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Spin Bingo: Budget Edition

Written By: - Date published: 10:12 am, May 21st, 2008 - 56 comments
Categories: election 2008, national, spin - Tags: ,

Well it’s Budget day tomorrow and we’ve got our man Steve Pierson going to the lock-up so we can get you a good ol’ Standardista analysis ASAP.

But while we don’t know what’s going to be in the Budget we can take a fair guess at what National’s response will be. So we’ve decided to play spin-bingo again. The rules are you pick what vapid lines the Nats will attach to the budget and tomorrow afternoon we’ll give big ups to those who get closest.

In the meantime here are some of our picks:

“Labour’s had nine years to deliver tax cuts and is only doing them now because it’s election year”

“Labour has squandered the good years… nine years of lost opportunities… this is too little too late”

“This budget shows a government that is tired/out of touch/bereft of ideas”

“Labour has failed to provide meaningful relief”

“This budget does nothing for mainstream New Zealanders ordinary Kiwis”

“Michael Cullen can’t be trusted to deliver on tax cuts.”

Now you’ll note that none of these talking points have any substance and none show any alternative vision but that’s pretty much why we’re betting at least two of them are in there. You’ll also note that they will attack Cullen as they have focus tested people’s reactions to him and seen that there is an opportunity to fuel the perception that he is arrogant and out of touch.

We’ll also give bonus big-ups to whoever can pick the glib phrase National tries to attach to this Budget (previous attempts have included the “Bondi Budget” and the “Chewing Gum Budget”). This time we’re picking ‘Farewell Budget’ or something on that theme.

As an aside I’d also like to put up a challenge to all of the journos that read this site: If you feel yourself itching to angle a story as “National says…” just stop and have a wee think about whether National is actually saying anything.

56 comments on “Spin Bingo: Budget Edition”

  1. I sure some of your picks, glad to see that National is going to be telling the truth.

  2. Daveo 2

    You just don’t get it do you Brett?

    My pick’s on the “Last gasp budget”.

    I also agree they’ll try to pull out the “election bribe” line, as if offering twice as much is somehow not a bribe.

  3. r0b 3

    “This budget fails to address the crisis of rising costs facing Kiwi workers and will do nothing to stem the exodus to Australia”.

    “The Game Over budget”
    “Cullen’s Lament”
    “The Titanic budget” (“rearranging the deck chairs”)
    “Last roll of the dice”
    and so on.

    Say National, apart from Labour lite, what will you actually do . if you win office?

  4. Joker 4

    My entry is “the fudge it budget”

    And the line: “Maybe some of these promises would be more believable if Phill Goff was leader”

  5. r0b 5

    If someone gets the chance could they tidy up the bad closing tag for me – my old browser doesn’t let me do the edit thing. (I’ll have my real laptop/browser back real soon now – honest).

  6. Principessa 6

    I think they’ll use the words “Out of Control Social Spending,” but that’s because I personally hope the budget will deliver large amounts of public service, NGO and community spending.

  7. djp 7

    To be fair Daveo, its not like the Nats offering a tax cut is a surprise. Where as Cullen seems to be ideologically opposed to tax cuts

  8. Billy 8

    You can harldy blame National for telling the truth. Let’s see:

    Labour’s had nine years to deliver tax cuts and is only doing them now because it’s election year’

    Well, that’s obviously true.

    Labour has squandered the good years nine years of lost opportunities this is too little too late

    True again.

    This budget shows a government that is tired/out of touch/bereft of ideas

    They are tired and out of touch. The budget may or may not show this.

    Labour has failed to provide meaningful relief

    We don’t know until we see the budget.

    This budget does nothing for mainstream New Zealanders/ordinary Kiwis

    We don’t know until we see the budget.

    Michael Cullen can’t be trusted to deliver on tax cuts

    Obviously true. He has form.

  9. mike 9

    “Labour’s had nine years to deliver tax cuts and is only doing them now because it’s election year’
    I think there is a lot of substance to this statement.

    Even you guys must admit National have done a stella job making tax the defining issue this election.

  10. Archon 10

    “Labour’s had nine years to deliver tax cuts and is only doing them now because it’s election year’

    Most people believe this is true. The media believe it is true. But because you think it’s not true, it’s National party spin?

