Labour’s new election slogan is a challenge for the party to focus exclusively ‘on the positive things that matter to Kiwi families’, as the PR promises. 

That means rejecting the rhetoric that has New Zealand going to hell in a hand basket, and avoiding negative distractions that make Labour look like the party of dead trees, slow trucks and extinct birds

I like Labour’s ‘Vote Positive’ more than I like National’s ‘Working for New Zealand’ (which begs the question, ‘who have you been working for until now?’)

Whether it will change anyones’ vote remains to be seen.

Election slogans and advertising strengthen the resolve of those already supporting one party over another. They probably encourage turn out, which is Labour’s big hope this election -  to get its base out, and those who didn’t vote in 2008 and 2011.

The right slogan helps to reinforce positive views of the party and its leader. Or in the case of Tony Abbot in the 2013 election in Australia, a negative view of the opposing party. 

His anti Kevin Rudd slogan was crass but it worked -   “If He Wins, You Lose’. Australians were up for rejecting a Labour party embroiled in leadership fights.

But negative slogans can backfire. The British conservative party used ‘New Labour, New Danger’ in 1997, with a picture of Tony Blair with glowing red eyes. It was nasty because it implied Blair, a Christian, was the devil. People didn't like it.

More importantly, the country was in the mood for change. The Labour party ran on the slogan ‘Britain Deserves Better’, and it hit exactly the right tone after thirteen years of Tory government.

In 2014, our Labour party has opted for a positive message and that’s a good thing, but only if they stick to it.

It will require discipline. Talk about Labour’s move away from volume to value in manufacturing; its plans for job creation in the regions; higher wages; the biggest change to the tax system in a generation with the introduction of a capital gains tax; a new blueprint for monetary policy that supports exporters and jobs as well as inflation control; and safeguarding universal super by increasing the age of eligibility.

The idea that this is a National-lite platform, as some commentators have suggested, couldn’t be more wrong.

Labour’s economic upgrade marks the biggest difference between the two big parties in decades.

But a ‘positive’ campaign means Labour will have to stop the misery mantra. Like it or not, the number of people in the polls who think the country is heading in the right direction far out-number those who think it’s not.

They should give credit where credit is due. Praise National for keeping Labour’s Working for Families, which the Nats voted against and called ‘communism by stealth’; and for keeping Kiwisaver and interest free student loans, which they also voted against.

Sticking with those Labour policies helped Kiwis on frozen wages get through the GFC in better shape.

And stop making every issue a litmus test (from roads to man bans and dead trees) - because this is just another way of telling Labour supporters to bugger off and vote National.

That’s not a winning strategy.

Labour has a positive message. It’s got about 70 days to talk about nothing else, and avoid anymore side-shows.

 

 

Comments (14)

by Alan Johnstone on July 07, 2014
Alan Johnstone

"More importantly, the country was in the mood for change. The Labour party ran on the slogan ‘Britain Deserves Better’, and it hit exactly the right tone after thirteen years of Tory government."

18 years, not 13.

by Josie Pagani on July 07, 2014
Josie Pagani

Yes - you're right Alan - 13 years of Thatcher - 18 years of Tory. 

by Tim Watkin on July 07, 2014
Tim Watkin

It is important – whether or not the country is in the mood for change. Because a slogan and avertising can only work with a mood or inclination that already exists. John Key says he doesn't feel it. It's certainly not overwhelming, but is it 51% in favour of change?

by Alan Johnstone on July 07, 2014
Alan Johnstone

Labour has spent the last 6 years opposing to no real benefit. John Key has proven remarkably adroit at avoiding pissing off the soft centre vote. I don't feel the change mood either.

Cunliffe and Parker have put together a good platform, if they can clear out the dead wood and stop the internal sniping they have a decent shot in 2017.


 

by william blake on July 08, 2014
william blake

Round this way we are pretty fed up with the Nationals arrogance and are often reminded that the Tories are in power by a thin majority (27,000) . I think the fog is clearing and good policy for all New Zealanders will win on the day. 

