In the past week, the options have narrowed for Labour.
The Greens, through motormouth Metiria Turei, have ruled themselves out of the next Government. Labour’s tax proposals, while progressive, are too easily dismissed as complicated and paternalistic. The polls, while probably underestimating the left as usual, give no comfort.
The current Labour leadership are repeating the mistakes of David Cunliffe, who went in to his election with policies that were watered down and downright timid. The irony is that his predecessor, David Shearer, who was derided by many on the left, campaigned on a far more red tinted platform and did better than expected.
So, what should Labour do?
Tinker with tax? Hold their nerve and hope to muddle through? Keep putting out bland, meaningless slogans like “It’s Time for a Fresh Approach”?
Labour need to be bold.
Andrew Little should dump the current campaign direction. He should be brave enough to say we’ve been too timid and put up an easily understood message instead.
It’s the UBI.
If Labour go into this campaign saying we’ll gut the benefit system, simplify taxes and give all New Zealanders a weekly minimum income equivalent to the current super payments, we’ll win handsomely.
Not because voters will instantly understand the UBI concept. Not because voters will suddenly unleash their dormant inner revolutionary. Not because it’s financially sensible.
Labour should do it because it plays to prejudices, and to back pockets.
There aren’t many middle class Kiwis who don’t look down on beneficiaries in some way or another. There aren’t many in the middle who wouldn’t fancy $400 a week. There aren’t many who wouldn’t abandon National if Labour gave them a simple reason to switch.
Sure, that message distorts what a UBI is really about, but so what?
It’s bold, it’s revolutionary and it’s better than meekly accepting defeat.
Do it, Andrew.
Win it with UBI.