Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

Lessons From Britain - Richard Prebble Speech

Saturday 9th Jun 2001
Richard Prebble Speech

Speech to the Outdoor Fabric Products Association of New Zealand Gala Awards Dinner Grand Hall, Parliament, Wellington 9 June 2001

Predictably, Helen Clark is claiming that Labour’s victory in the UK means “In both New Zealand and Britain, voters are opting for pragmatic centre-left governments with positive and inclusive visions for the future” National Deputy Bill English says that New Zealand Labour is “much more ideological and left wing.”

So are there any lessons from the UK? Yes, and for both parties.

In the UK, the Economist magazine and the Times newspaper endorsed Labour for the first time ever. Why? The Economist put it this way – Labour was out Tatchering Tatcher. Tony Blair had adopted the Thatcherite agenda and was promoting it.

Not only is British Labour privatising airways, a look at British Labour manifestos reveals very radical modern progressive ideas – school choice, charter schools, private health and people’s capitalism, with a baby bonus to start every child’s life with some savings.

It reads like an ACT manifesto. In the UK Labour got elected promising no tax increases.

There is merit in the Tory claim that there have been many secret taxes, but income tax, unlike in New Zealand, has not gone up.

So the lesson for New Zealand Labour is that the way to win is to move to the centre. The Alliance and the Greens just will not let Labour do this.

If Michael Cullen had announced that the tax projections show that the 39 cent tax rate has raised no extra revenue – in fact tax revenue is down $698 million – and Labour was repealing it, I think National would have been gutted.

Make no mistake, while Helen Clark personally dislikes Tony Blair – she regards him as a lightweight – New Zealand Labour will copy as much of his campaign as they can.

New Zealand Labour’s credit card promises were a straight steal. New Zealand Labour may not be able to reduce company taxes, repeal the Resource Management Act or roll back it’s Employment Contracts Act, but Clark and Cullen are going to woo business.

Like Blair in Britain, our Labour government will ignore Willie Jackson’s demands for more policy for Maori, and continue to take working Labour households for granted.

Here is where the coalition may come unstuck.

This British election saw the lowest turnout for nearly a hundred years. Labour voters stayed at home by the millions. UK Labour was saved by three factors, two that don’t exist in New Zealand.

1. First Past the Post. The result of the fall in voting for UK Labour by it’s traditional working voters was just a reduction in their majority in the huge inner city seats. Under MMP, if Maori voters stay home, NZ Labour may still win the six Maori seats, but the Maori list vote will not be there to elect six more list MPs.

2. The Liberal Democrats split the centre-right vote, depriving the conservatives of victory in 100 seats. Under MMP the third party vote does not split the vote. In fact the left in New Zealand by having three parties is in potentially more trouble.

3. The third factor is that Conservative voters stayed at home. Over two million Conservative voters stayed at home.

Just 58% of the electorate voted in Britain, compared to 86% in New Zealand. In Britain both Labour and the Tories failed to get out the vote. Put it another way. If the Conservatives had got out their vote, Labour would have been crushed. It appears that Tony Blair has won with fewer votes than Neil Kinnock got when he lost to John Major.

Labour’s prospects of getting out the vote here in the next election do not look good.

This coalition government has done nothing for the Mike Moore constituency, the working poor, the battlers. The average Labour voting household is $30 a week worse off in real terms. As in Britain, they will not turn out to vote.

There is a lesson for the centre-right. What did Hague’s Tory party stand for? Wheeling out Margaret Thatcher to campaign against Europe just reminded the electorate how divided the conservatives are on the Euro.

National has no ideological split like the British Tories. But National is going to need some new idea and energy.

One reason ACT looks forward to elections is because our brand is so strong. ACT is the Liberal party that advocates the modern economy. ACT voters are the most likely to get out and vote on election day.

So the British elections have good news and sobering lessons. The parties that learn them best will be rewarded.

Ends


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Crowdsale And Crowdfunding Campaign: Help Create The Future Of Independent News

Two weeks to go! The Scoop 3.0 plan aims to create NZ’s first community-owned, distributed news and media intelligence ecosystem in 2019. We believe this ScoopPro media monetisation approach can be scaled and spread globally to support local and independent news efforts in regional New Zealand and around the world.

Scoop is an ecosystem, it would not exist without those who contribute to it, read it and rely on it for professional media purposes. Generous past support from this ecosystem has enabled us to come this far in developing our business model. Support our PledgeMe Campaign>>

 

14/11: Two Years’ Progress Since The Kaikoura Earthquake

Mayor John Leggett said it was a day for reflection, but also a time to recognise the work by many people to support progress towards recovery made across Marlborough since November 2016. More>>

ALSO:

Pike River: Mine Drift Re-Entry Plan To Proceed

“I’ve decided the Te Kāhui Whakamana Rua Tekau Mā Iwa - Pike River Recovery Agency, recommended course of action to enter the drift, using the existing access tunnel, is by far the safest option,” said Andrew Little. More>>

ALSO:

Appointments: New High Commissioner To Australia Announced

“Dame Annette King needs no introduction given her long running career as a parliamentarian where she has previously held a number senior Cabinet portfolios, including Justice, Police and Health. She also was Parliament’s longest serving female MP with 30 years’ service,” said Mr Peters. More>>

ALSO:

Two Years Since Kaikoura: Silvia Cartwright To Lead Inquiry Into EQC

“The inquiry will be the first of its kind under the Public Inquiries Act 2013 and will have all the powers of a Royal Commission, be independent of Government and make its report directly to the Governor-General. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Royal Commission Into Child Abuse

Obviously, it is good news that the coalition government has broadened the scope of its Royal Commission into the abuse of children, beyond its previous focus on children in state care. More>>

ALSO:

Cases Delayed: Court Staff Refuse To Handle Sentencing Papers

Dozens of court cases have reportedly been delayed, as court staff escalate industrial action at two Auckland courts by enforcing a ban on handling sentencing papers. More>>

ALSO:

Education: Primary Teachers Rolling Strikes

RNZ Report: More than 100,000 primary school students in Auckland will be home from school today as teachers and principals walk off the job for the second time this year. It's the start of a week of rolling one-day strikes around the country, after the collapse of contract negotiations last Thursday. More>>

ALSO:

"Process Was Sound": Inquiry Into Haumaha Appointment Released

The Inquiry’s purpose was to examine, identify, and report on the adequacy of the process that led to the appointment. It found the process was sound and no available relevant information was omitted. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels