INDEPENDENT NEWS

Ho-Hum Election Campaign Coming - Young Labour

Published: Sun 17 Oct 1999 06:20 PM
by Jordan Carter - Young Labour Vice President
November 27, despite the desultory interest so far in the media, has in my
mind a significance that is somewhat greater than we've so far given it
credit for.
Certainly the reaction I get knocking on doors on Saturday mornings, or reading the newspapers or talking to people, is that it's a very much ho-hum election campaign coming up. People think that National and Labour will be the same in Government, and really just want politicians to shut up.
I think that this kind of misses the point.
National and Labour are, on a few policy areas, superficially similar. What is key though is not to look at the policy outlines presented, but to look at the values underlying each of the two parties.
Obviously in my position I am committed to Labour's values, but it is useful sometimes to look at the case your opposition puts up. While National currently is in a centrist mode, one has to ask how credible that stance is. Further extremes of radical microeconomic reform lie in wait should National and ACT get into power. The commercialisation of roading, continued commercialisation of tertiary education, a (renewed) reluctance to engage properly with the public policy problems confronting New Zealand.
Labour, by contrast, is in a very centrist mode.
The party's instincts are to over-deliver on its commitments - which at least partially explains why the current plans are so cautious. Labour has to make sure that its promises are clear, and are able to be delivered on. Thus the pledge card, giving people a very clear commitment to what Labour in Government would do.
The key to achieving those things is successful economic policy - a major focus of Labour's policy line this election. We must hone in on the middle classes, and persuade them that life will be better under Labour.
If National and their ACT friends are re-elected in November, what we will
see is a final consolidation of the past fifteen years of reform.
The model, flawed, disjointed and unsuccessful as it is, will become a norm that is not within the realm of questioning.
And that would be a disaster for this country. We would be stuck in a low growth, unsuccessful economy with an ever growing brain drain, and even worse, there'd be no hope of escape. Alternatively, Labour and the Alliance being elected would be something of a watershed election. It would mark a clear, if somewhat timid, start on a new direction, backing out of the failed hole we now find ourselves in and working for a better future.
That is Labour's message this campaign - all that remains is to see if it gets through the noise of National's nasty personalised campaign.

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