The political authority of Labour to lead an alternative government was significantly eroded when Shearer shared the podium with Norman. It may be what you want to see, but it is not what the Nation’s voters want to see: they want to know that a Labour-led government has the authority to implement an agenda without being behoven to the Greens. Teh joint launch of the power policy eroded Shearer’s moral authority to lead and promoted Norman to a legitimate opposition leader. It was pure gold for the Greens; and it ignored the basic playbook of a leader of the opposition.

          • @ nash..

            ..going on yr 7.14 pm..

   horrifies me that you were driving/running shearer as opp-leader..

            ..(and explains the dismal-failure of those endeavors..)

            (i mean..could you be more cliched/’wrong’..?..

            ..what you decry as a worst moment..shearer and norman showing unity/the ability to work together..

            ..was what the poling showed..

            ..and we saw a surge in popularity for shearer/labour..?

            ..did you even read yr own polling..?

   are seeming more and more the ilk of the captain of the titanic..

   you still come here to stand on the bridge..

            ..and confidently urge ‘full steam ahead!’

            ..fucken icebergs be damned..!

   have clearly learnt nothing from that wrong-footed exercise with shearer..

            ..’playbook’! i said: ‘cliched’..

   know nothing but what you have already

            ..and it horrifies me even more that you don’t yet seem to come within a bulls-roar of understanding how ‘wrong’ you are/were..

   horrifies me even more..that there are so many more like you in the labour party..

            ..and i guess the same can be said for those other neo-lib labour mp’s/officials..

            ..that ‘bulls’-roar’ also applying to them..

            ..and these realisations just take me back to the reaction early in the thread..

            “..bangs head against a red brick wall..”

            phillip ure..

      • Old Labour has a great brand, it can claim significant social contributions.

        Neo-Liberal Labour has nothing to offer but toxic spin. You really don’t want to try to sell neo-liberalism to old Labourites – they’ve heard it all before.

        Go get a job with Blair selling WMDs to both sides in Syria.

    • I’m not sure which country you are living in, but in Aotearoa, polls show 60% of kiwis want a government which will do something substantial about climate change. This does not suggest a country which is scared of environmentalism.

      Also, the idea that “swing voters” decide elections is FPP thinking. NatACT may have got half the vote in 2011, but only about a third of *registered* voters ticked their box. As Bomber and others have said many times here, the way to beat the NatACTs is not to emulate them, but to offer a radical alternative to them, one which will inspire non-voters to vote, and all those not even on the roll to register.

      NatACT supporters desperately want to believe that “the extreme left policies of the greens are a major turn off for the majority of New Zealanders”, but Stuart has got it backwards. A large chunk of Labour’s voters approach elections as race day. They want to back the winning horse, and they vote Labour as a vote against National. If they believed that the Greens could get enough votes to lead a government, they would switch from Labour to the Greens in a heartbeat.

      • The Green’s want to stop the coal industry on the West Coast. That is not popular at all with the locals, which is a traditional labour seat

        • AndyS – and as the United States withers under the most extreme weather-born assault since whenever, some human beings still think that burning fossil fuels and pumping more CO2 into the air is a jolly good idea?!


          How hell bent are we on extinction?!

          • The problem is that green policy doesn’t add up. You are firmly against mining and the use of fossil fuels yet you are pro government spending on services (health, education, welfare, housing) and you have populationist policies (immigration, refugees, multiculturalism).

            People can see all that; there is a giant credibility gap.

        • The West Coast needs employment not coal mining.

          How much wealth is sucked out of the West Coast by big corporate players.

          Frank and a majority of other NZders want a future for the next generation and beyond. The present path we are on will deny them any future.

          The planet doesn’t respond to politics and spin but is responding to what humans are doing, with dire patterns emerging.

          Wealth redistribution definitely must not be based on consumerism.

  5. Well, Stuart Nash sure as hell doesn’t understand MMP. I love how he makes in point number 2 the very correct assertion that Labour has to get National voters not Green voters to win the election and then states that Labour should fight for Green votes as well as National votes.
    And if he wants half the green vote he will have to come up with far better reasons why Labour is best than personal attacks on Turei and Norman. Try articulating some solid left wing policies, for a start.

    Sillier still is stating that Dunne had no substantial input into tax while Revenue Minister – tantamount to saying “Labour wants coalition partners so Labour can govern, but we won’t give you any influence to make being a coalition partner worthwhile”

    • As mentioned, of course I understand MMP. If the Greens dropped below 5% without holding an electorate seat it would be a disaster for Labour’s aspirations, but this won’t happen (see pervious comment), but there is no way that any political party should willingly give away party votes to any political friend. Electorate seats, in the way National does, is another story, but the Greens no longer need the comfort of an electorate to ensure political survival. If it ever got to the stage where this, in fact, was the case, then assume Labour would come to the rescue – as they did in 1999.

      • …but there is no way that any political party should willingly give away party votes to any political friend.

        Stuart, your quote would be true if your political party was a hollow, valueless void and purely a brand vehicle to get the MPs on your “team” elected. However, if your political party is bigger than its MPs and in fact has some policies, and the political party is merely a tool towards winning the argument that those policies are the best ones, then it is irrelevant what the party vote actually is: as long as the argument is won and the policies are implemented.

        I’m a green party voter. If you want my vote, then adopt the policies of the green party, or adopt better ones.

        • I actually agree with the majority of this in the sense that if Labour hasn’t the policies to implement an alternative vision, then it doesn’t deserve to lead. My belief is that it does, it will communicate these in a way that will present a very clear alternative to the current govt, and the policies of the Green party that line up with those of the Labour manifesto will be implemented.

          • Respectfully, I am not aware of anyone having any understanding what so ever about a Vision from Labour…. To actually see a Vision and some Policy would be a wonderful thing.

            Again respectfully, Cunliffe speaking out of both sides of his mouth, depending upon the audience makes it pretty much impossible to present any sort of well thought out Vision….

    • Yes, what about Labour focusing on the 800,000 that could not bother to vote in the last general election, rather than try and get votes from those that support the Greens? What about trying to get the votes of the silent group of non voters, of dissenters that see no point in voting, who are largely the totally marginalised working poor, those on benefits and others who are marginalised?

      It may pay for those ones in Labour, like Stuart, to start heeding the call of their leader, to actually do all to motivate those that did not get out to vote last general election, to go and vote this year!

      That alone can make the difference between sitting on the opposition benches or the treasury benches.

