What Labour dare not hope for

By   /   January 10, 2014  /   32 Comments

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At some point you have to ask, what on earth will hurt this government?

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With so many commentators (I daren’t name them lest they sue me for reasons that will become apparent in the next few words) auditioning as groupies for the NZ economy ‘rock star’ tour of 2014, is it possible to not hope for all the attendant benefits of having the best little economy in the world? More jobs, better pay and general happiness and prosperity for all, plus an all-important return to surplus for the government? Of course that’s what most of us want but, alas for Labour, it’s the last thing it needs in an election year.

Because if the economy is doing well then the underlying message to voters is that the government must be doing well, so keep the government. Or as Colin Espiner puts it ‘voters will pick the devil they know, rather than turfing out a government in economic good times’.

So the thing that Labour dare not hope for is for the economy to…well….um….tank.
Because asset sales haven’t hurt the government, screwing workers through draconian employment laws haven’t hurt the government, tax cuts for the rich hasn’t hurt the government, charter schools haven’t hurt the government, corporate welfare hasn’t hurt the government, 270,000 kids living in poverty hasn’t hurt the government, overseeing the biggest gap ever between the rich and the poor hasn’t hurt the government, hell, not even Hekia Parata has made a dent.

At some point you have to ask, what on earth will hurt this government?

Well two things for a start; an economy in crisis and an Opposition blessed with good fortune and success. (Let’s take it as a given that National is Crosby–Textored to within an inch of its policy platform and won’t be announcing anything that will scare the horses in the next 10 months, and that the economy will keep on rocking). The Greens are important players of course but they are not the official Opposition. It’s Labour’s performance that counts.

My first post on TDB, toyed with the possibility of David Cunliffe and Labour actually winning the 2014 election rather than National losing it. That was in the heady days following Cunliffe’s decisive win as Labour Leader, when anything seemed possible. Since then it feels like Labour has largely squandered the positive spin- offs from the leadership election. That’s not to take away from its success in Christchurch East and a great conference but it kind of feels like we’re back at the start. Well, actually we’re doing worse, Labour polled better in December 2011 than it did last month. And back then country was still reeling from the Global Financial Crisis.

So what’s to be done now we’re entering NZ’s economic nirvana? A number of people, including me, have written at length about what we reckon what needs to be done to ensure a Labour win: strategy, communication, good policy, organisation and Election Day turnout, yadda, yadda, yadda. The bones of that don’t change depending on the economic situation, but the details might and I’m really hoping that Labour’s got its thinking cap on about how to handle this new crisis…. of a booming economy.

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32 Comments

  1. Mr Tank says:

    Yeah thanks for that mate!

  2. …I’m really hoping that Labour’s got its thinking cap on about how to handle this new crisis…. of a booming economy.

    Precisely.

    The only factors that might play into the hands of the Opposition are the Five Horsemen of the Approaching Financial Boom,

    1. Rising interest and mortgage rate. With many low and class class home owners highly geared (owe shitloads of money to their bank), a booming economy will force the Reserve Bank to up the OCR. That will mean higher mortage rate.

    Home owners can expect a near doubling of what they’re paying now, from around 5% to about 7.5 or 8%. Expect a lot of pain, because, simply, wages have not kept pace with the expected rise in interest/mortgage rates.

    Key’s promises to raise wages will be his vulnerable point (as will be crippling mortgage rates).

    2. As the global economy/consumption picks up, expect fuel prices to rise with rising demand. I’m picking $3/L by next Christmas.

    Coupled to higher mortgage rates and the middle classes will begin to squeal like stuck pigs.

    (“Oh, so sorry, Mr & Mrs Jones – didn’t you know that the free market that gives you so many luvly consumer baubles to buy, is also going to bleed you dry when it comes to petrol prices at the pump?! Never mind. Go buy another flatscreen TV, you’ll feel better.”)

    3. Expect Balance of Payments to go through the roof. As activity in the economy picks up, so do profits increase. Many of our privatised former SOEs, banks, and other big companies are foreign owned. That means more profits remitted overseas. That means monet flowing out of the country, countering money flowing in through exports.

    As our BoP worsens, we’ll be downgraded by S&P, Moodies, and Fitch. Which, in turn, will push up the cost of borrowing from offshore, and further push up interest/mortgage rates.

    4. Speaking of exports – that will be screwed as well.

    As the OCR increases, so will the Kiwi dollar be bought by foreign currency speculators. That’ll push the value of the kiwi up, making life even harder for manufacturers and exporters. Expect more redundancies in both sectors and lower payouts to farmers. Fonterra is a major exporter.)

