Labour is now polling on average around 30%.
How did it come to be in such a difficult position? A number of factors ensure it does not present itself as a viable alternative Government.
The first was the takeover of the Labour Party machine by Helen Clark supporters Margaret Wilson, Ruth Dyson and Maryann Street from 1991. The full takeover occurred in 1993 when Clark secured leadership of the Parliamentary Labour team. The control of any party or organisation by one leader ensures new talent will always find it hard to make ground.
Politics is the opposite of normal good practice, where you bring on merit and talent as a survival and succession method.
I’ve noticed there are two sorts of leaders in politics. Those who try to bury potential successors, and those who promote them.
Another factor which can solely be attributed to Clark and her lieutenants was the destruction of any overt, robust, healthy contest of ideas. Instead of debating a cohesive and comprehensive ideology that defined what modern Labour stood for and how it was going to advance and implement that, Clark saw this very necessary conversation as a challenge to her leadership. The notion of left and right-wing factions in the party was done away with.
The Labour Party was broken up into a number of interest groups, in effect powerful lobby groups that chose the lacklustre party list. The interest groups are the women’s division, the gay division, the Pacific Island division, the Maori division – you get the picture.
Labour’s list in 2008 was bold and got in some needed new talent. However their 2011 list is indeed lacklustre.