      It will be a hard task, but getting votes off the Greens will not grow the “left” of centre vote, it will not beat National, nor will it achieve all that much, to get a few National voters to change their preferences. Yes, there are the swing voters, and all requires a careful balancing act, but there is a huge pool to be tapped, that of the 800,000. Doing some truly democratic grass roots campaigning may reach them, that is provided a clear, convincing and smart alternative is offered by Labour.

      We are watching this space with great interest! Running down Russel Norman is “cheap” political stragegy, and it does not appeal to me! It is rather destructive. Is it, because Labour has not yet got the convincing policies formulated, we are waiting for?

      • I do find that threads like this become a little like Chinese whispers: in the end the debate is completely off-track from where it started.

        Of course Labour is going to go hard to win the 800k of enrolled non-voters, and Labour isn’t going to specifically target Green voters – I have never ever said this – what I have said is that Labour is going to target all voters of a certain persuasion and belief set. What will happen is that some will naturally come from the Greens, but that is completely different from targeting Green voters: why bother as it does nothing to increase the centre left pie..!

        • Well, your post did look a lot like the “bash the hippy” kind of politics that Labour regularly engages in.
          Green party members (I am one) and voters are well and truly sick and tired of hearing it.

          I will be door knocking, advocating for Party vote Green, electoral vote Labour in the upcoming election.
          But the Labour party is a real embarrassment at the moment (Running on raising retirement age in opposition? Stupid!, Stupid!, Stupid!)

          A Wgtn Green insider once told me that he believed that at least 80% of their voters would support Labour if the Green party did not exist. The likelihood of National supporters switching allegiance to the Greens is remote, so the Greens must target the Labour vote in order to increase their parliamentary presence. Labour will need to fight for each and every vote: this includes against the Greens as well as the Nats

          It does seem likely that if there was no Green party, then 80% of their voters would vote Labour, but what you’re missing is that they’d do so because Labour is not National, not because they like the policies or the party.
          It is also true that many Green voters used to vote Labour. They vote Green not because the Greens actively targeted them, but because the Labour Party has failed them.
          The way to get them back is not to “bash a hippy”, but to actually advocate for socially democratic policies and engage with the electorates concerns.
          Produce a positive vision for New Zealand and back it up with robust evidence based policies.
          This would also have the side effect of attracting National voters – not all of them are rabid swivel eyed wingnuts.

          Most of the Green party members I know are policy wonks. If good policy is well legislated, we really don’t care who does it, as long as it gets done.
          The Green Party are not a sports team wanting our team to win.
          We want the people of New Zealand to win, period.

    • “I love how he makes in point number 2 the very correct assertion that Labour has to get National voters not Green voters to win the election and then states that Labour should fight for Green votes as well as National votes.”

      I have a better idea.

      Why not go after the 800,000 disaffected who didn’t bother to vote last time? Seems to me that would be a far more productive source of votes than the constant pandering to the ever shifting sands of the ‘middle’ vote.

  6. Quote from Stuart Nash:

    “All that aside, I believe that one of the biggest losers in 2013 was Russell Norman. When Shearer was the Labour leader, the media often sought Norman’s opinion as an opposition voice due to Shearer’s inability to clearly articulate a position and his team’s consistent failure to respond to media requests in a timely manner. Now that Cunliffe is leader, and is very articulate with an extremely competent press secretary who understands the game, we once again have a true ‘leader of the Opposition’ and Norman is relegated to fighting for media scraps like any other leader of a minor party.”

    And this comes from one of David Shearer’s strongest and most vocal supporters, before he decided to step down!?

    So Cunliffe is the real “true leader” now, after all that, it seems. But I suppose Stuart is always loyal to whoever is the leader of Labour.

    Fair enough, so Labour should draw a clear line between the Greens and themselves, and choose their language wisely, Stuart recommends. For Labour, for their party’s election aspirations’ sake, yes that makes sense.

    But for me as a voter, I am hardly misled or influenced by what the Nats say about the Greens or Labour. I am also not “charmed” into voting Labour by mere words and language their candidates will be using. I am looking at their program, at their policies, and I am still waiting what they are really supposed to look like.

    There are some in Labour supporting all that explorative oil and gas drilling going on, and also being favourable of off-shore seabed mining and more mining in general. Fair enough, I’d say, but there are others in Labour speaking out against more drilling and mining, for environmental concerns they have. There is no clear line I can see, where Labour is going to stand on this.

    My main concern with Labour is the astonishing silence on crucial, sensitive, real issues in welfare policy. Many a posts or rather comments that I and others publish here or elsewhere, they get unanswered. There is “nada” to be heard from Labour’s welfare spokespersons on Dr David Bratt, on the hideous, draconian and unjust, inhumane welfare reforms, where they now expect sick and disabled to prepare for work.

    A radical change in re-assessing such persons on benefits for “work capacity” will start in only a few weeks in February, and there is absolute silence from Labour on this.

    Instead I hear today that Sue Moroney is commenting critically about the incident where a nine year old boy was seen drunk on booze on a Hamilton skateboard yard.

    Now that of course hit the media headlines, and “media savvy” as Moroney seems to be, she took up the opportunity to say something on that. It is the same like Jacinda Ardern repeating (justifiably) her concerns on child poverty and child abuse. Yes, it is a fair issue, but hardly ever does she comment on the extremely stringent application of “work capacity testing” by WINZ, their biased “designated doctors” (paid and “trained by MSD!), or now on the outsourcing of medical and work capability assessment by WINZ.

    Where are the voices from Labour on that, on the fact that mothers on benefit will now also be work tested, if they happen to have another baby while on a benefit, after only 1 year?

    Beneficiary advocates are tending to despair re Labour and their ambiguous position on welfare. It was Dr David Bratt who was appointed “Principal Health Advisor” for WINZ in 2007, under the last Labour led government. Nobody in Labour now likes to talk about that.

    Here is what the man stands for:

    (see pages 13, 20, 21 and 35, where he likens benefit dependence to drug dependence)

    That man’s ideology and extremely harsh position on sick and disabled on benefits, relying on a Prof. Mansel Aylwards highly controversial “research” claiming that most mental and musculo-skeletal illnesses and conditions are mere “illness belief”, has now even filtered through into the wider medical profession.

