OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Dear Labour Caucus

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  • BenWilson, in reply to Damian Christie,

    We'll see about Kaye. You might be right, but I'm reserving judgment.

    But given everything the Nats signalled and started doing in the previous few years, and it had no impact on their popularity whatsoever

    That's an incredibly short time to try to pick long term trends over. Practically every government has a honeymoon period, during which their foibles are seen as great strengths. But over time, popularity wanes, and the exact same things that are initially seen as strength can be seen as weaknesses. As in the movie Wall St, it moves from "I don't know where you're getting your information from, but I like it" to "I don't know where you're getting your information from, and I don't like it" quite rapidly. Popularity is subject to feedback loops, after all - more people liking something means others are better disposed to it. But as with all feedback loops, it only takes a small change in momentum before the feedback goes in reverse, as a few people drop off, and it starts becoming less cool, and then you start finding the old jokes lame, the old positions offensive. Key already hit his peak.

    which is also to assume that they didn't already.

    I think most of National's first term result came from a rejection of the Clark government. This term's result, whatever you're saying about National's party vote, has not been good for the right. Their coalition has been decimated. You don't seem to appreciate just how close the result is in this election.

    Also I disagree, signalling in politics is just as (or more) important as doing, because once it's been signalled, it just happens, often with far less media coverage, and therefore far less fuss than the announcement itself.

    We'll have to agree to disagree about that, then. Action is a lot louder than words. You can see a huge mine, you can see homeless people, and you can certainly feel the big hole in your pay packet when you get laid off. You can feel the burn when a kid replaces you because they're on $2/hour below the minimum wage, and you can certainly notice the drop in quality. You notice immediately when your power prices go up.

    How many beneficiary votes will National lose by doing that, do you think?

    Who knows? The DPB is almost entirely spent by those receiving it, so I expect the businesses that they spend it in would notice, for sure.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8584 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Deborah,

    So what’s with the prevailing meme of blaming David Cunliffe for Goff not being able to come up with them during the debate? It looks very much like a bit of niggle designed to undermine Cunliffe’s bid for the leadership.

    On one level I guess it is hideously unfair, because you can’t exactly expect the finance spokesman to be standing on the edge of the stage with cue cards. But you’d really think that when you’re campaign is hinging on painting the incumbents as, at best, grossly incompetent or flat out pathological liars you’ve really got to do better than “wait until Friday” when your own costings are questioned. Sorry to say this, but you’d never have seen Clark and Cullen score an own goal like that.

    Oh, and when they were finally released what did Labour's finance spokesman decide to do -- achieve the apparently impossible and go on Paul Henry's radio show and be an even bigger sexist tosspot than the host.

    Yeah, I really do find the idea that Cunliffe is Labour's Great Communicator ever so slightly bemusing.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12031 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I’m also far from convinced by his choice of office space in the electorate

    These things matter in Auckland. Location, location location. I'm thinking an entertainer's kitchen with indoor/outdoor flow. Light charcoal paintwork?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4463 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to DeepRed,

    keeping their powder dry

    And that is the mistake that Labour has made over the last three years*, in the most generous assessment I can make. In marketing, the rule of thumb is that it can take about three to four years to firmly embed a brand perception. As NZ politics unfortunately drifts towards the presidential style, coming up with good media management (Brian Edwards) and policy at the supposed “window of opportunity” before an election is simply too little, too late, and moreover, looks insincere and desperate instead of being the dramatic arrival of Blucher’s forces at Waterloo.

    It’s not patronising or dismissive of the electorate as being shallow** in their not “rationally” appreciating the overwhelming brilliance of Labour’s policy that was revealed so late. A lot of the major judgments that people make are “intuitive” – that is, not dispassionately rational, but grounded in observation and assessment over a long period and formulated in a way that is not easily reducible to simple logic. Labour gave nothing to work on, no narrative, no consistency, no sense of there being an essential moral principle. The voters simply didn’t have a reason to care, or to trust them, and any “rational” or even “dramatic” presentation, without sufficient priming, just wasn’t going to resonate.

    Labour simply had no foundation for a win this year. They’ll have to work building one over the next three years, starting NOW. No more of this “keeping their powder dry” bullshit.


    *That’s generous. My opinion is that they were blah blah blah… shit, you don’t need to know.

