web analytics

John’s quick act sets up another flip

Written By: - Date published: 1:24 pm, March 21st, 2008 - 19 comments
Categories: act, election 2008, john key - Tags: , ,

Two days ago we ran a piece called ‘If I were ACT’s campaign strategist‘ which suggested ‘ACT needs to lay claim to the true right, without going so extreme that National has to disown them, by articulating a series of classic right-wing policies including: tax cuts, spending cuts, asset sales, and deregulation’. I didn’t realise a) that ACT were such avid readers and b) they would take the advice so literally.

Yesterday, new de facto ACT leader, Roger Douglas, held a press conference where he promised to slash government spending by 10% to fund tax cuts (mostly for the rich), abolish Working for Families, privatise education, and rent out hospital space to private providers.

Roger! That’s what you should do but not how you should do it. You should have been more moderate and built the case more gradually. By going so extreme so quickly, Douglas has forced John Key to immediately react by disowning ACT to prevent Right voters going to ACT and moderate people making the obvious conclusion that a vote for National is a vote for ACT’s radical policies. Douglas has shown himself to be an FPP dinosaur in the MMP age and made his party politically irrelevant.

Or so goes the conventional wisdom. But it’s wrong. The mistake is Key’s. Yes, Douglas went too hard too quickly but he has said what a decent bloc of voters on the Right want to hear (the Herald loves it). ACT will pick up support from National, despite Key’s attempt to make voting ACT seem pointless. All it needs for ACT to take 3-5% of the Right vote and suddenly you’ve got National polling in the mid to low 40s, needing ACT (and probably other parties) to have a chance to govern. What then? National needs ACT but Key has just said he’ll ‘be buggered‘ if he’s going to work with them. Can National really afford to turn its back on a party that holds a hunk of the right wing vote? No, Key will be forced reopen the possibility of a deal with ACT, going against his comments yesterday. Another flip-flop, of his own making.

[next week: ‘If I were the Greens’ campaign strategist’ – let’s hope they don’t take it as gospel too]

19 comments on “John’s quick act sets up another flip ”

  1. Ruth 1

    Nothing Key says will ever meet with your approval will it Steve?

    ACT are dead in the water. I predicted over a year ago that they will not be in the next parliament. I stick to that.

  2. gobsmacked 2

    I don’t think Key can shift his ground, after such an unequivocal statement yesterday. He has to back that up – it’s not just about policy now, it’s his personal credibility at stake, with a spin-off to other issues, i.e. “can you believe what he says?”. So he can’t embrace ACT before the election. He’ll be, er, buggered.

    After the election, who knows? (see Peters, baubles, etc).

  3. lprent 3

    “they will not be in the next parliament.”

    It really depends on if they hold on to Epsom. Because they are dependent on that seat (I do not think they will hit the threshold). Tactically, they will concentrate Auckland supporters on Epsom for campaigning. They will probably use the same message – get two MP’s, split the vote.

    It is not like Tauranga where NZF couldn’t concentrate effectively because the catchment area was limited. It is a classic FPP strategy that does allow you to overturn national trends – ask Jim Anderton and probably Peter Dunne. But it is only really effective where there is a large urban catchment.

    I don’t think that I could predict it (and I know rather a lot about the seat).

  4. the sprout 4

    i wonder if the spectre of Douglas has been raised to make Key look like a more moderate option.

    captcha: package nobody

  5. gobsmacked 5

    “Can National really afford to turn it’s back on a party that holds a hunk of the right wing vote?”

    Rodney’s looking fit these days, but I wouldn’t call him a hunk …

    Anyway – Key specifically ruled out Douglas in cabinet. For that to be even possible, Douglas has to get into Parliament, so the list placing is crucial. Without Douglas there, Key has some “wriggle room” to do a deal with ACT after the election. And whether he’s there or not, ACT can still support National on confidence and supply, without being in cabinet.

    So I don’t think Key’s completely turned his back on ACT. On the other hand, he has bought himself a fight, and Douglas seems to be spoiling for one.

  6. the sprout 6

    i don’t think Douglas is really that concerned about ACT being in parliament or not, as long as his agenda can be realised. i really doubt he could be bothered with being in parliament. if National achieves another shot at the neo-liberal experiement Douglas would be pretty agnostic about who does it.
    and his bogey man presence sayes to the electorate “look how centrist Key is, he’s nothing like the far right”. erroneous of course, but marketable.

  7. Ruth 7

    On the other hand, he has bought himself a fight, and Douglas seems to be spoiling for one.

    I’d agree with that. Douglas has a huge ego, and wants to be a fly in the ointment. I don’t think he will succeed though.