    With a new ‘Work Capacity Medical Certificate’ and GPs now being “trained” to do what WINZ and MSD expect of them, even the Auckland City Mission is telling their sick and disabled clients, that “work is good for you”, before signing any medical certificate for them:

    What is Labours “nicely worded” and “smarter language using” comments on this, if I may ask?

    And yes, you can guess, Stuart, my vote will not go to Labour, as long as Labour is silent on all this, and does not clearly distance itself from this madness going on under Paula Bennett in her Ministry and within WINZ!

    • Marc, you make some interesting comments. I was, once again, going to post on child poverty and Dr Russell Wills recent comments, but I have written about child poverty a number of times, and didn’t want to over-do it.

      First a couple of comments: I consider David Shearer a good personal friend. I am, however, not so blind that I can’t see his short comings. While I am always loyal to the Labour leader, I do absolutely believe that Cunliffe is the best man to led Labour into the 2014 election: if I didn’t believe that I simply wouldn’t say anything.

      If anyone cares to go back and look at past posts, they will find that for me, child poverty and inequality are THE issues of the election: the levels of which are a national disgrace. I totally agree that Labour needs to come out hard on both issues – and campaign with sound policies that offer real solutions. If they don’t then the odds of winning the election lengthen considerably. NZers of all political colours find poverty and inequality distasteful at best and disgusting at worst. I personally find them both highly offensive and it is the belief that I can help find solutions that drives my political passion and ambition.

      • Stuart – AGAIN, you talk and write about “child poverty”, which is a fair comment, but honestly has become almost the ONLY topic that Labour goes on about when it is about welfare!

        What is your stand on Dr David Bratt, and his positions, and what he propagates and misinforms the wider medical profession, and the public with, selectively using data from questionable, not sufficiently proved “research”. It includes research by a Professor M. Aylward, and his colleague G. Waddell, and a few other hand-picked ones. Aylward’s “research” on disability was “sponsored” by a US disability insurer that was convicted for fraudulent practices on a number of occasions in the US! They had a vested interest in creating a bizarrely misinterpreted version of the “bio psycho social model” that makes it hard to prove certain illnesses are physical in nature. I have ample stuff that exposes Bratt, who is the one TEACHING designated doctors, mentoring them, instructing their Regional Health Advisors and Disability Advisors, on how to assess and make recommendations on sick and disabled and their “ability” to work. I have heard of some appalling decisions, clearly breaching natural justice and other law!

        What is your position on the welfare reforms that we got last year? What is your and Labour’s position on the draconian work capability assessments, on even the Auckland City Mission lecturing the down and out people (many homeless) that they must get ready to WORK, while they suffer all kinds of illnesses, poverty, addiction, and are far from being able to work? Many of them are even homeless and must sleep in shelters!

        Oh no, Dr Bratt’s message is important, so important that they must be told his view, before the doctor or nurse at the Mission’s medical centre signs off a “Work Capacity Medical Certificate”.

        Your silence reinforces my suspicion, that in essence, Labour seems to agree with the direction of the approach.

          • JANINE – Yes indeed, you seem to be absolutely spot on with your brief but clear comment!

            Substantial information on ALL this, the medical aspects, the issues relating to Dr Bratt, the “designated doctors”, and what else ties in with it, was sent to David Cunliffe’s office, Grant Robertson’s office (during the Labour leadership contest), was pointed out to Helen Kelly (via The Standard, repeatedly), who as CTU leader even volunteered to support the “work is good for your health policy statement” that even the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, short RCAP, published a couple of years back!



            It was also sent to Jacinda Ardern, to Sue Moroney, to Louisa Wall not long ago, and a few others, the ALL have it, but NONE have really commented on it, neither publicly or on blog forums. Only did Jacinda make a mention of Dr Bratt in one or two speeches she held in relation to the disgusting welfare reforms.

            That tells me, that Labour cannot be fully trusted on welfare policies, hence the only parties presently in Parliament, that may give sincere consideration to these very serious matters, they are the Green Party and their members, and possibly MANA.

            So beneficiaries, or those at risk of ending up on a benefit one day, you should know from that, who to cast your votes for.

          • It is a fact, that the medical professional organisations, the training organisations, in Australia and the UK, have now virtually been “hijacked” by the ones of Sir Mansel Aylward, and Dr David Beaumont (who “advised” MSD and WINZ as former ATOS employee!), and others of their network of like-minded associates, to push relentlessly to put pressure on sick and disabled, that they must prepare themselves to work, as it is supposedly even “therapeutic”!?


            Aylward and his long time colleague Gordon Waddell, both from the UK, and responsible for much of the introduction of the same regime in the UK, were both “sponsored” by the repeatedly convicted health and disability insurer Unum Insurance or formerly known as Unum Provident, when they worked for and expanded their controversial, bizarre “research” and the Cardiff Uni based ‘Centre for Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research’.

            Unum now apparently no longer plays a role in this research centre, but they funded that centre and Aylward for years, and they designed the very “ideologically” coloured “research” findings that insurance companies and governments love, as it gives them the justification to use “science” to kick sick and disabled off benefits and claims entitlements!


            There is much more to be found about Aylward and his agenda on ‘Black Triangle Organisation’s’ website, but it seems the NZ government AND Labour, have fallen hook, line and sinker for questionable research and a “scientist” promoted by a criminal, corrupt insurance corporation!

            This is stuff that should send alarm bells throughout the whole medical profession and the sick and disabled affected, especially vulnerable, helpless beneficiaries. But Labour cannot be bothered taking an honest stand.

            • Whoops – addendum:

              “It is a fact, that the medical professional organisations, the training organisations, in Australia and the UK, have now virtually been “hijacked” by the ones of Sir Mansel Aylward, and Dr David Beaumont (who “advised” MSD and WINZ as former ATOS employee!), and others of their network of like-minded associates, to push relentlessly to put pressure on sick and disabled, that they must prepare themselves to work, as it is supposedly even “therapeutic”!?”

              I forgot, I forgot, to include NEW ZEALAND, of course! It seems to affect the New Zealand medical fraternity and their organisations, same as public health organisations, even more so than the ones in the other 2 countries now.

              And besides of that, we have a largely boot licking, biased, commercially dominated MSM (mainstream media) supporting all this appalling ideology, by reporting on it in a very one sided manner, or NOT AT ALL.

