Another major Labour Party document has apparently come as a surprise to Leader Andrew Little.
The review of the Election Report was leaked on Wednesday afternoon to Radio New Zealand.
But even though the report was obviously finished, POLITIK understands it was not made available to the Leader’s office until after it had been leaked.
The review, by 76-year-old former British labour MP, Bryan Gould and a panel including former Speaker, Margaret Wilson; former RNZ Chair and Auckland lawyer, Brian Corban and broadcaster and Stacey Morrison took over 8 months to find “the policies put forward at the election were often complex, difficult to understand”.
Its conclusions, putting blame for the loss on the caucus, and the fact that it has been leaked are unlikely to impress many in the Caucus who privately blame the former Leader, David Cunliffe, for much that went wrong.
The report says that “perceptions of tension around the leadership and disunity within caucus seriously undermined Labour’s credibility with voters and frustrated any attempt to present a Party that was ready for government.”
The campaign also did not have enough money.
“The campaign was undoubtedly hindered by a shortage of financial resources,” it says.
“The finance available was less than in earlier campaigns, though only a little less by comparison with 2011.
“Labour must do better in this respect in 2017.”
It says the party did not present a coherent and convincing image of itself or its policies. T
“There was a general lack of message discipline, and the policies put forward at the election were often complex, difficult to understand and easily misrepresented by our opponents.”
Polling presented to the Victoria University of Wellington post-election conference by UMR, who in the past have been Labour’s pollsters but had little involvement last election, showed that a major reason people voted National was because they were worried by the potential instability of a Labour/NZ First/Greens/ Internet- Mana Government.
Senior sources in the Greens organisation believe that Labour’s unwillingness to be clear about how it would form a Government post-election was a major factor in the centre-left’s failure to get enough votes.
The report agrees.
It says: “Labour was undoubtedly harmed by the prospect that a Labour-led government would depend on the support of a range of other parties.
“The voters lacked confidence as to what that might mean, which eroded trust in a potential Labour-led Government.
“Labour must make a concerted effort to establish a constructive – but clear-eyed and honest – relationship with aligned parties in the new parliament.
“The issue should not, however, preclude Labour from contesting for every vote and being clear that maximising the Labour vote is the primary objective.”
In many ways the report states the obvious but even so the way it has been prematurely leaked suggests that it will be a while before the finger pointing within the party over the last election goes away.