I have been arguing for some time that Labour's core strategic misjudgment has been its abject and unrelenting pessimism. This downbeat worldview is amplified and compounded by Andrew Little's always dour and sometimes sour persona. I even wrote a column in the NZ Herald with the headline, "Labour's pessimism ploy" in which I wrote:
By playing up fears about the perils of globalisation or an impending Chinese invasion, Labour will encounter furious and vocal agreement. This shouldn't be mistaken for a groundswell. Voters don't reward parties who merely echo and reinforce feelings of despondency without offering real solutions.
Labour, in particular, thrives when it approaches the future with gusto, not trepidation. Merchants of doom and gloom might fill the airwaves, but they rarely win elections.
Not surprisingly, and hardly for the first time, Labour HQ is ignoring me, doubling down on the "WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T LOOK BEHIND YOU" path to victory.
The festive season email from Party President Nigel Haworth contains this line – possibly the most bone-chilling in the history of Christmas missives.
I’m grateful for our progress this year and for your support, making all this possible. Thank you.
But the reality is this, [name redacted]: National is failing our country and it’s going from bad to worse.
I asked the party via Twitter whether they mean National or New Zealand is "going from bad to worse"? They haven't responded, probably wisely. The sentence is unclear, either as a result of bad writing or deliberate obfuscation. Putting aside such a strange choice of phrase for a Christmas message, is this really what Labour thinks a winning message looks like?
As I argue in Business Spectator today, voters remain consistently happy with John Key as long as he presides over a resolutely moderate, do-little, basically Labour Party agenda. They do not think the country is going to hell in a hand-basket, and no amount of Labour insisting otherwise will change that. Such doomsaying makes Labour, not National, look "out of touch".
Apparently this is the accompanying video message.