              The same is the case in the UK, and NZ better prepare also, for our version of “Benefits Street”. I am sure that the ones at Mediaworks (TV3) and TVNZ are already working on something of this sort:


    • Marc. Re msd and certification. Traditionally a patient GP has done the certification, that was fine when patients were known or enrolled with their gps for years. Now many people will Dr shop to get what they want. Frequently patients will turn up and want a 3 month certificate done, and the Gp has never met them. There is only a 15 minute time slot. Almost all Gps would provide the requested documentation. It is not fair to ask Gps to do this as they don’t want to cut someone off. A proper assessment of a persons occupational ability needs a specialized Doctor and more time. There are some cases that a normal GP can do (eg after an operation etc) but a lot of conditions are not straight forward. Note most straight forward certificates are still done by family Gps.

      I am not making a comment on the independence of the special winz assessors, or even if its a good thing.

      For interest only. There are studies done which show when you give someone a note/letter/certificate which declares they are unwell, the patient does infact believe they are incapable for the duration of the certificate. It is like the placebo effect in reverse, or the interesting effects seen after the interventions of witch doctors. There isn’t 100% consistency of this phenomenon but it definitely exists.

      • “I am not making a comment on the independence of the special winz assessors, or even if its a good thing.”

        You are well advised not to comment unless you know what is going on, and I have obtained some astonishing but also extremely worrying information about this supposed “independence” of WINZ assessors.

        As for “doctor shopping”, I do not rule out that some people do this, but given the fact that most GPs are rather “conservative” in diagnosing and assessing patients, and cautious, in increasing cases also rather “favourable” to what WINZ and MSD would like them to do, I do not blame anyone trying to find a reasonable, sympathetic doctor.

        If such “doctor shopping” goes on too much, the doctors themselves and WINZ will catch onto this, and that is exactly where they bring in their own preferred “designated doctors”. If I wanted a good treatment I would seek a doctor whom I can trust and see regularly, and I rather rely on my trusted GP’s competence to assess my health than any “designated doctor”, who again sees you only for 15 minutes and has little or no background information.

        As for people thinking they are only sick due to a certificate given them by a doctor, I have not heard of such cases, as they seem to be few. Most go to see a doctor, because they are ill and need treatment and/or a certificate saying so, not the other way around. Doctors are not fools, and they will soon detect if anyone is trying to take them for a ride. Also it is rather difficult to fake illness, and even if it is mental illness, a GP will tend to refer a patient for proper assessments by a mental health expert.

        So Dr Bratt and his agenda do not make sense, apart from that it is all about serving the interests of his WINZ and MSD paymaster bosses, who want to do nothing else but reduce people’s entitlements and reduce benefit numbers, and with that costs!

        Mansel Aylward and his research were also paid for by Unum Provident Insurance, a large insurer that already had influence on welfare policies in the UK for years. There were and are vested interests at play:
        (there is amply info about Mansel Aylward in this publication!)

  7. This reads as ‘Labour party insider getting off on dissing the greens’ a’s opposed to anything constructive or useful. It’ll be great to see by what margin that prediction of such a low vote is wrong by later this year.

    • Geraint, if that is how you read the post, then read it again. I personally couldn’t give two hoots about the Greens: my mission is to maximise Labour’s party vote so a Labour-led coalition has the best chance of governing after the 2014 election.

      • Geraint Scott’s comment is a valuable and clear message from ‘a potential voter’ to you – It is not up to you to tell Geraint Scott to ‘read it again’, it is up to you, Stuart Nash, to listen to what people are saying to you regarding what they are hearing in what you write.

        Well, that is if you want to be an effective representative of the people.

  8. Nash’s article reeks of bias. Predicating Green performance on the Brownian motion of MSM reporters is probably less reliable than reading chicken entrails.

    The Greens are a class act, fully democratic with decently educated leaders. Their biggest success to date is probably in raising the quality of debate in parliament, and Russel Norman is a better performer than David Cunliffe on a good day.

    I guess the kind of active hard working alliance the Greens and Labour will need to create leaves less room for the kind of carpetbaggers who were attracted by Labour’s policy vacuum in the Blairite years.

    • Hmmm. Not too sure what to say… Russell is passionate, and I have respect for anyone who reaches a leadership position in a political party (except for Banks and Dunne – perhaps I should withdraw that last comment). But let’s be honest about this: I have seen both Russell Norman and David Cunliffe perform on a number of occasions in a variety of forums, and Cunliffe is a class above. That is simply the reality and not me being biased.

      Of course the Greens have some good performing MPs (and I personally think Kevin Hague is the best of the bunch), but my opinion based on observation is that the best performing Green is still a level below a number of Labour MPs like Cunliffe, Parker, King, G Robertson and Jones

      My prediction of green performance is based on history and the facts. Of course I could be wrong, but if I am then a new long term trend line will need to be constructed.

      • You are easily impressed if you are impressed by Jones or Robertson. Young and impressionable I guess.

      • I think I understand where you have gone wrong Stuart. Politics is not meant to be “performance” art. It’s meant to be “the art of the possible”, using public policy to bring about as much improvement in people’s lives as possible. Approaching politics as some kind of Top40 popularity contest, where gaining influence is more important than what you do with it, is at the heart of what has gone wrong with politics in this country for the last 30 years.

        MMP and the slow but steady rise of the Greens shows that policy based on principles and evidence, rather than opportunism and focus groups, is more than a match for the full misrepresentative power of the state-corporate media and the neo-liberal grand coalition of Labour and National. If Labour don’t take the cue, and return to their roots as a party of principle, they will one day be the junior coalition party to the Greens.

        If Labour’s campaign machine is stuck on a spin cycle, your best bet is to pitch to those who turned 18 in the last 5 years or so and haven’t yet learned much about Labour’s history. If you think that Greens voters will scramble back under the skirts of Labour after 30 years of them making inviting noises while in opposition, and indulging in back-stabbing and betrayal while in power, you’ve got a hell of a reality check coming on election night.

  9. ” To have any chance of forming a government post election, Labour, however, has to win voters from National. ”

    What a load of nonsense, Stuart. Haven’t you been listening to your Leader? Cunliffe has been saying Labour needs to get out the Enrolled Non Vote, and THAT is what will get Labour over the threshold into Govt – not going after the National vote ! and that’s who you should be targetting as well, as LP candidate in Napier.

    • Indeed, Jenny. As others here have pointed out here, Labour needs to mobilise the 800,000 non-voters. It’s clear that its policy platform wasn’t enough to get them out at the last election, and this is where it needs to put its energies. Don’t waste time on famous-last-words predictions about the Greens’ performance at the next election.

