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I’m not surprised Chris Hipkins is staying on as leader.
I mean let’s face it, one, who else have they got? And two, when you’re a career politician, what else is it you’re going to do at this point?
But it’s the best possible option for Labour I reckon. He’s adept at politics and playing the media – and those two things go hand in hand these days. He’s quick on his feet, he’s an attack dog – which is what opposition is all about. But how attack-y is the potential problem for him... as in, is he too much attack dog?
I think he will have to tone it down. I think voters have had a gutsful of mudslinging and negativity and scrapping in the gutter. The Willie Jackson style of politics of flinging grenades everywhere and not caring where they land... it’s reckless and we tolerate it less and less nowadays.
There seems, as the election result would indicate, to be an appetite to get some adults back in the room. And more important than snapping at the government in these next few months, is going to be getting his own party back on track. Rebuilding it won’t be easy given there are factions there now that seem obviously divided: the hard-core lefties wanting to move further left, and the retail middle of the roaders who want to remain more centrist.
Although, throwing a wealth and capital gains tax back on the table so soon would indicate the lefties have gotten to him (that's a sop to them). Key question is whether it entices disgruntled Labour voters back to the fold. It seems a bit quick and flip floppy to have reversed that decision so quickly.
But they’ll be having a good hard look at themselves in terms of what the bulk of their support base wants. They've got to think about how much they hand out and to who though, I mean look at the Māori caucus, look at how much they lost there, despite all the compensations made to Māori by the Labour Government. The Maorification of pretty much everything did not see the party get thanked or rewarded by Māori, who abandoned Labour in their droves.
So who is the Labour party going forward?
I heard one commentator say that in voting to keep everyone who lost on the party list, essentially, the people who lost them the election are still there. Many would also argue the future leader of the Labour party is not among them. So you’ve got a lot of potentially jaded talent hanging around, with the electorate jaded by them too.
So how do you refresh with all the old dead wood?
I think Grant Robertson will go, David Parker probably too, and that may be no bad thing. In fact a clear out is probably just what the party needs. It also needs a fresh approach to leadership. If it’s still Chippy, who says he wants to see it through to 2026, then he needs to work out who he is and how he's doing it. And it’s got to be a step up from just zinger slinging. It’s got to sound more calm and professional. I’m hoping the shouty yelly election style bickering we saw will be put to one side.
So how the Labour party gathers itself together and rebuilds from here will be critical. And I think they’ll really want to make a good go of it, because if I was Labour looking at this three headed monster Luxon’s trying to put together, I’d be thinking odds are on that the Nats, ACT, NZ First trifecta may only be a one term government.
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