John Pagani, adviser to Phil Goff is crying "Don't panic! Don't panic!" in this post in reponse to the dire poll released yesterday, and is attacking Labour's critics, including me and Danyl McLaughlan. He appears not to have read any of the blog posts he is critical of, including the one I wrote. This does not surprise me. It's been pretty obvious for a while that Goff's advisers have completely failed to read the mood of the public.
Pagani says I advocated a shift to the left in my post, when I did no such thing. I was critical of the move to vote for the CERA legislation, but that's not quite the same as wanting the party to shift to the left. What I would really like to see is a demonstration of principles on the odd occasion, and a defence of the rule of law.
My post was essentially a plea for a more coherent and organised Labour, one that holds the government to account, and that doesn't itself become the main story.
And in any event it does no good to whine about what the commentariat are saying. I don't kid myself that I have that much influence outside of a small group of people on the internet who avidly follows politics. The masses aren't interested in what people like me are saying, but nor do they care for the "just hang in there" message. Something has to change. Just look at the polls, man! Sure, it's one really bad poll, but the others weren't all that flash either. They can't all be wrong.
Pagani explains his winning strategy in his post.
But there is another explanation - one that’s not quite as neat for the left of politics: That a plurality of people actually approve of the job the National party is doing. That the last thing they want is a leap back to the last government.
They’re not desperate for a leap to the left.He goes on to write:
They’re waiting for Labour to demonstrate it genuinely understands their needs - and that means endorsing more of what National is doing - the things the voting public approves of.
Every time Labour attacks policies and a government that voters generally approve of they alienate themselves further from potential supporters who are swinging between Labour and National.
It simply beggars belief to say that the right response to that situation is to start flying into the most popular things National is doing.
Take those calls by Labour’s critics on the left that Labour should tell thousands of people in Christchurch, who are using buckets for their ablutions - that politicking over the CERA law is more important than actually getting things fixed for them as fast as possible.So the answer is not to oppose, but to work with the government, even though the government will get all the credit. Exactly what is the point in being the opposition? And you thought this post was a satire? When did the party of Savage, Kirk and Clark become such a pack of lambs?
Insisting the public is wrong is a recipe for even more disaster. Attacking constructive things the government is doing is exactly the wrong option.
If anything, Labour should be pursuing more of a consensus approach, so that it can own more of the right direction.
Pagani's strategy is to play the "me too" game. For Labour to become National-Lite. Labour could keep fighting for policies that they know are right, even if they don't achieve anything in the short term. Or they could keep doing what they are doing: surrendering the fight. What they are doing is pissing away Labour's core support.
And is the National-Lite approach working? Look at the polls!