      Show some courage, and take a principled stance against the hard Right perspective now permeating the welfare and education sectors; unambiguously support the legalisation of abortion; put forward a substantive plan (backed by evidence!) to get more women into parliament; turn your back on the neolib economic policies which have done so much damage to NZ society – and doubtless have differentially affected those 800,000 non-voters.

      I’m a voter with a fair few miles on the clock. It’s instructive to note that, looking back, Keith Holyoake and Robert Muldoon were much more like Labour Prime Ministers than any of the iterations we’ve seen since Muldoon lost the 1984 election.

  10. Stuart, I agree with your underlying message that Labour needs to start standing on its own two feet. However, the rest of your analysis makes me both laugh and cry at the same time. I laugh because its comical. I cry because I think your logic and ideas are taken seriously by Labour.

    God help us all

  11. i suppose nash.. would be speaking from the insights gained during your stunning shepherding of the five minutes shearer was leader of labour..? have a tin ear..are on the wrong side of history..

    ..and all the credibility of a (recently-failed) rogernome..

    (oh..!..that’s right..!..)

    ..and yr plan/ideas to fight poverty..?

    ..oh ..!..that’s right..! don’t have would rather just ‘get them off roofs’

    ..phillip ure..

    • whats with the way you write? Is the … button on your computer stuck? And doesn’t the ‘Shift’ button on the keyboard work? Most annoying to read as you never ever make any sense. Quite interesting

      • “ never ever make any sense. Quite interesting..”

        i mean..could you be more arrogant/condescending..?

        ..and seriously..!..on what grounds..? about answering the questions i have posed to you..?

        ..and should i play yr ad hominem game..and riff on yr tragic/sad/young-fogeyish choices of both ties and barbers..?

        (see..!..easy to go down that

        and a neo-lib/randite/rightwinger..’labour’ person.. these days/times..

        ..aren’t you the one who currently is ‘making no sense’..?

        ..which also isn’t really ‘quite interesting’..?

        phillip ure..

        • Nash has a point, your comments ARE hard to read Mr Ure. I wish you would form properly structured sentences and paragraphs. Evidently you regard it as a kind of “trademark” but in a way it’s like speaking another dialect: it’s hard to understand for the rest of us who speak a different one.

          That said, you are entirely correct: Nash attacked your style and didn’t even bother to address what you said, which is essentially ad hominem and unbecoming of someone who is supposed to be in government. Your style may be a bit frustrating, but Nash’s behaviour is contemptible.

  12. I remind you Stuart, that David Cunliffe was chosen as leader due to his strong support from the affiliates and the membership. This support rested on the belief that he would end the centrist shilly-shallying and take Labour back to its core principles. That is the position held by the people who would talk up the party, urge others to vote, drive them to voting booths and so son.

    Of your three points, point (2) is the most contentious: “To have any chance of forming a government post election, Labour, however, has to win voters from National” and “The likelihood of National supporters switching allegiance to the Greens is remote.”

    In response to the first point, what you are going to need even more is the votes of of those who have given up voting. For one thing, National is about to start flattering those borderline voters, though they will not give up crushing the poor and the low paid. People are much less worried about cronyism when they think that they themselves have a chance of joining the club, which is going to limit Labour’s appeal to such people. However, those who presently feel disenfranchised have much more potential, provided you give them something to hope for, and activists something to be enthusiastic about. As was promised with the elevation of Cunliffe.

    As with the second point, I have seen with my own eyes, electioneering in Herne Bay, a large number of National/Green split votes. The Greens are attractive to a certain stripe of urban arriviste in a way that Labour is not. Voting Green “says something about you” that you like to have said, if you are that kind of person. In comparison, saying “I voted Labour” does not have quite the same ring to it.

    As a result of these things, you have very little wiggle room left by which to avoid squarely challenging the current status quo. Which is what the members and affiliates clearly want you to do, and what might inspire the non-voters from 2011 to vote Labour.

  13. I am wondering how much of what you write here, Stuart, is based on research and how much is based on assumptions? I would guess you are in a better position to have access to voters’ views than myself, however you might also be solely be basing your views on the circles that you are exposed to and this can be a very poor basis for forming views. i.e. people with strong views against Green policies may be approaching you – yet these views may not be reflected in the wider voting community. Or another example – how many people who didn’t vote in the last election are you speaking to? Do you know their reasons for not having done so?

    All I can base my estimates on is the strong positive support Mr Cunliffe got from Labour party members from his ‘moving away from neo-liberal policy’ stance.

    “It is not what you say, it is what people hear”

    What I am hearing here is a very ‘business as usual’ approach to Labour’s need to get more voters voting for them.

    This does not sound akin to the type of attitude that got Mr Cunliffe elected as leader. It sounds bland and based on assumptions – not on understanding the mood of the NZ electorate.

    You are facing an election where there are people such as Russell Brand from FPP Britain giving people [sadly!] very good reasons not to vote – his message is very popular.

    What are you doing in this article to address that very big problem? Are you drawing clear differences between National and Labour? Are you sending out the message that:

    If you vote for smaller parties we will listen to your voice; as represented by them “?

    This country has MMP and we left wing parties need to work in alignment to get a left-wing government” ?

    Or are you simply saying
    We continue to assume that the majority of people want something like National and we are going to do our damnedess to be just like them. “?

    Are you aware that some people are not voting because “The two main parties are much of a muchness “?

    I am fine if this article you write is based on solid research that indicates there really is a problem with regard to ‘how much left’ NZ voters will accept – however my observation of the success of Mr Cunliffe’s message in the leadership campaign – leads me to get the impression that many NZers are fed up with a wishy-washy compromised left message and are more likely to get out and vote if a much more defined and clear left-wing message is sent out – and this article is not that.

  14. Article author appears to have no idea why 800,000 people didn’t vote last election, why the Labour vote has collapsed over the last 2 elections, or why the Greens are growing in popularity.

    There is a disaffected, disconnected, demoralised underclass in NZ who feel shafted by successive governments. The last Labour government didn’t do much to help the desperately poor, and the current National government is actively punishing this underclass for the crime of being poor.

    A party who effectively gets its message across that it is a champion of these disaffected poor will win their votes and the next election. This is why David Cunliffe got elected by the wider party. The pale blue line in the Labour caucus needs to realise that being a party for the people will win them votes. Not talking about being “centrist”. Centrist politics is a fabrication, a fantasy.

