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.