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Spin-busting: ‘Labour has no policy, either’

Written By: - Date published: 9:09 am, September 9th, 2008 - 45 comments
Categories: john key, national, spin - Tags:

John Key is running a line that first emerged in the rightwing blogs a few months ago: ‘Labour doesn’t have any policy, either’. It was a moron’s line when it was on the blogs and Key has only taken it up in a desperate attempt to divert from National’s policy leaks. 

It’s meant to be a response to the criticism that National’s ‘policies’ are no more than vague one-page bullet points. But it just doesn’t stack up. Labour has spent the last nine years enacting policies. In just the last week it passed the Biofuels Act, the Police Act, the Kiwisaver amendments, the right to breast-feeding and meal breaks at work, and major legislation to tidy up the real estate industry. This week the Emissions Trading Scheme, which has been described as the most fundamental change to our economy since the 1980s, will pass. Moreover, Labour has an election manifesto to be released. Last election, it stretched to over 200 pages.

No-one doubts what Labour stands for. Whereas no-one can say for sure what National stands for from one day to the next. Ask five people what National would do in government and you’ll get five different answers because National has a policy of strategic vacuousness.

Consider the audacity of Key running a ‘Labour has no policy line’. He has to believe that no interviewer is going to call him out on it. He has to be confident that in a few weeks when Labour’s manifesto comes out no-one is going to remember. And he has to assume that his audience, that’s you, is ignorant enough to fall for it.

45 comments on “Spin-busting: ‘Labour has no policy, either’ ”

  1. Bill 1

    Splitting hairs here. But if JK says Labour have no policy either, then he is readily admitting that the Nats have none.

    And since Labour have not released an election manifesto…okay, he is making a point. Not a very honest one mind insofar as he is claiming a lack of policy as opposed to the lack of a released manifesto.

    No big deal. If Labour release a 200 page manifesto and the Nats are stuck with bullet points, then hey.

  2. Strings 2

    There is no doubt what Labor’s policies of the past are, the issue is what will they do in the next three years!

    We didn’t know about the purchase of Air NZ, or KiwiRail, or the blocking of the Auckland Airport sale, or so many other ‘policies’ of the Labour government of the last 9 years, so it would be good if they were to put up a policy platform for this election that we could vote for (or not as may be our wont).

    This is the issue that needs to be addressed please.

    [not every action a government takes over a three year year term can be in a mantifesto. Events come up that cannot be predicted. That’s why it’s so important to know what a party stands for and know you can trust them. But that doesn’t mean it’s not also important to have a detailed manifesto. The buyback of rail was in the Labour manifesto. SP]

  3. Matthew Pilott 3

    Strings, of those things listed, are you surprised that Labour did them? (Just quietly, the negotiations with Toll had been going on for about six years and I assumed it was common knowledge, you’re saying otherwise?)

    Because Key is (as Tracy Watkins fawns on a daily basis) portraying himself as a moderate, sensible centrist. Kind of like a bland version of Dunne, if such a thing were possible. This is a radical shift from 2005, so anything National has ever said it would do, any old manifesto, and track record – we can’t believe that it’s what they’d do, because they’re saying they have changed.

    But wait – if they’ve changed, then why only a few bullet point ‘policies’, they’re nowhere near enough to let us know what National has changed into. So, have they really changed? They say so, but how can we tell? Is there cause to believe this is a ploy to get power by appealing to the centre? Someone talking about ‘Labour-Plus punters’ seemed to hint at it.

    They can’t prove it with policy either, so I ask why. The only conclusion is they haven’t really gotten anything new – it’s looking more and more like lip service. I’d have to assume under National that we’d see a new Employment Contracts Act, wholesale sale of State assets, work on civilian nuclear technology and allowing military nuclear visits, means testing for superannuitants (and putting the age another 5 years), benefit cuts, health and education cuts, privatisation of education and health… Who knows what you’ll get?

  4. yl 4

    Strings,

    Labour did have in there policy the opportunity for the buy back of Kiwirail – it is just that transport was not a key election issue last election.

