This has all the makings of one of those terrible leftwing blog wars (strangely not featuring Martyn Bradbury for once) but I think I can sum up my points quickly and leave it there.
Rob Salmond got a little patronising in his response to people’s responses to his response to Monbiot.
He starts off saying, “Rule 1 in politics is “learn to count.” 33 < 50.”
Hey Rob. You know what’s less than 50 and less than 33? Labour’s last two general election results.
Since 2008 – Labour’s most-deliberately-“centrist”, trying-to-win-National-votes-by-mimicking-National period – Labour’s vote has gone down. It’s not only not attracting new voters, it isn’t even keeping its “base”. And the disillusioned leftwing vote isn’t going to other parties. It’s staying at home.
Rob says, “anyone who looks at Labour’s successful 2005 platform and sees anything other than an appeal to the centre is dreaming.”
I’m going to let Giovanni Tiso handle that one:
On the noble history of centrism-as-political-strategy: let’s not confuse popularity with “moderate” policy-by-polling. It’s meaningless to say “centrism has always been a thing because you always need to get lots of votes.” By that logic, Syriza is centrist because a lot of Greeks voted for them.
It’s a mug’s game to redefine anything short of the National Front or Socialist Aotearoa as “centrist” given the right circumstances, and declare victory. It’s easy to talk about “being relevant to more people” or “perception is reality” or being “data-driven”.
But the theory doesn’t work in practice. You know what the majority of New Zealanders were against back in 2011? Asset sales. How did Labour try to appeal to them in 2011? Campaign against asset sales. Result?
There are a lot of teachers in my family. In 2008 one of them commented: “I think I’ll vote for National. At least I know what to expect from them.”
A party cannot look competent when it’s unpredictable. And a party looks unpredictable when, instead of having well-advertised principles guiding its actions, it’s jumping all over the place trying to please everyone except its own supporters.
I would rather stand for something.