Barclay issue could dilute Labour message

Posted June 22, 2017

The Labour Party will have to think seriously about how much attention they give to the Todd Barclay. While it may seem natural to attack Bill English, will it win them votes?

If they look back to New Zealand’s last two Prime Ministers, they will see that attempts to discredit them failed on all counts. Many commentators predicted that John Key would lose popularity over ‘Ponytail Gate’, the GCSB issue and more. Helen Clark had her own challenges like ‘Paint Gate’ and ‘Motorcade Gate.’

None of these things appeared to affect political polls or voting behaviour on Election Day. My view is that people are more concerned about how much money they have in their back pocket. That’s why there was no affect.

How could this affect Labour?

The problem for Labour is that every time they focus on the Barclay issue, their core message gets diluted. For example, the recent announcement of their Immigration Policy has now been overshadowed. But that’s likely to be a bigger vote winner than the leadership of Bill English.

They also have the problem that if they do change part of their overall message to focus on leadership, they’ll probably lose because I suspect Bill English will still be a lot more popular than Andrew Little in the polls.

If I was advising the Labour Party, I would suggest they move on from this reasonably quickly and get back to focusing on why people should vote for them in September. They should also remember that events before the last Election prevented them from doing this effectively. And look what happened then.

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