  15. Yes there was a small blip of Cunliffe looking good but his inability at removing Goff, King, Mallard and the other Neo Liberal Conservatives who cannot keep themselves out of the SKY box has killed off any chance of him doing well. Labour has got to stop being National with a different coloured tie. I actually think that Labour will over time become the lesser party if it continually fails to oppose due to its similarities in policy to National. Actually my dream is to see Cunliffe join the Greens. Ahh such a sad ass dream, I blame Irish Scotch.
    I’m willing to give you one more chance Mr Cunliffe, throw out the freemarket trash and I might take your words seriously.

    • That isn’t Cunliffe’s decision to make, imo. Write to those MPs LECs (especially fuckin’ Mallard’s) and tell them to primary the bastards before the election. That’s the proper and democratic way to do it. Having the party leader go Oliver Cromwell on them might seem satisfying when he’s the guy we support, but the precedent it sets is potentially disastrous.

    • @ bladelores..

      “..I actually think that Labour will over time become the lesser party if it continually fails to oppose –

      – due to its similarities in policy to National. .”

      i wd agree with that..

      ..and the funny thing is..

      ..that the likes of nash..

      ..just can’t see that fact staring them in the face..

      ..phillip ure..

  16. It sounds like the best thing to salvage from the wreckage of this article is the reminder that Labour needs to focus on getting as many as possible of the 800,000 MIA voters out to vote, and showing a united front with the Greens and Mana in doing so.

  17. “The Green party received 11.1% at the last election. History will show this is the high-water mark for them. I expect them to get around the 6.7% they polled in 2008; or even close to the 5.3% they got in 2005.”
    – this prediction is almost as rash as that Japanese/American who told us we had reached the end of history.

  18. The only way you’ll get back in to power without the Greens is like Germany or Italy. A Grand Coalition.
    And I reckon you buggers would do it…..

  19. Hello Stuart

    It seems to me that the Labour Party membership sent a message of sorts, by choosing Cunliffe, that they wanted to tack left instead of holding steady on the third way, let alone tacking any further right. How left is a different kettle of fish of course, but a Labour-NZ First coalition is surely not the destination these party members have in mind?

    Labour had problems with framing issues under Goff and Shearer, but the bigger problem was that they offered voters a party that really didn’t seem to be all that different to National. Voters went left to the Greens, right to NZ First, stayed with Key because Key and another 800,000 odd voters stayed at home.

    In my blue collar workplace, the management vote National and will do so every time with very few exceptions (like when English was the boss). The men and women on the floor? Hardly any of them voted before and they have no plans to do so soon. This is the labour force that the Labour Party, of all political parties, should appeal to yet it does not.

    Low pay, high rent/mortgages, high power bills, the cost of cell phone calls etc, the cost of petrol, the cost of groceries, keeping your job, finding a new job, having to miss work because the kids are sick (again), finding the money for the warrant and rego, and so forth. This is the stuff the 800,000 odd voters who didn’t vote in the last election, who don’t care apparently, this is the stuff they care very deeply about day to day.

    Kiwi Build and Kiwi Power are, in my humble opinion, good policies that reach out to those who think that the politicians down in Wellington don’t care about them. But Labour needs to do a hell of a lot more. For example, a pay parity act would particularly help women on low incomes. Kicking the taxation system back towards a progressive model by slashing or completely cutting GST would be a huge help to low to middle income earners.

    Ah, but I’m beginning to rant and ramble now. Anyhow, I think if Labour want to win, then I think they need to keep tacking left and embrace the Green coalition wholeheartedly. Simply framing and communicating away will achieve little, especially for New Zealanders.

  20. Does the Labour Party actually know that Cunliffe is leader? Or maybe they’ve morphed into some sort of anarchist collective where the spokespeople say whatever enters their heads, or in the case of those who were cheerleaders for Rogernomics, what has rotted away in their heads for the last 30 years. Cunliffe makes some great speeches. The others who open their mouths sound as if they’d be more at home with NAct.

    I don’t know why a Labour Party that lost its way so badly and has only accidentally taken a few quickly corrected stumbles back to its roots thinks it has the right to be so arrogant about the Greens. This article has strengthened my determination to vote Green and Mana. I have no intention of voting for another 3 years of Dr Bratt and Professor Aylward, nor for more invasions of tribal land, nor for the disgusting treatment of an Algerian Muslim, based on lies from the same people who committed an act of war in Auckland Harbour. Labour should be apologising and begging for forgiveness, not doing their best to consign conscientious politicians to the dustbin of an environmental wasteland.

      • Marxist actually, JH. I struggle with this because Labour still has its traditional roots in what’s left of the organised working class, but I’ve come to the conclusion that they only know how to use these links against the class, and I can no longer support that. If that sounds Green rather than red, then Labour is further gone than I’d thought.

        • There is the problem of arguing about a particular topic when we both have a different fundamental paradigm about the world and how it works.
          Not being aware of the other persons world view is why these discussions fall into a lot of spitting and cursing.
          The “world” is a very complicated system and our model is an abstraction.

  21. Hey Stuart,
    I am really not getting your mathematics here. Why are you not considering the Green party? History shows the increased percentage pattern. I belive game is on for Labour-led opposition and a National-Conservative coalition , however we can’t rule out Green party completely.


  22. The likelihood of National supporters switching allegiance to the Greens is remote, so the Greens must target the Labour vote in order to increase their parliamentary presence.

    except by mistake. You see I looked around in disgust when i saw what was happening in the heartland (particularily Queenstown) but also the infill housing and all the ills that go with population increase policies.
    I found the Greens were part of the problem Anti immigration Policies have no place in the Green party says Mr Locke. Then there was the prominence of the (onerous) treaty interpretation whereby tangata whenua owned the white of the egg and others (“if they had bought legitimately”) owned private property within.

    As it turns out the independant Savings working Group agreed:

    January 2011
    “The big adverse gap in productivity between New Zealand and other countries opened up from the 1970s to the early 1990s. The policy choice that increased immigration – given the number of employers increasingly unable to pay First-World wages to the existing population and all the capital requirements that increasing populations involve – looks likely to have worked almost directly against the adjustment New Zealand needed to make and it might have been better off with a lower rate of net immigration. This adjustment would have involved a lower real interest rate (and cost of capital) and a lower real exchange rate, meaning a more favourable environment for raising the low level of productive capital per worker and labour productivity. The low level of capital per worker is a striking symptom of New Zealand’s economic challenge.

