Steven Joyce was pushing this line on RNZ this morning – knowing that it’ll backfire if they attack Jacinda.
They tried that when she became deputy (and Joyce was hanging Nikki Kaye out to dry on that – even though clearly she’d been put up to it, having always been respectful in their contests before), and they saw how badly it went for the left when they attacked John Key. So the (denied) focus groups are in, and it’s officially the strategy t attack the party, not the woman.
So it’s “changing the messenger doesn’t make any difference”.
The premise of the attack is that a) Labour’s message isn’t popular, and b) it hasn’t changed since… 2008? 2011? 2014? (it changes, depending on what they can get away with)
But each election TV1 do a survey, and often Fairfax too, and Labour’s policies are popular – much more popular than Labour. But National know that people don’t read/know policy, and thus they can write it off as long as they speak in broad brushstrokes (and don’t remind people of the actual policy).
Even journalists like Guyon Espiner aren’t up on the policy, so Steven Joyce can get away with it.
Joyce also spoke of when John Key came in, them not just changing the messenger, but that’s because the Nats have genuinely unpopular policies. But there are equivalents – Labour’s dropped the very unpopular choice to raise the retirement age (which ironically the Nats have picked up). They’re going with a review of how to make tax fairer in government rather than explicitly going for a controversial Capital Gains Tax (although even a CGT outpolls Labour…). Even the ‘fire at will’ 90 day policy has been watered down from repeal to replace (with a fair trial-period version). So they’ve done that neutralising under Little – but that’s not picked up.
Yes there are large elements of 2014 still in there – but who’s going to argue that we don’t still need 100,000 affordable homes, more state houses, higher quality rentals?
And hypocritically for Joyce, I’m sure there were still significant elements from Bill English’s 2002 20% disaster that were still National policies come 2008 – and not ones that were so popular as Kiwibuild, Dole for Apprenticeships, or getting rid of Secondary Tax.
Hopefully journos will learn their policy & Labour can keep reminding them to prevent Joyce & co’s baseless attacks…