    Labour is doing this because to not do so would mean absolute electoral anihilation and we all know it. It’s a principle free zone.

  11. Archon 11

    Snap

  12. IrishBill 12

    Billy, yawn and yawn again. If you look at my post “Herald gets it right” you’ll see that Labour has announced comprehensive policy to make advances in business, the environment and society while National has pretty much just banged the “tax cut” drum. Someone is bereft of ideas but I don’t think it’s Labour. If fact if you look through the Standard’s posts you’ll see that all of this spin has been debunked at one stage or another. But I suspect you know that as you seem to appear on those threads to contribute your pithy one-liners (and unfortunately not much more).

  13. Billy 13

    Just say the word, IB, and I’m gone for good.

  14. Tane 14

    Billy, you’ll have to forgive IB. He’s a grumpy old bastard. I like having you around, and the Sod would be lost without you.

    [lprent: And even your one-liners don’t get up my nose. Besides I’m the grumpy old bastard around here. IB is still training 🙂 ]

  15. Labour will spend large amounts of money that other people earnt to bribe those who receive it to vote for them, on the basis that “Labour gave them something”, when it simply transferred from all taxpayers to a select group, then some taxpayers will get a little back because of politics.

    Governments can really do only two things in budgets, spend more money or return more money to those who it was in the first place. Labour will predominantly spend, and return a little. National would also spend more money, but would return a bit more. If the Greens were in charge, they would almost exclusively spend and probably tax more too, if ACT was, it would not spend more and would return a lot more tax.

    It’s hardly rocket science or exciting.

  16. No Billy – don’t go baby. You may not contribute much to the debate but you are fun. And that’s extremely unusual for a rightie (I mean look ad those dullards mike and Brett!)

    My pick for the budget is “Cullen’s last budget” – say it like fact and it gets reported as fact.

    As for lines? I really hope they crack out something new but I think they’ll stick with the good old tested one. They won’t want to be sending mixed messages.

    I only hope that when they bitch about stuff they are asked one question – “What would you do differently?”

  17. Felix 17

    Billy: I too find it difficult (near impossible) to imagine Dr Cullen announcing tax cuts in this way outside election year.

    As for the “9 years of wasted opportunities” comment being true – that only makes sense if tax cuts have been a high priority for 9 years. Otherwise it’s just 9 years of different priorities.
    I tend to think there have been far more important things for the gov to spend on.

    Others disagree of course.

    Rob: All brilliant, but perhaps a little too poetic for National spin.

  18. Archon 18

    That is true, LS.

    The Standard chaps are getting all frothy that National is not releasing their ideass yet. Are they surprised? Really??

    Why would National release all their policies yet. There is no need. Save them for when your opposition has no time to steal, hijack or manipulate them.

    The opposition gets to oppose the current government. There are no rules governing when they have to release their policy. Deal with it. .. Or not. Prehaps an amendment to the Electoral Finance Act that defines how close to an election, oposition policies have to be released? Yes. That is a fine idea. Openess and honesty and all that.

  19. r0b 19

    Ewww Errr – I want long shot odds on “Last Train to Clarksville”!

  20. Lew 20

    Archon has really hit the nail on the head here. Releasing policy before implementation essentially has one purpose: electoral advantage. National are doing just fine without releasing policy, so why would they reveal their hand early? Until the electorate demands it, the rational thing to do is to hold off and continue dealing in the broad-strokes and generalisations which seem to be working.

    Woe betide them if they can’t put up when required – but that’s a risk they’re apparently prepared to take.

    L

    Captcha: last begin.

  21. Lew – shut up. We all know what the “gameplan” is so stop trying to teach your grandmother to suck eggs. Your gameplan analysis is exactly what’s wrong with politics and political commentary but I get the feeling you are another one of these cosseted Wellington politico types that have forgotten that it’s actually about stuff like making sure people have enough to eat and have a future involving good jobs and a fair society. That’s what should be discussed and every time you endorse the PR model you take the discourse further away from the important stuff. Get a grip.

  22. Lew. Don’t you think the pople have a right to know what parties intend to do in government?

    Quite apart from whether it’s a successful strategy not to talk policy, is is a moral, just, or desirable one?

  23. alex 23

    National glib phrases:

    Cullen’s last stand
    Nanny-state budget
    Cullengate
    Cullen Calamity/Catastrophe

    Spin:

    Wreckless social spending at the expense of home owners and tax payers.

