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So whatcha gonna to do about it then?

Written By: - Date published: 2:00 pm, July 2nd, 2009 - 38 comments
Categories: activism - Tags: ,

I reckon there’s a mood developing. People are getting sick and tired of what feels like a government that’s got the country in reverse.

But what they’re looking for is an alternative. Increasingly people are starting to ask of the opposition “So what are you going to do differently?” They’ve asked it in relation to sow crates. They’ve asked it in relation to public servants being banned from protesting.

And I’ve just received Phil Goff’s latest email newsletter and now I’m asking it in relation to Labour’s plan for jobs. Goff says:

Job security is the number one issue for New Zealanders at the moment. My two sons are tradesmen and my daughter works in a government department. Like all parents I am concerned about the effects of the recession on jobs. With unemployment forecast to climb to more than 8 per cent, Labour is focused on keeping Kiwis in work. New Zealanders need more urgent action on jobs from the Government.

I agree the Nats don’t have a clue. Cycleway? Pitiful. McJobs? Short-sighted. But I want to know more than that the Nats are making mistakes, I want to know what Labour would do differently if it got my vote. The thing is, I’m not convinced that the centre will shift Labour’s way by ‘default’. It’s not enough to show us where the government is going wrong. Why not tell us what you’ve got in mind instead?

Maybe you’re waiting for the Right Timeâ„¢. Maybe you think they’ll nick your ideas. But so what? Neither of these is a good reason to risk squandering the goodwill of a growing number of anti-rightwing activists. It’s pretty clear that National’s honeymoon is over. People are now looking to rally behind a tangible, exciting alternative to a do-nothing Key government. The first thing you need to do is to give them one. The votes will follow.

38 comments on “So whatcha gonna to do about it then?”

  1. Maynard J 1

    Bring Back The Biff Shadow Budget!

    • I’d like to see that too. (I’d even suggest we fund Treasury to help political parties with the process.)

      Unfortunately it would require work. And it would involve making tricky decisions about what to spend money on and what to cut, and those decisions might not please everyone.

      Sadly it makes more sense to the opposition parties to just abuse the government’s proposals and not bother making any counter proposals.

      • Maynard J 1.1.1

        I do not know about all that, you get to make a budget without the risk that the bad bits will wreak havoc, and basically engage in some creative thinking, shooting the breeze if you will, while reality makes your opponent look bad.

        Of course, if you do a very shoddy job you will be ripped to pieces, but NZ had a good tradition of these, it is one I miss. Did National even bother with a manifesto this time around? I suspect we will get NatzTweets instead in 2011.

        In general I find that opposing for the sake of opposing drives, in no small part, cynicism in politics.

  2. toad 2

    I agree. Labour is good at criticising National’s inaction, but hasn’t actually come up with any alternative.

    By contrast, the Greens have with their Green New Deal put up some real and viable proposals for clawing our way out of the recession.

    If “People are now looking to rally behind a tangible, exciting alternative to a do-nothing Key government.” they have one – it is the Green Party.

  3. I won’t repeat my comment to eddie’s post, but there’s a short game and a long game. The long game assumes NZ will come out of the recession largely on its own but without carrying the costs other countries will have from their borrow and hope programmes.

    I wonder if Labour’s lack of alternative is that they quietly agree that that’s the best long term strategy but don’t want to have to own up to it?

  4. I couldn’t agree more. The Greens have come up with an excellent bunch of “recession busting” policies in the form of the Green New Deal.

    Labour missed the boat HUGELY by not having an alternative budget. They need a plan, they need an alternative. They need to do more than whine.

    Thank you for this post AYB.

    • all_your_base 4.1

      Cheers, though I’m not sure about the alternative budget. My guess is that they require a crapload of resource and back when the work needed to be done perhaps the mood of the country and National’s numbers suggested that it was best to wait and see. I reckon that time is well and truly over now though.

  5. the sprout 5

    Agree 100% AYB.

    Labour won’t get votes by default in 2011 in the way National did in 2008.

