Labour Can Win If … Defining Jacinda’s Political Mission

By   /   August 2, 2017  /   39 Comments

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LABOUR CAN NOW WIN the 2017 General Election. Thanks to Andrew Little’s noble self-sacrifice and Jacinda Ardern’s spectacular political talent, the fortunes of the centre-left have undergone a sudden and dramatic transformation. Victory is not, however, certain. As always in electoral politics, there are a number of important “ifs” that must be factored into any winning equation.

LABOUR CAN NOW WIN the 2017 General Election. Thanks to Andrew Little’s noble self-sacrifice and Jacinda Ardern’s spectacular political talent, the fortunes of the centre-left have undergone a sudden and dramatic transformation. Victory is not, however, certain. As always in electoral politics, there are a number of important “ifs” that must be factored into any winning equation.

Let us examine some of these “ifs”.

Labour can win if … Jacinda resists any and all attempts to make her the promoter of policies which clash with her self-definition as a “pragmatic idealist”. If Labour’s so-called “strategists” dismiss the “idealist” half of her descriptive pairing and load Jacinda up with the same highly pragmatic (but utterly uninspiring) policy baggage that drove its poll ratings below 25 percent, then the candle of hope which she has ignited will be snuffed out – along with any chance of changing the government.

Labour can win if … Jacinda’s colleagues – especially the party’s finance spokesperson, Grant Robertson, accept that the word “pragmatic” is an adjective – not a noun. It describes what sort of “idealist” Jacinda is – and is not. Clearly, she does not want to be thought of as a “naïve”, “airy-fairy” or “unrealistic” idealist. But, equally, she does not want people to see her as someone lacking an inviolate core of political principles. If she had wanted New Zealanders to see her as someone interested only in what “works”, then she would have called herself a pragmatist. She didn’t – and that’s important.

Labour can win if … its promise of free tertiary education and training for all New Zealanders is brought forward from its current (distant!) start date and stripped of all its “pragmatic” qualifiers and caveats. Jacinda needs to announce an absolutely unequivocal policy: that the restoration of free education will take effect from 1 January in time for the commencement of the 2018 academic year.

Labour can win if … Jacinda announces the above policy on a big university campus in front of thousands of energised students. In 2016, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump both demonstrated the powerful impact which images of large and enthusiastic crowds can have on voter perceptions. The spectacle of cheering masses not only makes the observer want to join in, but it also suggests that what they are cheering about is important.

Labour can win if … hard on the heels of her “Free Education” announcement, Jacinda reaffirms the full restoration of state-assisted education and training programmes for beneficiaries. Reassuring them that Labour’s historical mission has always been to lift New Zealanders out of poverty – not trap them in it – and pledging that any government she leads will never allow its citizens to be punished for being poor.

Labour can win if … Jacinda treats the Budget Responsibility Rules as a guide – not a straightjacket. There is too much urgent repair work to be done to New Zealand’s damaged health and education systems; too many state houses to be built; too much infrastructure to be refurbished for a Labour Government to deny itself the funds needed to make these things happen. Jacinda needs to tell New Zealanders that she will not preside over an austerity government. To reinforce this message, she might find it helpful to quote Mark Blyth, author of Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea, who argues that mainstream economic theories “enshrine different distributions of wealth and power and are power resources for actors whose claims to authority and income depend upon their credibility”.  She might also suggest to her friend Grant that he bone up on Professor Bill Mitchell’s “Modern Monetary Theory”. Doing these things wouldn’t quite amount to Labour repudiating its 30-year enslavement to neoliberal dogma – but it would come close!

And, finally:

Labour can win if … Jacinda is able to meld her pragmatic idealism with a pared-down Labour policy agenda in such a way that her authentic political voice rings out clearly and unequivocally between now and 23 September. If the events of the past two years have taught us anything, it is that electorates reward authentic politicians and punish fake ones mercilessly. Jacinda’s political persona blends intelligence and compassion in equal measure. If New Zealanders see these qualities informing and permeating all of the changes she is committing a Labour government, led by herself, to make – then she will be New Zealand’s next prime minister.

 

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39 Comments

  1. Siobhan says:

    It would be interesting to know if Bernie and Corbyns ‘Youth Vote’ was really all about self interest ie Free Study*…or if, in fact, it was about the broader economic policies and the all important vision of a society for the many, not the few.

