Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Today is the first question time in two weeks, and it ought to be a firestorm. With growing disquiet about the GCSB bill, and revelations of spying by both the defence forces and Parliamentary Services raising huge public interest, you'd expect the opposition to be asking pointed questions to hold the government to account on those issues. But instead, they've been asking questions about... housing.

I understand they've just launched policy in this area and want to highlight it. But there's a point where religious adherence to the message calendar becomes pathological, and Labour has reached it. Competent political leadership - or virtu as Machiavelli called it - consists in part of being able to respond to events and seize opportunities. Labour isn't displaying it.

Oh, but apparently they'll be talking about the GCSB bill and spying during the Estimates Debate right after Question Time. Big deal - nobody watches those. So they're passing up an opportunity to slam-dunk the government when everyone is watching in favour of doing it out of sight. Meanwhile, they're wasting time on an issue where they have already won over the public, and thanks to their usual woeful delivery, turning it into an opportunity for the government to criticise them.

The good news is that the Greens are light and nimble enough to respond to the events of the day. And they'll reap the rewards for it. But if Labour wants to continue pretending to lead the opposition, they need to up their game significantly.