    5. Thus far, the economic recovery has been a jobless one, with only a small drop in unemployment. Unemployed numbers will drop fractionally, but I suspect this will plateau as negative factors (outlined above) begin to kick in.

    So, any major economic boom is going to a a very real two-edged sword for the government, post-2014, whether it be Labour or National.

    It may help Labour-Greens to focus on such coming problems (and FFS! Call them problems, not f*****g ““issues!) to forewarn the electorate. Use past economic instances of such events.

    At least that way, we can put a seed of doubt into the voters’ minds so that every time a National Minister rabbits on about “improving economic indicators” – people associate that with impending negative factors that will soon be impacting on their wallets.

    ‘Cos in the end, the middle class voter pats his/her wallet when entering the ballot booth…

    • Gosman says:

      Please, please, please let Labour campaign on the economy and do everything you suggest. It would be one of the biggest mistakes a political party could make.

      Telling people that it is all going to turn to custard when they are feeling good about their economic prospects is political idiocy of the highest order.

      What Labour should focus on is their strength which would be to redistribute the benefits of the economic boom towards those deemed less well off.

      • @ Gosman – do you disagree with any of the points I raised?

        • Gosman says:

          All of those things could happen and indeed have happened as a result of booms in the past. However the timing is the main problem for you. If those happen it is unlikely to really bite until next year at the earliest.

          The Reserve Bank won’t be hiking Interest rates as much as you suggest, (by the way moving from 5% to 8% is not doubling interest), unless inflation starts heading north majorly. There is no indication yet this is happening.

          The BOP is an issue but the current boom is being driven by the productive and export sectors as much as from consumption and the rebuild in Christchurch. In that regard it is quite a broad based recovery and therefore will likely have less downsides than you paint.

      • Stuart Munro says:

        A blind madman would do better on the economy than this government. Any marginal fleeting success is immediately sucked up by the property bubble.

        • Gosman says:

          That may or may not be the case. However you would be on a hiding to nothing trying to campaign on that.

          Would you use other nations as a counter point? If so which ones considering NZ will have one of the best performing economies in the developed world?

          You would also set yourself up for inevitable disappointment if the left did win power and the business cycle turned against it.

          In short, and I hesitate in telling you this, the left should stay away from campaiging on the economy.

          • The counterpoint is that Cullen’s insistence on paying down government debt set us up to survive the recession. And who were his biggest critics for doing so? Bill English, Don Brash, and John Key. Minus Brash since he retired, Cullen’s biggest critics were the political beneficiaries of his superior economic management. And very ungrateful beneficiaries of that.

            See what I did there? Outdoing the libertarians at left drawer/right drawer, oh yeah!

            • Gosman says:

              This will be easily countered by National pointing out that the Labour party left a decade of structural deficits even before they had to deal with the outcome of the Christchurch earthquake. National has got the government finances back in to the black earlier than anticipated by a number of years.

          • Stuart Munro says:

            Piffle.

            The Left can easily control the debate on the economy because this government have absolutely no idea what they are doing.

            The Left will have to do their homework however, the MSM and corporate sector won’t be doing it for them.

          • Lily says:

            Now that was really dumb. My bad.

      • Marc says:

        Gosman –

        Given the great dependence on Asia now, especially Mainland China as the largest (or at least second largest) trading partner for NZ, things are not as thrilling as you may think! There are a lot of risks in various Asian countries, that will play out this year.

        “Pimco’s three big worries for Asia in 2014”

        http://www.cnbc.com/id/101281226

        “The second issue

        China’s progress in reducing its dependence on credit- and investment-led growth is the second concern, Toloui said.

        “Chinese economic growth is in the midst of a structural downshift as the export- and investment-led engines that powered 10 percent annualized gross domestic product gains during the past decade have reached their limits,” Toloui said.

        “Growth in the next decade requires a rebalancing of the economy toward household demand,” Toloui added.”

        Also of interest – and reported in other international media, which you never hear about from the local “experts” that all follow the “gold rush” mania:

        http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/currency-crisis-hits-developing-countries-in-asia-and-elsewhere-a-918714.html

        http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/corruption-and-poverty-cause-india-to-fall-behind-a-935882.html

        http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/essay-on-challenges-faced-by-emerging-economies-a-928113.html

        There are endless challenges on the horizon, and not all is gloss and shine, as some rather economically illiterate writers in local publications like the “New Zealand Herald” would like to make us believe for the outlook in 2014.