    The budget is electioneering in its worst form.

    We support it in principal, but we would have done it different. However, we have no alternative on paper at this stage.

  24. However, we have no alternative on paper at this stage.

    “Look, we’re not going to be pushed into discussing policy but we’ll certainly be addressing this in good time.”

  25. Lew 25

    Steve: Of course people have a right to know parties’ policy plans, and it’s my view that they should insist upon it before offering their votes. But they can’t be forced to and at the moment they’re not demanding policy. I think this is foolish and generally detracts from the quality of political discourse in NZ, but I only have one vote. I strongly support your and others’ efforts exhorting people to demand policy – but if they don’t want it, ultimately it’s their decision.

    Robinsod: I guess you’ve been working up to this for a while now. Congratulations, you grew a pair. Now it’s Fisking time.

    “Lew – shut up.”

    Go and fuck yourself.

    “We all know what the “gameplan’ is so stop trying to teach your grandmother to suck eggs.”

    What do you mean `we’, white man? I don’t play by your rules or share your views.

    “Your gameplan analysis is exactly what’s wrong with politics and political commentary”

    Without understanding the rules of the game, you can’t understand the game. Without understanding how policy positions are reached, it’s hard to understand their full implications.

    “but I get the feeling you are another one of these cosseted Wellington politico types that have forgotten that it’s actually about stuff like making sure people have enough to eat and have a future involving good jobs and a fair society.”

    Speculate as you like about my background and occupation, none of it is provable or disprovable anyhow. The sad thing is that I agree with you.

    “That’s what should be discussed and every time you endorse the PR model you take the discourse further away from the important stuff. Get a grip.”

    I’m not bound to your agenda. In addition, I’m not endorsing the `PR model’, just recognising it as a reality. You could do with a bit more reality and a bit less idealism, in my opinion.

    Perhaps we can discuss this at Drinking Liberally tonight; I’ll be the one with red hair in a topknot. But if you want me to buy you a beer you’ll have to stop being an obnoxious twat.

    L

  26. Tim 26

    Bureaucracy / PC / nanny state gone mad!

    Bob the Builder’s budget!

  27. Perhaps we can discuss this at Drinking Liberally tonight; I’ll be the one with red hair in a topknot. But if you want me to buy you a beer you’ll have to stop being an obnoxious twat.

    I’m not gonna be at drinking liberally because I don’t like people. I know the rules of the game better than most mate because I’ve lived and breathed them a long time. I can tell you this – The game bites. And it bites because it works to dumb-down politics and reduce its significance to people. If it’s a game why bother? Talking about it as such only further disengages people and that my friend it the reason a lot of people are going to vote without knowing what they are voting for.

    All you do when you engage in speculation about “the game” is endorse a view the right are happy to have people hold as it helps disenfrachise them and as you will know low turnouts favour the right.

    Good to see you telling me to Fu*k off though as it shows you are not a completely spineless liberal…

  28. gobsmacked 28

    National: “It is a cynical, feeble, irresponsible, shameful budget. So naturally we promise to keep everything in it.”

  29. erikter 29

    Some hard decisions need to be made on welfare.

    As a general rule, the sector of the population who use the vast majority of government services are the same people that contribute less to the tax collection, and mainly because of too many welfare benefits.

    Some of these people deserve assistance; others, and it may be a large number, do not.

  30. Pascal's bookie 30

    Some hard decisions need to be made on welfare.

    Don’t be so coy erik. Show us how brave you are and outline what those decisions should be.

    As a general rule, the sector of the population who use the vast majority of government services..

    Old people, the sick, and children you mean?

    …are the same people that contribute less to the tax collection,…

    Makes sense, what with them being old, sick, or children.

    …and mainly because of too many welfare benefits

    You skipped the part where you demonstrate that this actually follows from anything, or is true.

    Some of these people deserve assistance;…

    Glad to hear you say so.

    …others, and it may be a large number, do not.

    It may be a large number. It may not. At least it sounds like an empirical question though. What is not an empirical question is the ‘deserving’ part. That’s a political question the answer to which you might need to justify.

    Let’s agree that there are some indeterminate number of people that are getting some amount of support that they do not deserve.

