Labour perspectives on the election result

My main motivation for starting this blog was to get some thoughts that have been bouncing around my head, particularly about the election result, Labour’s leadership contest, and party reform, down on paper. I figured a useful way to start this off would be a quick re-cap about what others on the blogosphere are saying.

I’m not sure if I’m going to find enough material to do a full spectrum of material, but there has already been plenty written by some of my fellow Labour supporters. We have a lot to think about…

Jordan Carter – Just Left

In the wake of Labour’s most serious election defeat since the 1920s, a comprehensive and critical re-examination of almost all of what Labour’s politics is about is an absolute necessity for our party.

On the table must be our policy, our campaigning, our organisation from branch to national level, our candidate selection, our structure, our communications, our tone, the way the parliamentary party works, what the staff do in the party and in parliament, and on it goes.

There was a bit of reflexive back patting after election day.  I’m not too worried about that, but the time for that is now past.

Carter calls for a long hard rethink of what we’re doing. Amen. He acknowledges that we have some serious organisational short-falls, and failed at the basics. When push comes to shove – the voters simply didn’t connect with Labour. He calls the election as he saw it –

Jordan acknowledges that leadership was an important part of the election result – but takes a strong stance that a new leader will not be a silver bullet.

We have to say it clearly: NO leader can do what needs to be done on their own.

It requires every single one of us in the Labour Party to stand up, to do things differently.

He’s dead right – we all have to lift our game. We have identify and work towards fixing our shortcomings, and understand why voters felt so disconnected from Labour.

Phil Quin – The New Tasman

Phil for the most part observed the 2011 general election from overseas. Which makes his views particularly interesting. He is somewhat less pessimistic:

Okay, it was a shitful result for Labour; no two ways about it. 27 percent is a meagre return for 95 years’ worth of mostly honest toil, especially when a charming huckster like Winston Peters can score a lazy seven for a fortnight’s work. (Notwithstanding, that is, the contribution of the hitherto well-hidden youth wing of NZ First Party who Peters credited for their stellar effort on “the social pages”).

But, in the scheme of things, last night’s result was well short of the worst imaginable scenario for Labour.

“WTF?” quoth the doomsayers. Allow myself to explain myself.

  • Well, 27 is not twenty, which is what National scored in an analogous scenario in 2002. From which the Nats recovered sufficiently in a single term to come within a bee’s floppy of beating Helen Clark in 2005. With Don Flipping Brash as leader.

I have to say I agree. Despite the many obvious problems Labour faced going into, and during, the 2011 campaign, we managed to win back two electorate seats, increase our margins in many more including holding two that the National Party expected to win on the night (Rimutaka and Palmerston North). The massive drop in the party vote is of course the biggest problem we face. I’m looking to explore this in depth in future posts.

Rob Carr – Political Dumpground

Disclaimer: Rob was a member of my campaign team in Wellington Central, and did a very impressive job managing our GOTV effort.

Rob has done a reasonably in-depth analysis of the election result, and there is lots to comment on. His entire post is well worth a read.

One very salient point he makes is that while it was certainly a bad result for Labour, it was also a very unsatisfactory result for National…

Less than a quarter of the New Zealand population voted for the Government when you combine those not able to vote, those who voted for the left and those who did not which is a bit alarming. It is a result neither side is happy with because National does not have a stable Government with the centre-right share of the seats decreasing by 4-5 and Labour obviously doesn’t get to be Government. The centre-left probably couldn’t have had a much better result other than that 2 extra seats to form Government with the Maori Party being possible but it was a bad result for Labour with their vote being eaten up by the Greens and New Zealand First.

All three agree that it was a very bad result for Labour, but all with slightly different views.

From my own perspective – I’m very pleased that Labour bloggers are already looking towards the future, and thinking about the sort of changes we need to make as a party to ensure that we never see a repeat of the 2011 result.

“A new generation that understands the call of change”

I am proud of the leadership of both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, but we lost the election, and we lost it badly and my message to the country is this: I know we lost trust, I know we lost touch, I know we need to change. Today a new generation has taken charge of Labour, a new generation that understands the call of change.

– Ed Miliband, 2010