Barry Soper: Labour in need of consistent message

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Labour leader Andrew Little. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Labour leader Andrew Little. Photo / Mark Mitchell

He may get angry at times and tell John Key to cut the crap, but generally Andrew Little's a nice bloke.

He's the sort of guy you'd trust to babysit your kids, in fact he was my daughters' babysitter when he was a student at Victoria University, as he once reminded me. Given his trade union background, it drew the immediate question: "Did I pay you the going rate?"

Having satisfied myself that the sitting rate paid was generous it allows me now to take a dispassionate view of the man.

The latest telly opinion poll, at 28 per cent, puts the party about where David Shearer had taken it to before he was dumped. So what's gone wrong with this party that began the year with a hiss and a roar, offering free tertiary education to those who haven't had the benefit of it before?

Even though he spent a couple of years as Labour's President before becoming a list MP, essentially because he's been unable to wrestle his home town of New Plymouth from National's clutches, he's still a relative political newcomer and at times it shows.

He does make comments that should resonate with Labour followers, even those occupying the centre of the spectrum, like after last year's Budget saying it didn't seem fair that a 30 year old doing a similar job to a 66 year old gets less because the older man gets an extra payment.

Fair point but the only follow through came from the party which was forced to say it's not considering means testing the pension and it had just dropped plans to raise the age.

But this year it's gone from bad to worse. Even though John Key lost the flag debate he's untainted with National at 50 percent.

Labour's had the policy of doing away with the current flag ever since Little was a schoolboy, but when they didn't like the process they threw their toys out of the cot and voted against their own policy.

Labour was the architect of the Trans Pacific Partnership but Little ordered his troops, with the exception of Phil Goff, to vote against it.

READ MORE: Editorial: Labour will just have to stick it out

Then there's been several rushes of blood, like legislating to force banks to follow the dictates of the Reserve Bank, Chinese and Indian chefs taking kiwis jobs when in reality they're desperately needed here and the failure to sell the message of the excellent Future Work conference that became sidetracked by a universal income.

Little admits their people aren't listening, but a consistent, coherent message would be a start.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZME.

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