        China is restructuring, and going into uncharted territory, also with tightening credit. A slow down is due, and this will affect imports from New Zealand sooner or later. They also are making efforts to produce more dairy there and they are investing in other countries, so the NZ cow cockies better wake up, and think about alternative plans, once the milk prices start dropping again.

        I am prepared for some surprises this year, and they will not benefit the present government.

    • Mark says:

      You are so blinkered by partisan ideology that you have just come up with the most half-baked, half arsed and wishful analysis of what could go wrong in the NZ economy.

      Two statements that you made are particularly stupid and need debunking:

      “As the global economy/consumption picks up, expect fuel prices to rise with rising demand. I’m picking $3/L by next Christmas.”

      Except the global economy is not going to pick up drastically at all. NZ is forecasted to be at the top of the OECD for growth and employment in 2014 because growth in the Western world is so anemic. Europe is still a basket case and the US is growing at 1%. Its only India, China and other emerging markets that are actually growing post GFC. Going by 2013, oil prices are hardly going to skyrocket if such emerging markets continue their current growth trajectory.

      “As our BoP worsens, we’ll be downgraded by S&P, Moodies, and Fitch. Which, in turn, will push up the cost of borrowing from offshore, and further push up interest/mortgage rates.”

      Again this is highly fanciful. None of the credit rating agencies have indicated NZ is at risk of further downgrading based on their 2013 reports. Also the Crown is forecast to return to surplus this year, at a time when most western states are still running multi billion dollar deficits (Australia for one).

      Your point about foreign ownership and the balance of payments is moot – it’s always been this way, depriciations in the current account hasn’t been cited as a reason for NZ’s credit rating to be downgraded in the past, and I can’t logically see why it would be in the future.

    • OneTrack says:

      And how will voting Labour/Green/Mana/Winston help any of those points you raised.

      1. Expect some (a lot?) of capital flight which will increase interest rates and drop the exchange rate.
      2. Greens will demand increased ETS/carbon taxes on petrol/diesel. So, yes $3 a litre is easily achievable once they get in. Resulting in a spike in all prices due to increased transport costs.
      3. The increase in company taxes (from an envious Green/Labour/Mana coalition ) will push some companies under and others to move offshore. Resulting in loss of taxation revenue in BOP problems
      4. The dollar will drop but the company taxes and employment regulations and compliance costs that Green/Lanour/Mana bring in will mean the exporters will be ecporting themselves.
      5. The above means unemployment will rise steeply. However, the introduction of a living wage for people on the dole means that many people wont care they are on the dole and many will likely start quitting their jobs anyway.

      It sounds wonderful. How many years before New Zealand is a basket case like Greece and Zimbabwe. How many months?

  3. CC says:

    Now hang on – the ‘boom’ may be incorrectly interpreted as a given for National. The biggest driver appears to be business confidence with subsequent assumptions of various confluences to explain it. One should start from the base-line of the business sector (especially small and medium sized enterprises) expecting the economy to go down the big white pan. A realisation that a change of government would mean lower energy costs, a fairer distribution of wealth to stimulate spending, the curbing of endless rorting of banks and the financial sector and similar progressive policies, the reverse argument applies. Yes – the confidence is very likely to be predicated on the prospect of a new and progressive economy that National cannot construct because of its outdated neo-liberal constraints!

    • Gosman says:

      Yes and that is why business is flocking to support Labour and the Greens. Oh hang on…. that is right…. they aren’t.

  4. Countryboy says:

    @ Jenny Michie …. Oooh ! You’re getting dangerously close to examining/dissecting the Great New Zealand Institutionalized Lie .
    My God what a frisson for me ! You’re almost there .

    Nordmeyer and holyoak will be spinning in there quilted coffins .

    NZ’s economy is a boomer . It always has been so . NZ’s economy has always been a sure bet . NZ’s economy has been a gigantic goose firing out golden eggs like a Bren Gun shoots out bullets.
    The trouble with that of course was a period of deceptive peace and prosperity that the swindlers just couldn’t resist and the raping and pillaging began on a scale unseen anywhere else in the world just as the world , a world who were also our trusted trading partners were reeling from the after effects of WW 2 . Producer Boards were set up and the wholesale theft of our countries resources , our lifestyle and our very peoples began . Hong Kong Bankers described us so . ‘ The most sophisticated frauds not seen anywhere else in the Global banking industry ‘ were words used by Hong Kong banking experts to describe NZ during the 1990’s .

    How that ties in to our growing contemporary political conundrum is as fascinating as it is horrible .

    Ponder this and speaking broadly for the sake of argument .

