Is it just me, or does it strike anyone as weird that middle-class intellectuals (academics and teachers and public servants and socially liberal professionals) aren’t considered part of Labour’s core voting base? Surely they/we have been for generations.
I have strong memories of my parents taking me to Labour Party events in the 70s and 80s, in between anti-Tour and nuclear disarmament rallies. A wide spectrum of social justice, environmental and yes, “identity politics” issues have been as much a part of that movement as economic and equality issues. When did we start turning the clock back to the days of cloth-capped blokey-bloke wharfies and miners and catering to some vision of their supposed salt-of-the-earth misogyny and homophobia as an essentialised emblem of “true Labour” voters?
The sneering tone you adopt in discussing those you clearly consider to be your social inferiors perhaps answers your question better than I ever could. It is called the Labour party for a reason, one of those reasons being organised Labour makes Jack as good as all his masters - including the condescending middle-class intellectual ones.
This is an exercise in capturing their affections.
Yes and no. I think that the general zeitgiest on the left is a desire for someone who will start to talk about economics again, and who can espouse a believable, transformational alternative to neo-liberalism. Neo-liberalism is now seen as a discredited zombie ideology that is clinging on because it is has the advantage of being the comfy, incumbent position of the political/media “establishment”, and the left wants a candidate who can change that.
To me, at least, this is the attraction of Cunliffe as a candidate. He seems the only one of them who is prepared to mention the lengthening queue of hungry people outside the gossip dominated neo-liberal vicars tea party that parliament has become. In terms of capturing affection, this is Cunliffe’s shrewdest insight into the current political climate on the left, and it is one that has only belatedly (if at all) come to Robertson and Jones. It is this desire from the left for a mainstream party leader who is NOT a business as usual candidate that the courtier media like Garner and Espiner are ill-equipped to see or grasp. Like all courtiers, they are to close to the palace to see the revolution coming.
What it has done for Labour is given them an open platform from which to begin the 2014 election campaign. The invigoration of members, the mobilisation, the flood of emotional associations, and their affects on the party’s challenged financial situation are all likely to be highly positive.
Unless Robertson gets the nod, in which case the danger is the war between his power base of aging neo-liberal museum pieces in caucus and the largely Auckland based R&F will simply re-ignite after a few months.
Tom, you do seem to be claiming that “a gay machine politician” cannot talk convincingly about issues that matter to blue collar provincial males.
I think that the phone is off the hook with that constituency at the moment, and appointing Robertson as leader will simply keep it off the hook for as far as I can see. There is a degree of complacency about all this that I find quite frightening. Do people in the Labour party really still have their ears painted on?
I don’t think Robertson’s sexuality will be a problem if he becomes leader.
that isn’t the point. If Robertson was a lumberjack who got a degree whilst chopping down trees and playing rugby it wouldn't matter to anyone he happened to be gay. What I am trying to say is appointing leader of the Labour Party a man who is a careerist politician AND a machine politician AND who is from Wellington Central AND who is gay sends a powerful symbolic message to the electorate about the priorities of the Labour party that feeds a belief that it has lost it’s way and no longer represents “normal” New Zealanders.
Tom: Yes because you can’t be a gay man and do that. Obviously.
Does Labour have the luxury anymore of testing your hypothesis?
I hadn’t realised that “pandering to bigots” had become a core Labour value.
Oh fuck off. Am I to believe you think blue collar provincial males are all bigots who are beneath your cultured urban contempt? that is so dripping with arrogance. I am completely over having wallys wailing “BIGOT” when you point out the bleeding obvious – that the Labour party no longer appears to appeal to those who actually do the labouring.
Winning those people back does not mean you have you go around being a bigot. It just means you need to start talking about what is relevant to those who labour. Housing. Wages. the cost of living. Those sorts of issues. Labour has lost those who labour. Pointing out that making a gay machine politician from Wellington central leader will do nothing to win them back is not being a bigot.
Smart, organised, ambitious, articulate, conversant with Labour principles.
And completely invisible. She hasn't landed a blow. To be fair, she isn't alone on that score. But she needs to be a bit less organised and ambitious and a bit more filthy mongrel in taking on Bennett before I would consider her for promotion to anything.
When is Labour going to get over treating ethnic and social groups as voting blocs?
Seen an electoral map of New Zealand lately? It looks like a bloc to me – a solidly blue one. Labour doesn’t exist outside the main centres. Amongst blue collar males, Labour’s vote has collapsed to mickey mouse minor party levels. For a party that calls itself Labour, that is simply not viable in the long term.
A party leader has to articulate in their person the vision of the party. the leader is the party to most voters. He or she has to be the symbol of what that organisation stands for. The leader needs to be the shorthand for the narrative that party wants voters to see the party through.
Whether we like it or not, Labour needs to convince large sections of blue collar New Zealand that it is still the Labour party, and not the assorted social minorities with an axe to grind party.
At this juncture, Labour needs to get back to it’s knitting. Being brand “Labour” that means whatever you want it to mean might work for Josie Pagani, but I think Labour implies a set of core values that it needs to rediscover. Labour doesn’t have the luxury of picking a new leader that doesn’t appeal to what should be it’s core constituency.
Mind you, now is a good time for a membership drive.
Labour took a chance on a raw player with Shearer. I reckon the party will be looking for a safer pair of hands this time.