    Interestingly, when speaking to a former ACT supporter I know about his reincarnation he said “Why? Does he need the money?” He is yersterday’s man.

    I was a foundation member of ACT BTW. I’ve changed my tune since then.

  8. randal 8

    tell ’em nothing, take ’em nowhere and the yes the cheque is in the mail!

  9. The term ‘flip-flop’ has become UnSpeak in the New Zealand political and media lexicon. If Key expresses an opinion, based on new information – it is a ‘flip-flop’. Though I have to say that it’s worth remembering Emerson’s remark “A foolish consistency is the hob-goblin of little minds.

    What is more curious is how often Micheal Cullen sends out a a clear and, one would assume, an informed message – like the 400 million deficit, then announces that the prior message was completely incorrect by a matter of a 600 million dollars that is not a flip-flop. (On that day it was spun as good news, as though it was a windfall, rather than dangerous incompetance and a matter thaan undermines public confidence – with a swollen beaurocracy, more wonks, surely the facts available should be more accurate rather than less?)

    Perhaps a new term needs to be coined to apply to Mr Cullen – something to do with dumb luck would be good. Emphasis on dumb. Or luck. You decide.

    We will in November.

  10. Pascal's bookie 10

    The thing is David, when Key changes his “opinion” about something more often than not the new information that led to the change is simply that his old opinion was unpopular.

  11. Camryn 11

    Good post, Steve. I concur, although Gob has a good point in comment #2 as well.

  12. Stephen 12

    By “tax cuts, (mainly for the rich)”, don’t you mean the first $20,000 earned would be tax free??! The top threshold was going to go down to 30%, so it’s a bit both ways wouldn’t you say?

  13. ak 13

    Right on the money as usual Steve – with one small correction: Slippery John and his masters won’t be “..forced to reopen the possibility of a deal with ACT,” (and thus another flipflop). They’ll simply continue to distance themselves from ACT (if cornered, and going by the media to date, this will be infrequent if at all) until after the election.

    Because post election, as every voter knows, ACT will support the formation of a Nat-led administration no matter what the circumstances or National policy. (don’t forget Douglas’s last Machiavellian performance – a decade dealing with his victims will never let me forget, for one – and the strength of the venom of Basset et al. Nothing, repeat nothing, would let ACT allow Helen back)

    Tactical tip to dear Hels & co: from hereon in, Labour must never refer to “National”. The public must be constantly reminded that if their flirtation with the chimeric Golden Slipslop somehow stumbles to consummation, we are back to a NATIONAL-ACT GOVERNMENT: and every stuttered “policy statement” henceforth is a NATIONAL-ACT policy.

    Lest we forget.

    (ps yes, this captcha thingammy is v hard to decipher at times – most frustrating if you lose a comment)

  14. Perhaps Key has learnt how to play MMP?

    1. I really doubt Key has any real problem with Act’s policy, other than the number of votes it will lose national of course.

    2. Publicly disowning Act shifts National towards the centre, they pick up centrist votes and shed some of thier extremists towards act, who desperately need to make 5 percent.

    3. Come the day after the election Key announces a National-Act-Someone Else coalition, dispite telling the public other wise, and justifies it as the lesser of 2 evils when faced with the prospect of a left wing coalition forming.

    Do any of your seriously believe that Key will have any problems changing his mind on this one too? at least its been well publicised enough that he cant pretend he never said it in the first place.

    The reutrn of Douglas makes it impretive for Labour and the Greens to win this upcoming election, don’t doubt for 1 second that Douglas and Key could undo nearly a decades worth of social progress in just 1 term in government.

  15. higherstandard 15

    What social progress is that Killer

  16. ak 16

    Oh I dunno histan – but least corrupt govt, 2nd best health system and lowest unemployment IN THE WORLD sound pretty good for starters…

  17. income going up, civil unions.. and so on and so on. Maybe have a look back through the archives

  18. Steve Pierson 18

    Stephen. The largest benefactors of tax cuts that make the first $20K tax-free and lower the top tax bracket from 39% to 30% will be those who pay the largest part of their income in the 39% bracket – ie. the wealthiest.

  19. Higherstandard 19

    ak

    Have discussed the Health issue with others before the report you quote from doesn’t say we are the 2nd best health system in the world – it is also based on patient self reporting.

    Least corrupt government not sure where you got this from but are you suggeting that the previous Nat governements were corrupt and that during Labour’s tenure this has been cleaned up ?