    “Increase funding for public transport, rail network maintenance and development, travel demand management initiatives, regional economic development roading and walking and cycling and encourage links between cycling and public transport”

    http://www.labour.org.nz/policy/transport_(2005).html

  5. burt 5

    No-one doubts what Labour stands for.

    I don’t know what Labour stands for?

    I use to think I knew what Labour stood for when I use to vote for them but now I don’t know. Looking at the situation these days I think Labour stands for secret donations from big business, secret trusts, covering up alledged corrupt/illegal behaviour, tilting the playing field with absurd EFA, stripping my wallet with the ETS and of course more public spending driving inflation and recession.

    How close was that?

  6. Matthew Pilott 6

    Burt, in all honesty it was very weak. I suppose I could try and rebut it by saying that as opposed to the first three points you made, they stand for due process as opposed to a right-wing lynch-mob style of governance, and that there’s no evidence of the next, even though most commentors agree action was necessary in not flawlessly executed, and that making people pay for their own rampant consumption and pollution is hardly something I wouldn’t expect from a Labour government, but I don’t think you’re expecting a response to such a comment, right?

    (Did not address the last point, as I can’t fathom how more spending drives recession, there’s no dispaly of knowledge of cause and effect in that statement. That is not the cause of inflation either, not close.)

  7. burt. “I don’t know what Labour stands for?”

    We use question marks at the end of questions. “I don’t know” is a statement of ones ignorance, not a question.

    Burt, explain how more public spending can be ‘driving recession’. How does more economic activity, ceteras paribas, decrease economic activity acording to burt-onomics?

  8. burt 9

    You guys are doing a good job of proving my point. What do Labour stand for

    We have the highest inflation we have had for years and we have also been in a recession Don’t ask me how it works because it makes no sense to me either. I’m just calling the way it is under Labour. Public spending driving inflation undermining consumer purchasing power and business outputs shrinking this is life under Labour.

  9. yl 10

    Another week, another leak, another document ‘accidentally’ left at the cafe’

    Any guesses on the line used to get out of this one?

    I think,

    Nicky Hager is going to be Gerry Brownlie in a fat suit (cause we never seem to see them in the same room at the same time)

  10. burt. we have high inflation because we have an economy that has been running at full steam for eight years and has reached the limits of its capacity, that’s a situation where inflation is high. It’s also a situation where further growth is difficult in the short term. Then you add the fact that the international economy is unergoing a massive series of shocks – record oil prices, record food prices, and the credit crunch, which are both inflationary and make production much more expensive and you’ve got the conditions for ‘stag-flation’ – low or negative growth with higher than normal inflation.

    It’s got nothing to do with government spending.

    As you freely admit that you yourself don’t understand economics at this level (your understanding appears to be at the level of – ‘sumthin’ happen’ must be the gummit’s fault’) perhaps you shouldn’t be so certain that your conclusions are correct.

  11. forgetaboutthelastone 12

    Perhaps it will be the same as it was with the secret tapings:

    The first one was nothing too much to worry about – “fair cop”. The second one came and National got busy attacking Labour for playing dirty tricks. Maybe JK will spread some more rubbish over his lawn. Accusations of Labour spying on National?

  12. Matthew Pilott 13

    Don’t ask me how it works because it makes no sense to me either. I’m just calling the way it is under Labour.

    Burt, if I were to look at some police statistics, I’d assume there were perhaps a hundred homicides last year, and several thousand acts of sexual violence. But wait- same as with National back in 1998! I can see why you don’t like the big parties, according to your logic you must think they both stand for rape and murder. Because thus is life on earth.

    Just one quick point, any chance that what is happening could be worse if public spending was cut? Say, there might be an retraction in the economy, and people would have less to spend, and business output would shrink further?
    I guess that if you want to make such an assertion without knowledge of how something works there’s little point in asking that question.

  13. Felix 14

    Do you have anything else to do burt?

