Colin James – Labour’s task: out of the margins, into the middle

From his ODT column. Well worth a read…

Thus the bulk of what should be Labour’s logical support base is outside the meritocracy but most of its activists are inside it. Those activists have to reach across a class divide — and over the beleaguered middle.

Reaching that middle requires a deep rethink of policy and organisation. Shearer’s real task is less to scratch together a win in 2014 than to start that rethink. Applying 1930s or 1970s thinking to the 2010s will leave Labour offside.

It will, of course, win office from time to time. But in 2014 or 2017 that will be highly likely to require the Greens. There is now a short, tight hyphen between the two parties. Whether they like it or not they are now a coalition — in effect if not in fact.

On the Green side that means a sophisticated and realpolitik approach to policy and government, as Metiria Turei almost indicated on Sunday: less democracy, more leadership, tough choices.

On Labour’s side it requires a determined effort to make Labour-Green look like a government in waiting that can work term after term — and gather in a large chunk of the middle. That is Shearer’s and environment spokesman and deputy leader Grant Robertson’s job.

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