The media is awash with articles and commentary on what Labour leader David Shearer should do next. Other bloggers and commentators have been quick to express their views on how the Labour leader needs to behave, and which direction he needs to take the party in.
Commentators seem obsessed with the notion that Shearer must anchor Labour to a particular point on the political spectrum. But why is this? Surely a smarter approach would be to transform Labour into a party that represents almost everyone: left, right and centre.
You probably think that’s a crazy idea, and that it can’t be done. Well you’re wrong, which is why I’m an award-winning blogger* and you’re not.
The key to winning the hearts and minds of voters is to put on a good show: to inspire, awe and entertain. If people’s minds are taken off their troubles on a regular basis, there’s a good chance they’ll forget all about policy and just vote for the people who make them feel good.
My plan is to take a lesson from the ancient Romans. In every major Roman town you would find a circus or stadium. One can still imagine the roar of the Colosseum crowds in those ancient times, as gladiators battled to the death or as Christians or criminals were town apart by lions and other wild beasts. The punters loved it.
It will start by Labour putting on blood-sports events during the next election campaign, to get the party the publicity and media attention it needs, and to get people flocking to its rallies. After the inevitable crushing victory Labour will move to build stadiums all across the country. It will probably mean changing the law to create a vast army of slave-labourers overnight, but with a solid majority in the House that shouldn’t pose too many problems.
Even with all that free labour, it will cost a lot of money to build the required infrastructure, but we can always borrow borrow borrow! Let’s not worry about tomorrow: credit ratings, sovereign debt and economic ruin are for accountants and economists to fret over**. The show must go on!
Of course, there can’t be a circus without bread, as the Roman emperors understood all too well. All this slaughter may be terrific stuff, but the other thing needed to keep the urban poor from rioting is food. As did the Romans, the Labour government will need to implement a grain dole. This is genuine welfare at work, which will appeal to the socialist left, many of whom abandoned Labour in recent years.
The ripping apart of criminals in the ring will also satisfy many on the right who insist on tougher punishments for criminals. And right-wingers who bemoan the decline in morality and decency in our society could hardly fault a system that allows anyone who goes against the prevailing moral codes of the day to be torn to pieces before a baying crowd. Libertarians may be harder to please, but they’ll eventually just enjoy the show when we explain to them that the people being killed chose to be helpless and unarmed on a stadium floor filled with hungry lions, and that it would be an assault on their basic human freedoms to deny them the opportunity to be butchered.
As for the solid core of voters that we call the centre, have no fear! Those chumps can’t make up their minds what they stand for. So long as Labour entertains them with some bloodsports and a good laugh their support is guaranteed.
The work must start now if Labour’s to win in 2014. Thankfully, there’s little policy work required, and the party won’t need much of a re-brand. It’s clear to me that Labour’s founders had blood-sports in mind when they chose red as the party’s colours.
So that’s my plan. And how can this plan fail? I can’t see a single flaw.
* Disclaimer: I have won no awards.
** Luckily we won’t need to worry much about those squares in the future. When the supply of criminals starts to dwindle we’ll send a raiding party into the offices of Treasury and PWC.