    I only ask out of genuine concern for your well-being – hanging around here seems to make you so miserable.

    I don’t think I’ve come across someone with a more negative outlook than yours, burt, and I think it’s time for you to take some personal responsibility for your situation.

    It’s not up to the government to make you happy, burt, it’s all up to you.

  14. Matthew Pilott 15

    Don’t you guys know anything? Environment policy is “bundled” with the one for Research, Science and Technology. Same document, Mallard is just toying with the media. And besides, it’s an Australian document. And it’s not a National document. And someone stole it. It’s a dirty tricks campaign. And it’s a ploy to get more attention. And all of the above. And none. Simultaneously.

  15. forgetaboutthelastone 16

    How likely is it that Maurice Williamson is the leakage? They have tried their hardest to shut him up since he told us about the $50 road tolls.

  16. Crank 17

    A leak of this size and regularity starts to appear less like a leak and more like theft.

    Mallard already has a record of assault and infidelity, he only needs stealing to make it a full house.

  17. exexpat 18

    Steve,
    You’ve just listed a whole bunch of policies that Labour has enacted, which is what labour stood for during the last three years. To be honest the police act is something that I would say was a major social democratic policy achievement while the biofuels and ETS aren’t things that warm the cockles of my heart either.

    I want to know what labour stands for if they were to be elected during the next three years and all you’ve said is that there will be a 200 page manifesto released soon. It better have some inspiring stuff because as a core supporter I’m most interested in how you are going to reduce inequality in this country, the bread and butter of a social democratic party.

  18. burt 19

    I like this thread. I state what is going on in the economy and I get bagged for not having every answer to it. Meanwhile the “prudent’ managers of the economy for the last 9 years are nothing to do with it.

    Matthew Pilott takes the “distraction of the week’ award spinning off to Police stats and Felix adds nothing but denigration of me

    So I’ve taken the whack over pointing out that we have high inflation and a recession and I guess it’s all my fault because if nobody mentions it then we can pretend it’s not happening. Meanwhile the issues of covering the ass of Winston, condoning the situation where secret trusts have been used to prop up the Labour-led govt etc is completely ignored.

    Sorry about the high inflation and the recession guys, I didn’t stop to think when I mentioned it that it was all my fault and Labour were blameless.

    What do Labour stand for apart from looking after the Labour parties best interest to the detriment of openness, accountability, transparency and the highest ethical standards we use to expect from parliament ?

    Owen Glenn might help explain what Labour stand for later today, that should be interesting.

  19. toad 20

    Labour has plenty of policy. Problem is, it is National’s policy! Trevor Mallard has just announced that he will be releasing National’s Research, Science and Technology policy today.

  20. r0b 21

    I’m most interested in how you are going to reduce inequality in this country, the bread and butter of a social democratic party.

    Steve isn’t a member of the Labour Party, so you can’t ask him how “you” are going to do it.

    I am a member. I look forward to Labour’s manifesto in due course, and in the mean time I’m very proud of the progress Labour led governments have made, and the first signs of reductions in inequality appearing…

    Social Report shows Kiwis better off

  21. Felix 22

    No burt, you get bagged because you’re a miserable bastard who does nothing but complain.

    Take some responsibility for yourself for a change – the world doesn’t owe you anything.

  22. burt 23

    Felix

    Do you have anything else to do burt? Well not really. I’m in a holding pattern at the moment. Once the election is done and dusted I can make up my mind what to do.

    Either; Buy some more real-estate, upgrade the car, look at employing another person in the business OR shut down the business, pay out the redundancies, sell existing real-estate, sell the car(s) and arrange the packers/movers. If Labour end up winning then I look forward to paying international departure tax as my final financial contribution to the Labour-led government administration.

