Perhaps in looking at Labour's so-called troubles, we've failed to see the obvious. Perhaps in expecting Labour to have more support, we're not looking to the area it might come from under different circumstances: the government.
So the history lesson - the elections of '84, '90, '99, and 2008. All involved regime change. And the regime changed because the government of the day was a mess, the economy had turned or a combination of both. 1984 was Labour's turn after the madness of Muldoon, 1990 was Bolger's time having seen Lange implode. 1999 was when Labour rode to power on the back of the Bolger-Shipley-Winston Peters debacle. 2008 was National's turn after Helen Clark had ridden two and a half very successful terms, then fell apart.
In other words, governments lose elections, oppositions don't win them. And the reason Labour is in so much trouble is, broadly speaking, they're a moderate party, where the moderate vote has been taken by the moderate government. National has grabbed the centre and the centre is where the voters are.
At the moment, given the economy, and the general sense of satisfaction among at least half if not more of us, there aren't many floating votes to be had. In Labour, as in National, we see a safe pair of hands, that's why they're the major parties.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Although there are differences, in simple terms either could, and has, run the country and the wheels don't fall off.
For Labour to prosper, National need to falter, or we need to see the economy sour, neither of which is happening. And given that, it simply isn't Labour's time. You could argue Labour could be doing better, they could be more dynamic, but a lot of what really counts to voters, isn't actually an issue. We're not aggrieved, we're not angry or disaffected, we haven't lost our jobs.
There isn't a mess to fix, hence we're not out shopping for moderate alternatives. It's timing; National nine years on are still doing what got them into office in the first place, hence their support, hence their chances of a fourth term.
- Mike Hosking hosts the Mike Hosking Breakfast on Newstalk ZB