Deja vu all over again: Labour in 2014 edition

From Dimpost on Trotter on Shearer (I feel like we’re in the beginning stages of some terrible blogging chain letter here):

My concern about a Shearer-led government is less dramatic than Trotters’. It’s that many of the senior Labour Ministers will be the usual gang of loyalist idiots, that Shearer would be unable to manage Winston Peters (assuming New Zealand First is a part of the coalition), that Labour will wage an unrelenting covert campaign against any Green Ministers, and that the whole thing will see National sail back into office three years later.

Yep.  I said it about the last election, and I’ll say it about 2014 as well:  it is not a universal truth that any-and-all configurations of Labour-led government are better for NZ than any-and-all configurations of National-led government.  Labour is not automatically the lesser of two evils in this situation, especially with ACT goneburger, the Conservatives not showing a lot of fight (just a lot of cash), and the Greens positioning themselves as a party with an actual clue, a purpose, a strong viewpoint and a soul.

The Labour government which follows this National government (whether in 2014 or 2017 or gods forbid 2020) faces one big challenge from the electorate:  show us you have an alternative, successful solution to our woes.

A Labour government which muddles around with no clear idea of what it’s doing or where it’s going, which buys into National’s rhetoric, which does pretty much a watered-down version of what National would have done themselves only while telling us that “we’re the ones who really care” … that government is just going to send one big message:  we don’t have a plan, and we can’t make things better.

And then a lot of voters will stay at home [again] or jump back to National because hey, at least they act like they know what they’re doing, and I guess they were right about leftwing ideas not being practical in the real world after all, and if I’m going to be stuck in an economic downturn at least I can have more of my money in my pocket, right?

And then we’re basically fucked until things get so bad for “middle New Zealand” that a revolutionary leader can take charge of Labour/the Greens/Mana and sweep into power on a massive wave of popular support.

But that would probably take a while.

I don’t want National to win the next election.  But I’m not convinced that the current Labour Party would do a good enough job at the head of a coalition to remind voters – that big group of people who don’t really engage in politics and certainly don’t read blogs like The Standard – that there are alternatives to coldhearted neoliberal bullshit.  That collectivist approaches work better than individualist approaches.  That all-pulling-together does actually get better results.  That a strong social safety net is something to be seriously proud of.

If voters aren’t convinced of this, they’re going to stay home.  They’re going to vote for the $10 tax cut bribe.  And the Labour Party will have no grounds to whine about it.

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