  23. Matthew Pilott 24

    Burt, I’m not blaming you for not having answers to some economic problems, I’m blaming you for thinking that they are what Labour stands for. The police example was something else that is going on, and is a perfect equivalent to your economic example – it’s an example of crime that is happening, and by your logic, must be something Labour stands for. It’s not a distraction, it merely points out the absurdity of claiming that whatever is going on is what Labour stands for.

    r0b noted that the gap between rich and poor is closing. Labour have also raised the minimum wage, put in universal subsidies for Primary healthcare, free early childhood education, increased health spending, reduced our foreign debt to a very respectable and manageable level, started a universally accessible and hugely sucessful national retirement savings programme, increased the power of collective bargaining, and implemented a foreign relations policy that has seen relationships with our allies warm significantly, whilst being independent enough to avoid being trapped in what are generaly seen as unjuust international conflicts, yet being involved in some good multilateral peacekeeping activities in areas of interest for New Zealand. Perhaps you should look at that stuff when you want to know what Labour stands for – it is what they have done, more than what has happened to New Zealand during their time in power.

    Barking up the wrong tree, methinks. You’re also not being bagged for not having the answers to a problem, but being bagged for not understanding the problem in the first place – not an insignificant difference. And acting like such a victim – no one blames you for the economy but yourself. For someone I’d assume likes the personal responsibility theme, it’s an odd angle to pursue.

  24. yl 25

    and where will you go Burt…

  25. djp 26

    You get my sympathy vote burt. Felix seems to echoing the moochers line from some sort of Randian story.

  26. Felix 27

    Randian story or burt-esque re-run?

  27. exexpat… i’m not Labour, so there’s no point demanding from me that labour have more social democratic policy. i’m sure they will have more policy in tht regard, and if you don’t think it goes far enough, you should vote for a more social democratic party, like the Greens.

    No party is perfect, you vote for the best vehicle for your values. if you’re about social democracy your best options are labour or greens.. a vote for national would be vote directly against your stated values.

  28. Short Shriveled and Slightly to the Left 29

    Crank
    That makes no sense at all!
    If he wants a “Full House” he will need two assaults and 3 infidelities or vice versa.
    If theft is added to assault and infidelity then all he’s likely to have is a shitty hand
    Do yourself a favour and don’t visit a casino with a full wallet

  29. Short Shriveled and Slightly to the Left 30

    “I like this thread. I state what is going on in the economy and I get bagged for not having every answer to it.”

    Wrong Burt, you got bagged for not having ANY answer to your own statement

  30. burt 31

    SSaSttL

    So are you saying that we don’t currently have high inflation? Are you saying we are not the only OECD country in recession? Did I misread the claims that Labour have been prudent managers of our economy?

    I don’t quite see how I’m expected to answer that? Perhaps I missed the point where good things in the economy are what Labour stands for and bad things are not Labour’s fault.

    “No-one doubts what Labour stands for…” – I don’t know what they satnd for – how is that me not having any answer to my own statement? My own statement is that I don’t have an answer…. Thanks for confirming that what I wrote is what I wrote….

  31. r0b 32

    Are you saying we are not the only OECD country in recession?

    More Burtonomics (which is a polite way of saying Burt, don’t talk bollocks).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_crisis_of_2008

  32. Janet 33

    I was just looking at the disability issues portfolio on the Beehive website for a work related reason and found there is a huge amount of disability policy there. Not a headline policy area but of huge significance for a lot of people in NZ. Such a lot has happened since the NZ Disability Strategy in 2001 and just last week the way cleared for the ratification of the UN Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities with the passing of the Disability Bill which makes all NZ legislation compliant – and with the release of the Select Committee report last week now a huge amount more work to do in this area. So lots and lots of policy in this portfolio.

  33. Anita 34

    Janet,

    Have you looked at the Greens policy? They’ve also done a lot of work on it. UF too.

    My understanding is that a select committee has been looking quite hard at disability issues, so every party has the opportunity to have a really well thought through disability policy.

  34. Janet 35

    I agree and some parties have well-thought out disability policies. But not sure about National. The original post was the Nat P assertion that Labour doesn’t have any policies and I was pointing out an area where there is lots.

