Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Liarbour First future

It started with a simple proposition - it wasn't enough for the party to understand that voters had lost faith in us.

We had to do something far harder.

We had to accept deep within us that this loss of faith was justified. “Recovery,” we argued, “cannot begin until we understand that a lot of things people said about us before the election were true.

That is why the perceptions have been hard to shift. We were out touch. We had stopped listening.

We were undisciplined and divided.

We didn't have any clear idea of the direction in which we wanted to take New Zealand.”

The context of politics had changed utterly, “but we carried on regardless”.

And voters would not turn to Labour again until they could see that at last we had got their message.

One can only hope.

Three root causes.
The first was that Labour was spending a great deal of money on public services without reforming them. At the time this was shrewd - the public didn't want market reforms and they did want more spent. There was, however, a small problem: spending more without proper reform would not work. The improvements would not live up to voters expectations. And they would become angry. They wouldn't blame themselves for this failure - remembering their resistance to reform - they would blame Labour. And there would be a change in mood. Fury at Labour, greater acceptance of reform and a change in attitude toward government spending.

The second failing was that Labour believed “there is a political solution to every problem”. They couldn't see a social issue without intervening. This made good headlines in the short term, but in the long term would stoke an anti-politician feeling. People would believe Labour had betrayed them and had turned out to be just another bunch of politicians.

And finally there was this: “When people begin to feel really let down by the Labour Government, it is likely that the one thing they will most loathe is the slick over-packaging.”

Slightly modified for NZ, a decade old analysis, from the Times.

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