Death by opinion poll. That continues to be Labour’s problem, and it seems nothing can turn things around for them. Today’s Fairfax opinion poll (Greens shoot up in poll) just consolidates the idea that Labour is, in the words of Tracy Watkins, ‘Dog tucker’. Hence Labour is vulnerable to losing its real and potential supporters into a ‘spiral of silence’, whereby it becomes particularly unfashionable and socially isolating to give a vote to that party. German social scientist Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann wrote in the 1970s about how the public constantly assesses the opinions held by the majority in society and this influences and modifies their own views, leading to essentially a reverse-bandwagon effect whereby once a party is somewhat unpopular it then spirals inevitably downwards. One study of the ‘spiral of silence’ found that ‘People monitor the climate of opinion and when they perceive themselves as a minority, individuals are less willing to express themselves politically’. National fell victim to this in the years following the party’s 1999 election loss.
The media, of course, continue to ‘sense blood’ haemorrhaging from both Labour and Phil Goff, and won’t let up on the pursuit – check out, for example, Patrick Gower’s Hunt for Labour Party leak intensifies and Claire Trevett’s Cunliffe: no 'Camp David' support. There are plenty of others willing to also analyse the poor health of Labour and its opinion poll results. David Farrar, for example, points out that on the basis of Labour’s 26%, the following would fail to be elected to the next Parliament: Carol Beaumont, Kelvin Davis, Carmel Sepuloni, Rick Barker, Stuart Nash and Steve Chadwick; and Andrew Little and Shane Jones are suddenly very vulnerable – see: Who would survive?. And, of course, it’s not just Phil Goff to blame – see Andrea Vance’s Dumping Goff not enough to save Labour.
It’s almost as if New Zealand is effectively turning into a one-party state, in which National is the only major 30%+ party, and this is particularly unhealthy for a political system. As Michael Coote has pointed out in the NBR, having a lame duck opposition would give National too much power, allowing it to ‘become increasingly overbearing, arbitrary, dictatorial and utterly wrongheaded’. Labour’s poor performance and weakness is therefore everyone’s problem, and the irrelevance of the political left means we have even less to choose from in parliamentary politics. Of course, Labour’s loss is partly the Greens’ gain, but as that party increases it’s pursuit of power and moderation it also becomes less effective as an alternative.
During its short existence, New Zealand Politics Daily has been particularly reliant on the output of the New Zealand Press Association (NZPA), which sadly closes today. There are a number of stories covering this such as Max Lambert’s NZ news agency signs off after 131 years, Clive Lind’s Years of change culminate in NZPA closure, Andrew Stone’s Farewell NZPA, hello three new services and even the Guardian’s New Zealand Press Association to close.
Media and communication is certainly changing fast, and three items worth mentioning in this regard are 1) the Scoop website now has a searchable page for NZ-related Wikileaks, 2) Tom Pullar-Strecker and Andrea Vance report Labour 'about face' on three strikes net law, and 3) my interview with MP Hone Harawira tomorrow at 12 midday will be live-streamed here, and you can follow and participate in the conversation on Twitter by using the #OUVoteChat2011 hashtag. The interview will take place in front of an audience in the University of Otago Media Production Studios filmed in High Definition by their three cameras, and eventually uploaded to iTunes. And on Friday I’ll be doing the same again with Annette King. If you have any questions for either MP, please tweet (@bryce_edwards) or email me. [Continue reading below for a full list of the highlights of NZ Politics Daily]