ZB

John MacDonald: Change for change's sake a threat to Labour

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 11 Apr 2022, 1:19pm
(Photo / File)
(Photo / File)

John MacDonald: Change for change's sake a threat to Labour

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 11 Apr 2022, 1:19pm

Here’s a question for you: are you just so sick and tired of everything at the moment that, when it comes to the election next year, you might just vote for a change of government even if, in the past, you’ve been a Labour supporter? 

I ask that because I’ve been reading about the phenomena emerging around the world at the moment called “incumbency fatigue” – people are just so over the pandemic and everything that they just want to get rid of the government that’s in power, even if they’re half decent. 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the election date over there yesterday, and he’s expected to have a battle on his hands to stay in office. Not that I’m saying he’s half-decent. 

Elections are on in France at the moment for the presidency – they have several rounds of voting over there. It’s looking pretty close and current President Macron isn’t a shoo-in. And I've always thought he is half decent. 

And as for back here in New Zealand – well, where do I start? 

Let’s start with some numbers. On Friday, the latest Roy Morgan New Zealand political poll came out and it had National at 38 per cent – 6 per cent ahead of Labour who is on 32 per cent. This is the equal highest level of support for National since January 2020. 

Support for a potential National/ACT coalition government was at 47 per cent in the poll – ahead of a potential Labour/Green coalition at 42.5 percent. 

So, what does that tell us? It tells us there’s a brewing mood for some sort of change. 

Of course, polls are just polls and, as we learned after Trump was elected in the United States, people don’t always say what they really mean when they take part in a poll and their actual vote can be quite different. Maybe because they change their mind at the last minute, who knows? 

But I don’t think anyone would argue that Jacinda Ardern is going to have to work hard to stay in government next year – just like Scott Morrison is going to have to work hard to stay in office in Australia, and President Macron is going to have to work hard to stay in office in France. 

Three very different politicians – but all facing the same threat. And some people are putting it down to the fact that people everywhere are just so sick of their current leaders – that they want a change. 

I saw Scott Morrison was telling Australians yesterday when he announced the election date that voters had a choice between the devil they know and the devil they don’t know. 

They weren’t exactly his words but I did think he was showing quite a bit of humility. 

I think it also shows that Scott Morrison is well aware of the incumbency fatigue that is emerging around the world.  

This came through too in an editorial I read at the weekend, which said that New Zealanders are fed up with everything at the moment. Which is not what a government wants to hear. 

The editorial said that after two years of being told to be kind, our empathy reserves have run dry and we’re fed up and burnt out. 

It quoted a psychologist who said the “be kind” thing was great at the start of the pandemic, but we’re all over it now. And so, we’re seeing people losing it in places like the supermarkets – retail staff have probably never faced as much abuse as they are at the moment. 

The article quoted a 35-year-old woman who said that, after two years of being kind, she’s now anything but kind. 

“It’s like I’ve used up all my kindness and don’t have anything left to give. It’s made me a really bad person, which I never used to be.” 

This is where people start looking around for ways to fix things, and getting rid of the government-of-the-day is what people around the world are apparently seeing as the answer. Incumbency fatigue. 

Which brings me back to the question I asked right at the start: are you just so sick and tired of everything at the moment that, when it comes to the election next year, you might just vote for a change of government even if, in the past, you’ve been a Labour supporter?