It was a couple of weeks ago, at the height of Labour’s most recent series of fluffs. You know, the stuff about Indian chefs and acting like Rob Muldoon with bank lending rates.
I was killing time around Parliament, waiting for a minister. A Labour Party insider was killing time too. We got talking.
Andrew Little said this. Andrew Little said that. Tired of his cock-ups. Tired of being blamed for his mistakes.
It wasn’t a surprise morale in the Labour Party was low, it was a surprise someone was being honest about it.
For a while now, everyone in the party has bravely kept painting their faces, putting on their party frocks and pretending life was peachy.
Later that day, I walked through the arrivals gate at Auckland airport next to a well-connected political mover and shaker. We got talking. Trouble’s brewing in the Labour Party.
They’re talking of cutting Grant Robertson. They’re talking of cutting the chief of staff. Watch this space.
That was two weeks ago. That was before the party hit 28 per cent in the latest poll.
That was before the poll result? Wonder what the chatter must be like now!
Labour has it tough. Labour parties across the world have it tough. These were parties formed to save workers from unjust working conditions. The parties have mostly succeeded. Workplaces and employment legislation is a million times better now than in 1916.
So what does a political party do when its mission is accomplished?
It sits down with a cup of tea – the eight years of opposition might have been an opportune time – and figures out its next task.
But it has to be honest about what it stands for.
Labour told us it stood for the old flag. That’s not true. In black and white, its own policy was to change the flag. It was just trying to get one over John Key. Well, it got one over John Key and it’s still polling worse than the tea-towel flag.
Labour told us it stood for keeping Indian restaurant chef jobs for Kiwis. We pondered why we had never seriously considered a career as a chef in an Indian restaurant.
Their future of work!
Look at UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. He’s beating David Cameron in some polls. He’s a borderline-communist eccentric you’re never entirely convinced bothered to shower that morning.
But he’s authentic. He says what he means and will do it.
Corbyn is authentic. I’m not sure emulating Corbyn will help Labour here, but they should give it a try!