Interesting Colin James thoughts on this in the paper this morning. A few snippets:
Don't look for despondency at the Labour Party's conference this weekend. This is not a party in mourning. It is a party sensing opportunity. In part that is due to the influx of 14 able, mostly younger, MPs, in part due to the clean leadership changeover straight after the election, matched by a quick transition at the top of the party outside Parliament, and in part due to the Mt Albert by- election success.
Labour's challenge, starting this weekend, is not just to cobble policy for 2011, which is easily done, but to develop policy which will be modern nine years on from 2014. That requires fundamental rethinking of the baby- boomers' line. Labour has yet to show it can meet that bigger challenge.
The dominant policy tone of the past 50 years has been civil, moral and economic liberty. Our sorts of societies and economies have been deeply transformed by deregulation. That is the baby-boomers' legacy.
In the economy, this deregulation, accompanied by the increasingly rapid development of a transformational technology - information technology - gave us a bubble-boom, followed, as all such bubble-booms have been, by a financial crash. It was also accompanied by a spike in income and wealth inequality, as previous technology-driven bubbles have been.
But note, for example, that John Key has appointed pre-baby-boomer Don Brash and baby- boomer Mr Caygill to guide us to wealth parity with Australia. He has reached to the past, not the future, thereby giving some credence to Victoria University academic Jon Johannson's argument that Mr Key and Bill English are not a new generation of policy leaders but the tail end of the baby-boom - transitional, not transformational.
Of course, the transformational thinkers who generate the post-crash policy revolution are not likely to be found in this country (though it is not impossible). The problem for politicians here is which major party can tune into them and translate their ideas to local conditions.
That is what Labour's 20-and-30- somethings conferring this weekend might ponder. Those watching from National's side might, too.
I often agree with much of what James writes. He is certainly an acute observer of what happens in NZ politics.
One thing he's definitely right about is that the Labour Party conference won't be downbeat. It might be smaller than in recent years - that's what election losses do - but the party is chipper and starting to look carefully at where it goes next and why.
After all when you lose, you have to look hard at yourself, as well as working what your opponents did better than you. And so a little bit of that will be in order in Rotorua this coming weekend.