    Can you fix that without cutting off the support from many who do deserve it? If you can there is possibly a Nobel prize in your future. If not, once again it becomes a political question about wether or not the costs of a few free riders are worth the benefits to society of the policies in question.

    Have at it.

  31. Lew 31

    Robinsod: “I’m not gonna be at drinking liberally because I don’t like people.”

    This is clear.

    “I know the rules of the game better than most mate because I’ve lived and breathed them a long time.”

    This is not clear.

    “I can tell you this – The game bites. And it bites because it works to dumb-down politics and reduce its significance to people. If it’s a game why bother? Talking about it as such only further disengages people and that my friend it the reason a lot of people are going to vote without knowing what they are voting for.”

    It’s not that it *is* a game; it’s that it *resembles* a game. It’s between two or more sides, it’s contested with a view to winning, and it’s governed by rules. How do you expect to win if you don’t understand the reasoning behind each move?

    “All you do when you engage in speculation about “the game’ is endorse a view the right are happy to have people hold as it helps disenfrachise them and as you will know low turnouts favour the right.”

    You say this as if it’s self-evident, but it’s not.

    “Good to see you telling me to Fu*k off though as it shows you are not a completely spineless liberal ”

    Happy to do so as often as you like.

    L

  32. uroskin 32

    “The next Labour Budget will be written by Michael Cullen at the IMF”.

  33. erikter. “Some of these people deserve assistance; others, and it may be a large number, do not.”

    eriker identifies an imaginary problem of a scale even he says he has no idea of. His solution? Throw the baby our with the bathwater

  34. and it’s governed by rules.

    Those rules are constantly shifting Lew, and the trick to winning is to make sure you are the one shifting them. National (or should I say Crosby Textor) has done a brilliant job at shifting them toward a situation where a rather dull comment by Goff can be a major scandal and where simply repeating “tired third term government” makes it seem so.

    I don’t know how old you are but these are not the same rules as five years ago (or even more recently) and when the left contents itself to play within them (as you do with your discussion of policy hold-back as admirable tactic) then they become further cemented as the only rules in town. Try paying attention to the way the discourse is shaped rather than just the discourse itself.

    Oh and Lew? Fu*k you too.

    [Sod, keep it civil. There’s no need to start a flame war]

  35. vto 35

    Iprent, Pierson, Irishbill, Pilott you guys abused me a few weeks ago for wasting time with supposedly empty, banal, hollow, vapid one-liners with no substance.

    Well congratulations, it appears you have created a whole thread out of such poop.

    Is that why this site gets termed the ‘double standard’ sometimes?

    [lprent: I just read the post. It isn’t about discussion, it appears to be about what one-liners we can expect from parties after the budget tommorrow. For authenticity, these should be small enough to fit into a newspaper or TV headline – ie a one liner. You can of course discuss the meaning of the value of this type of press release amongst journalists.
    But I do agree that it is shallow.]

  36. Lew 36

    Robinsod: I agree entirely on this point: that controlling framing and agendas is key. What we seem to disagree on is whether it’s a bad thing: you see it as something only the right does, or can do; I see it as a simple reality of How Things Are, a contest in which all sides try to gain the upper hand. I don’t think all sides necessarily should participate – there’s value in playing a `clean’ game after all – but I certainly don’t think it’s an unmitigated evil as you seem to.

    I didn’t say holding back policy was admirable – I said it was *rational*. If it results in electoral success, then I would say it was *effective*, but I don’t admire it except inasmuch as I can admire the handiwork of people who are masters of their craft. Did I mention that I consider Leni Riefenstahl to be one of the finest filmmakers of the 20th Century? Not because of the content of her work, but because of its quality. The two things can be split apart and analysed separately, as long as one is fully cognisant of the effects each has on the other. It’s not that I like National’s strategy – it’s that I recognise that it’s working. You seem to be stuck on whether it’s bad or good without realising that it’s not you who decides, it’s the electorate.

    It seems you want people to *just* debate policy. That’s a delightfully naive view, and I agree – wouldn’t it be nice? Unfortunately that’s not the way of things, and no amount of ranting is going to un-ring that bell or bring us back in time to a gentler age, because there was no gentler age. Instead of raging against the dying of the light I find more value in accepting things as they are and adapting to them. Carbon Trading is an example of this: using markets to curb some of the excesses caused by markets. It’s not `playing by their rules’ because the rules aren’t owned by entitlement – they’re owned by those with the best understanding of them. Unfortunately, those people are mostly working for National at the moment.