  35. Anita 36

    Janet,

    I can’t find a National Party policy on disability. It wouldn’t be hard to have one and I would like to think that they would always have had one, rather than needing to build one from nothing for the election.

  36. Swampy 37

    “The buyback of rail was in the Labour manifesto. SP”

    No it most certainly was not. There has never been any suggestion that Labour would buy back the railway operations until it became public knowledge that they had put a deal on the table offering to buy out Toll Rail.

  37. Swampy 38

    “Matthew Pilott
    September 9, 2008 at 9:39 am

    Strings, of those things listed, are you surprised that Labour did them? (Just quietly, the negotiations with Toll had been going on for about six years and I assumed it was common knowledge, you’re saying otherwise?)”

    Negotiations with Toll Rail were to agree on an Access Charge for Toll to pay for the use of the rail tracks. There was absolutely no intimation of the Government renationalising rail operations until sometime last year when it was then widely rumoured that such an option was proposed.

  38. Swampy 39

    “yl
    September 9, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Strings,

    Labour did have in there policy the opportunity for the buy back of Kiwirail – it is just that transport was not a key election issue last election.

    “Increase funding for public transport, rail network maintenance and development, travel demand management initiatives, regional economic development roading and walking and cycling and encourage links between cycling and public transport’

    Let us make clear there are two different things here:

    1. The rail network – sold back in 2001 by Toll.
    2. Rail operations – owned by Toll until this year.

    Quite clearly the above manifesto policy statement applies to 1 only. Labour has falsely implied they could not develop the rail network without owning rail operations, but the fact is that quite simply, they were unwilling to.

  39. Swampy 40

    “burt. we have high inflation because we have an economy that has been running at full steam for eight years and has reached the limits of its capacity, that’s a situation where inflation is high. It’s also a situation where further growth is difficult in the short term. Then you add the fact that the international economy is unergoing a massive series of shocks – record oil prices, record food prices, and the credit crunch, which are both inflationary and make production much more expensive and you’ve got the conditions for ‘stag-flation’ – low or negative growth with higher than normal inflation.

    It’s got nothing to do with government spending.”

    What is inflation? Everyone knows it is an increase in the amount of money in the economy. The government is pumping a lot of money into the economy.

  40. Strings 41

    SP
    >
    >> Events come up that cannot be predicted. That’s why it’s so important to know what a party stands for and know you can trust them. But that doesn’t mean it’s not also important to have a detailed manifesto.

    Clearly there are situations in which events overtake plans – that’s one reason I have a career :-). However, some things are a little too vague at times. For instance, ‘increase funding for . . . . rail’ doesn’t come across to me as ‘spend a billion or two on rail’.

    Much sadder from my perspective is the trust issue! What I saw on the news last night and the ‘transcripts’ of yesterday’s “Privileges Committee” meeting leaves me gobsmacked on the trust front. If I was a big financial supporter of a political party I would like to think I could ‘trust’ the senior members of that party not to attempt to ridicule me in public, I would also believe I could trust that the leader of that party to at least acknowledge my ensuring that another act I was considering would not have a detrimental effect on her party. Clearly there are some major trust issues around the beehive right now, and I’m not encouraged or heartened by them!

    However, that said I do thank you for making the effort to respond to my point, it is appreciated.

  41. Strings 42

    Swampy

    The literate know that inflation is NOT an increase in the amount of money in the economy. Inflation is a situation where too much money is available to spend without a corresponding supply of goods in demand, pushing the price of those goods up.

    Without increasing money supply I can cause inflation simply by prohibiting imports or construction. To understand inflation look at the economic history of any ex-communist country working a centrally controlled consumer supply chain!

  42. r0b 43

    If I was a big financial supporter of a political party I would like to think I could ‘trust’ the senior members of that party not to attempt to ridicule me in public

    When exactly did that happen Strings?

  43. Billy 44

    When exactly did that happen Strings?

    How about when Trevor suggested Owen had a brain injury?

  44. r0b 45

    Could you refer me to the actual quote there please Billy?

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