Assets the big issue for 2011

Written By: - Date published: 12:07 am, June 22nd, 2010 - 14 comments
Categories: election 2011, john key, phil goff, polls, privatisation - Tags:

The post-Budget bump for National in the Roy Morgan polls was there but was small and it’s already evaporating despite the credit card story. Confidence in government and consumer confidence numbers are also falling. I think we’ll see a return to the pre-Budget trend – National shedding about a percent every month or so, Labour steady but gradually edging up and the Greens going strong.

Fundamentally, National’s policies just aren’t popular. Mining on Schedule 4 land is strongly opposed, the coming GST hike is strongly opposed, ACC hikes are strongly opposed, as are spending cuts. And last night’s TV3 poll shows an overwhelming opposition to asset sales. 85% are against selling Kiwibank (now, we’re seeing the poll numbers that caused Key to go from supporting a partial sale and saying that was consistent with his pre-election promises, to suddenly ruling out a sale forever). 80% are against all asset sales.

Very interestingly, 53.5% of people (vs 29.5%) don’t trust Key not to break his promise not to ever sell Kiwibank. And why would we trust him? National is actually pursuing an unpopular privatisation by stealth agenda – whanau ora, PEDA, contracting to private providers in health, more money for private schools while public ones get cuts, and, of course, water.

National’s policies are unpopular and a majority (which must include a large number of National supporters) don’t trust Key’s promises. Yet the polls still give National a healthy lead.

So what’s going on? Well, John Key is National’s biggest asset. A while back Eddie wrote Key is “so good at distraction he could be a rodeo clown” – Key’s ability to change the topic and be adorable is political gold for National. As our commentator gobsmacked notes:

“National’s poll lead is entirely due to people who like John Key, and oppose National policy. Polls have consistently shown that they oppose mining in Schedule 4, tax cuts for the wealthy, increased GST, and above all, asset sales.

New Zealand voters have never voted for the Right on economic policy, and they won’t next time either. They may, however, vote for a National party that promises not to do the things that the National party wants to do. In Bill English’s words, for ‘that nice Mr Key’.”

We can’t just rely on the public to ‘wake up’ to what we already see, although that is gradually happening.

So, do you attack your enemy’s strength or do you by-pass it and go for the soft spots? I think the media’s sheer unwillingness to deal with criticism of Key seriously (imagine if Phil Goff had been caught out with a fake blind trust) gives us the answer. And, anyway, I think it’s better for the polity if we’re arguing on policy more than trust issues, which too often devolves into hollow, misdirecting mudslinging.

The Left would be on very solid ground if it chooses to fight the election on public assets/anti-privatisation and public services. Jobs and wages would be another plank, of course. This needs to be a positive vision that contrasts with National’s policies. Right now, the Left is, understandably, engaged in scatter-gun defence of the achievements that were built up over the past decade and National is now tearing down. Focus and direction is needed.

This direction needs to come from Labour’s leadership in the form of a year-long strategy.

The Left is in surprisingly good shape and its issues have the support. The problem is that Labour is not managing to push its support back into the late 30s, support is going to the Greens but that’s like only one half of the engine of the Parliamentary wing of the Left working.

The root of problem is the performance of the Goffice. Key brings in a hundred thousand votes or more. The leader should be an asset. We’re not seeing that from Goff’s team. Can they turn it around? I reckon they can if they really want it. How? I don’t know but there’s plenty of very well-paid people in the Goffice whose job it is to work that out.

14 comments on “Assets the big issue for 2011”

  1. WOOF 1

    I’m sure he can sniff out a trail if he has the whole pack behind him! 🙂

    • Marty G 1.1

      you crack me up. Don’t feel you have to stick with the dog-related comments forever though. It’ll drive you barking mad.

      • Marty G 1.1.1

        I see you’ve still got the same identicon as before so same email address in that field … but maybe not the same writer 😉

  2. WOOF 2

    The owner and the dog 🙂

  3. IrishBill 3

    You’re wrong about not targeting Key. If you don’t chip away at your opponent’s strength then they never weaken. The fact that so many people don’t trust Key on asset sales is because his opponents have repeatedly highlighted his ethical inconsistencies.

    • Marty G 3.1

      yeah. I meant to include something about that. I mean, it’s true that all his issues have hurt him but how much and is it too big a part of Labour’s approach to the point where the media just reflexively attack Labour when an issue is raised? Obviously there are other groups that can legitimately raise these issues, like us 🙂

      • Bunji 3.1.1

        Yes, I’m not sure Labour attacking Key does much good. The Standard attacking Key, and any other left wing group attacking Key are all good, but Labour digging through the dirt on him will find too much of it sticks to them. Particularly with the media’s attitude.

        Labour needs to show hope and policy and a way forward and have others do the attacking for them. (Not that I’m suggesting they give Key an easy ride either)

      • WOOF 3.1.2

        Like pulling out some juicy bones on election year. And maybe having some hair of the dog to celebrate. 🙂

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    Labour need to highlight the policies that they have that will improve NZs economy (the buy back of the trains, building train carriages here, Kiwibank etc) as well as highlighting the fact that NACT are as untrustworthy as the fox in the hen house.

  5. randal 5

    labour will need to get its arse into gear on this one.
    the whole kit and kaboodle will have to be exposed exactly why some parties feel the need to sell off social capital.
    new zealand is not the united states or any other large country so trying to emulate their economic systems is just a recipe for disaster.
    in the stock markets the procedure is known as churning but in new zeland its called giving money to your mates and waiting long enough till the mess is cleared up and then doing it again.

  6. Evidence-Based Practice 6

    I’m really worried about the deliberate process by government and their media allies of ‘softening up’ the public for asset sales so by the time of the election they will have been persuaded that they are not so scary. Colin James’s article today in the ODT is an example.

    • WOOF 6.1

      Yeah, the media are definitely helping the government to throw the public off the scent. Labour need to start bristling and showing some teeth!

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