Gower on Labour

Patrick Gower had some harsh words for in the light of the leaked review, on Radio Live.

Bryce Edwards summarised what Gower said:

“Basically this report is a vanilla description of Labour’s pathetic campaign… What it also illustrates is Labour is still leaking, Labour is still unprofessional, Labour is still engaged in bizarre ruling-by-committee. Labour wasn’t ready for Government in 2014 and I can tell you from looking at this report and the dealings I’ve had with it at the moment, Labour isn’t ready for Government any time soon”.

Gower doesn’t stop there, and argues that the Labour Party has transformed into a narrow party out of sync with ordinary people:  “Labour can’t even review their own disastrous campaign… This is a party with serious, serious problems. It’s rotten to the core. Give up, pack up the Labour tent and go home. Because it’s a shame for what was actually 100 years ago a fine movement that started. And it’s just an embarrassment today. It’s just a group of sectoral interests and chardonnay socialists that have taken it over and driven it into the ground”.

Duncan Garner also extends this point, saying, “I’ve wondered for some time whether Labour is just a special sector party for special interest groups, rather than a mainstream party”. He adds that he genuinely doesn’t know what the party stands for anymore. 

Now understandably Labour doesn’t like such harsh criticism, and they have been putting it about that Gower was so damning of them, because after he approached them over the leaked review, they released it before the 6 pm news bulletin, robbing him of his scoop.

John Drinnan buys into this narrative:

Labour Party folk were stunned when journalist Paddy Gower embarked on a radio tirade on Wednesday, saying the party was “rotten to the core” and had been run into the ground by chardonnay socialists. …

But it seems the extraordinary overreaction against Labour occurred because the report was leaked to him and Radio NZ by a Labour insider and, when the party found out, it passed the report on to other media. Gower got the TV scoop, but ironically, TVNZ screened it earlier in its bulletin. Such is the cut and thrust of media management in the public and private sector.

People brought forward an announcement to counter a leak, which they assumed would be portrayed in a more negative way, then Paddy spat the dummy, presumably to teach Labour a lesson.

With respect, this is pretty rubbish reasoning. The reason it is rubbish reasoning, is that Gower (a 10 year veteran of the gallery) would have known full well that once he approached Labour for comment, they would probably release the report. This is not an unusual thing. Almost every political party does this, and the gallery know they do this. If you hear a reporter has a leaked document and it will be on the 6 pm news, you rush to release it before 6 pm, so you can try and spin it your way.

To suggest that Labour’s releasing the report early would have so enraged Gower, that he lost his temper and went harsh on them as revenge, is just silly. This is, again, pretty normal behaviour from a political party when they hear something has been leaked.

Labour are trying to divert attention away from Gower’s actual analysis, because sadly for them it is harsh but not inaccurate.

There are several things that should be worrying Labour:

  • The review is so superficial and light that it is unlikely to produce great change
  • The voting power of Labour’s sector groups means that any change against their interests is unlikely to get anywhere
  • Oppositions generally grow vote in opposition, not lose it
  • If you do drop support while in opposition, then that is when you need to change things. National did so after the 2002 election, and Labour should have done so after 2011 but didn’t. And now looks to not do so again after the 2014 vote drop.
  • The fact that the review was leaked, shows that Labour is still very divided and lacking the cohesion to be a credible alternative Government

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