My struggle with Labour

Right at the start, I know I’m never speaking from an objective viewpoint.  I was raised by a pack of rabid lefties and feminists.  I take some basic principles for granted and I often have trouble debating with people who simply aren’t approaching the world from the same basic viewpoint.

Nevertheless, it completely fucking baffles me how the Labour Party can continue to suck so hard.

We know NZ is a pretty liberal country, a society with a strong sense of fairness and justice, and we can all see how the Right has systematically marketed its cold, irrational policies as being in line with core Kiwi beliefs – of course National believes some people need the support of the state in times of trouble, but not the bludgers, and of course National believes we need good healthcare and education systems but why not just test the market to see if private providers can do better?  Give them a shot, don’t pre-judge them, right?

It should be easy for Labour to say, we believe in a strong social safety net.  We believe in caring for the vulnerable.  We will not let criminals exploit that system, but we know that this is not a huge issue, and we will not allow mercenary, compassionless bankers attack people in need by pretending to be concerned about fraud.  Why aren’t they going after their mates’ trust funds, if they’re so concerned?

It should be easy for Labour to say, the needs of teachers and the needs of parents are the same thing:  a great school system for our kids.  Teachers don’t want to see kids failing – who could ever want to see kids fail?  Parents and teachers aren’t enemies, they can work together towards a common goal.  Where’s performance pay for MPs, who are paid so much more than teachers but can sit on a backbench eating a sandwich for 3 years?

It should be easy for Labour to say, some things need to be in Kiwi hands.  We have already seen what happens when our banks are run by Australians – the profits leave and we don’t even get our fair share of tax dollars.  We don’t want our electricity in the hands of foreigners.  We’ve seen what damage privatisation can do.  We re-bought KiwiRail because we know that rail is essential, and it’s going to become more essential as oil prices rise.  We know that selling your oven now and eating takeaways for the rest of your life isn’t cost-effective, it’s stupid, especially when the guy who recommends selling your oven owns a restaurant.

It should be easy for Labour to say we believe in the 8-hour working day, not imaginary productivity – Kiwis are the hardest workers in the world.  Or we believe in protecting NZ’s industries and our environment – there’s no competition.  Or we believe in ending child poverty, not punishing people for having bad luck.  

In all honesty, I’m not even suggesting that Labour believes all these things or would mean it if they said it.  But I’ve long ago given up on their substance.  All I’m asking for is basically competent spin, and we can’t even get that.


  1. Chris Miller

    Very frequently I found myself wishing people would hire me to do their PR, then I realise that if they did I’d be stuck doing PR. It’s very frustrating. The Right is hugely successful due to having better PR across most of the western world right now and the left is just flailing around going “but… why don’t people like us anymore?”

      • QoT

        Oh certainly. But if you take “PR” to just mean “getting your message across to people by using clear language and not sticking both feet in your mouth in ridiculous attempts to sound “middle”” it’s something the Left (well, Labour, I think the Greens have gotten pretty good at getting their points across) desperately needs.

          • QoT

            Probably not, since blogs and press releases are too very different things. If their actual blog posts were written more like this post and less like press releases though it’d be a start.

    • Daniel

      What left? The revolution in the 80’s has made right-wing economics dominant pretty much universally. The Labour parties PR sucks so much because it’s trying to fight the Nationals over the centre-right. So they can’t use right wing PR because they need to pretend to be left of National. But they can’t use left wing PR because it might scare off the swing voters they are chasing. Neither party is courting the left.

      • QoT

        Well, they still profess to be at least more left than National, so if we accept Draco’s premise that they’re honest but clueless it comes back to having no fucking idea how to explain their position (and zero political nous to keep them out of foot-in-mouth syndrome).

  2. Draco T Bastard (@DracoTBastard)

    In all honesty, I’m not even suggesting that Labour believes all these things or would mean it if they said it. But I’ve long ago given up on their substance. All I’m asking for is basically competent spin, and we can’t even get that.

    Wouldn’t need competent spin if they believed what they said but, as you say, they don’t seem to have any substance any more. They’re probably still honest enough to be unable to lie and so can’t spin things to make it look as if they believe what they’re saying if they don’t actually believe it and they really don’t seem to believe in a fair and just society any more.

    • QoT

      OH SHIT, YOU CAUGHT ME, I’M NOT A ROBOT. Here’s an important life tip, Scott: no human being is truly objective. Believing that you’re not biased by your environment/upbringing/heritage/culture is usually a really good sign you’re a smug, privileged douchewang.

    • Chris Miller

      Considering that all spheres of life are heavily influenced by messy, irrational emotions, if anyone was capable of being objective they would completely fail at understanding or succeeding at anything. I don’t think anyone is capable of it though. Personally, everyone I know who’s ever claimed they were were some of the most defensive and hotheaded people I’ve met. I have no idea why anyone would want to be 100% objective anyway, it’s missing the whole point of being human.

      • QoT

        But it means you win all the arguments, because silly emotional people – especially girls – can’t ever make good arguments, because they’re emotional!