    If there is ever to be any progressive change we need more people voting NOT JUST for their own most pressing issues.
    This is an idea that needs to be actively promoted by the Leaders of Left wing parties…and it would be a distinctive branding point to differentiate themselves from the ‘New Labour’ Centrists.

    * Which they should have of course

  2. Chris says:

    This is good advice Chris. From what I know of Jacinda, having worked with her occasionally over the years, I think she could pull this off.

    She needs to also push decent wages (raising the minimum wage and promoting the Living Wage) and decent, affordable, housing.

  3. nakiboy says:

    My floating vote is going to float back to Labour now, and providing Ms. Adern is strong on your last point Chris i hope Labour will again be the major party in a left-ish government. We desparately need to see a “pared down Labour policy agenda” 4 to 6 policy points easily understood, well articulated and offering hope of a new way forward

  4. Shona says:

    Don’t hold your breath Chris… but it would be great to see your “ifs”
    happen.
    I am afraid I see this as media driven coup to install a right wing neo-liberal leader who has been pushed relentlessly by the ruling class’s msm .
    Inside the Labour party’s leadership rules where a new leader can be appointed and anointed two months out from an election. The Rogernomes of the Labour caucus have shafted all of us who want progressive change once again. All overseen by Grant Fucking Robertson.

    • Nick J says:

      The Queens councillor must be above suspicion of treason, if the same person has committed treason to place the Queen in power how can she trust his loyalty? He has done it once and can never but trusted not to do it again. A wise Queen would “retire” that councillor. Jacinda if wise will remove Robertson.

    • WILD KATIPO says:

      Even more important then is the moderating force of the Greens in that case. If the Rogernomes attempt to subvert the social democratic movement , they know they do so at their peril.

      And even more so if NZ First are part of that coalition.If you look at this ;

      NZF members are lefties – will they get a say in choosing government …
      https://thestandard.org.nz/nzf-members-are-lefties-will-they-get-a-say-in-choosing-go

      You will see just how opposed to neo liberalism that party really is.

      I do not think the Rogernomes are going to get it all their own way , – not if they know what is good for them and want to stay in any newly elected government.

  5. esoteric pineapples says:

    In other words, if her actions speak as loud as her words

  6. David Stone says:

    Generous promises inadequately balanced by increased income are political strategies many are wary of. It’s not unlikely now, by the positive reaction to the change of leadership that there will be a change of government. But if that change is based on promises that cannot be fulfilled, or fulfilled at the cost of burgeoning debt, it will be a short term government.
    It isn’t that the promises are ultimately unaffordable; but that within the prevailing monetary/banking structure they probably are. Without Jacinda takes on who controls our money, both internally and externally the promises won’t be sustainable. We need to see evidence of this being addressed to have reason to hope.
    D J S

  7. darth smith says:

    jacinda is exciting fresh young intelligent one classy lady a class act

    bill the plank the most borring person on the planet national are so yesterday

    • Shona says:

      Yes Darth agreed BUT that is not enough to affect and implement real change . Unless Labour’s Policies change nothing changes just a bit worthless tinkering.

      • darth smith says:

        its enough for the voters a feeling of hope light at the end of the tunnel the gray staus quo of national is gone Jacinda represents a generational shift in power from the baby boomers there time has past its Jacindas generation that has face housing climate change and they have there voice.
        business us usual is no longer acceptable nats brighter future never arrived
        its the younger generations time and i beleave Jacinda will be talking to them
        and it want be on the tv.

    • norm says:

      ignore chris and let jacinda be herself

  8. Marcus says:

    With all the euphoria surrounding Jacinda’s elevation to Labour leader we should all spare a thought for Andrew Little.
    The man must be feeling like a dumped used tyre at the moment.
    He had the best of intentions, he wanted to make a difference, he was a good debater and knew his policies well.
    But it wasn’t enough.
    He simply didn’t have the personal pizzaz that leaders of parties must have nowadays in order to attract support and votes.
    I for one would like to thank Andrew for his service as Leader of the Opposition. Jacinda will need experienced colleagues like him in the days, weeks and months ahead.

