Labour needs to break message down to concrete terms

Posted July 25, 2017

Labour’s decision to reverse National’s tax cuts and spend some of that money on health and education is clearly a big ideological difference between the parties. However, it does mean that Labour has a harder job to communicate the benefits of its policy.

This blog isn’t about the value of each option, but how easy it is to communicate the benefits to potential voters.

The reason Labour has the harder job is because announcing they will add 8 billion to the health budget is a very abstract statement. That means it’s hard to tell voters exactly what they will get from the spending. For example, does it mean that 1000 more people with a particular mental health condition will now get free care, or more heavily subsidised drugs?

They need to break the policy down to that level to show its value. A great example to make this point was today’s Christchurch Press. Rather than use a figure of how much stormwater would have been kept out of the Heathcote River if flood prevention basins had been in place, they used a concrete analogy. They said the basins would have kept more than 300 Olympic swimming pools of water out. People understand that better than some figure like X litres.

This is what Labour need to do. They need to show use people who will benefit and exactly what this money will do. In other words, they need to break the big dollar numbers down into real human stories.

It’s a lot easier for National because they can tell people exactly how much more money they will have in their back own pocket next year. This is easy because its already broken down. But if swinging voters are going to choose a party that wants to keep that money, they will need convincing that it’s going to be spent wisely.

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