Jan 6, 2008

McCarten Sees Change To EFA Essential If Labour Is To Win In 2008

In an opinion piece in today's Herald on Sunday Matt McCarten is painting a gloomy picture for Labour at the start of election year. Already behind at the end of 2007, McCarten sees even worse ahead thanks to the Electoral Finance Act.

"I agree with former Labour leader Mike Moore, when he says the new laws are badly constructed and target the wrong problems. It is clear the print media is going to run a year-long campaign opposing this legislation and will highlight breaches. I can't think of another time the national media was so united in a political campaign. It's extraordinary that Labour has put itself in this position.
A political colleague of mine told me on the eve of the bill's passing that if Labour had any hope of retaining the Treasury benches, it must pull it"

And like Moore, McCarten thinks that Labour might have to make changes prior to the election.

"It's hard to see how Labour can withstand it. The Government no doubt feels it has no option other than to battle on and hope for the best.
But if the campaign increases and more people refuse to comply with the new electoral law, what can it do? If the police refuse to charge perpetrators, the law will become a joke. On the other hand, if someone is charged, it will create a platform for political martyrs and the subsequent fallout will hurt Labour.
If the opposition campaign intensifies, Labour may well be forced to repeal the act. That would be humiliating but I suspect that, left unchecked, the electoral laws controversy fanned by the media will dominate all other politics this year, preventing Labour from getting any new policy initiatives or election messages up. Given its current polling this will hurt the party badly."


"What is worrying for Labour is that it is already behind National a year out from the election. Unless it gets a clear run to set the agenda, the party knows it will remain where it is.
In the next few months, political survival may focus their minds. If face-saving and practicality does not involve a full repeal of this law, they should at least address the more draconian parts of it.
If they don't, the legislation designed to protect them from their political opponents could well be what tips them out of office on election day."

The Hive team don't always agree with Matt McCarten, but in this case we do. We recommend his opinion piece today to all Labour MPs, and their political support teams.