Written By: - Date published: 11:07 am, September 13th, 2013 - 75 comments
Categories: capital gains, class war, david cunliffe, democratic participation, election 2014, greens, labour, local government, mana, Metiria Turei, sustainability, vision, workers' rights - Tags: john minto
Metiria Turei’s appearance this week on the anti-current events, infotainment show The Vote, has raised the issue of how oppositions parties will talk about their housing policies, as we count down to next year’s election. As some commented under my post yesterday, the left needs to develop a more savvy way to deal with right wing attacks on policies to improve housing affordability for renters and buyers on mid-low incomes.
keep haranguing Turei for advocating the lowering of the value of their properties for many home owners.
I think Key & Co will push this angle really hard. How should the left counter this? It’s tricky because, quite plausibly, it is true that the value of houses will come down.
Tim Watkin’s post on Pundit yesterday took a similar line, but more in praise of the shabby Vote episode than in criticism.
But just as powerful is the anti-narrative – the story your opponents try to stick on you – and on last night’s The Vote we saw two examples that give us an insight on how next year’s election battle could unfold.
Turei got caught out by a simple questions; “Do you want house prices to drop?” It’s one thing to fret about housing affordability, to say how prices are out of control even and fear a bubble. But to tell the more than one million mortgage holders in New Zealand — including many of the deeply indebted Auckland liberals who vote Green — that they should be willing to take a hit on their biggest asset, well, the hashtag #politicalsuicide was used on Twitter and wasn’t out of order.
So what are the policies, and how can they be explained clearly to the electorate in the face of everything the right will throw at them over the next year?
The Green’s housing policies include a focus on state housing: Julie Anne Genter’s press release yesterday focused on some extra tools to cool Auckland’s housing market. She is critical of the Reserve Bank’s blunt tool of interest rate manipulation:
“We need a capital gains tax, restrictions on overseas investment in residential property, a government-led programme of affordable house building, and the Greens’ Progressive Ownership plan to give young families a pathway to homeownership.
The Mana Party has put a strong focus on maintaining and improving state house provisions. This week, John Minto was critical of Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan failure to respond to the housing crisis in the city:
Minto for Mayor would build 20,000 affordable council rental homes to address the sharpest point in the crisis with other plans to promote home ownership opportunities for every New Zealand family.
Last night on Citizen A, Wayne Hope also floated the idea of Council Housing. Is this a practical option?
The Labour Party’s Kiwibuild housing policy (under Housing tab), focuses strongly on a partnership with the private sector: new homes for first time buyers, restriction of house buying by non-residents, qaulity of the rental stock, apprenticeships and house building, CGT, and provisions to ensure council approval of social housing.
Whatever the policy, it should be embedded within a wider narrative, not just one focused on housing. It should be part of a broader vision, rather than being presented as part of a piecemeal roll out of individual policies as happened under Labour’s leadership by Shearer.
Some, like James Henderson, have argued that Cunliffe is offering a new vision for the left.
I reckon Cunliffe’s fair deal will say ‘yup, if you want higher wages, you need to let workers bargain together, you need a government that is a good employer, you need a good minimum wage’ and ‘if you want affordable housing, if you want good jobs, in a country like New Zealand it’s up to Government to lead the way by building those houses, by buying Kiwi-made, and by not leaving everything to an uncaring, inefficient market’.
Hamish Rutherford on Stuff reports that it is based solidly on labour bedrock of employment reform:
“That’s bedrock David Cunliffe social democratic Labour policy. That is going to happen.”
He promised party faithful a visible change in tack from the current government. “The Labour Party I lead will be a true red Labour Party, not a pale blue one.”
Cunliffe’s vision has been outlined in his speeches over the last couple of years, and hinted at on his own campaign-focused website. It is seen in his speech at Dunedin on Monday, which includes a focus on renewables and green technology.
The Labour Government I lead will take on the vested interests of markets when necessary to guarantee the wellbeing of citizens, just as I did against the old Telecom monopoly.
Our challenge must be to build a smart and high-value economy.
However, it speaks to the politically knowledgeable labour/left base. Such a vision has yet to be clearly and sharply honed into a narrative for the broader public and distortionary MSM, using language that speaks to the hearts of New Zealanders.
How can the narratives of eco-social democracy and/or (green) democratic socialism be told successful to the wider electorate?