Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Labour Can Win If … Defining Jacinda’s Political Mission.

Make Things Happen This Year! 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.
 
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.
 
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Wednesday, 2 August 2017.

18 comments:

Kat said...

The X factor of Norm Kirk, the policy depth of Helen Clark and the wit of David Lange. We had Joan Baez, this generation has Jacinda Ardern.

Not can or if but will win.

Pete George said...

It's extremely unlikely Labour will come close to 'winning' the election.

They may recover enough to be in a position to try to put together a coalition, but that is likely to require at least two other parties, and one of those is likely to be NZ First.

Rob said...

let's not muck around...start the process of Sainthood..right now..

jh said...

I like this bit by a right-winger:
"Peters' key insight is that what the political class construes as a broad consensus on economic and social issues is actually anything but. All that has happened over the course of the past 30 years is that politicians and bureaucrats have thrown a succession of dust-covers over the contents of the national household.

Certainly, those dust covers, by obscuring the nature of what lies beneath, have conveyed an impression of uniformity. But, underneath them, New Zealand's antique political furniture – with all its sharp edges – remains unchanged.

The factor transforming this year's election campaign is Peters' and his party's decision to start pulling those dust covers off. The effect is likely to be the same in this country as it was in the United Kingdom and the United States. All of those atavistic political urges that the "enlightened" classes had convinced themselves were long since dead and buried will find their voices and, if Peters has anything to do with it, their champion.
"
https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/95262428/chris-trotter-which-political-leader-will-populist-bear-winston-peters-devour

Jacinda may sing it better than Andrew but it is still the same old vacuous progressives song that got us into this mess.

Freddie said...

Chris, you have encapsulated it all:

"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.

Jens Meder said...

If Labour comes up with idealistic "austerity-less" consumption (on credit) policies like Muldoon's PAYAGO NZ Super from age 60 in 1972 - and wins with this through a massive new youth vote (experienced floating voters are not likely to fall for that again) -

then aren't we faced with just a repeat of history (again) ?

Phil said...

Pete George has stated the obvious - Labour will "win" only in combination with the Greens and NZ First. Which it was on track to do, before Jacinda took on the leadership!

Even Patrick Gower found himself pointing out that the "change the government" vote had reached 52% last week, in the Reid Research poll.

Jacinda and Kelvin start their race already ahead by a head and a neck.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Labour might win if...... the press can raise their level of coverage above "Battle of the Babes" or "What has she done?" Might be a bit much to expect these days.

Polly said...

Despite the massive consuming hype surrounding Ardern, she is still a lightweight, reads her speeches and is quite hopeless in Parliament.
The hype is often cringe worthy and a turn-off.
Look forward to policy statements, supposedly at the Weekend.
Letts see how your 'ifs' go.

jh said...

Andrew Littles voice was a disadvantage. But to really be a leader you have to ring bells.
I doubt many people will respond to Labour's more message - "more state houses" and free tertiary education. If they do it must be with some disquiet about where this country is heading. I will wager that people carry an ancient map in their heads that searches for some form of bounty in the face of perpetual population growth?
Let's face it we are being sold the idea that (based on economic modelling) a larger population will have positive feed backs- and that is it. In fact the government is in defensive mode on this score, only playing for the National Party and Chamber of Commerce with globalist darwinism as their moral back drop?

George Mantell said...

"electorates reward authentic politicians and punish fake ones"....can John Key really be described as authentic or did he just manage to convince a lot of people he was/is?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I see it's started already. Big headlines in the Herald about Matthew Hooton thinking she's a flake. Well – if Hooton doesn't like her that's just one more reason for me to give her my vote, except I'm probably going to give it to the Greens unless Labour comes up with some decent policy initiatives.

greywarbler said...

Battle of the Babes may feature here but our MSM aren't at the level of having a bare-breasted woman on every page 3 (The Sun, one of Rupert Murdoch's stable). They have had the pictures since 1970 and there has for quite a time been a push to get them taken off.