    **And of course "it's the fault of the stupid voters" is itself stupid.

    Anyway, apologies if this is redundant. I haven’t read pages 3-7 yet.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 980 posts Report Reply

  • martinb,

    Errr? I'm being slightly serious Rich. I think the National branding work in the electorates, always being in the local papers and so on has been very good in terms of visibility, whereas the Labour branding hasn't always been as consistent.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2010 • 159 posts Report Reply

  • martinb, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Yes, the leadership team should have realised coming at a guy who's known strength is his work in a financial industry they had to look convincing with the numbers to minimise that strength not actively make it a weakness. This should have been part of the strategy. They had to know Key would attack their costings. They had to have those costings ready and to hand, as with strategies to deal with any attacks against the costings.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2010 • 159 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    They don’t make ’em like Marilyn Waring any more.

    Nanaia Mahuta has crossed the floor.

    Sofie, I had female National MPs in mind there.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3552 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to martinb,

    This should have been part of the strategy. They had to know Key would attack their costings.

    Joyce had done exactly that every day of the campaign. Opposing strategists/managers would have to be spectacularly thick - or arrogant - to ignore that.

    Credible financial management was also Key's opening line in the Press debate, which any high school debater would have noted.

    No more of this “keeping their powder dry” bullshit.

    Or someone will jam a fuse up there.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16741 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Oh, and making the same 'mistake' 3 days in a row is firing material in most jobs.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16741 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Sacha,

    Sadly answering emails is not all of ‘engaging with the public’.

    Agree. "I answered an email" , "I posted something in Beige Alert", "Someone on T' Standard noticed me" and so on amounts to "My imaginary friend agreed with me, so I'm really, really happy in a job well done" (I'm sure Patton Oswalt could do something really hilarious - and tragic - with that...). However, it's not even remotely funny - it just amounts to "I ticked a box on my checklist and I've done my job, so there."

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 980 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Allow me to correct that oversight. I love you, Ben.

    Cerytainly a lot of good work lately. Where do you find the time?

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 980 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Kracklite,

    Where do you find the time?

    I suspect he's one of those people who thinks in complete paragraphs.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7383 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    My, our, PhD supervisor, Brian, was like that...

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 980 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Kracklite,

    So true.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7383 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Kracklite,

    to be fair, answering emails is *part* of engaging

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16741 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Sacha,

    True, but only a part.

    (As an engineer would say, the glass is not half full or half empty, but exceeds requirements by a factor of two. A larger capacity constitutes mission creep and the people at the Skunk Works would want a full renegotiation of the contract.)

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 980 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Kracklite,

    I do agree we’re seeing the beginning of the end of the Key Administration. And regardless of who gets the Labour leadership, if Cunliffe and Shearer and their respective loyalists can bury the hatchet, they could potentially make a deadly tag team. This time round, it’s certainly time to unleash both barrels.

    Craig R: I absolutely agree about Cunliffe’s Paul Henry moment – it goes to show that pandering to ‘Waitakere Man’ probably isn’t worth it, as Howard Dean found out the hard way. If anything, I don’t think there’s any need to pander if one can inspire – it worked for Obama, the first Northern president since Kennedy. Reinforcing the core constituency comes first, and then reach out to the ‘defectors’.

    Damian:

    How many beneficiary votes will National lose by doing that, do you think?

    Probably not that many. But what if Tottenham arrives on the streets of Mangere and Cannons Creek in a baptism of Molotov fire? Would it jolt people out of their dog-whistle trance, or would it barb-wire reinforce it? In any case no one could ignore it, not even the non-voters.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4351 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    people in class houses...
    Labour just doesn't seem to have their game on.
    I don't understand why they have thrown Chchch Central to the wolves.
    Why didn't they keep Brendon Burns on as a list MP to keep a vocal presence in the city and an office - that's what Nicky Wagner did, with a prominent office on a busy road, I suspect a lot of people thought she was the Chchch Central MP, she did manage to inveigle her way into a lot of photo ops, so I fear some people assumed she must be doing something useful.
    Lianne Dalziel, Ruth Dyson and now Megan Woods already have their hands full looking out for their own electorates - Labour is effectively abnegating any real concern for Chchch Central - maybe Cosgrove can be tasked to go to bat for us - but if they want to win the seat back again next election they gotta be down here in the silt, fighting our corner.
    Burns is already talking about closing the electorate office, wrong move, they need to keep a battle tent with a standard flying, us serfs can limp to...

