I’ve noticed a new trend in the right’s spin lately (apart from their wholesale theft of campaign scripts) – the â€˜have your cake and eat it’ trick. This tactic is basically a response to legislation or policy they don’t like but they know they can’t be seen to be against. So what they do is pick a small part of the policy they can feasibly attack and reject the whole thing for that reason.
This is clear in National’s response to ACC changes put up earlier this week. Now National know they cannot be seen to be attacking better cover for people who have suffered trauma so their response against the bill was this:
It discriminates against non-workers.
That’s right, National claims they bill doesn’t go far enough. It’s not that such a change would make ACC harder to privatise. It’s not that they are ideologically opposed to increasing protections for workers. It’s that the bill doesn’t go far enough. Of course I may be being too cynical and perhaps the National Party has suddenly taken an ideological leap to the left of Labour, but having said their piece National then offered no amendment! Surely if they were serious they would offer an amendment and surely Labour would then be shamed into supporting it? But no. National and Gordon Copeland were the only ones that voted against it.
I’ve used the ACC example because it’s a ham-fisted and transparent example of the genre.
But National has done exactly the same thing with:
The regulation of the real estate industry:
‘[National] wanted its scope widened to bring property managers under the power of a new independent complaints body’
‘the bill should be delayed to allow its shape to be properly worked through and so New Zealand could see what scheme Australia came up with before finalising its own.’
And if you can be bothered there’s a whole raft of other examples.
This shift in spin tactic has probably come as a response to National feeling the squeeze as its opponents hunt out the unpopular policy positions the party doesn’t want people to know. And the release of their farcical policy sheet is another example of them trying to quell the increasing call for policy also.
The thing is they are running out of spin options and are going to have to provide policy soon. Aping the 1990’s focus-group politics of Blair and Clinton won’t work for them for much longer because these tactics are nearly 20 years old. And that means they’ve been around long enough for most political journalists to see through them pretty quickly and from what my contacts in the gallery are saying that’s just what’s happening now.