Wrong people, wrong decade - Arcadia Column

  • Simon Upton

Yesterday's TNVZ-Colmar Brunton shows the centre-right drawing abreast of the centre-left. Labour and the Alliance had 43.5%, while National and ACT sit on 44%.

Commentators who have been saying all year that a change in government is inevitable now look less confident. Not so long ago, the line was pedalled about corporate boardrooms that, since Labour was going to win, it might be better to make sure that they win handsomely to give strong government and to dilute the nefarious influence of the Alliance. That line's no longer appropriate in polite society.

This is going to be an engrossing election.

Labour has had plenty of opportunities this year to cement its early lead, but in the final analysis looks to have done a poor job.

It's got the wrong people: the Labour front bench, with the dark shadow of Mr Anderton looming over it, has no fresh appeal to it. Little has changed (except the exit of one or two competent politicians) from the ghastly dying days of the Fourth Labour Government.

Nine years of negativity poisons the soul and softens the mind. They need a new and positive face (a Tony Blair) if ever they are to command widespread support. Such faces allegedly exist in the furthest reaches of the backbenches, but upton-on-line has not yet been able to bring them into focus. We will report if any are identified in the course of the campaign.

Damien O'Connor seems to be one with a positive countenance. He'd have to, (given his predicament), to keep going every morning.

Not only have they the wrong people, they're operating in the wrong decade. The public's ambivalence, (when you'd expect mounting enthusiasm for a changing of the guard), shows that Labour has got the formula wrong. They've ignored the lessons of Blair in the UK, Schroeder in Germany and even Jospin in France, and have plumbed for the policies of the '70s - tax increases and the strengthening of unions.

We acknowledge there has been a hint of a '70s revival in film and music. It doesn't extend to politics.

Marginalia * upton-on-line's fixation with bridges continues.

[Otira viaduct]

Name this bridge and tell us how long it has taken to build. Remember the prize has jackpotted. The winner of this competition stands to win a 'slap-up morning tea for two at Wellington's Parson's book and music store' (to the value of $10).*

* Why is it, that the promises of every other party in the lead-up to the election are termed policy, while the promises of the National party (which happens to be in government) are termed a bribe?

* The prize must be redeemed before the date of the General Election, 27 November 1999, no travel costs to Parsons or Wellington are included. Members of Mr Upton's office, and their families, are not entitled to enter in this competition. The judge's decision is final.