Heather du Plessis-Allan: Labour’s hiding away this election

Newstalk ZB, Publish DateMon, 3 Aug 2020, 5:02PM

Labour’s election strategy is becoming obvious: they’re going to try to do a Joe Biden.

If you’ve been following what’s going on in the US, you’ll know what I mean. Joe Biden seems to poll better when he’s invisible.  The idea of him is better than the reality of him.  The less he’s in the media, the better he does. 

It’s looking like Labour might try to pull the same thing here. They’re running an invisible campaign: hardly any policy, hardly any typical campaign media stuff, almost trying to pretend the campaign isn’t happening. 

There have been hints of this for a few weeks now, but an admission from the PM this morning was surprisingly frank. 

She watered down any expectations we might have of significant policy announcements: “I would flag to voters not to expect to see large scale manifestos that are a significant departure from what we’re doing.” 

But what are they doing? Spraying money everywhere. Keeping borders largely closed. Avoiding decisions. That is not a recipe for an economic recovery. 

If you’re hoping to get an idea of how they’re going to get us out of this economic hole before you vote, judging by that comment, you’re going to be disappointed.

Furthermore, the PM’s not participating in the regular media interviews you’d expect during a campaign. If you were following the Herald’s Leaders’ Unplugged series last week, you might have noticed only one leader refused to be interviewed: Labour leader Jacinda Ardern. 

Clearly the PM’s team prefer that she’s attached to the PM brand, rather than the Labour leader brand. 

Instead, what Labour is going to give us is Covid Covid Covid.  Take today’s post-cabinet press conference.  No policy announcement.  Just a Covid update.

Take this weekend’s paper.  Big full page Covid ad again, warning us to ‘be ready’.

That seems a pretty good summary of labour’s plan for this election.  Hide mostly everyone away, hide away the policy, hide away the Labour Party brand.