    Goff needs to starting offering concrete alternatives and he needs more constructive feedback on his performance. So far Goff appears to have surrounded himself with a coterie of Yes Men, which is not helping his sense of perspective or connectedness.

    • Jasper 5.1

      It’s not about offering alternatives this early in the game. You start offering alternatives around about 18 months out from an election.

      I see the role of opposition being more than just attacking the government. National did only that for 9 years and stuck to tax cuts as their core issue.

      Opposition parties need to take an issue, make it national and capture the mood of the populace. Super City is a bad one as it won’t go past Wellington. Once Auckland and Wellington are amalgamated, where else can be?
      No, ACE cuts needs to be bigger than it already is. There’re thousands of issues that can be made national, but Labour being the only party now in opposition is looking increasingly ineffectual. I’m not happy about supporting lame ducks.

      Labours still focussed on Naval Gazing. Too focussed. Every LEC, conference, regional, policy and council meeting starts off with “So, we need to look to the future” … then barely 5 minutes in “we probably went too far with this… with that… new zealand wasn’t ready for this…”

      Spare me the rhetoric!!

  6. Pat 6

    Labour don’t want to catch that boat. What would be HUGE is the deficit blowout in such a shadow budget. Think increased infrastructure spending e.g. Waterview, Cullen fund, no public service cuts, no KiwiSaver cuts, student allowances, lump sum cash payments to benficiaries etc.

    And they would also have to come clean on their only way to help pay for it – tax increases.

  7. felix 7

    toad you’re absolutely right, they should rally behind the Green Party.

    But as they probably won’t, the next best thing would be for Labour to pinch some more Green ideas and promote them.

  8. Pat, good point I suppose. What it would mean is that Labour would prioritise which projects and policies should happen first.

    The Waterview Connection was – quite rightly – not a huge priority for Labour. I certanily doubt you would have seen it built any time in the next 5-7 years under Labour (a good thing, as I think it’s a giant waste of money).

    I think a lot could have been funded out of reversing the April 1 tax cuts. Tax cuts (largely for the rich) are a pretty poor means of economic stimulus.

    • cocamc 8.1

      Jarbury
      The April tax cuts were funded by changes to Kiwisaver so in effect cost neutral. So the kiwisaver changes would have had to be effected to released that monies for other projects

      • jarbury 8.1.1

        I realise that cocamc.

        I would have gone ahead with the Kiwisaver changes and used the money on something a bit more productive than tax cuts.

  9. I suspect they’re planning an ‘Orewa’, ie a major speech on a contentious issue (probably superannuation/retirement) that captures the agenda early next year. They really don’t want to be releasing policy at this stage of the game.

    • Daveo 9.1

      I’m not sure ayb is suggesting a detailed, fully-costed alternative budget at this stage, but a few ideas on what Labour would do differently would be good. National banged on about tax cuts for years without spelling out their exact package and how much it would cost.

      Right now workers I’m talking to are saying to me they’re disappointed with Key but they don’t know what that other bloke stands for. Labour needs to change that and make themselves relevant.

      Also, you give them too much credit. Having talked to a few folks on the inside I seriously don’t believe Labour has anything up its sleeve.

      • felix 9.1.1

        “National banged on about tax cuts for years without spelling out their exact package and how much it would cost.”

        And now we know why.

    • all_your_base 9.2

      What about the supercity? Take control and make it the issue that ends up sinking National. One of the things Mt Albert demonstrated I reckon, is that success is more likely when you take a stand on an issue and own the agenda. All I’m saying is that I wouldn’t be waiting.

      • jarbury 9.2.1

        Unfortunately/fortunately it seems like National are starting to realise their screwed up Super City proposal and will make fairly significant changes to it.

        Expect no at large councillors, expect empowered local boards and expect a couple of Maori seats.

        As the Super City has been brought up, I just want to say that I made a pretty detailed submission on this and have been given FIVE MINUTES to relay and discuss that in person. FIVE MEASLY MINUTES. Looks like the government still needs to learn a bit more about what consultation actually involves.

  10. So Bored 10

    “Cycleway? Pitiful”. Better back off my cycleway, I want it.

