Pagani is close to the Labour strategy team. She stood as an electorate candidate for the party in 2011, and her husband John has had various strategic adviser roles within the party. So it's reasonable to assume that she is articulating Labour's strategy.
There's nothing in itself wrong with wooing the soft "centre" vote, because major parties like Labour can only govern if they capture a sizeable chunk of the popular vote. But it seems as if someone within Labour has decided there are few votes to be had on the left, and that the party must move closer to National.
The strategy, as far as I can tell from listening to Pagani, appears to be to deliberately pander to the perceived prejudices of centre voters, at the expense of Labour's left. It's a strategy doomed to failure, for two main reasons:
- David Shearer's remark about the beneficiary on his roof angered many activist members of the party who follow his speeches, but will have gone largely unnoticed by the people to whom the message was meant to appeal. People like this. These activists are the people who keep the party running.
- The tactic of appealing to one group by targeting another is an age-old political ploy, but it is also a deeply cynical one. If the aim of Labour is to win at all costs, then the pursuit of that aim means anything goes, including attacks on groups that are already the target of widespread abuse and vitriol. The problem with this tactic is that it concedes that the right have won the debate on welfare, and that we do have a major problem with beneficiaries ripping off the system. It inevitably draws the party closer to National in the eyes of many voters.
I should make it clear that when I say "doomed to failure" I don't mean that Labour won't win in 2014, because they may still. I don't define failure as losing an election. A party can fail its members and still govern. The fourth Labour government was a good example of this.
Even so, it's hard to see how Labour can win well in 2014 if it burns off its supporters on the left. Many of them will go to the Greens, or just stay home in disgust on election day. Like they did in 2011.