    • David Stone says:

      Yes

    • BG says:

      What’s also telling is that now people will possibly vote Labour now, just because they are fronted by a pretty face. The policies are exactly the same, nothing has changed there, so where were they before?

      I guess that shows the shallowness of the modern-day voters, where a nice smile can can take you all the way to possibly leading the country.

      “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” – W Churchill

      • bert says:

        “I guess that shows the shallowness of the modern-day voters, where a nice smile can can take you all the way to possibly leading the country.”

        This took place 9 years ago, why should it be any different now. The only difference is, she would not give herself a Knighthood.

    • Louis says:

      With you there Marcus, feel for him too. Not including msm/others with their sustained hatchet jobs, what was impressive was the the huge respect and liking Andrew received from all of the other political parties. Cant remember such all round genuine admiration from the house for any other past leaders. Shows how good Andrew Little is. Sad indictment that honesty and integrity and good solid no fuss hard work has no place where it matters.

  9. WILD KATIPO says:

    Mighty , mighty words and synopsis , Mr Chris Trotter.

    These are indeed the things needed. Each and every last one of them.

    As it stands, between Metiria and Jacinda,… the voting public are seeing a new and exciting era unfold. Both backed by party’s with workable policy’s , they are now a direct challenge to the odiousness of the 33 year old neo liberal hegemonic hold on power in New Zealand .

    If these things you are putting forward are followed , we will see massive change in the lives of hundreds of thousands. Good , positive change . And change that is 33 years overdue.

  10. CLEANGREEN says:

    Yes Chris this is paramount!!!

    “Labour can win if … Jacinda treats the Budget Responsibility Rules as a guide – not a straightjacket. There is too much urgent repair work to be done to New Zealand”

    Try Regional Rail for the export freight producing Provinces.

    Gisborne & Hawekes Bay combined produce over 40% ofthe Counties export comidities.

    19% in Gisborne alone.
    No rail now and in HB minimal rail used as road freight is taking all the freight now so this will be needing to be managed and rebalanced by a new rail friendly Government.

  11. darth smith says:

    i think this beatles song sums it up

  12. darth smith says:

    https://youtu.be/BGLGzRXY5Bw
    i think this beatles song sums it up

  13. Keepcalmcarryon says:

    Lots of promise, just waiting to see what she will do. Decidedly uncomfortable with all the tv shots of Grant Robertson whispering advice and what that might signal as future direction.

    • Louis says:

      When as Deputy leader Jacinda said there was no plan B, well yes there was and it was 3 years in the making. Plan B was to roll democratically elected leader Andrew Little using a rule that didn’t trigger a full leadership election process that would have included the membership and affiliates. Nothing personal the Grant/Jacinda faction might comfort themselves with its just political self interest, bugger everyone else. Polls smolls and sudden dirty UMR leaks, no wonder Andrew Little very quickly looked tired and defeated, as like David Cunliffe before him, he was in the process of being rolled by his party and without a song and dance fuss about it he resigned himself to do what he had to do for the sake of those he was trying hard to fight for.

      • Dspare says:

        Louis
        Maybe that was plan A all along? From Jacinda’s viewpoint anyway(probably not so much from Little’s or the party as a whole).

  14. AB says:

    “She might also suggest to her friend Grant that he bone up on Professor Bill Mitchell’s “Modern Monetary Theory””
    Yep – lock Grant in a room with Bill and don’t let him (Grant) out until he recants.

  15. XRAY says:

    And please, do NOT allow any flakey awful media trainers and personality makeover specialists anywhere near her. They turned Little into something as inspiring ax a brown paper bag.

    I like this woman because what she says and does looks real and personal.

    • Louis says:

      All by design no doubt. It was Grant after all who advised Andrew to say what he did in the Corin Dann interview to trigger the resigning process publicly.

      • SpaceMonkey says:

        I suspected Grant Robertson of having his grubby hands all over this leadership change the moment it happened. In a big FU to the Labour Party members, his involvement is my single concern re Jacinda Ardern… she’s the Labour puppet for the neoliberals. Why else would the MSM be fawning all over her now?

        I hope I’m wrong and that she does represent real change for NZ. I’m not holding my breath.