    Re the leadership struggle - they really should give rank and file members of the party a voice, otherwise they'll find those numbers dwindling too - in some ways it seems odd that we (the voters) don't really get to elect the Prime Minister, voting for a party is no guarantee of stability of command - witness Australia's in-stab-ability - I mean, who'd have voted for Julia Gillard (who?) when Rudd 'won' last time before the bushwhacking?

    Labour could take on both of them (as the Olive Branch Davidians) to be joint leaders - to watch each other's back, and cover for the other's lack - might be a stronger signal than all this pissing contest palaver, it is too divisive and a waste of energy they look no better than Act, it does not bode well...

    And what's to stop Don Brash joining Labour?
    (we do seem to be near logic black hole, who knows what events could slide over the horizon...)

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5046 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Re the leadership struggle - they really should give rank and file members of the party a voice

    Yeah, about that: I'm told that Cunliffe is doing quite well amongst the rank and file. So that begs the question: what positions has he offered them?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7383 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to martinb,

    Yes, the leadership team should have realised coming at a guy who’s known strength is his work in a financial industry they had to look convincing with the numbers to minimise that strength not actively make it a weakness.

    It's not even about Key's background, but basic retail politics. Hell, Michael Cullen could go on a charm offensive and forget the charm bit but when when Labour went into the '99 campaign promising to raise the top tax rate the costings were there from the start and everyone was strictly on message. Including Clark.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12031 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to martinb,

    Yeah, totally.
    I don’t understand the bitterness towards Cunliffe. Maybe he’s an unmitigated asshole, but I haven’t seen it. So far, he looks the better candidate: stronger, more articulate, keener, harder. Absent during the election? I saw more of him than Parker, King and Shearer combined. I have nothing against Shearer, and I’m happy to believe he’s charming and personable. But that’s not enough.
    And if I wanted a clincher, it’s Cunliffe saying he’d want Shearer on his front bench, and Shearer not responding likewise. Anyone who thinks Labour have an excess of talent, and can afford to burn some off, I’d hesitate to put in charge of Peterborough St portaloo.
    They are both needed. The true test of both- and Labour- will be after this little shopping-for-a-leader side-show is over. And I’d expect both- if they are truly worthy of the job- to knuckle down, win or lose, and work together. So long as they do- I’m not worried about which one wins.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1574 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    I concur

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16741 posts Report Reply

  • Pete Sime, in reply to BenWilson,

    Action is a lot louder than words. You can see a huge mine, you can see homeless people, and you can certainly feel the big hole in your pay packet when you get laid off. You can feel the burn when a kid replaces you because they’re on $2/hour below the minimum wage, and you can certainly notice the drop in quality. You notice immediately when your power prices go up.

    Indeed. How many times has this government announced ultra-fast broadband? Despite the fact that it was already established as policy in Labour's Digital Strategy of the mid 2000s.

    Dunedin • Since Apr 2008 • 144 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Pete Sime,

    Indeed. How many times has this government announced ultra-fast broadband? Despite the fact that it was already established as policy in Labour's Digital Strategy of the mid 2000s.

    I've given up on that ever being delivered. Even if we get something, I'm not expecting to go "wow, that's so much faster, it's like a different experience". More likely it will be "wow, that's really expensive" We've been capable of laying fibre optic cabling with capacity in the Gbit/s since the early 90s. The underlying technology of networking has got faster and faster and faster, yet somehow our internet hasn't really got much better since DSL absolved the richest company in this country from the cost of delivering something physical to me, and I have paid tens of thousands of dollars for the use of it.

    It's not because it's hard. It would seem that the thing holding our development in every arena back is a lack of available finance. This lack of finance seems to have flowed from high levels of indebtedness. I can't think of any reason that something as simple as digging trenches and putting cables in them has defeated government after government for my whole life.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8584 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to BenWilson,

    This lack of finance seems to have flowed from high levels of indebtedness.

    Not to mention the cartellised nature of infrastructure in this country, and with only political cold feet standing in its way.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4351 posts Report Reply

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