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95bFM/Livenews.co.nz: Why Labour Needs David Shearer

95bFM/LiveNews.co.nz: Why Labour Needs David Shearer


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Column: What can the Labour Party do to become more relevant and as a party of choice for a large chunk of voters? Can the contest between David Cunliffe, David Parker, and David Shearer see a leader emerge that can create a generational shift inside Labour that matches a cultural-generational shift that has occurred in real New Zealand?

    6pm LIVENEWS UPDATE: David Parker has pulled out of the leadership race, and is pitching his support behind David Shearer.

The election result showed many many Kiwis do not see Labour as a real alternative to the National Party in 2011.

For those who want a reminder the cumulated vote was distributed as follows:

    National 48%
    Labour 27%
    Greens 11%
    New Zealand First 7%
    ACT, United Future, Maori Party and Mana all between 1 and 2% respectively.

The vote underscores that Labour’s problems are multi-layered: in a word it is too tribal for today’s society. It just doesn’t connect enough with Gen-X and Gen-Y voters in any meaningful way. It must do this if it is to become relevant in 2012 to 2014.

It’s new leadership must connect with real people who need genuine representatives. The new leadership needs to develop policies that are robust, well planned, calculated, and communicated. They must support progressive policies irrespective of who or what developed them, and it must provide solution-based policies that address New Zealand’s challenges. And, it must, be a genuine and energetic opposition party that leads the Legislature.

The membership wing of the party (and quite a number within its caucus) need to realise that the old fights of the 70s and 80s are not today’s fights. There may be similarities, but there has been a generational-shift that Labour has not captured.

I think those that continue to represent that old guard, that have been holding on grim death to their power-blocks, need to have their hold released from influencing the Labour Party’s selection process – both at LEC (Labour Electorate Committee) level, Party delegate level, and within the caucus – they need to allow a new wind to blow through Labour’s party-base and create a culture where it is possible to pass that torch to a new generation of politician.

One of the first things the new leadership must do is demand the party front up to itself and accept its list selections were simply wrong. It needs to cultivate a want, even among the apparatchiks, of a new generational shift within the party as has happened out there in New Zealand society.

In a word… Labour has been tribal – it has been tribal inside its party apparatus and outside. If you compare that fact to National’s culture, National is a club. That’s the difference.

History shows National faced this generational shift in the wake of the 2002 General Election. It met the challenge to rebirth head on. It will be difficult for Labour, but it must do it. At the end of the day, a Party must be relevant to all people who vote.

Perhaps, David Shearer is the man to do this. Certainly a poll on Stuff.co.nz would suggest people want Shearer.

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