Elections 2014 – Labour Narrative

To me: Why is Labour tanking?


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Time to take a dabble into our central elections which take place on September 20th of this year. 

By now most of you would have seen (one way or the other) that Labour has fallen to 29% while National and the Greens are up 50.8% and 13.1% respectively in the latest Herald poll: National, Greens up, Labour at new low

Looking at the long term trackers and iPredict I would be estimate that yes we are on track for a third term National Government with the final result around 42% looking at all things right now.


So the question is why is National doing well despite the Collins saga and Labour flailing around like a fish without water. More to the point what would it take me to flip the vote from the Government to the opposition.

Note these are my personal opinions and evaluations of the situation. There is no technical right or wrong here but things can be learnt from continued active observation.


Three things the opposition need to do if they have any chance (short of the Prime Minister being convicted in the Courts) at tipping the Government out.

First would be in line with this Tweet:

Effectively stop patronising the voters and try to relate to them. Ask yourself why does the electorate relation to the Prime Minister thus subsequently National better than Labour. Carting the smile and wave argument would be the most patronising thing you could level at a voter. Forget the lowest common dominator crap and ALWAYS treat your voter as very intelligent. Why? Because they are – you just do not know how to tap into that intelligence they have. So how do you tap into it? Everyone has issues, everyone has morals, everyone has a direction they want society to go. So relate to them. If you can relate to them then the voter will feel you understand them (rather than being patronised at) and be more receptive in what you want to try to do (I said receptive to that does not mean they will agree with you but they are not going to give you the two finger salute either).

National (the ethics and morals behind this are for another debate) has pretty much tied this relations with the voters up rather securely. Labour have not and seem cold and patronising. So unless Labour flip this over they risk not just a defeat but a trouncing at the polls.


Second thing is policy

Policy is boring and bland we all know that. However, voters do pay attention to it and will see whether a policy either makes them better off or worse off. If the policy makes them better off then they will look towards that party more favourably than a policy that makes the individual voter worse off (whether that is actual or perception). At the same time you have to remember voters will act as individuals or family units first before thinking of the wider collective. This is because individuals and family units have three basic requirements that need to be met before anything else is considered. In Economics they are called ‘Needs’ with every else as ‘Wants.’ Your three basic needs are:

  1. Food/Water
  2. Shelter
  3. Clothing

Employment is not classed as a need although without it you do not have an advanced civilisation as you do now

So if policy at Government action fulfil the three basic needs then the voter will start looking at their wants and vote along policy lines that fulfil as many of their wants as possible (if the three basic needs are not being met then the voter will look else where away from the Government first before even considering their own wants). This is where education, health, employment and security come into the mix in a voters voting rationale.

As New Zealand has entered the recovering mode and is approaching the boom mode of the economic cycle voters are not often willing to change the Government if it means putting that boom at risk. So Labour has a policy issue owing to the upcoming economic boom. Labour’s policies right now are either the equivalent of re-warmed pies in a pie warmer at you local whatever from yester-year or policies the electorate do not resonate with. Baby Bonus, nationalised electricity, 10,000 more houses in Auckland, something about the regions – they are simply not resonating for various reasons.

Building those houses in Auckland is a band-aid solution to the wider problem of housing affordability which is our planning regime. Unless the planning regimes are liberalised (and infrastructure is properly funded) Labour’s 10,000 houses will do squat for housing affordability in the long run.

If Labour wants to outflank National then it needs policies that support the boom better than National could. Ironically it means a good dose of liberalisation to make housing and factory building easier so that people have affordable homes and good paying jobs to go to. If Labour really want to get the boom going then it will embark on the biggest state sponsored infrastructure building exercise since Muldoon. Dump the Roads of National Significance for smaller more effective roading projects and divert that money into rail, shipping and new power generation north of Huntly (our power prices are constrained by the transmission bottleneck from Huntly to Northland).

These will catch voters attention as it means better fulfilling their needs and a heck load of their wants. With this the economy continues to truck (or rail) along and the Government can continue to take our perennial issues of education and healthcare.


Third and final is narrative

As I said policy is bland and drop dead boring for all but policy nuts. You need to frame the narrative in a way that relates to the individual and family conscious voter. This does not mean patronise the living daylights out of them as I said in Point One. This means yes the Government can do this well but we can do it better and you will be even better off that before.

Take transport as an example. For the individual say that your transport policy means more time with your family and less time commuting (whether it be road or rail). For industry your transport policy means your goods are stuck less in Auckland’s horrible traffic. For your environmentally focused voter (so here comes a case of someone voting for the collective) your transport policy could mean less smog and less waste entering our harbours.

For housing and employment it is a tough one but the narrative runs along the lines of authorities not meddling in your affairs unnecessarily whether it be consent costs and requirements.

There are plenty of ways to package up the policies and deliver it in a meaningful and understandable way to the voter. Dump a whole lot of academic level narratives to the voter and I bet the most common answer will be a “Sod off.” Again National have grasped the role of the narrative and execute it extremely well. Simple, across the mediums, and to the point. National frame the narrative package it up for the voter whether the voter is just looking for an info-graphic or a full in-depth policy piece. Labour would be best to learn well from National on packaging the narrative – and that includes if it is going to constantly gun National for all this conflict of interest stuff floating about.


Concluding remarks

In my eyes Labour has a chasm to bridge between me and them if they want to attract my vote away from National at the moment let alone many other voters. As I noted at the beginning the predictions are currently running at 73% for National to return while voters might see Labour as patronising at minimum to down right dangerous to the economy at worst.

Relate, relate, relate and narrative. I could not stress this any more to Labour if I was going black, blue and red in the face. National has this relation and narrative business sown up very nicely and it is showing at the moment.

That said there the only thing stopping Labour claiming the Treasury Benches is not National but itself.


Come September 21 it will be interesting to see how thing panned out for the parties at the polls the day before.


2 thoughts on “Elections 2014 – Labour Narrative

  1. This really does sum up the difference between a National voter and a voter who chooses more progressive parties. National voters consider only their own needs and then their own wants but they don’t consider the less fortunate members of society. Have National helped all New Zealanders with their needs? You only need to take a walk or drive through places like Papakura to see that they haven’t. The signs outside churches offering free soup and bread doesn’t suggest to me that people are getting a fair deal. Unfortunately, it’s people who are in need who are often the least likely to vote. This whole mentality of selfish self-protectionism is why we have ended up with such unbelievable inequality in modern society. Personally I think there is massive need out there and that the National Party is more interested in their own needs and that of their cronies than making a difference.

    1. And that is why if this attitude prevails National will be on a third term of Government.

      Have you asked the individual National voter why they vote National before Labour at the moment? You will find most National voters are progressive people. There is a mark of conservatism in there but that is not a bad thing as that acts a brake towards run away anarchism.

      Ironically the bulk of our nation and wealth builders (that is our Small and Medium Enterprises) will be more inclined to support National before Labour. Ask yourself why that is.

      The Left do not have the sole hold on the term progressive. History will show National since Holyoake has been quite progressive although through slow increments

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