Keynote speech test for Cunliffe

Last updated 08:41 06/07/2014

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A manifesto? That's just so 2011.

OPINION: What a good election campaign needs these days is a hashtag.

To be on the safe side, Labour's got two: #Labour2014 and #ForABetterNZ.

And, for those that can handle their policies in more than 140 characters, today will see the launch of a "mini-manifesto."

In March, Scottish Labour produced their own byte-sized dossier - mailed to every home in the country.

Rivals Scottish National Party are moving into a clear lead in voting intentions for the 2016 Holyrood elections.  As well as an obvious punt at the Insta-generation, the mini-manifesto was a political makeover. Its authors talked about setting a moral purpose, creating a "moral economy" and, overall, redefining what the party stood for the the 21st century.

At this weekend's election year Congress we are seeing something similar from New Zealand Labour. Behind the social media slogans, deputy leader David Parker was accentuating the party's egalitarian roots in his curtain-raiser speech.

Labour are still talking "inequality" but with a subtle shift. Tackling inequality of opportunity is no longer enough. There must also be equality of outcomes, they argue.

Simply, rather than making sure everyone starts in the same place, Labour is promising everyone ends up with "a fair share." Try putting that in a hash-tag.

It could be #wereallinthistogether. Which is also the behind-the-scenes-theme of their "people's campaign."

#TeamKey got roasted by opponents last weekend for stealing ideas from President Barack Obama. However, Labour's strategy is straight from the playbook of #TeamObama lynch-pin David Axelrod (now working for UK Labour).

Mobilising the grassroots - through door-knocking, street-corner meetings and phone-calls- is combined with making use of complex data on individual voting intention. Personal details (using Facebook, Twitter and software) are harvested from "undecideds" and used by volunteers in their doorstep pitch.

With "people power" they hope to boost the party vote by at least three percentage points. Currently, Labour can't drag itself above 30 per cent in opinion polls. Outlining strategy to candidates and media ahead of this weekend's Congress, the party put the Left-bloc on 46 per cent, seven points behind the Right.

Rather optimistically, Labour included NZ First in their coalition camp. Leader David Cunliffe said yesterday he could see both the Greens and Winston Peters' party in his Cabinet.

Internet/Mana's Hone Harawira and Laila Harre, however, will not be joining them. Labour says it won't do pre-election deals, and so this was the strongest message he can send to those who are panicked by the schizophrenic alliance.

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By drawing this line in the sand, Cunliffe hopes to avoid the constant questions that plague John Key about post-election deals and wacky coalition partners.

Today, with his keynote address, he wants to shift the focus onto Cunliffe, the man (with no apologies). Again, this is an Obama hallmark. But as Alexrod struggles with Ed Miliband in London, it's evident the strategy hinges on a leader with magnetism.

If the speech falls flat, #TeamCunliffe will be back to wondering if he's up to the job.

- Stuff

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