Sunday, November 27, 2011

The way forward

I’ve had more than my share of election losses. In New Zealand, my side won the first three elections I could vote in, and it’s now lost two in a row. At the electorate level, it’s worse: My side won the first two times I could vote, then lost the next three.

Add to that my experience in the US, where I can count my victories on one hand and still have fingers left over for jewellery. Okay, slight exaggeration, but not by much.

The point is, I’ve known victory and defeat and, if I’m truly honest, the thrill of the first doesn’t ease the pain of the second. But it’s in defeat that I rediscover both my energy and my determination. That’s a common thing.

When the National Party went down to its biggest defeat ever in 2002, it returned to its roots and re-emerged stronger than ever in 2005. It went too far to the right and scared voters, but if it hadn’t veered so far right, it would’ve won that year.

I think Labour needs to return to its social democratic roots to fight again in 2014. We saw glimpses of that this year, but the public perception of Labour as too similar too National persisted. It needs to stand for something.

It’s not enough for folks to carp from the sidelines, either. Folks who care passionately about New Zealand and about Labour working for us all cannot sit on the sidelines and moan that the party isn’t one thing or another, or that it should do this or that. Instead, they must roll up their sleeves and get to work.

Toward that end, I’m going to try doing exactly that at the local level of the Labour Party. I have no idea whether I’ll be welcome, let alone whether my ideas will be embraced, but if I don’t try, who then can I blame?

This may be my last gasp with the Labour Party, or it could be the start of something else. In either case, I have to try.

I challenge every other disappointed centre-left voter to do the same, whatever their party. Together, we can win—literally, for a change.


Drew said...

Hmmm.. I heartily agree with you about getting pro-active and involved locally. But I must say, I had no expectation of anything other than a National win. To me down here in Wellington it seemed fairly well established weeks ago. Does the vibe in Auckland feel that different?

Nik said...

Natl was always going to win I think. The suspense was in the details. I agree about Labour's focus. Ithe Greens appealed to me far more, with Labour I saw a sense of floundering, lack of passion, too many party hacks and less idealism. Goff seems nice bloke but never made that connection.

d said...

The trouble I have with this election is that everyone said "oh, I assume National will win". Did that become a self-fulfilled prophecy? Did people not vote at all or vote for National because someone somewhere decided National was going to win anyway?

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Drew: No, I think the result was more or less obvious. However, I'm not sure how much our expectations of the result was based on reality and how much of that was a result of the opinion polls (a topic in itself).

There is a truism that elections are won or lost in Auckland, and if the turnout in Labour strongholds here had been higher, the result would have been at least somewhat different. No one can credibly say whether that would have changed the overall result, but it would indisputably created a different Parliament.

Nik: Yeah, I agree. And plenty of people saw little or no difference between Labour and National, so why change? I almost gave my Party Vote to the Greens this year, but they'd have to move closer to the centre to seal the deal with me.

d: We can't really know the answer to that, in part because exit polling is illegal in New Zealand, but my hunch is that polls hads a huge effect this year—so much so that my guess is they'll be outlawed in a set period before the election (I'd guess the last 10 days to 2 weeks). But, as I said in reply to Drew, above, that's a topic in itself.