Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Labour's woes are self-inflicted - but linked to the Maori Party's success

Labour Party activist Tony Milne has written an interesting piece eight months on from the election.
No one wants to hear from Labour. The public had 9 years to hear from Labour and Labour is well aware of that. But that doesn't mean that Labour isn't rebuilding. Labour is quietly rebuilding membership and organisation. Labour MPs are quietly reconnecting with the community, listening, debating, engaging. The online presence is a good example.Over 800 activists have joined the new Grassroots Labour site - a site for Labour members to chat, debate, and organise in an open forum. Red Alert (the Labour MP blog) has quickly become one of the most popular political blogs But such rebuilding takes time to filter through into public support and political polls.

I don't expect to see much movement in Labour's polling for at least another 12 months. The question is, can Labour do enough in the next 28 months to increase its support by the 6% or so needed to form a coalition Government with other partners? And will there be any partners?
That last sentence is the money one and the answer is no. Way back in April 2005 I predicted that the Maori Party would be a real force and that Labour may end up shunning the Maori Party. That was months before the 2005 election and the Maori Party was on the up.

Indeed, Labour shunned the Maori Party, describing it as last cab off the rank. Now they are a indeed a real force - or in Hone Hariwira's words a "limousine" - as it holds most of the Maori seats. It is co-owner of the rank. The reason this is a problem for Labour is because it lost the election and the support of Maori. Nationals arrangement with the Maori Party is proving positive for Maori, and is increasing support for the Maori Party. The Maori Party could be come National's Ratana. If Labour does get the 6% increase suggested by Milne, there will be no one to form a coalition government with if the Maori Party are not onside and Jim Anderton goes.

This is Labour's biggest problem. And it is of its own making. Blogging and grassrooting wont solve that as all this is doing is preaching to the converted activists like Milne, and communicating with the blog readers and grassrooters. Neither will needling the Maori Party for going with National. Duncan Garner wrote a good blog post last week which pretty much sums up what some blogs, including this one, have been saying for a long time.

The most powerful coalition partner at the moment is the Maori Party. The holders of the Maori seats have been in government for decades. There is no reason why Labour will gain the support of the holders of most of the Maori seats in 2011. Therefore Goff will be Labour's most unsuccessful leader in modern times.

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