    • George Darroch 10.1

      I want it too. It may be pitiful in implementation, but it’s symbolic of something good. I’ll take transport spending by National or Labour that isn’t roads where I can get it.

      • So Bored 10.1.1

        I want bridge loadings that can carry a tandem, if its good enough for the trucking industry its good enough for bikes to up the loading.

        • George Darroch 10.1.1.1

          Good point, I wasn’t aware there was that issue. I’d like bridge loadings that can take a loaded cargo.

  11. Craig Glen Eden 11

    Labour actually dosen’t have to do anything at this time . The opposition needs only to oppose at this early stage. National have to look like they can Govern which they are struggling with at this time.
    The Greens leadership is also struggling and they will as long as Norman is part of the team, this guy fails to recognize the left from the right and this will cost the Greens dearly at the Next election unless sorted . The only reason National adopted the insulation package was because Labour had the healthy homes policy. The Greens arrangement with National is very short sited.
    Normas anti Labour rhetoric in the MT Albert bye election was stupid and got the kind of support it deserved. In elections Labour traditionally has not attacked the Greens rather differentiating it self on policy the Greens need to be able to do the same. They need to be seen as a credible alternative second party in a Left of centre Government. No policy needed at this time folks, just keep denting the Armour of a Government that is failing to stand up. OH and Daveo you must be talking to the wrong people.

  12. gingercrush 12

    Goff should be lifting his profile more rather than offer alternative policies. Though some signal of what different policies they may have (which they have slowly been revealing via more pro-worker policies) would be suffice.

    I also think its far too early to say there is a change in mood/opinion of this government. I also have to question many of the left about this. Considering we witnessed such arguments before the election, during the election, straight after the election and every month since then. It is undoubtedly true that during problematic economic times people will question a government more and more. Indeed, if we go further, momentum usually goes against a government in problematic economic times. National’s support will fall from what they got in 2008. 2008 was a historical high for any party in a MMP environment. I am not of the view that a fall in support for National simply goes back to Labour. Even if Labour support goes higher, what will that do to the Green vote?

    I’ve pretty much maintained the opinion that National will govern again in 2011 and nothing I’ve seen so far changes that.

    • jarbury 12.1

      I agree to some extent GC. I worry that Phil Goff is a bit too “Bill English” (very competent but not that electable) and too little John Key (the opposite).

  13. Pat 13

    Agreed gc. And after their defeat Labour need to finally have a decent ho-down scrap for the leadership, which sees a final cleanout of the old guard and a shift in influence to the newer faces in the party.

  14. mike 14

    Trains – everyone loves trains!. Buy some old clunkers from the Aussies so we can employ people to fix them even if we pay twice what they are worth – the tax payers will love you….

    • r0b 14.1

      Oooo Mike, didn’t you get the Memo? The train set is now a vital part of National’s infrastructure rescue package or some such. Better stop dissing them, you’ll embarrass Bill.

  15. jarbury 15

    The post title confuses me a bit – I always thought “gonna” was short for “going to”. So therefore saying “so whatcha gonna to do about it then?” is like saying “so whatcha going to to do about it then?”

  16. sonic 16

    Sadly Labour might play around at the edges, bit they agree that the market rules. Expect lots more job losses.

  17. You’re probably not wrong about the mood shifting. As you know, I am fairly libertarian and welcomed the change in government but increasingly I have become pissed off at this government and last night wrote a scathing criticism of them on my blog.

    Of course that doesn’t mean I’m about to chant “Goff for Prime Minister” anytime soon, but it does mean that your take on the honeymoon being over is accurate.

  18. randal 18

    so far the national/act agenda seems to be framing legislation that obscures privatising public assets for the personal gain of certain politicians who know how to work the system.
    when has the national party and its hangers on been any different.

    • Daveski 18.1

      Actually, as is often the case randal, you couldn’t be further away from the truth. Labour of course would have the record for privatising public assets poorly while ironically National under Muldoon managed the opposite – an ill advised massive investment in the infrastructure. Perhaps you would care to update your original comment.

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