Goff started the year with an excellent speech, The Many, Not The Few. He followed that with an alternative vision for a budget, Higher Incomes, Better Jobs, and a Conference address that broke the stranglehold that neoliberal thinking has had on the economy for decades. Now he has finished the year with another excellent speech, The Squeezed Middle. Stuff reports:
Goff starts election year early
… Goff today outlined his battle plan for the next year at a speech in Auckland. It included paying off net debt faster than the current Government, reforming the Reserve Bank to help exporters, increasing savings and developing innovation and high value exports. The speech was billed as Goff’s “final major speech” of the year and as preparing the ground for the coming election. …
Goff said that Labour would not go into the election campaign promising to tax and spend. If elected the party’s approach to the economy would be ”more aggressive” and ”hands-on.”
”National is simply sitting back, trying to ride out the tough times,” he said. ”So far, it’s come up with nothing but gimmicks like cycleways and job summits. It has no plan, just blind faith that somehow giving big tax cuts to top earners will trickle down to middle and low-income earners.”
Goff made a bid to appeal to the middle classes. He said lower and middle income earners were still feeling the pinch from the global financial meltdown and paying a greater share of tax. Labour would turn that around, he said.
“Middle income earners are being squeezed and the financial pain they’re feeling is getting worse not better. National has no plan to help them. It’s left them feeling frustrated, unable to get ahead and worried about the future for themselves and their children.”
He said middle income earners don’t want ”big promises”. ”I am realistic about what it takes to turn things around,” he said.
”Our strategy involves creating higher income and better jobs. Our priorities will be creating jobs, keeping the cost of living down and giving our children the best start in life. Any new social spending will need to be paid for by reallocating spending or growth.”
This is smart work from Labour and Phil Goff. Squarely targeted at a middle New Zealand that saw little of National’s tax cuts and far more of their job losses and rising prices. Maintaining the economic line set out at Conference that allows for more hands-on direction of the economy. A focus on a “clean, green, clever economy”. Honest about the challenges and not taking the easy route of impossible promises. And pointing out the obvious, that National has failed to deliver on the economy, and has no viable plan to do so.
If I have one criticism of the speech, it is that the genuinely poor deserve as much air time as the “squeezed middle”, much more than the single throwaway line that they got. Working for Families lifted children out of poverty – be proud to build on that legacy! But beyond that, and of course a desire to see detail that will have to wait for the policy of election year, I have little to fault. I’ll be proud to be backing this Labour Party into election year.