    I think the single biggest problem facing liberal politics in the ought-oughts is the prevalence of dogmatic idealist activism over political education and calculated, strategic action. I’d like that to change. Information is power.

    L

  37. r0b 37

    vto – it’s a whole thread about how empty and predictable such poop is. Kinda the same point that the editors made to you, but on a bigger scale.

  38. Matthew Pilott 38

    VTO – if you can’t see the point of this thread then you’re really wasting your time (c’mon, I know you can, why make such a comment…!).

    Come back the afternoon after the Budget with a few National Party press releases and NZ Herald stories at hand and see how many comments above hit the nail on the head. It’s a piss-take of National’s campaign thus far, and it’s certainly not condoning banal one-liners.

    ‘Sod – Lew seems to be saying what National are doing, not that he appreciates or condones it.

    My predictions –

    “Nothing in it for Mum and Dad who are struggling under Labour, and haven’t seen tax cuts in nine years.”

    Here’s a game to play: if you take three press releases from National, an article from The herald and an Audrey Young blog post you’ll get:

    “Tired”: 18 times
    “Too little too late”: four times
    “Nanny state”: six times
    Some glib comment about Labour knowing how to spend your money better that you: 12 times
    “Michael Cullen’s last Budget”: ten times
    A comment about what National would do better: … no such

  39. dave 39

    Interesting report that world-wide the big majority of people are against the widening wealth gaps. It is the rich prick minority that are the tiny.
    http://leninology.blogspot.com/2008/05/redistribute-wealth.html

  40. gobsmacked 40

    Key in the House just now: “block of cheese budget”.

    That’s your 6 pm news soundbite. With a pretty picture to help you understand.

  41. Tane 41

    Just watched Key’s speech. Looks like you nailed it Irish.

  42. IrishBill 42

    Damn. I started the “block of cheese” thing. Damn.

  43. bill brown 43

    “Key in the House just now: “block of cheese budget'”

    As picked up straight away by Espiner:

    http://stuff.co.nz//blogs/politics/2008/05/22/colby-tax-cuts-may-be-too-little-too-late

  44. IrishBill 44

    That is just depressing.

  45. gobsmacked 45

    Never underestimate a political journalist’s need to be spoon-fed. They have all the imagination and initiative of a sheep.

  46. r0b 47

    At least Colin James has his own soundbite – “The Snooker Budget”:
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/feature/story.cfm?c_id=1501935&objectid=10511820

  47. r0b 48

    John Armstrong too is not running any Key sound bite lines:
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/feature/story.cfm?c_id=1501935&objectid=10511835

    Good on James and Armstrong.

  48. gobsmacked 49

    Funny how whenever National oppose increases in the minimum wage, nobody says they’re denying poor people a piece of cheese.

  49. gobsmacked 50

    Jessica Mutch on One News, 4.30, dutifully parroted the cheese line. As you do.

  50. Tane 51

    gs – I think we may have to do a name and shame later on.

  51. Matthew Pilott 52

    Tane – $5 says you can add Duncan garner to your list – I don’t have to watch tonight to know you’d hear him paraphrase Key.

    God the media are cheesey. They take it whey too far.

  52. r0b 53

    MP – Critics of this budget should be forced to sit down with six copies of it and edam. We’d certainly see some un-feta’d blue language then! Could be enough to curdle the blood.

  53. gobsmacked 54

    Matthew, collect your five bucks. Duncan duly delivered on TV3, complete with supermarket checkout cheese in case anybody wasn’t listening.

    Do these people actually get paid for this crap? I mean, some bloke on a laptop, with zero qualifications (that’s me, folks) can write the Political Editor’s story, for free, and three hours before the bulletin.

    Duncan does look better than me in a suit, though.

  54. Vanilla Eis 55

    Is there anything Keith Ng can’t do?

    http://www.publicaddress.net/default,5045.sm#post5045

    Mods, feel free to make the link all pretty-like.

    [lprent: it is short enough. It is the ones that flow all over the page that are a problem]

  55. r0b 56

    Hah! Thanks VE, thanks Keith, good to end the day on a laugh.

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