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It’s the economy, stupid

Written By: - Date published: 1:32 pm, October 16th, 2010 - 8 comments
Categories: Economy, labour, national - Tags:

John Armstrong is at his insightful best today. He’s hit on the emerging change in the political discourse – the economy is going to crap and that’s what really matters, not the meltdowns of minor MPs and racist TV monkeys. And this do nothing government doesn’t care and has no solutions. This is Labour’s chance to offer a real alternative:

Labour sees the debate over economic management starting to shift in its favour. While the international economy remains in flux, the time when National could also lay blame for the domestic economic downturn at Labour’s door is fast receding.

John Key’s prediction that the recovery would be “reasonably aggressive” has backfired. National is starting to look like it does not have the answers. English’s talk of “rebalancing” may be sound economic theory. But the average punter has little interest in that. English is consequently sounding out of touch. National is starting to look very vulnerable.

Accordingly, Phil Goff will stress economic matters in his keynote speech to this weekend’s Labour Party conference. .

He will blast Key for failing to deliver on the “Brighter Future” promised by National, while accusing him of making no progress in closing the income gap with Australia.

Labour strategists see it as crucial that Goff persuade voters that Key raised their expectations and then failed to meet them.

Rather than indulge in shoddy smear campaigns which either backfire or Key simply ignores, Labour has finally worked out that it might be able to break the Prime Minister’s spell on voters by showing his success as a merchant banker has not transferred to his Government’s handling of the economy.

Labour believes growing public frustration over the rising cost of living, worries keeping jobs, the perceived unfairness of National’s tax cuts and New Zealand’s less than stellar economic performance provide the means by which the party can reconnect with voters.

Labour’s new policy taking GST off fresh fruit and vegetables is the first such gesture in a deliberate strategy to show Labour cares.

The party is rapidly discarding the shibboleths of purity that argued such a move was economic heresy.

Having stuck a foot back in the waters of economic intervention in the Clark-Cullen years, Labour is now plunging in much deeper and unashamedly in the belief that the secrets of the success of economies like Singapore and South Korea lie in the state taking a far more active role in planning, assisting and co-ordinating industry development in the various sectors of the economy.

Last year’s conference drew a line under the past. This year’s is being described as “direction-rich”, rather than “policy-rich”. Goff, however, will give a clear steer on Labour’s revised policy on foreign investment. That is likely to result in even tougher conditions on land sales to foreigners than National’s revised position, possibly by imposing a ban on sales above a set number of hectares.

Again, Goff, with finance spokesman David Cunliffe, are showing no scruples about breaking from the past and adopting a New Zealand First hard-sell under the patriotic-sounding banner of “owning our future”.

All of this happening against the backdrop of the latest Roy Morgan poll which for the first time puts the Opposition parties within reasonable striking distance of National and its allies. More tangible was the near nationwide swing to the left in last week’s local government elections. Of particular note was the political rehabilitation of former Labour MPs who were crushed at the ballot box less than two years ago.

8 comments on “It’s the economy, stupid”

  1. roger nome 1

    Does the standard team have someone at the conference today?

    • lprent 1.1

      I’m there. Andrew Little just finished. But I seldom write about policy. I’ve seen Bunji but noone else that I know as a Standard writer.

  2. roger nome 2

    If Labour puts up a genuine social democratic platform against National’s privatisation agenda they would have to something seriously wrong to lose. NZ has been betrayed by all governments since muldoon. The NZ public has never supported privatisation or the many right wing reforms (Employment contracts act and tax cuts for the rich are the two main ones) that have occured over the last 30 years.

    Finally … finally we may just get a government that comes somewhere near to reflecting the desires of its people.

    • Nick C 2.1

      “NZ has been betrayed by all governments since muldoon”

      “Finally … finally we may just get a government that comes somewhere near to reflecting the desires of its people.”

      You’re delusional. Muldoon was consistently getting around 40% of the vote, only FPP helped him last as long as he did. ‘The people’ are actually quite moderate, they have tended to elect the government which they see as the least radical. A key element of that since Muldoon got thrown out has been orthadox economic policy; not things like privitisation I agree, but most certainly free trade, fiscal conservatism keeping the size of govt to GDP relatively constant.

      • roger nome 2.1.1

        nick – most new zealanders aren’t worried about the two-demensional politico-economic market model. They want thier families to have stability and opportunity. The first certainly hasn’t been achieved, and the for the second to truely have meaning for lower-income families, you need to have the first. So we’ll see who’s deluded come election time.

  3. BLiP 3

    . . . Labour has finally worked out that it might be able to break the Prime Minister’s spell on voters by showing his success as a merchant banker has not transferred to his Government’s handling of the economy . . .

    This depends on who the economic beneficiaries of Key’s policies are. I’m sure there are several merchant banks and related international investors who believe Key is doing a wonderful job. Employers, too, must be thrilled now they can put the jack boots back on. A simpler message from Labour would be to extend sympathy to workers and the middle class who have been hoodwinked as per the direct application of the “Hollow Men” template.

    In chapter after chapter details are given of the inner workings of the [National] Party, providing real insight into what the struggle for power can entail. Brash and his inner circle earned the title ‘hollow men’ through their pursuit of power by not resorting to, but relying on manipulation, dishonesty, and deception. Former National Government Cabinet Minister Ruth Richardson’s advice to Brash (page 68) sums up the theme of power running through the book: ‘Stick to your guns, being in government is worth everything’.

  4. Brokenback 4

    “. . . Labour has finally worked out that it might be able to break the Prime Minister’s spell on voters by showing his success as a merchant banker has not transferred to his Government’s handling of the economy . . .”

    Pray tell , Mr armstrong,how they expect to achieve this ?
    You are expressing your argument in the terms that Crosby Textor laid down.

    Smiling John was never a merchant banker , he was and still is a currency speculator , who by every definition, sanitised, 150% loaded with bullshit or whatever ,is nothing but a highly paid Thief.

    A simple fact , irrefutable , but beyond the means of decent people like Michael Cullen & Helen Clark to enlighten an electorate with their lizard brain over stimulated by Dog whistling and Wall of Bullshit , a la Joyce.

  5. Anthony 5

    EnGlish is a complete fuckhead

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