Feb 26, 2008

Labour Down But Not Out

Tis seems to be the theme for today.

The Domion Post editorial suggests that Labour's problems are of its own making. It draws a parallel to 1990 when the gap in the opinion polls was about the same as it is today, but notes that the party is more unified and the economy in far stronger shape than 1990.

It concludes:

There is still a long way to go before polling day. Mr Key could still stumble.

However, Miss Clark and Labour should not rely on that, nor expect to squeak back on a business-as-usual strategy. The Fairfax Media- Nielsen poll - and others - make it apparent that the public is unhappy with the status quo, and wants change in both substance and style. What Miss Clark must to do to win her fourth term is embrace that desire, and hope there is enough time left to convince voters she can deliver it.

The NZ Herald editorial is in similar space.

It notes

Labour's problem, however, is that a mood for change may already be embedded. If so, the tide has simply run out on it, as happened with Mr Howard and as, in the local context, occurred with Jenny Shipley's National Government in 1999. When that happens, voters are not hearing any more. Worse, they see a party that is unable to do anything right. Prime Minister Helen Clark must, indeed, have felt that way last week during her stand-off with expatriate benefactor Owen Glenn at the opening of the University of Auckland Business School. Whether she acknowledged his presence or not, she was bound to be criticised.
The Prime Minister conceded yesterday that, if Labour was to win a fourth term, it had work to do. "We have to work on being a Government of substance, a Government of vision, a Government which has big ideas," she said. To achieve that, Labour had "a ton of ideas" that would be unveiled this year. Exactly this must happen if Labour is to have any chance of reversing its waning popularity. It must keep trying to gain traction for its policies, even though that is not happening at the moment.

And concludes

The big plus for Labour is that there remains time to buttress this position. It will have to use that well by presenting policies that make voters want to listen.

Colin James has a piece in the NZ Herald - not up electronically yet. He looks at the poor political management we have seen from labour in recent months. He concludes by asking

Is there still time for Clark and Cullen to turn voters' hearts and minds? The most that can be said as the mistakes roll on is that in politics one can never say never. And Key, too, has had small lapses of political management this past fortnight......