Danyl McL blogs:
- The two left-wing opposition parties (Labour and the Greens) aren’t competing against the government in any substantive sense. They’re competing against each other for the same reasonably small pool of university educated urban liberal voters.
- The reasons for this are partly strategic but mostly cultural: both parties
- are dominated by members of this small but influential class.
- So policy and messaging are both directed at them and not at the much larger pool of centrist soft National voters. Which is why Labour spent the first half of the year talking about free university degrees, a universal basic income and medicinal pot, issues of little valence to middle New Zealand but endless fascination to left-wing intellectuals.
- And its why there’s virtually no movement from National to Labour in the polls. All those voters (80-90% of the population?) are mostly ‘excluded from the narrative’ (to quote Barthes?). The left-wing political parties are working hard, but running as fast as they can just to stay in place with each other in relative terms.
- Because they’re immersed in their own class, both in Wellington, other urban enclaves and in the social media world, the caucus, party and staffers of these parties are constantly validated by their courtship of this demographic. Only polls and the occasional election interrupt the discourse.
- And because they are so indulged in terms of policy and messaging, members of this class are baffled by the failure of the rest of the country to be equally persuaded about the merits of changing the government.
- This culture and process constrains either party from any attempt to break out of this dynamic.
This is pretty spot on. Labour’s big policy is to reverse a policy they brought in 30 years ago and provider even larger taxpayer funded subsidies to students.