Just prior to Christmas, as things were winding down, Gordon Campbell wrote an article advising Labour to hit the accelerator. As a former researcher for the Green Party, Gordon would no doubt like the accelerator hit with the vehicle rounding a succession of left-hand bends. The result of that would be a crash – which is exactly where we are heading.

It is ironic that while the Government funds accelerator type programmes, it appears unable to manage to do any of its own, other than in reverse gear. It has managed to accelerate the housing crisis, the poverty crisis, the homelessness crisis and others to the point where they are considerably worse now than when Labour took office.

Gordon starts his article by saying some dogs run after cars,  barking loudly and feeling fulfilled by the chase. After all, what on earth would the dog do with the car if he succeeded in catching it? As many of us are of the opinion that it is a dog of a Government which is good at barking and little else, that’s a good intro. As to what they would do if they caught the vehicle, assuming the vehicle to be housing, poverty or homelessness, the answer is: not a lot. Gordon wonders what the Government is going to do with the sweeping powers the voters have handed them. He bemoans the fact that Labour appears to have set out to dissipate any momentum from its victory and to lower expectations.

In contrast, Gordon says a National/Act coalition would have been straight into implementing their agenda. Gordon, maybe unknowingly, has just highlighted the major difference between the parties of the left and right.

One has the ability to progress its ideas while the other barely gets beyond talkfests and working groups. Gordon says a priority for Labour is to hang onto the 400,000 National voters who crossed over to Labour at the election. He says there is no need for Labour to be trapped in this way, by its own policy triangulations. In his view to have Labour’s actions dictated to by 400,000 would be perverse.

Correct. Not only perverse but idiotic. As Gordon points out, many of those voters will desert Labour next time around. He says most of those who voted for Labour were voting for systemic change – and not just for business as usual with leavenings of caring concern on the side. Gordon says voters not only gave Labour a significant mandate for change but also handed it the power to follow through on it. This is where I think Gordon has donned his rose-coloured glasses and is exhibiting an air of false excitement and misleading logic.

This was a Covid election. We know this because the Government received a report damning their handling of the crisis and chose to hold onto it for three months, giving the lie to their claims of being transparent in their actions. Their mandate has come about through lying to the electorate about their stewardship of Covid. Just a few days ago there were complaints from those working at the coalface saying the problems they alluded to weeks ago had still not been addressed.

Gordon might like to think they were elected to sort out the social needs they had miserably failed on during their first term but I would hope the electorate wasn’t stupid enough to re-elect them on that basis. He says given the historic opportunity that’s on offer, building a few more houses, improving public transport a bit, and tinkering with the income abatement rates for those beneficiaries able to get a job at the local supermarket surely isn’t enough.

Maybe not Gordon but it’s all they are capable of, if that. Unlike Audrey Young, who seems to think the Labour caucus is exploding with talent, thanks to a new intake of largely community type workers, the opposite is the case. We have yet to see the worst of the fallout from Covid economically. When that happens you can expect all the indicators in the social areas where Gordon would like to see action, heading the wrong way as in their first term. The same inept lot are at the helm so why should we expect anything different.

Jacinda got lucky with Covid. It enabled her to con the electorate with the only thing she is good at – what Gordon so aptly calls leavenings of caring concern. Logic tells me that alone won’t be enough for a win in 2023.

cars reverse GIF by Top Gear
Labour hits the accelerator.

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A right-wing crusader. Reached an age that embodies the dictum only the good die young. Country music buff. Ardent Anglophile. Hates hypocrisy and by association left-wing politics.