John Key " not feeling it" could be the same as not remembering it.

by Ian MacKay on July 08, 2014
Ian MacKay

Most people in the lower income brackets must not be impressed by the so called economic recovery. It must really hurt so many people that in spite of the Key rhetoric wages have not increased as much as the 4% for MPs let alone the 20% for the very rich. Lack of wage growth alone will be a call to arms.

So let Mr Key "not feel the mood for change." We will beaver away to draw in the masses and change the Government while the smug Key giggles to his smug mates like Joyce and Brownlie.

by Cam Slater on July 08, 2014
Cam Slater

Labour has a disconnect in their messaging, which you unwittingly repeated.

In manufacturing (which was supposedly in crisis but now isn't) Labour says they want to move from volume to value.

In education they reject that premise entirely and are saying that it is volume (of teachers) and not vlaue (better teachers) that is the solution.

Add in their willingness to ideologically oppose Charter Schools, which mirror the manufacturing mantra of vlaue not volume and you can see the disconnect.

And that is just two areas where the disconnect occurs. 

by Ian MacKay on July 08, 2014
Ian MacKay

"In education they reject that premise entirely and are saying that it is volume (of teachers) and not vlaue (better teachers) that is the solution." 

Can you point to any evidence at all that Labour does not value better teachers Mr Slater? That is so silly. Does it follow that if Labour wanted fewer teachers that that would mean they value good teachers more?

It is probable that smaller classes lead to good teachers becoming excellent teachers because they have more opportunities and more encouragement and more support to to so.

by Cam Slater on July 08, 2014
Cam Slater

Your premise of smaller classes would be valid if we were talking about halving class sizes...we are not, labour's proposals...to add less than one teacher to each school, 2000 teachers into 2539 schools will only lower class sizes by about 3  students...if any.

The government already funds secondary schools at a ratio od 1 teacher to 20 pupils, it is the schools that decide otherwise. Labour is trying to lock in a highr ration 1 for 23 and when Hekia Parata did that she was roundly criticised and yet here we are saying Labour's plans are cool....when demonstrably they are not.

Reducing class sizes by just a couple of students won't make any difference at all, there is literally hectares of felled trees in reports to prove this, yet Labour ignores the reports.

by Ian MacKay on July 08, 2014
Ian MacKay

You will find that where an extra teacher or two are employed, then the Principal has more options on where and how to deploy them Cam. They are not necessarily put into a classroom. And the bare figures around ratios per school are not quite what they seem. The ratio can be a figure counting every teacher on the staff including the Principal rather than just the number of teachers/pupils in a classroom. Variables you see.

In a shared classroom "discovered" by Ms Parata, the variables of more teachers would be even greater. The Open Plan classrooms rose and fell during the 1980s by the way.

And yes wouldn't it be a great world if the ratio was say 20 children per room? Next year perhaps?

by Ross on July 10, 2014
Ross

John Key " not feeling it" could be the same as not remembering it.

Do you honestly think that if John Key felt that voters wanted change, he'd announce it to the world?!!!

by Andrew Osborn on July 12, 2014
Andrew Osborn

Josie: more than I like National’s ‘Working for New Zealand’ (which begs the question, ‘who have you been working for until now?’)

This is an example of the Present Participle in English, implying motion and continuity.

Examples include:

A buoyant economy

Reduced unemployment

Fewer people on the dole

A significantly lower crime rate

Fewer teen pregnancies

and much much more....

 

 



by stuart munro on July 16, 2014
stuart munro

Andrew you mean:

  • An economy maintaining marginal positive buoyancy only by massive borrowing in spite of record dairy returns.
  • Stagnant job growth
  • Vicious and unrelenting attacks on people left unemployed by National's failure to create jobs.
  • Creative crime accounting.

Just for a start. The only questions the public are asking about this government is "Did we bring enough rope", and "Why the hell aren't there more and bigger trees on Lambton quay?"

As for Slater's education nonsense - the Gnats don't want better teachers, they want more corporatised teachers. As corporations employ fewer and fewer New Zealanders, the model should in fact be moving in the other direction - towards community education initiatives. But these can't be shaken and baked pre-election for a few hundred million of stolen asset money without falling over post-election.

 

 

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