Cunners Front and Centre

David Cunliffe imparts a message about Labour’s lack of appeal at the last election, in a speech to the New Lynn women’s branch of the Labour party yesterday. His message differentiates himself from fellow labourites, Labour leader David Shearer and ¬†deputy Grant ¬†Robertson. The speech is reported on in The Dominion Post here:
The message is that Labour’s policies were too similar to Nationals to offer a credible alternative.

“The major reason that voters didn’t vote for Labour, and sometimes didn’t vote at all, is simply that Labour failed to inspire voters that it was a credible alternative to National,” he said.

This is not news.
What is striking is the tone of the message.And the honesty.

“When the right-wing party says that it’s going to cut your leg off, voters want the left-wing party to say that it’s not going to cut your leg off. Voters don’t want to be told that the left-wing party is also going to cut your leg off, but cut it off a bit lower down and give you some anesthetic,’ he said.

This blogger snorted her tea while reading this genuinely humorous passage. Hopefully it cures the sinus blockage. What an effective way of saying to the left:
“We promise to differentiate ourselves from the right wing in the future”.
And simple honesty has a way of appealing to swing voters.
Opposition parties can promise the moon to gain a shot at the benches of power.  This works against Labour in a recession. The public knows that Labour is less inclined to follow austerity measures in times of economic trouble. We are skeptical of promises of spending being the solution to economic ills.
With the above passage, Cunliffe has taken massive strides in moving away from the “promise the moon and go negative”, image, to one of tipping the hat to the left while leaving the door open to the right.
The truth of politics is that certain policy measures and budget undertakings are eventually taken up in policy by both sides of the political spectrum. ¬†For example: pigs will fly before Labour scraps National Standards despite all the noise and fireworks over the introduction of the controversial educational policy. Likewise, and again reading into the education line of the financial report, you won’t see Labour increasing subsidies to early Childhood Education Institutes to ¬†allow funding for 100% qualified teaching staff. They may suggest that the opposite will happen to the unions, but it will not happen,
Crinkly-eyes Cunliffe may be the Kryptonite to Nationals Superman John Key. This is the message you will see forwarded if Cunliffe becomes more prominent in the public eye:
“National was unwilling to confront the downsides of unregulated markets”.

The suggestion here is that Labour will regain it’s role as the “people’s champion”, regulating the cowboys while it’s business as usual for the rest of us.
It may be a very successful message.

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