In its first term, National was very careful to be incremental – Key hung to the middle, chipping away carefully at workers’ rights without doing anything dramatic.
Having gained the public’s trust by continuing (outside the House) to be a clown they’d like to have a drink with, they went with one big hit with Asset Sales in the second term, but snuck in Charter Schools and started moving more on their hidden right wing agenda (one covered on this site before the 2008 election).
Now, with almost a majority in their third term, and enjoying a weakened opposition from Labour’s fractures, they’ve got bold.
It makes less economic sense than Bill English’s claim that council planning is the major cause of inequality, it will deprive the poor of housing, and weaken society’s fabric. It would be one thing to sell the housing to the social sector and build new, but Bill intends to sell to anyone, and take the money and run to keep their lowered taxes for the rich.
They’re seeking to undermine collective bargaining and remove tea breaks, to try and finally destroy the unions who are so vital for workers pay and rights.
All this while they’re still dealing with Dirty Politics, and the revelations of their undermining the media, the fourth estate.
Perhaps this is because they can see that Dirty Politics will undermine them and they need to get through as much as possible in their 3rd term? Move the goalposts and leave the next government with more than it can undo?
Ultimately they know from the likes of One’s Vote Compass that people’s beliefs lie more with the left, so they always have to beguile with false economic competence.
But how can we keep them in check for the next 3 years?