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Watkins: govt adrift, icebergs ahead

Written By: - Date published: 12:55 pm, February 20th, 2010 - 13 comments
Categories: Media, national/act government - Tags:

Tracey Watkins writes that National is pissing off important constituencies and Labour’s messages are resonating:

There may not be any sign yet of the Government closing the income gap with Australia but there are certainly signs that the squeeze is starting to go on to ordinary Kiwis.

Not only is there no sign of the gap closing, it’s widening by every measure (wages, GDP, unemployment)

The sharp end of all that talk about belt-tightening and trimming “waste” is emerging and we are hearing the first warning rumblings from the likes of Grey Power that, whatever they giveth (in this case their vote), they can also take away. Given the lengths John Key went to for the ultra-powerful grey vote, this will be cause for some unease within National’s camp.

Key promised the world to everyone, he has failed to do anything for anyone except the wealthy elite.

a [GST] rise to 15 per cent from 12.5 per cent will hit those on fixed incomes the hardest and the Government’s assurances of compensation all round are being treated with healthy scepticism. This is only natural, since what seems like a neat solution in an academic sense to the Tax Working Group’s call for a more competitive tax environment is likely to hold less allure the further down the income chain voters are. Labour’s line that the GST rise is nothing more than a thinly disguised tax cut for the rich, paid for by the poor, appears to be resonating.

Messages work best when they are true and when the public can see they’re true. Anyone with any common sense can see that if you raise GST and spend most of the money cutting taxes for the rich then middle and low income Kiwi families end up worse off. People are against GST increases because they know it’s a wealth transfer from the many to the rich few in disguise.

the crunch hitting home at Radio New Zealand and the Conservation Department may cause surprisingly few ripples among the man or woman in the street….And many businesses have been forced to adapt why not DOC?

I can’t agree with that. The Save RNZ Facebook group now has 7,000 members in just over two days. And the conservation estate is not just some abstract valued by urban liberals, it is a big part of provincial life, and vital to tourism. DoC is not a business, it is the guardian of our natural treasures for this generation and the ones to come. A lot of natural conservatives are concerned about conserving the natural state of our conservation lands.

On the Government’s spending cuts forcing DHBs to reduce home help the elderly: “the policy seems senseless, as well as insensitive, given that a few hours’ home help seems to be a vastly cheaper option than putting up the elderly at expensive retirement facilities. Like adult night classes, chopped for savings of just $13 million, the Government seems to be buying itself a fight with a significant chunk of voters including the sons and daughters of all those elderly stay-at-home voters for what seems like chump’s change in the grand scheme of things.”

This is a government that is willing to sink $50 million into a cycleway with no business case, will chuck a billion at Whanau Ora (which no-one can even define), can rustle up a hundred million or so for its stupid national standards experiment, and has billions for motorways that will produce less benefit than the cost, but cheap cost-effective programmes get the slash for ideological reasons.

Governments are rarely undone by one big thing – death by a thousand cuts is the more common fate. And it all hangs on whether voters continue to believe in the grander plan. So the budget will need to do a better job than has been done so far of explaining the big picture.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that National’s plan was ‘get elected’ and there’s nothing to follow it up, except PR stunts and silly announcements that come to nothing (cycleway, party central, whaling ‘plan’) as Smiling John bounces from cloud to cloud, and, in the background, ministers quietly pay off favours from National’s mates. There is no ‘big picture’ for the economy.

Because today’s grumbles are just the tip of what looks like a very large iceberg ahead.

Things are turning sharply for the Government. We’ve all felt it in the last few weeks. You can see it in the changing tenor of the rightwing blogs and the media. The latest Roy Morgan poll gives some early hints with the government confidence rating taking its sharpest fall since National came to power. The way is open for Labour to show itself as a government-in-waiting with a genuine commitment to the needs of the many.

13 comments on “Watkins: govt adrift, icebergs ahead ”

  1. RedLogix 1

    This from the same Tracey Watkins who spent most of 2007/8 cheerleading for Key… her heart will always be Tory, but even she’s worried about what she’s seeing.

    She’s right in this respect; that govts are rarely undone by one big thing, and this govt came to power masked by a thick layer of professionally applied layer of spin, polish and puffery. But once that wears through, as inevitably it must, the hollow men will not stand for long.

    • I seem to recall even GW Bush once enjoyed 80% approval. Now even Republicans are embarrassed to admit he was once President.
      KeY will be disowned soon enough.

  2. Mike 2

    I think the One News poll is out tomorrow as well

    • I dreamed a dream 2.1

      It’s all grim reading. Morgan poll, 3News poll, One News poll. All still have Key and the Nats as popular as ever.

