Halfway through last year I suggested we’d see a July election as National raced to lock in a second term before their numbers fell.
At the time I said:
…Add to that the fact that a strong majority is needed by National for them to drive through their second term privatisation agenda (possibly without the help of Act party numbers) and the case for going early to lock in a second term starts to look very appealing.
And I reckon that’s exactly the strategy we’re seeing today. The tories know that their numbers are only going to go down this year as their policies bite so they’ve decided to put the pedal down. Think of it as selling your stock while it’s high.
Which means getting all of the difficult policy out now, catching Labour on the back foot and getting to polling day before all the political capital’s spent. Today it was privatisation and spending cuts, over the next few weeks it’ll be welfare reform and further cuts to work rights.
And it certainly looks like they’ve caught Labour on the back foot – despite privatisation clearly being the big issue for 2011 (so clearly Standard authors have been talking about it since the wee buggers got their clammy hands on the government benches) they’ve done no work on laying down counter-narratives and they don’t appear to have had any arguments, examples or lines prepared to deal with it. They were a mess today. Frankly that’s disgraceful.
My guess is they’ll be thinking they’ve got months and months to plan their campaign and build public dissatisfaction with National’s far-right agenda. I reckon they’ve got about six months to polling day.