The Independent reported 22/1/2015 that The Sun, 'Britain's best-selling tabloid, had not published pictures of topless glamour models since Friday, instead advising readers the pictures would be available on its website'.

(So they were keeping the soft-porn but just on the website at that stage. I noticed in Britain in the 1970s that men were very keen on their girlie magazines which were easily acquired but still regarded as naughty and men's business.)

The Sun had a pause in their topless photos and then a provocative front page photo and comment headed Clarifications and Corrections:
The Sun previewed the image with the text "we've had a mammary lapse" next to "see Page 3" on its front page.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/press/the-suns-page-3-topless-model-appears-in-newspaper-for-the-first-time-in-almost-a-week-9994163.html

So this is the barrage of trivialised persona that female politicians would have to face in the UK. Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May are both mother figures to the porn afficianados, and no doubt sexless to them.
How would a young female Jeremy Corbyn have fared? One extremist white men committed an act of terrorism against a an age 41, feisty, values-talking Labour candidate Jo Cox. A white male loser to objectively name him, 52 year old odd job man, living on his own with nothing to show for his life, appearing unemployed though he did some volunteering, can do a lot of harm and kill off people who give much to society and are needed.

Cox was elected to parliament in 2015, having previously worked internationally as a head of policy and humanitarian campaigning for Oxfam.
She chaired the all-party parliamentary group for Friends of Syria, and was vocal in making the case for military action in the country last autumn, on humanitarian grounds. Her husband is a former Labour adviser who stepped down as a senior executive of the charity Save the Children last year.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jun/16/labour-mp-jo-cox-shot-in-west-yorkshire

We have seen the anomic male problem in Aramoana, and recently in Whangarei. We want a good society that does not have a male underbelly mired in negativity about sexuality and also about demands for rights and change from others who are disadvantaged. We need go-ahead people like Jacinda but the dark forces that exist and their thoughts spewed up by some of the populist media must be watched and fought against to avoid the uprush of putrid male alienation that stews and explodes and kills what we hold most dear.

So we need careful policies that assist men to be in society doing something that suits their personality and skills. They work must be needed and respected so they can feel fairly treated and pass on that feeling in their behaviour to others, and be encouraged to act personally to help others. The level of happiness and wellbeing will slowly rise to reach an astonishingly high level in a decade. I'd bet on it as it would be one gamble I'd be sure to win, and who wants to be a loser.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Oh! Now I get it.

Labour lost by going too far left so it changed its leader who now can win by going further left.

Why didn't I see that before?

greywarbler said...

That was a good point that George Mantell put up
"electorates reward authentic politicians and punish fake one.."

Which circumstances were you thinking of Chris?

Bushbaptist said...

Adolf Finkenstein: Gosh have you ever thought of a career as a stand-up comic?? You are a very funny man (not!). Labour lost last time because they were/are Gnatlite and were offering more of the same old shit.

If Jacinda comes up with some real policies that alleviate the problems that pervade our society she will be the next PM, mark my words!

Watched the TV3 AM show yesterday with Dunc. Garner and that dipshidz Mark there with him and all Mark could say was "when are you going to get pregnant?" What a stupid comment! Does anyone ask a male prospective PM when he is going to be a father?

Jacinda is quite photogenic and that seems to scare the rightie wingnuts!

Jack Scrivano said...

And if … they stop talking about National all the time. For the past umpteen months I have been listening to Angry Andrew talking about what National is doing wrong. There has been very little about what Labour would do right. And what little there has been has not been very convincing. If it was my call, I think that I might fine every caucus member $20 – no, make that $50 – every time they mention National.

manfred said...

An article of incendiary brilliance.

Every now and again you show yourself to be one of the few NZ commentators and intellectuals who understand the principles of social democratic economics and their revolutionary decency.

Someonewho comments as frequently and passionately on this country is bound to make frequent mistakes but with this piece you have grasped the spirit of this point in New Zealand's history.

Excellent advice for Jacinda Ardern and the New Zealand Labour Party.