  16. The Chairman says:

    “Labour can win if … hard on the heels of her “Free Education” announcement, Jacinda reaffirms the full restoration of state-assisted education and training programmes for beneficiaries. Reassuring them that Labour’s historical mission has always been to lift New Zealanders out of poverty – not trap them in it – and pledging that any government she leads will never allow its citizens to be punished for being poor.”

    Tying a commitment to the Green’s policy of increasing core benefits rates would give that pledge far more substance.

    Restoring benefits rates is something Labour should have done long ago.

  17. debsisdead says:

    Anyone who imagines Ardern’s policies are going to differ greatly from Billy English and the Natz’ worthless & greed driven ad hockery is self deluded.
    I just don’t understand why anyone who considers themselves humanist would ever vote for the arseholes of Aotearoa Labour 2017.
    Lookit the one thing Ardern has made a splash about since she got the gig, that old stalwart of neoliberal politicians who want to talk the talk but won’t walk the walk because their corporate sponsors don’t like any hint of spending money on things that aren’t them – yep identity politics. Ardern plays the ‘I’m a female’ card as soon as she is clear of the blocks & still loping, not yet sprinting

    A decent humanist pol would have slapped Richardson down and then moved on to discuss policy, but like Oz labour’s Julia Gillard, that is her policy – she’s a woman and therefore not voting for her would be a betrayal of feminist principles yeah right whatever Jacinta, I’m sure you’ll win a lot of female votes and lose a lot of other voters.
    I cannot see it working because the voters who instinctively vote Labour because any Labour pol no matter how rightist – oops sorry ‘centrist’ is a win and any Nat win is a loss, are dying out and nobody is looking keen to replace ’em.

    If people imagine that Mr Corbyn ‘bought’ the youth vote with his fees platform they are equally deluded. Most young people who voted had no loan obligation neither did they intend getting one. And pommie Labour had made it plain the fees abolition deal deal was only from then on they weren’t talking of cancelling existing loans.

    Young people in Britain voted for Corbyn for the same reason that my kids who are in NZ tell me they aren’t gonna vote in the election here, that is they are sick and tired of the same old same old poltician avoid the issue blather and all the party leaders in Aotearoa, Ardern included live by that “Don’t answer the question they ask you, answer the one you wanted to be asked” bulldust.

    If you ever watched Mr Corbyn in action you will know he doesn’t play that game, he talks to interviewers in a straightforward manner with no blather, and THAT is one of the most compelling reasons why he has become so popular.

    When the natz get back in which I’m sad to say they certainly will I fully expect all the labour and green party hacks to turn on young voters and blame them for the fact that the opposition political parties couldn’t win a pub raffle.
    This kicking of the yoof will be conducted with the same mixture of hubris, arrogance and plain old cognitive dissonance that the democrats adopted to try and blame their failings on the evil Russkies.

  18. John Cox says:

    “Victory is not certain”. You can say that again. Victory is highly improbable.

    The Labour Party is imploding, it changes leader within two months of an election – a sign of panic and desperation, and unheard of elsewhere – and it is lurching to the far left.

    Ardern has only two advantages – she will get the support of sexist women, who will vote for anything that wears a dress, and she has the support of the leftist news media. Neither will overcome the major issues for Labour – support less than half that of National, party is in disarray, Labour moving to the far left, and a Labour-led government would be in coalition with the Greens, a party led by confessed fraudsters.

    • Sam Sam says:

      One thing pundants are not looking at is that Kalvin Davies is a maori. I’m not talking about Kalvins ability to debate or korero maori or pick up the sky remote.

      What I’m talking about is the spirit of the maori people, like the spirit of the Irish to overcome adversity. Or the Chinese people’s spirit to overcome Mao. So labours opponent are not just fighting Kalvin Davies. Labours opponents are fighting the will to win.

  19. Bryan Sellars says:

    I’m hoping the media don’t turn this election into the farce the last one was, I thought 3 years ago Labour would have walked it with the policies they had but they never got to discuss them in the frenzy of Dot Com and Nicky Hager, and we are now further down the road that National has pursued wasting billions on roads of national significance with a dependence on fossil fuel that is a dead end, they seem to ignore the biggest danger to the kids of today in climate change, so I’m hoping that Jacinda Ardern will fire up the young to vote and escape some of the entrenched ideologies from the last centuries that National follow.