Labour's sins of ommission

Where is the sense of urgency from a Labour party that doesn't seem terribly fussed about winning this election, or at least seems quite happy to leave it to potential coalition partners to get it over the line?

The biggest crime a Labour Party caucus, activist base and affiliated unions can commit is to not put their party in a position where it can realistically when an election. They can claim all they like to want to bring new talent into parliament through the list, but on current polling, it's rhetoric – no new faces will make it come September.

The Labour Party was founded on basic principles that appealed and applied to most New Zelalanders. The right to a job with decent wages and conditions, the right to clean and warm roof over your head and for kids to get equality of opportunity in the classroom and therefore our wider society.

Parts of the community I represent badly need Labour to be effective, yet still the party continues to dilute the importance of significant policy announcements like compulsory Kiwisaver or job-rich manufacturing in favour of the beltway pursuits against Collins and Williamson that clearly earn no votes around the country.

It seems the underlying premise of recent comments by some "outsider" activists and politicians like myself are correct: Labour isn't
 aiming for 40% plus of the vote because they neither want – nor know how – to go about winning it. Those in charge of the party know the only way to keep the agenda and the caucus small is by keeping the vote low and encouraging the Greens and Mana-Internet to grow their support in the next Parliament. "Hopefully," they say, "we can stitch together a rag-tag coalition of the weird and the wonderful."

As a life-long (moderate and pro-enterprise) Labour supporter, I would rather the party win significantly more people like me and get the vote to say 38%, than appear as they do, which seems to be a preference for Hone, Laila and the Greens to be elected to the next Parliament instead of good candidates further down the Labour list.

A talented Wellingtonian, with proven electoral appeal told me that last year he offered himself up as a prospective Labour candidate for Ohariu. He was advised however by the senior party person he asked not to bother because he wasn't a woman. If I revealed who he is, I'm sure most people would agree that had he been selected, Peter Dunne would now be looking down the barrel of voter-enforced retirement.

Deciding also against a well-credentialed and popular local candidate in Kapiti District Councillor, Penny Gaylor, Labour sent an unmistakable message that winning Otaki off National is not a priority.

(Ed - Rob McCann won that nomination). These are two examples that show how far Labour has positioned itself away from communities. The party appear not to care about re-establishing bases in and amongst communities in provincial and suburban New Zealand by selecting candidates who god forbid might actually win some votes.

Meanwhile there are list MPs approaching their third and fourth election this year in seats that should be winnable but somehow they have never managed to win. Some of these MPs have again been rewarded with high list placings, so where is the incentive for them to win those electorates? The bigger question is, why doesn't the party appear to care?

It seems Labour has given up on gaining votes from aspirational workers who want to own their own home, those who strive to run a small business and the people pottered throughout every class, culture and community in New Zealand who care deeply about reforming the systems and policies that continually fail our children.

Labour has to start behaving like a force that stands for a cause again, rather than a defender of the status quo that screams madly every time the government says it wants to reform something. It must move again to become a party for the public, not just the public service. 
Better still, it would be great to see some reform ideas from my party.

We created the welfare system because we believe in being there for these kids and for families when they fall on bad times. We should own the debate about reforming it so that these kids don't stay in poverty, rather than risk a third term National Government savaging our social security system.

Where is the sense of urgency in Labour that says it’s not OK for generations in a single family to be stuck on the dole? Labour is never satisfied with the status quo – we believe that tomorrow can be better. We have a divine discontent that makes us strive to improve on what is.

It would nice for all this be reflected in the Labour Party that faces the 2014 election.