It was galling to see John Armstrong slam Labour for not having released its Christchurch recovery policy having just refused to cover Labour’s skills package or its mining policy. It’s like the Left can’t win with the guy. Labour releases policy and he turns a blind eye. Labour holds back announcing policy, which after all can’t be enacted until after the election, on an issue that, in case you missed it John, is still developing rapidly and he gets his knickers in a twist.
Now, Armstrong is demanding that Labour abandon its principles.
Goff needs to stop living in the past. On state asset sales, welfare reform, the restructuring of the public service and national standards, Labour is trying to summon the ghosts of the free market reforms of the 1980s and 1990s to frighten voters. Most voters under the age of 40 have no memory of this.
Don’t we John? Actually, we grew up in the years of Rogernomics. We saw exactly what it did because we were the ones feeling the most direct results. Armstrong seems to forget that Labour’s most popular policy is introducing a capital gains tax rather than selling assets and that policy is particularly popular with younger people who have had to deal with the results of privatisation all their lives, don’t remember the supposed downsides of a publicly-owned Telecom etc, and have been locked out of the property market by middle-aged speculators.
If Labour was really smart, the party would have outflanked Key by not only adopting national standards, but arguing for league tables showing how individual primary schools are performing compared with others in their decile.
League tables are a tool of the Right to break the public education system and national standards are the first assault. How does it work?
First, gather some really simple, really simplistic, statistics that are based on ‘norms’ in one aspect of educational achievement. Don’t ask whether Sally is developing problem solving, lateral logic, empathy, creativeness, just ask if she can do 7 times 6 in her head real quick.
Second, use these statistics to rank schools. You’re a bad school if your kids aren’t good at rote learning and, no, we don’t care if their is a fantastic community in your school that is creating new leaders, new explorers, people determined to lead their communities in a better direction because not enough of them can spell ‘ridiculous’. Naturally, parents will want to send their kids to ‘good schools’ and you start getting segregation – ethnic, economic, and cultural – with inevitable long-term results for society
Third, pay teachers based on how good their kids are at jumping through these arbitrary hoops. Less for teachers whose kids are ‘failures’, more for teac… actually, just the same or teachers whose kids are doing well. What happens then? Teachers refuse to take jobs in the very schools that need good teachers the most and the negative feedback loop continues. We know this happens because we can look overseas and see it happening.
Hell yeah teachers oppose that policy because these are people who have chosen to make a career of educating kids. They don’t want to go down a path that is destined to worsen the education of those kids who already have the shittiest prospects in our unequal society.
But Armstrong, seemingly on a whim, thinks Labour should adopt this policy just to gain a march on National.
Goff needs to stop lashing the well-off for not paying their fair share of tax in tough times. The politics of envy are unlikely to impress middle-income voters who aspire to becoming better off as they get older. They do not want to be made to feel guilty about it.
Again, Armstrong is simply guessing here and in defiance of the polls showing that people favour Labour’s tax package over National’s asset sales. The days when the Right could get away with running on a policy of ‘tax cuts tax cuts tax cuts’ and dismiss any opposition as the ‘politics of envy’ are over. You’re seeing the backlash against those policies all over the Western World where poor people and billionaires are all calling for more tax instead of service cuts and more debt.
What the re-institution of the 39% tax rate does is close of the open-ended nature of National’s tax cuts. Under National, the more you earn the larger your tax cut . Labour has said it will close off that open-ended tax cut and close the biggest tax loophole in the system, and balance that by fair and equitable tax cuts – the first $5,000 tax-free and GST off fresh fruit and vegetables. It’s clear that Labour didn’t make these decisions lightly. It’s a carefully weighted package that Labour genuinely believes it the right thing to do.
I think that Armstrong just doesn’t get it. Parties of the Left pick and swap policies on a whim. Armstrong wants Labour to do things that are really bad ideas just because he thinks it will catch the Nats’ napping. That’s all politics is to this old cynic, a game of out-maneuvering your opponents to the cheers of the spectators – the press gallery. Not that Armstrong would actually praise Labour even if it did exactly what he demands. You could hear him clinching his teeth in the couple of articles he deigned to write on capital gains tax.
Can’t the Herald find someone better? Someone who actually investigates and reports, rather than awarding points on behalf of the public whether the politicians are providing a good show? Someone who’s not completely out of touch and who hasn’t forgotten that politics has a purpose and the decisions our politicians make real impacts on people’s lives?