    So I suppose the point is that only left-wingers would vote for the Greens because they aren’t really a switched on, smart scientific party that sees the world, it’s systems and people as they really are?

  23. You have to be very concerned when a politician of the left begins an opinion piece by lauding the ideas of Frank Luntz – the darling of the American right. Luntz has built a career out of focus groups, message design and attack ads based on appealing to prejudice and ignorance.
    Of course appealing to the worst in people works – if all you are interested in is winning votes. Ultimately though, all you create is a climate where nothing of worth can be built.
    There is a lot of discussion in US media right now about Luntz who seems to have realised the wasteland he and his ilk have created. Luntz has commented that all he sees now is a populace that is contentious and argumentative. The American people, who he knows intimately through polling, don’t listen to each other anymore. They are comfortable in ignorance; divided one against the other, black vs. white, men vs. women, young vs. old, rich vs. poor.
    In an interview recently Luntz accepted that his tactics had helped create this negativity. He talked of being terribly depressed and ready to quit.
    Stuart Nash’s article draws deeply on the cynicism of Luntz and his ilk. In it Nash abandons any consideration of a social vision in favour of narrow electoral goals. As Luntz and the American people are finding, such a narrow plan takes you to a place where nothing worthwhile can achieved.

  24. Think about this in terms of what Labour has done and views of the Green membership.

    David Rankin (Ngapuhi Chief).

    elocal: “What message do you want to get out to the 200,000 Auckland people reading this?”
    DR: “We have to recondition our mindset and think about the changes that are going on in our country. I think as Maori and Pakeha we have to start looking at our relationship because we are living in a multicultural society. The rights of Maori and Pakeha are becoming less because the new immigrants coming into our country have exactly the same rights as people who have paid taxes for generations. We have to work closely with our treaty partners and embrace each other for a strong future, after all it’s the people who make the country not the other way around.”

    elocal: “Does NZ need a new constitution?”
    DR: “Does the Treaty even work? The Treaty is like a marriage licence to say that two partners will behave themselves… I think [a new constitution] is just a waste of money, we have to start focusing on what is best for this country because we’re living in austere, changing times and in ten years the face of NZ will be entirely different and we will be following the rules of a new master. We can’t compete. We have lived through the best times of this country and we have to be prepared for not very good times in the future.”

    elocal: “Who is the new master?”
    DR: “We’re seeing the demise of the West and the rise of the East and you just can’t compete against the numbers, and people that train their children from the age of four. We’ve become a lax society while the new masters go to work seven days a week. These are the new masters of the world, focused on business opportunities and making money. Look at America; look at Europe – they are falling over, and our lifestyle is going to change. It frightens me that if you don’t work hard, save your money and buy property and assets we will live in a new society of very rich and very poor. Everything we’ve grown up with that matters to us – free education, free hospitals – they’re not going to be there, because we can’t compete.”

    People are asking “what is happening to our lovely little country?”

      • “recognised by John Ansell, Ian Wishart and at least 47 other delusional racists.”
        Your own polling apart, he is unfettered by a particular group/ line of thinking and does seems to have an odd belief or two. Nevertheless his observations might gel with many people outside that group.

        elocal: “Do you think NZ spawns racism?”
        DR: “It can be both ways. Chinese can be racist against Pakeha, Maori can be racist against Chinese, Pacific Islanders can be racist against Maori. Racism isn’t about stereotyping, it’s an individual thing. I’m wondering if Hone Harawira is racist because he comes from a minority… I know lots of Chinese who don’t like Maori… It’s human nature, it’s all about being human.”

        I’m thinking your definition of racism would be Professor Spoonley’s one? I prefer the perspective of evolutionary psychologists.

  25. Wow… just, wow…. All I can really add to this conversation is that if Labour go into the next election hoping to win by taking votes off National then we are doomed. Labour needs to connect with the 800,000 voters who didnt bother last time, Labour needs to show that their is a true alternative & not just National lite, Labour needs to tell NZ that they will take us not in the direction that has seen the GFC, NEo-liberal inequality, and the rise of the 1%, but in a bold new direction where everyone matters, whether they are poor or rish, working or not ….
    I am a Napier voter, it has always been my intention to give Stuart my candidate vote, & the Greens my party vote…. now im not so sure. I dont want a government that just continues the status quo, I dont want a government of egos…. I want a government for the people …
    Labour has a lot of work to do, especially based on what ive just read….

  26. oh, one more thing I forgot to put in….. You ask the average leftie what they think of New Zealand First, & how they would feel if Labour went into coalition with them……
    You must be unpleasantly surprised at the answer….

  27. While the left/right polls are neck and neck, National is in the better position, particularly with the economy appearing slowly to turn the corner. The average kiwi who doesn’t follow politics like we do will need very strong reasons to actively support the other side into govt.

    One of these reasons must be that Labour has a vision and is ready to implement it. This is where Cunliffe should perform well, compared to the hapless Shearer. But for the Nats to lose in the current climate, Labour also needs to convince the public that there is a new govt in waiting that will hit the ground running. This is all the more important given the Nats will question Labour’s moral right to form a govt as only the second largest party. Maybe the wishy washy, “we’ll see what kind of govt we’ll have after the election” works after three or four terms terms, but it simply won’t after two, given the economy and the performance Key still likely has left in him.

    So those 800k voters need a very strong reason indeed to come out on voting day. They need a complete vision and that means Labour coming to terms with their relationship with the Greens and putting in people’s minds that the Labour/Green govt is fiat-acompli. Most of the younger members of the Labour Caucus want to do this because it represents the future, and the Labour membership have wanted a much stronger relationship with the Greens for years.

    I think Cunliffe agrees and it will come down to whether he can control the old-school faction in his Caucus. If they want to be in govt bad enough in 2014 it will happen. If not, the Greens will be an even larger part of the coalition in 2017.

    I’m an active Green member, but this is my honest opinion of how the politics will play out.

  28. cd i ask why the comment i a wrap-up 2 nash..some 36 hrs ago..

    ..never made it thru moderation..?

    ..from this side..i can’t see any reasons..

    phillip ure..

    • ..@ missing comment..

      ..i’s no big deal..

      ..but curiousity drives me to ask:..did nash delete it..?

      ..i wd understand him doing it.. was quite a tidy summary..

      ..drew together all the threads as it were..

      ..and was a calm post..

