Give us some substance, Grant.

I want Grant Robertson to win, but it kills me that he is saying nothing of substance. On Q and A this weekend, he was clearest when discussing ‘consequences’ for disloyal MPs. It really says something that his only clear-ish comments were about caucus knifings.

While Grant has a slick campaign, he seems to think he can win without actually saying anything. Look at his five commitments:

White on red was not a good choice.

White on red was not a good choice.

What does any of this actually mean? I have no idea. You don’t get much vaguer than ‘Listen to what New Zealanders are saying about their hopes and aspirations’. Like the oxymoronic ‘Labour values’, these five priorities say nothing. This lack of substance is alarming.

The same goes for Grant and Jacinda’s campaign slogan ‘New generation to win’. The slogan reeks of focus-group testing and writing by committee. It says nothing about their approach, just that they are new-ish and want to win.

What does any of this mean?

Sentence fragment (consider revising)

This is candy floss politics. Lots of colour, little meaning, and kind of enjoyable if you don’t think about the crap you’re swallowing. But you don’t win elections by regurgitating buzzwords and smiling sweetly, unless you’re John Key. And Grant is no John Key.

Although, kudos to Grant for choosing Jacinda for deputy. She has great name recognition, appeals to the party’s troublesome base, and has support in Auckland. Of course, Grant can’t actually appoint a deputy; only caucus can do that. But never mind, it was good politics.

Although I’m a little concerned that between them they haven’t really done much, especially Jacinda. She had social welfare under Paula Bennett. I don’t recall her landing any significant hits, but I’m open to being proved wrong. Surely she should’ve been able to find a kiwi battler who can’t afford their something-or-other because of National’s benefit cuts.

Her greatest achievement seems to be leading the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY), and almost winning Auckland Central. Although she’s not too proud of the socialist part, because she refers to IUSY as “an international political organisation with consultative status with the United Nations“.

Screenshot 2014-10-19 20.08.04

Grant, on the other hand, has won his safe seat three times, but presided over a decline in Labour’s vote. Under Grant the party vote has dropped from 14,244 in 2008 to 9,308 votes this year. But he got himself re-elected, and that’s the main thing, isn’t it?

No, it’s not. The party vote is.

I’m not a fan of Grant, but I want him to win. He represents Labour’s career insider faction at it’s purest. Like so so many Labour MPs, he went from student unions to the public service to parliamentary staffer to MP. He supports filibustering, which is basically sabotaging the mechanics of government.

But I want Grant to win because I think he can unite the party. And lack of unity is Labour’s fundamental problem. As I’ve already argued, I think Labour’s vocal base will fall in line and thus allow the party to convert blue votes to red. And without doing that, the Left cannot take power.

So good luck to Grant and Jacinda, but please make your waffle and deflections less obvious.



2 thoughts on “Give us some substance, Grant.

  1. […] principle, I think this is a great idea, but it is worryingly short on detail, like much of his campaign so […]

  2. […] The next leader needs to provide stability while the party addresses its problems. Survival should be the main decision-making criterion. It is a question of what is strategically best, not what is morally right. In my opinion, the person that best meets this criterion is Grant Robertson, despite his dishonest pledges and his campaign’s glaring lack of details. […]

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