Dear New Zealand Labour Party. You call yourselves the mainstream party of the centre-left. You call yourselves the party of the little businesses and the little guy. You used to be the champions of the unions. You have shown yourselves able to do great things such as write the Resource Management Act and conceive the changes to local Government that happened in November 1989. You stood up to France over the Rainbow Warrior and many of your number marched against the Springbok Tour in 1981.
Okay, sure you lost the 1990 election. Sure the 1991 Ruthenasia Budget was terrifying to watch being broadcast in hundreds of thousands of homes. You railed against that quite rightfully. Sure, when Helen Clark came to power it was because she was leading a party that was ready to govern, despite a relatively mediocre policy platform.
Helen Clark’s Government was austere in many ways. It was solid without being spectacular. You introduced Kiwi Saver, something that National is now relentlessly chipping away at. You bought back Kiwi Rail and you accepted that a lot of local councils would work better if they had sufficient planning staff to do the job from the outset. But you had golden opportunities to do things that you elected to pass up on, such as setting up a nation wide biofuel scheme based on the waste stream. You ignored the 92% of New Zealanders who wanted harder penalties for serious crimes.
For sure when Prime Minister John Key came to office in 2008, it was going to take a while for Labour to get its act together in the post Helen Clark political environment. He had the easy going people friendly persona that Kiwi’s love. He was down to earth, charismatic and initially passed as someone you might have a beer with even if you disagreed with him. Perhaps we should not be surprised that a void when said Dear Leader departed immediately formed, and perhaps Phil Goff was the best person to fill it. But Goff saw the light and resigned after the 2011 election. I didn’t expect Labour to win that election, and admittedly it was hard for Labour to do better when the Greens and New Zealand First put on convincing performances.
I expected Labour to resolve or at least partially resolve its leadership woes in the second term. I expected it might get a bit more traction around Christchurch than it did. I expected that Labour would issue a directive to for those Members of Parliament who have been around for awhile to consider making way for newer, more energetic members. I hoped that Labour would find a Jacinda Ardern type for some of the other issues. She clearly knows what she is talking about, but she is only one person.
Labour. Come 20 September 2014 last year I had hoped you would have cleaned yourselves up and formed a line up that could at worst pick several seats and force National to rely on Winston Peters for support. At best I had hoped that Labour might be occupying the Beehive with help from New Zealand First and the Greens. But holy moly, was I wrong.
But what are you now? What is a centre left party that thinks means testing is necessary for superrannuitants, and where were you last week when National killed the $1,000 Kiwi Saver start up payment? What is a centre left party that refuses to stand up in Parliament and give National a point blank ultimatim on the Trans Pacific Partnership?
Where are your spokespeople for the environment, foreign affairs, and so forth? This is pathetic Labour.
You need to shape up Labour and you need to do so FAST. This term is now nearly 8 months old. Although some of the Government ministers seem to be practically falling over themselves to do the next dumb thing, the silence from their opposite numbers in Labour is deafening. My God, I hope you get your act together in the next few months because if you do not, National stand a very good chance of winning an unprecedented FOURTH TERM.
And if they do, it might be your swansong. That is all.