Way back in the late 90’s Helen Clark was languishing in the opinion polls. She went as low a single digit figures and many wrote her off. The same is happening to the present leader of the Labour Party. Can he build the figures and gain the momentum needed to cross the line in the September elections?
Times are different and if ‘perception,’ rules the waves, then the answer is clearly---NO! If the majority of New Zealanders feel that they are doing ‘OK,’ and the figures re our economy are going in the right direction, for ‘most’ of New Zealanders, then Labour has a very difficult task re convincing the voters that it is time to change the governbmnet. Many of the issues that opposition parties bring up just don’t resonate worth enough NZers to bring about a change. That may sound defeatist to many of the people who read my blogs or follow me on Facebook, but present a more believable argument!
Most NZers do not think about politics every day and they generally steer well clear of divisive commentary unless they are directly affected. Sure they chuck in their bit when politics comes up at the break times in their workplaces or at parties and other gatherings, but for the most part, if they have a job (that’s most of us) are able to afford their mortgage or rent and have a little over (that is a diminishing number) then they ‘get on with life.’
Come election time, it is the perception of how they are doing that feeds into who they will vote for. It has always been far more difficult for the Labour Party and more recently the Labour Party/ Green alliance to gather in enough support to go beyond about 45% support. It seems that National has for a long time been able to keep a level of support that nears the high 40%. It is hard to put ones finger on why this is so. Simple analysis of the election results of the last 80 years will show that National has generally maintained a level of support that brings it across the line re holding Government. It is only when Labour has a charismatic leader or the economy is hurting ‘enough’ people and there are other issues that ‘damage’ National, that Labour is able to form a Government. Holding power for more than one election cycle has also been difficult for Labour and the three examples of when they have gone beyond a single cycle speaks much.
The present leader of the Labour Party has a huge hill to climb and it doesn’t help his cause that he has a more ‘in your face,’ high ranking ‘contender to the throne,’ snapping at his heels. Shane Jones may be capable of drawing in ‘Middle NZ’ and that is what Labour needs to do in order to break the National grip on power. Political expediency versus genuine political debate and honesty are very much opposing forces, if one wants to win an election.
Sadly the later do not always win.