|Martyn Bradbury sings 'Kumbaya' to embarrassed journalist.|
ITS NOT OFTEN that I find myself in agreement with TV3's Duncan Garner, but I think he's right when he wrote this week that "..after almost 3000 days in opposition, Labour looks more clueless now than it did at the beginning of that process."
Certainly after the last disastrous election result, there were promises of an exhaustive re-evaluation of Labour Party's entire philosophy and approach, a ruthless investigation of its mistakes and a commitment to not repeat them again. Some very,very hopeful Labour supporters even thought that parliamentary Labour might even acquaint itself with democratic socialism.
I well remember Labour Party apologist Martyn Bradbury, after confidently predicting a Labour election victory, informing readers of The Daily Blog that he was taking a break from writing in order to do some serious soul searching.
In the event it proved to be a very brief period away from the keyboard and we were to learn that Bradbury had decided Labour wasn't really responsible for losing the election- rather it was selfish and confused New Zealanders ('sleepy Hobbits') who stubbornly refused to accept that Labour's brand of neoliberalism was better than National's brand of neoliberalism. Many even had the bad form (like me) not to vote at all.
But despite all the promises of a fundamental rethink, not much has changed in the past three years. Even a massive election defeat hasn't managed to convince Labour that it just might be on the wrong political path. Under the leadership of the conservative Andrew Little it continues to gravitate around a political black hole called 'the political centre'.
It has been an exercise in self-inflicted futility. As Bryce Edwards has remarked "The party, its MPs, and its message just don't seem to matter to enough people at the moment."
The latest Morgan Roy poll has Labour at just 23 percent , which would give Labour just 28 MP's in Parliament and put a severe dent in its claim that it is still a mass political party. And, as Duncan Garner points out, dropping just another one percent would mean Andrew Little himself would not be elected. It is not out of the bounds of possibility.
With the zeitgeist of anti-establishment politics sweeping around the world, Labour has made it clear it won't be joining any revolution for change. It prefers to assure the business sector that a Labour Government would not rock the neoliberal boat. Meanwhile a million or so people are no longer interested in voting for exactly the kind of politics that Labour continues to represent.
Of course when you are desperate and are clearly deluded you will grasp at anything that suggests that things are not quite as bad they seem. So its no surprise that dear old Martyn "socialists are unhappy people" Bradbury has been among the first to laud Labour's victory in the Mt Roskill by election. Not only has he described the victory as "remarkable" but as evidence that "Labour’s core message of infrastructure investment, affordable housing and empathy have more going for it than National’s vacant aspiration." That just sounds like neoliberalism with a few more bells and whistles to me - and I’m being generous.
The victory isn't so remarkable given Mt Roskill has been solidly Labour - with Phil Goff as its MP - ever since the electorate was formed in 1999. As for Labour being more "empathetic' than National, Martyn Bradbury will be having a 'hug in' at his place next week, where everyone can join him in sitting in a circle, holding hands, while singing 'Kumbaya' - even you 'sleepy Hobbits'.