    About Fifty three thousand people derive their income ( And consequently ours ) exclusively from agrarian endeavors .
    There are , or course , a significant number of people who are interdependent on those 53 k people down the line like shearers , general farm hands , pickers , packers , transport logistics operators , meat workers , dock workers , shipping agents , export experts and a cadre of lawyers , accountants , sundry pencil pushers , rubber stamp stampers , paper clip wranglers . and lets not forget cow titty fiddlers .
    And of course The Banks ( Can you hear Monster Music playing ? Do you hear dogs barking as children run to the safety of their mothers as dark clouds roll in while bats take leathery wing ? Can you now see your breath ? Has the temperature dropped 20 d c ? )

    NZ Banks are the thieves of time . They steal away with your life while they distract you with columns of numbers then use the MSM to lie to justify that politically legitimized crime . Unlike fictional vampires , those bastards are for real .
    You say you live in a 600 k weatherboard bungalow with a 500 k mortgage in NZ’s biggest town which is living on a fictional economy ? I see . Poor you .
    Oh , and lets not forget how much lovely profit they make while you work ever harder … for them .
    And what do you think they did to those 53 k farmers ? Isolated , hard working ( No choice there . Once you start up a farm you have a tiger by the tail ) and innocently ignorant , ( or perhaps naive is a better word ) of the wily ways of the suit wearing , BMW driving , latte sipping , cologne spraying , Uber urban fancy set who slink down easy street with farmer money spilling from their Guccis . Well educated and well healed with no real responsibilities other than to their own avaricious libertine desires .

    Why is it that suddenly our economy is belting along , driven by agriculture once again ?

    I’ve read here , repeatedly , that it is in fact Auckland that is driving the economy along . Is Down the new Up ? ( Sorry Auckland . It’s not your fault x )

    sir mickey fay . 790 million ??? Tip of ice berg , or dung heap ? Banks – Cook Islands ? Paul White ? Lake side property at Lake Taupo ? Swiss numbered bank accounts / pig muldoon , the architect of more than thirty years of working class despair ?

    The Lie is so institutionalized and the swindle is so great that it’s now woven into our very existence , our very profile as a country and is so powerful that no political variations can exist for the common good until the Lie is exposed and the proponents of that Lie are dragged into court to be made to atone . And to pay back our fucking money . That’s what I asked the Queen to consider ( Is that hysterical laughter and knee slapping I can hear ??? ) She sent my letter on to Jerry mateparae for him to consider . I then get a freaky phone call by a man with a gravelly voice who asked if I was who I am then he hung up . He seemed nice and was polite I must say . My name is not on my land line account either ???

    The Labour Party and the National Party should simply merge as one then establish a Corporate board room system representing share holder vested interests . Change our country’s name to New Zealand Co Ltd and be done with it . And for those who , can’t , won’t , couldn’t , wouldn’t , shouldn’t work or are just too old and past their use-by date ? Death camps would be the answer I’d have thought . Gas them , burn them , spread their ashes out of dairy lands for the good of the ‘economy’ . ( See above re Banks . ) Sound absurd ? It’s the only logical outcome to the neoliberal regime born of The Great New Zealand Institutionalized Lie .

    Good work Jenny Michie . You’ve touched on the fiction that is our political system where by we might think we have a government driven by ideals with an opposition party , also driven by ideals and both having our best interests at heart . We do not have that . We have a whole other beastie I’m afraid .

    Compulsory voting and some brave investigative journalism would be my suggestion .
    I’m now off to hide in South Westland .
    Just me and the Moose and the Mystery Caller .

  5. fatty says:

    The only thing booming will be the lies in the headlines about our economy. This is all just marketing from National and it is perpetuated by our arse-licking media.
    Reality won’t change for most of us, despite the rock-star stories. Therefore, the plan remains the same – ending neoliberalism. But of course that means policies that we haven’t seen for 30 years.

    Jenny, do you think Cunliffe is really going to end neoliberalism, or was that just to get elected Labour leader?

    • Jenny Michie says:

      ‘Jenny, do you think Cunliffe is really going to end neoliberalism, or was that just to get elected Labour leader?’

      I have no inside knowledge of what’s going on in the Labour leader’s office so I’m just going to take a punt here.

      I would love to see Labour to offer a meaningful alternative vision for New Zealand but I fear in the election campaign they will just drive straight to the centre with a couple of ‘left wing’ policies that are so bound with provisos and quantifiers to render them effectively meaningless.

      But let’s be real here, an alternative vision at this point doesn’t even have to mean the definitive end of neoliberalism, but it could put a much kinder face on it. Other countries have managed that. How about that as a first step? One policy that is getting a level of buzz amongst the left is to completely remove gst on food. That would give real help not only to beneficiaries and the working poor but also the struggling middle class, whose wages and salaries have not kept pace with the rising cost of food.