      So what if the government is adrift and icebergs are ahead? Key and Nats seem to be able to negotiate any obstacles. They’ll sail past the icebergs easily. Unless we can get them to hit the icebergs. But it’s not looking likely. It’s more like Labour is stuck in mud.

      Maybe it has to come to pass for voters to suffer first. They they may consider coming back to Labour.

  3. Blue 3

    You hit the nail on the head, Eddie. After nine years out of power, National was desperate to become the Government at any cost.

    They promised everything, to everyone, all at the same time, put a popular figurehead on top of a 1990s line-up, lured the Maori Party into their lair, and are avoiding doing anything in the first term that would damage the approval ratings.

    Now they are scheming to get rid of MMP and solidify their grasp on power.

    They don’t ever want to be out in the cold for nine years ever again.

  4. prism 4

    Another expensive idea – broadband to every house. How has a government with privatisation agendas and wanting to leave things to business come to a position where it is sponsoring or paying for this? Is it a cover for getting better broadband to the rural area? For heavens sake, they have a good case on their own which is justified by their earning capacity for the country. Let people who want broadband budget for it themselves. What is needed is ensuring that everybody is technologically literate and understands the need for ethics and standards also – through the schools mainly.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      How has a government with privatisation agendas and wanting to leave things to business come to a position where it is sponsoring or paying for this?

      Easy, their rich mates and foreign owners want them to as they’ll make even more profit from the taxpayer.

  5. Anthony Karinski 5

    Maybe baby.

    But while there is a hell of a lot of discussion on The Standard about why Key/National is soooo bad and the trumpeting of pieces about how the Nats are about to go down the gurgles in the polls (for about the last year: Yeah Right!), little has changed. The government still retain an impressive lead. Kiwis just seem to like them more than they dislike them.

    Wouldn’t it be more interesting and indeed challenging for the columnists to apply their talent in a more productive manner. Blurting out that the MSM is biased or most people just find it hard to admit they were wrong at last election hardly constitute astute analysis. Rather it’s a form of lazy intellectual back slapping trying to mask the real issue: I don’t really know why the hell the nats are doing so well. I’m stumped, lost for words and disgusted by it. But instead of regurgitating MSM dribble I will now try to really find out what tickles the prickle in the kiwi psyche. If you do you may actually be an agent of change and not just a concoction of wishful thinking and ideological outrage.

    • RedLogix 5.1

      I don’t really know why the hell the nats are doing so well. I’m stumped, lost for words and disgusted by it. But instead of regurgitating MSM dribble I will now try to really find out what tickles the prickle in the kiwi psyche.

      Good comment AK. The reason Key is popular is the same as why science is loosing the battle against carbon industry lies….professional mass manipulation and emotive marketing beats rationality everytime.

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    It’s becoming increasingly clear that National’s plan was ‘get elected’

    IIRC, in The Hollow Men Hager said that their plan was to get elected and then do what they wanted. Power was everything. Well, they got elected and now they’re finding out that doing everything that they want may not be possible. I’m reasonably sure that they’ll try though. The May budget is going to be another like Richardson’s MOAB.

  7. Shona 7

    AK most of what warped the kiwi psyche last election came from radio. Talk -hate and arsewipes like Holmes promoting the hard Right agenda . Radio has always been the number one propaganda weapon for manipulating the masses since well before the second world war. And remember Steven Joyce created /owned Radio Works. Sheepole don’t want to think they just want their prejudices fed.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 7.1

      Thats because the media are really good at making the unexceptional and uncommon sound like they are exceptional and common. Stuff like there’s Islamic terrorists lining up to migrate and attack NZ, pedophiles on every street corner, violent criminals everywhere ready to attack us, all welfare recipients are lazy and ready to rip us off, lazy public servants wasting our money. etc etc..

      When they get into power politicians are forced to confront the fact that all of this is not true.

  8. Homo Domesticus 8

    Friends, Watkins spouts nothing new, I have been telling you this for months. The arselicking media have fawned on Key’s hollow words and empty promises. Watkins is waking up to Key; Espiner and co have not yet, Espiner probably never will, but others will follow.

    The bulk of Key’s cabinet were members of the last National cabinet, including Smith, Lockwood Smith, McCulley, Double Dipton English, Bozo “I’ll fix the power companies” Brownlee (yeah right, Gerard) etc were useless then and are still useless. These guys had no ideas, or original solutions to NZ’s problems then and they still don’t. New cabinet faces are also uninspiring the likes of Wilkinson and Tolley lurch from one stuff up to the next.

    We have had hopeless governments for the 15 years and New Zealand deserves better than what is on offer from any of the present parties.

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