Greens deal will further dilute Labour's message

1 June 2016

The Labour Party has struggled to produce a concise message that explains what it stands for since Helen Clark left office in 2008. This is a major reason it has done so badly ever since. This new deal with the Green Party will make it even harder to tell voters what it stands for.

Labour Parties have traditionally been focused on the rights of workers and on the left side of politics. But this changed in the 1980s when it moved well to the right, then back to the centre with the Clark Government.

Since then, things have been tough as the party has tried to please those on the left and those in the centre. They have been aware that most votes come from the centre, but National has dominated that area.

So what should they do?

They need to decide where they sit. Their best bet is still in the centre, but to focus heavily on a few policy areas that differ from National and form a consistent message around those. While some people will vote for a party regardless of policy, the people who decide who governs will only vote for a party if they know what that party stands for. We know the National Party will campaign on strong economic management and the Greens will focus on the environment and socialist economic policy. But what about Labour? We haven’t known what they are about since Clark left.

So why is the Greens deal a bad idea?

All this Green deal does is further dilute whatever message they do campaign on. If they do have a joint policy on some issues with the Greens, how will that affect their overall message? Are we to believe this is a move back to the left? Or if they want to be the party of small business, how will that work with a Green Party influence?

It was obvious before this deal that a Labour/Green coalition was always possible if there was a change of Government. There was also the possibility of Winston Peters spoiling the Greens celebration. This deal does nothing to change that. All it does is further confuse what Labour can offer as the major player in an alternative Government.

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Written by

Pete is a leading New Zealand media trainer and regular blogger for his company, Media Training NZ . He has helped leaders from all sectors of society communicate with the media and other stakeholders. Pete is a former daily newspaper reporter and press secretary in the New Zealand government. From these roles, he understands the media process from both sides of the camera.

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