May 3, 2008

Labour Humiliated In The UK. Some Reflections On The Situation in New Zealand

It is hard not to see a parallel between politics in the UK and New Zealand at present. We have saved a few headlines and will compare these to those that appear in New Zealand after our election, whenever it is held.

The similarities in situation are remarkable. Both the British and New Zealand Labour Parties have been in power a while and are perceived as tired and lacking new ideas. Both seem to have misread the mood of the electorate badly. And there are leadership issues. In the case of the UK there are issues over the way in which Brown became leader. In New Zealand Clark is seen to have been in the job too long. A big segment of the electorate who previously voted for her, is now saying they want change. The opposition parties are both headed by younger leaders who give the impression of having new ideas.

In New Zealand's case we think it a bit of a shame that Labour is facing oblivion. Helen Clark has been a good leader. She has done New Zealand proud in several settings. And Labour has been a reasonably sound administrator. Unfortunately it has been in power too long. It became arrogant and failed to notice its mistakes. It has created a bloated bureaucracy that is no longer capable of delivering high quality advice. As a result the Government failed to see the financial and economic pain that was heading our way. Taxes should have been cut two years ago, and a different approach should have been proposed for com batting climate change. If Labour had been properly advised, and if it had listened to this advice, it might have had a chance in 2008. Now it is too late to change course. The course will be changed on tax and climate change but the damage has been done. What is more the people who will be really be hurting by September/October/November will be the heartland Labour supporters and those who Labour is targeting to change back to Labour prior to the election. The 90,000 that John Armstrong talks about in his article today. Labour will not sway this 90,000, indeed it risks losing a further 90,000. The loss in 2008 is going to be so bad that it is highly unlikely that a Goff led Labour will be able to claw back lost ground in 2011. How old will Goff be in 2014? Too old?