      • fatty says:

        I find that view problematic. I think we can still be pragmatic and create change – but the cost will probably be losing the next election.
        If Labour come back with another round of neoliberal policies, then they’ll be in power of 6-9 years before National take over again…so what state will NZ be in at 6-9 yeas time under another Labour term like the one that Clark gave us?
        Whats the point? I’m never one to not vote, but my friends are, and when I debate with them on this issue I always lose.

  6. So after one and two third terms in office the only thing that has saved Keys arse is a fricken earthquake !

    So if National get a third term what is their plan ?
    Hire America to carpet bomb Wellington so we can rebuild it ?

    • Kane Pomare says:

      that would work as long as they remember to mishandle the rebuild in order to string it out for the following term

  7. Michael Gibson says:

    If people are motivated solely by greed and fear, as New Zealanders seem to be, and National (thanks to Crosby Textor and all those financial donations from “the business community”) has a lock on the electorate’s greed, the only strategy remaining for Labour is to manipulate their fear of further impoverishment at the hands of a right-wing government. Forget about child poverty. Forget about beneficiary bashing. Forget about all those (mainly) young men locked up in prisons. Just bang the drum that the middle classes won’t be able to afford all the consumer bling they crave because their purchasing power, based on over-inflated residential property values, is about go for a slide (“The Economist” estimates that stock as over-valued by about 30%). Factor in an uncompetitive export sector (thanks to the Reserve Bank maintaining the NZ$ at an artificially high value for the exclusive benefit of financial speculators); complete indifference to regional economic performance; falling wage rates (in real terms); growing unemployment extending into white-collar jobs; rising prices for utilities, food and fuel; and government’s clearly-signaled intentions to cut entitlements to superannuation (except for MPs themselves, of course), and the recipe is made to aggravate middle class insecurity and anxiety. Even if Labour can’t be arsed connecting with its historic base (low to middle income earners, @30-40% of the electorate), it should be able to scare enough of its new (post-1984) key demographic (middle-to-middle income earners, @30-40% of the electorate, the next chunk above the lowest lot) into the polling booths to protect their position on the economic food chain. If Labour can’t do this, it should pull stumps, leave the field, and let someone else have a go.

  8. Richard Mayson says:

    Labour despite all the anecdotal and known objective evidence, still hasn’t grasped the strategic importance of Natkionals hired communications strategist’s, Textor Crosby.

    This writer Jenny Michie, rightly alludes to them as they are effectively he phantom mangers of every member of the National Caucus including Jonkey. They decide, albeit in the facade of consultation, who speaks, and when and what they say and this includes Minister’s who are Perata type problems and it includes gagging those other Ministers in this category.

    Textor Crosby’s mentor was and is Karl Rove of the infamous and toxic Dubya regime, with divisive “Wedge words” as central to its polarising strategies. These in turn were are are derived from comprehensive ongoing focus groups that test wedge word phrases and exploit other words/phrases that emotionally resonate with targeted constituencies.

    Mike Williams knows this trade and they need either him, or someone with his credentials to not only neutralise the Textor Crosby syndrome, but outdo it. And this means a cohesive disciplined approach that all Labour caucus buys into. It has no place for precious anarchist egos or prima donna’s who think they have intrinsic communication skills or their political DNA is threatened.

    JonKey survives almost imperviously by this dedicated and disciplined approach despite policies that are destroying many NZ’ers . It’s cynical but frighteningly successful and who in their wildest dreams would have thought for one moment a moronic loser like Dubya would have made the White House, without knowing how to appeal to a moronic constituency.

    NZ’ers are being conned by the extreme right wing Textor Crosby stealth strategy. If Labour wants to succeed it has to do it better from the left. To date there’s no evidence it’s either doing this or grasping this reality and time is running out..

  9. Ric says:

    Don’t forget the Key government has increased government debt by $27million per day since coming to power.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9380846/Public-debt-climbs-by-27m-a-day

  10. Marc says:

    “My first post on TDB, toyed with the possibility of David Cunliffe and Labour actually winning the 2014 election rather than National losing it. That was in the heady days following Cunliffe’s decisive win as Labour Leader, when anything seemed possible. Since then it feels like Labour has largely squandered the positive spin- offs from the leadership election.”

    Yes, this is a proper assessment of the situation, and it is somewhat worrying.

    It would look too much like a nasty “spoiler” wanting to ruin the party, if Labour would simply try to rubbish National on the economy, or just pull out more of the justified criticism on the many things where National and their government fall short.