    KITNOF – Income going up yes it has but the wage gap between NZ and Australia has also widened dramatically

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Worsening housing crisis must prompt action
    A growing public housing waiting list and continued increase of house prices must be urgently addressed by Government, Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson said today. ...
    5 hours ago
  • Twenty highlights of 2020
    As we welcome in the new year, our focus is on continuing to keep New Zealanders safe and moving forward with our economic recovery. There’s a lot to get on with, but before we say a final goodbye to 2020, here’s a quick look back at some of the milestones ...
    3 weeks ago

  • Jobs for Nature funding will create training and employment opportunities
    A major investment to tackle wilding pines in Mt Richmond will create jobs and help protect the area’s unique ecosystems, Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says. The Mt Richmond Forest Park has unique ecosystems developed on mineral-rich geology, including taonga plant species found nowhere else in the country. “These special plant ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Pre-departure testing extended to all passengers to New Zealand
    To further protect New Zealand from COVID-19, the Government is extending pre-departure testing to all passengers to New Zealand except from Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Islands, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “The change will come into force for all flights arriving in New Zealand after 11:59pm (NZT) on Monday ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Bay Cadets learn skills to protect environment
    Bay Conservation Cadets launched with first intake Supported with $3.5 million grant Part of $1.245b Jobs for Nature programme to accelerate recover from Covid Cadets will learn skills to protect and enhance environment Environment Minister David Parker today welcomed the first intake of cadets at the launch of the Bay ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Cook Islanders to resume travel to New Zealand
    The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Mark Brown have announced passengers from the Cook Islands can resume quarantine-free travel into New Zealand from 21 January, enabling access to essential services such as health. “Following confirmation of the Cook Islands’ COVID ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Supporting communities and landowners to grow employment opportunities
    Jobs for Nature funding is being made available to conservation groups and landowners to employ staff and contractors in a move aimed at boosting local biodiversity-focused projects, Conservation Minister Kiritapu Allan has announced. It is estimated some 400-plus jobs will be created with employment opportunities in ecology, restoration, trapping, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Border exception for some returning international tertiary students
    The Government has approved an exception class for 1000 international tertiary students, degree level and above, who began their study in New Zealand but were caught offshore when border restrictions began. The exception will allow students to return to New Zealand in stages from April 2021. “Our top priority continues ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Tiwai deal gives time for managed transition
    Today’s deal between Meridian and Rio Tinto for the Tiwai smelter to remain open another four years provides time for a managed transition for Southland. “The deal provides welcome certainty to the Southland community by protecting jobs and incomes as the region plans for the future. The Government is committed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New member for APEC Business Advisory Council
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has appointed Anna Curzon to the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). The leader of each APEC economy appoints three private sector representatives to ABAC. ABAC provides advice to leaders annually on business priorities. “ABAC helps ensure that APEC’s work programme is informed by business community perspectives ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt’s careful economic management recognised
    The Government’s prudent fiscal management and strong policy programme in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic have been acknowledged by the credit rating agency Fitch. Fitch has today affirmed New Zealand’s local currency rating at AA+ with a stable outlook and foreign currency rating at AA with a positive ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Additional actions to keep COVID-19 out of NZ
    The Government is putting in place a suite of additional actions to protect New Zealand from COVID-19, including new emerging variants, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Given the high rates of infection in many countries and evidence of the global spread of more transmissible variants, it’s clear that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • 19 projects will clean up and protect waterways
    $36 million of Government funding alongside councils and others for 19 projects Investment will clean up and protect waterways and create local jobs Boots on the ground expected in Q2 of 2021 Funding part of the Jobs for Nature policy package A package of 19 projects will help clean up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand Government acknowledges 175th anniversary of Battle of Ruapekapeka
    The commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the Battle of Ruapekapeka represents an opportunity for all New Zealanders to reflect on the role these conflicts have had in creating our modern nation, says Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Kiri Allan. “The Battle at Te Ruapekapeka Pā, which took ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Better care for babies with tongue-tie
    Babies born with tongue-tie will be assessed and treated consistently under new guidelines released by the Ministry of Health, Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today. Around 5% to 10% of babies are born with a tongue-tie, or ankyloglossia, in New Zealand each year. At least half can ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Prisoner disorder event at Waikeria Prison over
    The prisoner disorder event at Waikeria Prison is over, with all remaining prisoners now safely and securely detained, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says. The majority of those involved in the event are members of the Mongols and Comancheros. Five of the men are deportees from Australia, with three subject to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Pre-departure COVID-19 test for travellers from the UK and the US from 15 January
    Travellers from the United Kingdom or the United States bound for New Zealand will be required to get a negative test result for COVID-19 before departing, and work is underway to extend the requirement to other long haul flights to New Zealand, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed today. “The new PCR test requirement, foreshadowed last ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago