LABOUR IS DRAGGING the whole of the centre-left to an historic defeat and the selfish bastards don’t give a damn.
The latest Reid Research Poll, commissioned by TV3, puts Labour at 27.1 percent – its worst performance since 1996.
Fifteen years ago, however, Labour’s parlous polling didn’t matter so much because, overall, the centre-left was on a roll. With Jim Anderton’s Alliance and Winston Peters’ NZ First regularly polling between 15 and 20 percent apiece, the combined vote of the Opposition parties hovered around 60 percent of the electorate. In 1996, with the first MMP election looming, Jim Bolger’s National Government was staring down the barrel of a humiliating defeat.
That is most emphatically not the case now. Seven months out from the 2011 General Election it is the parties of the Right that can count on 60 percent-plus of the electorate’s support. And, as Kiwiblog’s David Farrar points out, the combined Labour-Green vote has fallen to a derisory 35 percent. Even if you throw in the 2.8 percent of centrist voters who support NZ First, the result falls well short of 40 percent.
What this means is that the centre-left is heading for an electoral catastrophe even worse than the disaster which befell it in 1990. (And before you all remind me that the 4th Labour Government wasn’t a centre-left government, for the purposes of this argument it’s enough that upwards of a third of the electorate still considered Labour to be a centre-left party.)
Now we must take into account that Chris Trotter comes from the hard left of the Labour Party. He's certainly no friend of those who were aligned to Sir Roger Douglas in the heady days of the late 1980's when Labour pursued an agende of economic reform. But this is an extraordinary outburst from Trotter, even by his standards.
Further on, he really puts the boot in - read on:
Now, John Key, Stephen Joyce and Gerry Brownlee are all pretty likeable guys – but they’re not that likeable. For roughly 15 percentage points of electoral support to have vacated the centre-left camp something else has to be going on. Much as we hate to admit it, what seems to be happening here is not so much a case of people running to something, as it is of people running from something.
And what they are running from, comrades, is us – the centre-left.
They don’t like us and they don’t trust us. Why? Because long, long ago they got the very strong impression that we don’t like them.
We don’t like their values. We don’t approve of their culture. And we’re so infuriatingly certain that we know – so much better than they do themselves – what’s good for them.
We call them racists if they resist our bicultural programmes. We call them homophobes if they’re less than 100 percent supportive of queer culture. We call them sexist if they energetically celebrate all the delightful differences between men and women. We want their votes – you bet. But we would really rather do without the voters themselves.
Then, amazingly, we’re surprised and hurt when they turn away from us. In truth, what we should really be surprised about is how many ordinary Kiwis, in spite of our insufferable arrogance and condescension, still decide to stick with us!
And if you want to know why Phil Goff has become electoral poison it’s because he let these people down. For a moment there they thought he was going to turn Labour away from its effete social liberalism and back towards the robust proletarianism of yesteryear. But he didn’t. At the first sign of resistance from the social liberals in his caucus, he retreated. When push came to shove, Phil just didn’t have the balls.
In working-class New Zealand, if you step up for a fight, then you bloody-well-better throw a punch.
It's bad enough for Phil Goff that the pollsters are against him, the right-wing blogs are having a go, and he has to stage photogrpahs to convince the nation that his leadership is safe.
The reality of course is that Phil Goff's biggest critics are far closer to home. They're people like Chris Trotter, and like The Standard blogger Marty G who said at the weekend "I desperately, desperately want a Labour-led leftwing government at the end of this year. It fills me with dread to think what Christchurch and the rest of New Zealand will look like if National is allowed to plunder it for another three years. But I can’t go into battle for the Left’s ideals every day when our parliamentary representatives go and do this to us." They're also people like the Labour MP's who have been publicly identified as being under threat of losing their places in Parliament should Labour's woeful weekend poll result be replicated at the General Election.
Sadly for Labour, comments like those of Chris Trotter may turn out to be self-fulfilling prophesises, and they may actually exacerbate the party's dire situation. Phil Goff will not be heartened by Trotter's heartfelt rant, nor will be take any confort from 3News' report last night that only 15% of respondents to its latest poll believe that Labour can win the 2011 election, and that 55% of those who identfied themselves as Labour voters do not believe that Labour can win, with an additional 10% saying that they did not know if Labour could win.
Sunday's 3News poll was the one that Labour, and especially Phil Goff had been dreading. Chris Trotter's "selfish bastards" jibe must have Goff nearing the end of his tether, and will start the leadership chattering all over again.