    But nevertheless, the truth must be presented.

    What worries me most is the lack of a clear direction and firm, convincing policies from Labour. It is essential for Labour to present a clear, valid alternative, and that of course means, to provide an economic alternative. That may include some restricted mining and so forth, where it is safe and reasonable, but it must surely include, and be combined with a firm commitment to move away from the fossil fueled economy here in New Zealand, by using existing energy resources to build alternative energy infrastructures (for generation and use of electricity and other energy).

    Public transport in the main centres, alternative fuels for the motor vehicles, trains and possibly ships, which are projects already explored and developed overseas. Solar energy use for heating water and to power equipment in modern and existing homes is much neglected here in NZ. There is stuff that needs doing.

    The direction is important, and to show that more can be done even better, in a progressive, sustainable way, rather than just continue with burning fossil fuels to run transport.

    Housing is an issue, so a solid plan for not just affordable homes under ‘Kiwi Build’, but also a commitment to state housing, to take the pressures of the market. Smarter urban development, saving energy, promoting technology that uses energy more efficiently, projects to develop alternative energies here in NZ, and to create new technology and systems that may also be exported.

    Value added manufacturing of agricultural and other primary products, and a valid, economically feasible plan to advance and promote this would be a positive, right direction. Why not make more from the milk, from fruits and other crops, from timber and seafood, and why not do some here in NZ?

    The Nats are simply more or less continuing with relying on the “successes” of the past, producing ever more milk powder, baby formula, logs, raw fish, drilling for oil and exporting it for refining, of ripping more out of the soil for others to do things with it. That is not a recipe for the future. They offer bribes to a few Hollywood studios to make more films here, hoping this will also result in more tourists to come and spend money here. That is not how you prepare a country for longer term survival and success.

    Now have Labour got their heads tuned into this, have they made contacts with leading experts and potential investors from overseas, to get such projects started here? Have they sat down with local experts and potential investors, have they perhaps contemplated setting up state enterprises to go ahead with such things?

    What must be emphasized is how individual workers – especially the lower paid ones, lose out in all this “superstar economy” crap we get told. It must be shown that you cannot run an economy on a temporary city rebuild. It is important to stress the social injustices, based on some, and too many, being unable to meet rising living costs (housing, rents, energy, transport, education, medical costs and so forth).

    I certainly want FAIR and REASONABLE welfare, not the hideous, nasty approach we get from this government, where as a beneficiary with mental health or other issues, you cannot sleep well at nights, because you fear some ideologically driven case manager will make your life unbearable, pressuring you to look for work that does not exist in sufficient numbers for the fit and healthy.

    To achieve all this and more, communication is an essential strategy to follow, and the mainstream media will prove to be a hindrance to truly informing, let alone in a balanced way.

    So social media and other approaches must be used. Networking, meeting, public leafleting, events in streets, parks and so must be planned and held, not so much to wave party banners, but to inform, discuss, connect and get the true information out to people.

    Labour may be able to learn from the Greens to do this effectively.

    So yes, I an waiting to see not just the Greens but also Labour get started to present the true, necessary, compelling and convincing alternative for a modern, sustainable and yet economically successful NZ. It can be done, it must be done, including people, and the program and message can convince, as it can be POSITIVE, rather than just follow the Whaleoil sewer propagandists down their tracks in doing “politics”.

    • Crunchtime says:

      How SHOULD Labour campaign? Broadly speaking, a 3-pronged approach:

      1. Cunliffe has already done this a bit, one single point needs to be hammered home about the economy: the NZ economy always improves under a Labour government, it never performs as well under a National govt. Simple fact. Leave out the naysaying and talking down of the economy. Make sure Labour’s track record speaks for itself

      2. Speak directly to the disenfranchised poor who didn’t vote last election. Labour has already got some fairly good policy on this, it needs to go stronger in supporting the poor, rhe Michael Savage safety net, assisting the trickle-down so that it becomes a bit more of a stream or even a modest river. Connect this directly to performance of the REAL economy – as in, cashflow for the majority of New Zealanders, not just some abstract acronyms BOP and GDP that benefit primarily the rich (and homeowners to only a limited extent): giving the less well-off more income results in a much bigger cash injection into the local economy as people start buying what they need and haven’t been able to afford. Egalitarian NZ.

      3. Work well and coordinate with the Greens. That does not mean releasing joint policy with them, and collective “we” and “us” language should be AVOIDED at all costs. However: selectively agree to policy where it fits both parties. They shouldn’t necessarily campaign together as such (except perhaps on a very local level), but from what I’ve seen and heard they should be meeting much more often (apparently they don’t at all?) so that they can campaign without tripping each other up, which has already happened a couple of times over the past 6 months or so.