      ..there was no effing..or the like..

      ..which is why i am puzzled as to why it would not get thru moderation.. nash..did you delete my comment..?

      ..if so..why..?

      ..i know it didn’t make you look great..

      ..but they are all yr own words/

      ..that i was commenting on..

      phillip ure..

  29. Hi everyone,

    Just thought I’d offer my two cents worth after reading everyone’s comments.

    I’m only an occasional reader of The Daily Blog, but my impression is that 92 comments (as at this reading) is quite a lot for a post on The Daily Blog, a fact which is itself worth commenting on. Obviously Stuart Nash’s post has touched a nerve.

    Next things I notice are that the post has a rating of 2.3/5, when most posts here get much higher, and that all of Stuart Nash’s comments have been rated negatively (or 0), while many of people’s responses criticizing what he has said have been rated highly positively.

    Whatever Mr Nash’s true intentions, as the title of the piece states (and a couple of people have reiterated), “It’s not what you say, but what they hear”, and Daily Blog readers have, on average shown that they don’t like what they’ve heard. In brief, I would describe this as an attitude of unnecessary competitiveness with the Green Party. I hope that people’s responses have led Mr Nash to reflect on his attitudes and approach to politics, and this year’s election in particular.

    As D’Esterre writes: “Well, Stuart Nash? Are you listening? And is Labour as a whole listening?”

    Having said that, I do think that it is positive that Mr Nash took the time to respond to people’s comments. If he is willing to engage, that at least offers some hope.

    Of course, the nerve that this blog post has touched, is the relationship between the Labour Party and the Greens (and more broadly with other potential coalition partners). Obviously an important topic and one that has been touched on regularly both here on the Daily Blog, and elsewhere, and will be discussed more and more this year, with the election approaching.

    As Mr Nash states, “it is not a certainty that a Labour led government would be in coalition with the Greens.” Of course, this is true, and will depend on how the votes fall, particularly in relation to NZ First (but also, indirectly, in relation to the Conservatives).

    I agree with Mr Nash that a National-Greens coalition is unlikely, and would be almost certain to cause major problems for the Greens as a party.

    A number of commenters have stressed the importance of attracting voters from those who didn’t vote in 2011 (which Mr Nash acknowledges), and I can only add my voice to theirs. I am not involved enough in any party to know what extra efforts are being made in this regard, and I have not seen this discussed online. I have the sense that Mana Movement activists have been busy, but if anyone has anything to share about other parties (or more details about Mana), I would be interested to hear (and no doubt others would be as well).

    As for Mr Nash’s prediction of the Green vote later this year, even if this is what he believes, I don’t personally think it was at all useful – for the left, for the Labour Party, or for Mr Nash himself – to share such thoughts publicly. To me it just comes across as propaganda (trying to dishearten Green voters, an element of the unnecessary competitiveness I mentioned above), and as a distraction from the real work that needs to be done (as others have also discussed).

    Like at least one other commenter here, I live in Napier and was considering voting Stuart Nash for my electorate vote (the first time I would have ever voted for a Labour Party candidate – in my 7th voting election). I was considering this because I thought it would be strategic, but this blog post from Mr Nash has pushed me more in the direction of a longer-term strategy: Vote for the Greens candidate, Paul Bailey, and (slowly) build up the viability of a Greens electorate win in the long-term.

    I don’t believe that it is a given that National will be voted out this year, although, of course, I sincerely hope they are. I will vote for either Mana or the Greens with my party vote, but that doesn’t stop me from having a broader view. As much as I would love Mana and the Greens to win 50% of the vote, we know that isn’t going to happen!

    I hope that Labour Party members (and MPs) who are opposed to neoliberalism are able to bring about a transformation in their party, and offer policies that support New Zealanders now, and into the future. As others have said, *that* will draw in the voters, and make a left-wing win possible in this year’s election.

    • You know what Jonathon, you are right in what you have written. The last thing I ever plan to do is cause a ‘war’ between parties that need to work together to change this government. My words, in hindsight, were ill-considered. For this I apologise.

      I fully acknowledge that if a Labour-led government is to be a reality in 2014 then it MUST mobilise a significant number of the ENV (enrolled non-vote). This is harder than it sounds, but is not impossible (as Mike WIlliams proved in 2005).

      In Napier, my team and I absolutely acknowledge that we need to mobilise the ENV – both for the party vote and the electorate vote, and we have a strategy in place to do this. If anyone from Napier would like to help with the campaign, then they would be welcomed with open arms. The Green candidate in Napier and I get on well, and those who are from this part of the world will know that we have collaborated on a number of campaigns.

      Jonathon – don’t lose the faith as I will be working extremely hard for the people of Napier and this issues that you all tell me are important. Anyway, enough said. Stuart

      • nash said:..”.. enough said..”


        ..we can hardly hear you from way down in the hole you have so adroitly dug for yrslf..

        ..did hq take you behind the bike-shed for a ‘good talking to’..?

        ..(hence yr dish of ‘crow’..?..)

        ..and you still haven’t answered those two questions..

        1)..yr actual anti/end-poverty plans..(not the arbeit macht

        2)..did you delete my ‘wrap’-comment..

        ..(that one where i mentioned ‘the playbook’ a few

        ..see..’cos the usual censors wouldn’t have done it..

        ..’cos there was nothing in it to

        ..did you delete it..?

        ..and knowing that being caught out lying in a public forum would not be a good look for you..

        .i/we will take yr silence as a

        ..(it hit the mark..that

        ..was it just an impulsive reaction..?

        ..yr deleting..?

        ..phillip ure..

      • Thanks Stuart, this reply from you actually brought a tear to my eye. I’ve become so used to dogmatic politicos with their feet in concrete boots of confirmation bias, that the humility and sincerity you express here really caught me by surprise. If Labour candidates can be this receptive and *real* throughout the election year, a Labour/ Greens coalition might actually be something worth hoping for. He mihi mahana ki a koe.

  30. Well done Stuart Nash, I think you just persuaded me to trade in my red card (still very new) for my old green one.
    I like David Cunliffe but I’m afraid he’s being used as a figure-head/fig-leaf for a large group in caucus who haven’t got the balls to pitch a necessarily radical message to the electorate, and risk getting a hiding for it.
    If we don’t push out of our comfort zone then we just settle for business-as-usual. And given the obvious environmental and economic issues facing the globe today, that will turn out well for our NZ community, won’t it?

Comments are closed.