What's Labour's Flag message?

Posted September 3, 2015

Media Training 101 says that before you front the media on any issue, you organise a message that you want to get across. Labour appears to have failed dismally on this when it comes to the Flag debate.

In last year’s election campaign, Labour Leader Andrew Little said the time was right for a vote on the flag. That’s fairly clear. But then as public opposition to the referendum grew, the message appeared to change. Or did it?

Little has talked about the issue being a vanity project for John Key. He’s also said it would be better to have the vote in 5 years. So is Labour in favour of a new flag, or at least giving New Zealanders the opportunity to vote on it? It’s their policy, but they are doing their best in protest. Trevor Mallard has even said he will vote for his worst option to prevent it beating the current flag in the second referendum. Little said he wouldn’t vote in the first one. Despite this, they don't say they are opposed to the possibility of a new flag.

The Labour leadership and PR team need to sit down and come up with a clear, consistent message on where they stand. While doing this they need to take into account the thoughts of their supporters who are in favour of a new flag. There may well be more of them than national party supporters.

They also need to look at the perception from some that they’ve only come out against the vote because public opinion has not been overwhelmingly in favour. When they have their message, they need to stick to it. The worst thing a political party can do is be unclear on where it stands. That’s media training 101.

For more on my media training, contact [email protected] or 029 200 8555.

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