      Finally, why has Cunliffe been so damn quiet for so long? There’s been the occasional strong statement from Cunliffe, there’s been once or twice some wonderful articles in Dom Post and such where Cunliffe was sought for opinion instead of Key. But there has also been one or two bum notes, and mostly just a whole lot of silence.

      I think we all agree that Labour needs to campaign really strongly with a solid strategy from top to bottom. If there are those in caucus who aren’t prepared to do this then indeed I believe Cunliffe needs to do some thorough spring cleaning and take out the trash – which, incidentally, rhymes with Nash.

  11. Ruth says:

    David Cunliffe is not stupid he knows we need the economy to boom and has the policies to keep it going. He also knows we need better jobs wages and a fairer deal for the poor and less fortunate. We also need a party that cares for its people and along with those things, I feel will make good for this country. We just need to give him a chance and vote them in on election day..He is strong and confident and Labour has needed that for a long time.

  12. Jenny says:

    Going through all the political predictions being made for the coming year, there are two topics most of the erstwhile crystal ball gazers have ignored.

    Missing from all main stream predictions, is any discussion of the possible fortunes of the Mana Party.

    Except for Martyn Bradbury HERE, not one of the MSM political soothsayers who has ventured a political prediction, has ventured a prediction on how the Mana Party and their sole MP Hone Harawira will fare in the elections.

    Going by the political predictions being made for this election year, by all the regular MSM political pundits and editors, the Mana Party and their leader will be effectively sidelined by the MSM media.
    But the Mana Party will not the only thing that will be frozen out of the main stream political discourse.

    The elephant in the room

    So what according to these pundits, are the issues, the upcoming election will be fought over?

    According to Bryce Edwards who does a round up all the predictions, the #1 issue will be a non-issue. ie An issue about personalities and ideologies and the balance of power, of which side has the numbers and which side hasn’t, (a subject, sure to turn voting public off by the tens of thousands). While real world issues of concern to people will be down played or ignored.

    Major issue #1: The importance of minor parties

    This column points to the more interesting and important views being put forward, details two major issues that are set to dominate this election year…

    …The questions will be around which parties are likely to make it into Parliament – and in what sort of numbers – what major parties they will aid to form a new administration, and how they will coalesce and survive in government….

    …At this stage it appears this year’s general election could go either way. Opinion polls show that the Labour-Greens bloc and National continue to have even support. Most commentators are wary of predicting the outcome of the election, and instead stress the similar chances that either side have. For example, TVNZ’s Corin Dann says ‘The 2014 election is shaping up as a good old fashioned cliff hanger and is anyone’s to win’, and blogger Martyn Bradbury predicts ‘an election that is razor close’.

    Scaremongering about minor parties will form a large part of the tactics of all political parties, but especially Labour and National, who will seek to drive up concerns about the supposed extremism of the minor parties their opponents will rely upon to form a government. Gordon Campbell puts this very well: ‘in 2014 we are going to be hearing less about whether a centre left coalition or a centre right coalition might have the better plan to meet our current and future needs – and a lot more about how scary those weirdo junior partners may be.

    Bryce Edwards “What will happen in 2014”

    This is not good.

    If Bryce is right, this will be an election campaign just the way the politicians like it… A campaign that dwells on the minutia of the balance of forces rather than discussing the issues…. A campaign in which the politicians can avoid being put on the spot about the tricky and contentious issues of the day… Now, that’s just great.

    A campaign where we get to choose which bunch of baby kissers is the most, or least appealing, and the question of how each will deal with the real world issues of the day is if not ignored, is minimalised.

    This is really depressing. And if it is allowed to play out this way, it will turn many voters off completely.

    Bryce Edwards pick for second most important election issue is the economy.

    Major issue #2: The Economy

    Both National and Labour appear determined to make economic issues central to this year’s election campaign. National’s main campaign pitch will build on its economic achievements – with a trumpeting of the flourishing economy. Certainly the media is full of predictions of the golden weather about to arrive …..

    Bryce Edwards “What will happen in 2014”

    The Right talk in glowing terms about the miraculous economic recovery.
    The left speak of the growing inequality and the human wreckage left in the wake of the so called recovery.

    This will be a failing strategy for the Left as I explain HERE

    In his article Bryce Edwards namechecks the Greens, Labour and the Nats, NZF, ACT, the Maori Party, Peter Dunne and a possible Dotcom political vehicle. Bryce is silent on Mana and Harawira.

