Here is today’s New Zealand Herald’s editorial on Labour’s self-imposed fiscal haircut (well, it is more of a bread trim, but there you go…):
The Labour Party has broken new ground in election campaigns by announcing cuts to spending that it had not announced. Leader David Cunliffe and finance spokesman David Parker called a press conference to say they had shaved $300 million from their plans after seeing the Treasury’s pre-election fiscal update last week. They said they had dropped six of seven commitments they had been planning to announce during the campaign, but they would not now say what they were.
What are voters to make of that?…
How about that Labour, as it has done since at least 1999, is committed to running a tight economic ship and living within our means? Nothing really new about that. Ask Michael Cullen.
It is now more important to them to appear fiscally responsible than socially generous. That could mean they rate their chances of becoming a government rather higher than they did before they saw the full effect of “dirty politics”…
It may be true that the disgraceful material revealed in Dirty Politics may have taken the shine off National bit, but Labour knows the only way to win is to persuade people on policy. Fortunately, Labour has great policy, while National has on-again off-again tax cut packages / announcements and shiny looking housing schemes that don’t work.
Labour is committed to raising the top rate to 36 per cent and introducing a capital gains tax on residential rental property. It also wants to use surplus revenue to resume contributions to the NZ Superannuation Fund, which would boost domestic savings. Without more big spending announcements, its claim to fiscal responsibility is getting better by the day.
That is, I think, a true reflection of public opinion, even if Labour’s fiscal credentials are, in fact, already well established.