Trotter on National and Labour

September 27th, 2011 at 1:07 pm by David Farrar

Chris Trotter writes at Stuff:

They weren’t the most important events of the past week. In fact, in a world racked by economic crisis and intractable conflict, they weren’t important at all.

But, as is so often the case with small, seemingly trivial events, they were highly instructive. They told us why John Key’s National Party will have to work very hard to lose the forthcoming election, and why – barring a miracle – Labour hasn’t the slightest chance of winning it.

So what is Chris referring to?

The first event involved a visit by the Prime Minister to Canterbury University.  …

Except for the sign that fourth-year mechanical engineering students had stuck to the “Mech Suite” window overlooking the PM’s arrival-point.

“John, mate,” read the sign, “come up for a yarn with your country’s future engineers.”

The Prime Minister spotted the sign and, yep, you guessed it, to the whoops and hollers of the (mostly male) students he came up.

But wait, there’s more. Not only did the PM come up, but he also agreed to match one of his larger and more terrifying DPS bodyguards against the students’ massive arm-wrestling champion, “Mad Dog”. …

What matters is that a) John Key was up for it, and carried it off with considerable aplomb. And b) The whole event is now available to the electorate via the internet. Just three days after it was first posted, more than 13,000 people had watched the YouTube clip.

Which is quite a lot for a 10 minute video.

And the other event?

In a posting headed “Bill English Funds Bryce Edwards”, the Labour caucus’ chief election strategist, Trevor Mallard, launched a vicious attack on the young Otago University academic Dr Bryce Edwards for his, at times, highly critical assessments of the Labour Opposition’s performance. …

It is difficult to know where to begin with this outburst.

That it was made by the caucus’s chief strategist raises a whole host of questions about the nature of the election campaign Labour is intending to run.

Does Phil Goff sanction this stuff? We can only hope that he does not endorse the sort of crude ad hominem arguments featured in Mallard’s posting.

We must hope, too, that Labour’s appeal to the electorate is fuelled by emotions considerably less disreputable than the petty spitefulness and partisan hostility which it displays.

To be fair, it is not all in Labour who act like this. But they sit back and enable it by having Mallard as their “chief strategist”.

And this is how they act in Opposition. It is worse when they are in Government, when they can actually use the powers of office to strike back at those who dare criticise.

Trotter concludes:

All elections have a “tone”: a mode of address to the voting public which (largely unconsciously) “cues” their response to the competing parties.

If we compare and contrast the tone of the YouTube clip of the PM’s visit to the Mech Suite, with the tone of Mallard’s Red Alert posting, picking the election result becomes a cinch. Sometimes, little things generate big consequences.

I recall Chris wearing a red Labour rosette in the lead up to the last election. Now Labour probably dismiss him as a member of the VRWNLLWC.

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