    An editorial at the Dominion Post picks a real world subject, ‘Housing’ as the leading election issue, over the sterile, boring, balance of forces, who’s got the numbers debate, picked by Edwards.

    “Housing will be one of the most contentious themes of the year, prompting National to announce further measures to help low-income and first-home buyers.”
    Dominion Post Predictions for the new year…

    The Dominion Post editorial also predict that National will win. Unlike almost everyone else on the left, I also make this call. Unless, something drastically changes, National will win the election.

    The Dominion Post also predict that David Cunliffe will keep his leadership role if he loses the the election (something I also pick HERE)

    The Dominion Post mentions the Greens, Labour and the Nats, NZF, ACT, the Maori Party and Peter Dunne. The post is silent on the fortunes of Mana and Harawira

    Most conservative pundits pick a National win, most progressive Pundits admit it will be close. Which is almost the same thing, (except hopeful)

    If New Zealand First get in, they will go with National. This is a cert, and most pundits agree. I don’t know of any who don’t.

    The takeaway message here is; ‘If you do want a change in government, don’t vote for Winston’s Party.’

    Continuing with the mainstream newspaper editorials; The NZ Herald, like the Dominion, looks to pick real world issues, over the party numbers game to be the main issue in the election:

    “The hottest issues tipped to divide polling booths this year are: child poverty and the wage gap; housing affordability; the price of electricity; (plus) Maori affairs;”

    The New Zealand Herald Welcome 2014:

    The NZ Herald editorial talks up the economic recovery, everything is good news for the Herald. The Global Financial Crisis is a thing of the past, everyone is in line for a pay rise, and the All Blacks will be unbeatable. The Herald mentions the Greens, and National, no-one else is mentioned. This obviously is who The Herald see the contest between.

    Colin Espiner makes his predictions:

    “The new year promises so much: a buoyant economy, the “real” football world cup, two decent summers in a row and, according to Wikipedia, a commercial cure for baldness. Whether it will deliver on any of these is obviously an open question.

    But here are my picks for 2014:

    . . .The economy will go gangbusters . . .

    All the signs are that 2014 will be the best year for the New Zealand economy in a decade. Treasury is picking 3.6 per cent growth; I reckon it will top 4 per cent, making us the fastest-growing economy in the Western world.

    Colin Espiner 2013’s outstayed its welcome. What’s next?

    Again the positive spin on the economy and talking up of a National victory at the election.
    Colin Espiner namechecks the National Party, the Labour Party and the Greens, Colin Craig, and the Conservative Party. ACT gets a mention. Dotcom won’t enter politics according to Espiner. Colin Espiner is silent on the fortunes of Mana and Harawira.

    So if things don’t change…..,

    For what it is worth. Here are my 8 predictions for electoral year 2014:

    #1 As all pundits predict, the election will be a cliff hanger, with a result that reflects that.

    #2 National will win.
    New Zealand First, (if they get in), will give their support to National, ensuring National a third term. NZF will be credited with preventing Labour raising the retirement age to 67.

    #3 People will vote with their feet and not their ballot.
    The Business As Usual nature of the election, won’t engage people, and there will be a huge stay at home non-vote. (possibly, if the election is held earlier in the year there is a chance that this effect could be worsened by bad weather on the day).

    #4 Hone Harawira will lose Te Tai Tokerau to Labour.
    The Labour Party strategists realising very early on, (from their in-house polling of the electorate), that they don’t have the numbers to beat a Nat NZF coalition, will switch huge resources to undermining Hone Harawira and Mana who they see as a major threat on their Left flank.

    Consequently the Mana Leader Hone Harawira will narrowly lose his seat to the Labour candidate. In the process confirming Chris Trotter’s view, “That Labour would rather keep control of the losing side, than lose control of the winning side.”

    #5 The main topics of the election campaign will be what those other guys, the mainstream pundits above, said.

    #6 Going on past and current trends none of the political parties, will be challenged over their relative positions on Climate Change.

    The pending catastrophic destruction of human civilisation, along with a fair part of the bio-sphere that sustains all life, will not be subject considered worthy of an election debate, (but may be allowed an fleeting and obscure mention, or two.)

    #7 Our political leaders on both sides of the ship of state, standing on the bridge the NZSS Titanic will fight to be at the ship’s wheel, lashed and aimed straight at the drifting berg. Arguing over who gets the bulk of the deck chairs if the economic sun ever comes out.

    #8 I will be crossing my fingers and fervently praying the whole time, that I will be proved wrong.


 
Authorised by Martyn Bradbury, The Editor, TheDailyBlog,