I had the privilege of attending David Cunliffe’s State of the Nation speech today. Cunliffe delivered the speech with a confidence and assurance that reminded us all once again that the Labour Party got it right when they chose him. I want to briefly touch on a few other aspects of the speech that also show that Labour are getting it right – a trend that should send them into government.
Firstly, the audience. It was lucky that Labour upgraded venues, from a small Kelston Primary school, to the bigger Kelston Girl’s College just down the road. Around 700 people showed up to hear Labour’s plan for New Zealand, and even then people were spilling out of the hall. This figure is made all the more impressive when you consider that Labour had not hijacked any previously planned meetings or gatherings to capitalise on assured numbers, but had attracted the 700 attendees purely on the allure and excitement of David Cunliffe and the Labour Party. Days before the speech, Labour volunteers were calling around party members, inviting them to the speech, and to bring their friends and family and the response was overwhelming. This is markedly different to John Key’s State of the Nation, which was piggybacking on a pre-organised business conference of several hundred. Labour managing to raise over twice that many attendees to come and hear a political speech on a public holiday is an impressive feat, and suggests that Labour are getting something right to have such a dedicated and enthusiastic base of support.
Onto the policy. Much of the policy announcements were dominated by early childhood education and development. For those of us that were wondering when Jacinda Ardern’s custom made Children portfolio was going to start releasing some policy, our questions have been answered. Labour have made children a front and centre issue for their campaign this election year, with the innovative Best Start policy platform targeting children’s development during the vital pre-school years. To me, this too seems to be getting it right. It’s all well and good for National to make lots of new glitzy teaching positions, but Labour are focussing on the period of a child’s life that will in many ways define the ease with which they will learn later on. Focussing on new teaching positions in primary and secondary schools is only meeting the problem once it has already established itself in children, whereas Labour want to make sure that the problem never exists at all by eradicating the causes of it – which occur in the all-important pre-school period. By helping parents and children to get by, Labour are certainly getting it right, and they are doing it for less than National’s ‘pay special teachers more to be special policy’.
Of course the inevitable ‘show me the money’ response will be hurled from the government benches, but Davids Cunliffe and Parker are ready for them, with the $1.5 billion that was publically cleared up last week from the ditching of the uninspirational GST and Tax policies. For anyone who still remains stubborn about Labour’s inability to find money I would direct you to this excellent post from Imperator Fish that basically sums up the attitudes around Labour policy, and how ridiculous they are.
David Cunliffe also did incredibly well in defending party policy to an obviously hostile Paul Henry on his debut show tonight. After grilling Cunliffe on policy details and tough coalition questions, Henry then proceeded to play two games with John Key and ask him about his holiday with Barack Obama. However, Cunliffe did not give Paul Henry an inch, and totally owned the interview.
In conclusion, Labour are getting it right. They’ve got a leader who knows what he’s doing, who can inspire enthusiastic and passionate support, and who can front policy that strikes at the very heart of systemic inequality that more and more families around New Zealand are beginning to face. National should be rushing to prepare themselves after this announcement, because Labour are coming out swinging, and are determined to win this election.
This was a very quick blog – for more information on Labour’s policy I recommend checking out the politics pages on various news websites for more detail on the new policy:
TV 3: http://www.3news.co.nz/Parents-welcome-Labours-baby-bonus/tabid/1607/articleID/329906/Default.aspx