Hey, we won’t get in the way of a good stoush on the net about Labour’s policies, in fact we will encourage it. Here is Rob Salmond’s response to Idiot Savant’s post at No Right Turn. NRT’s post was going up later in the day, but this is way more fun. We’d also suggest that people look at Mike Smith’s post from this morning and last night (that probably has the nuttier conspiracy theorists going by now) for a third point of view.
I/S at NoRightTurn isn’t impressed with Labour’s recent policy announcements. I do not agree with his analysis. I would like to have made my points as a comment at his site, but NRT is comment-free. So instead I will respond by re-posting his words here, with some commentary interspersed.
Labour made a policy announcement today: special earthquake courts, to resolve Christchurch’s insurance case backlog. Which as great as far as it goes, but still a little meh. The same could be said about last week’s “big” policy announcement, the restoration of adult and community education. Yes, its good, yes, ACE is valuable, but as policies go its just a little… small. As for their other campaign “highlight”, keeping trucks out of the fast lane and cheap registration for caravans, the less said about it the better.
None of these policies are particularly bad, and some are even good. Its just that they’re nothing-policies, tweaks around the edges, and together they speak to a paucity of vision. From their policies so far, you’d think that Labour’s grand vision for New Zealand is “the same as it is now, only it works a little better” (except of course in superannuation, where they promise to make people’s lives worse). If you needed a better example of their diagnosis that the fundamental problem with our country is that some other people (rather than them) have the comfy seats and the fat ministerial salary packages, you’d struggle to find one.
I/S seems to suffer from widespread amnesia. Labour has diagnosed much, much larger issues in New Zealand society than night classes and caravan fees. These issues harm everyday people, and the current government is refusing to address them. Housing prices are an obvious one, so too is the cost of living, especially power. Inequality is a third, at an individual level, because of the hollowing out of our regions, and in opportunities for young kids.
In response, Labour already has bold, large-scale plans to shake-up the housing sector, improve the quality of rental homes, decrease the cost of power, re-tool our tax system, kick-start our regions, and so on.
Portraying Labour as the status quo with a lower caravan rego is false and disingenuous.
Labour’s campaign supposedly revolves around re-contacting the “missing million” and persuading them to vote again. To point out the obvious, I don’t think anything announced recently is going to do that. People who feel that politics isn’t about them and offers them nothing are hardly likely to flock to the ballot boxes because the government promises to clean up a disaster at the other end of the country a little better. And I really don’t think anyone will go “cheap caravan registration? Two ticks for Labour!” It just looks like more vision-less managerialism from a party which has given up on them, and given up on the idea of change. And while Labour has bigger policies – paid parental leave and regional development – its just more of the same, more tinkering around the edges. Its been offered before and rejected; what makes them think the “missing million” will bite this time?
First, Labour’s campaign is not solely focused around turning out the missing million. Labour knows that it also has to win back some of the people who used to vote for Helen Clark but have recently voted for John Key. If Labour does not do any of that, the left loses. Labour will do that with boldness and persuasion, not insipid pandering – witness KiwiBuild, NZ Power, etc.
Second, Labour’s campaign to increase turnout is not based around a grab-bag of small-fry ideas. Labour’s campaign is based around a vision of a country where more New Zealanders can again afford to own the roof over their head, keep the bills at bay, and provide a great start in life for their kids.
Michael Joseph Savage promised us a better New Zealand, one fundamentally different from the past. Norman Kirk promised generational change and modernisation. David Lange promised the same (while Roger Douglas betrayed everything). Even Helen Clark promised this. By contrast, modern Labour promises nothing. All it offers is the status quo, only with different faces (and in fact it offers worse than that, because they’ll fuck you over on superannuation). Please forgive me for not caring.
Well, please forgive me for not caring about complaints from bloggers who conveniently ignore Labour’s major policies while declaring Labour has no major policies.