Things are quickly turning to custard for National. The economy is going south fast and Key’s Teflon-coating is so damaged the mainstream media is openly saying we deserve better than a ‘smile and wave’ PM. The Nats’ strategy – try to convince us nothing is wrong – is really bad. It makes them look either duplicitous or out of touch.
Let’s have a quick economic wrap-up:
National response to to claim that everything is golden. The problem with that as a political strategy is it requires New Zealanders to ignore the evidence that they see all around them.
For example, National is claiming that wages are rising now, faster than during Labour’s rule. In fact, the stats show that’s not true. More importantly, your real world experience and mine says it’s not true. We know that we are struggling to get inflation-matching pay rises. We know teachers and medical technicians are striking because they can’t get inflation-matching pay rises.
The same is true with jobs. Every month, National makes a big deal over how many people went off the dole and into work. Every month, they omit to mention that more people went on to the dole than came off it – total numbers increased.
In the real world, we know how hard it is to get work. Either we’ve lost our jobs, or had our hours cut, or we know friends and family who are struggling to get work.
National crows that inflation is low (and that is somehow something to do with something they did). But they’re playing number games with what happened months and months ago due to the global recession.
Right now, we’ve just has a 2.2% rise in prices due to GST on top of rapid rises the prices of food and petrol. A poll on Stuff the other had 80% of people agreeing prices made the supermarket ‘a scary place’.
National’s strategy is a lot like the Groucho Marx gag: ‘who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?’ The real world tells us things are getting tougher; National tells us the opposite is true.
The result isn’t that we start to imagine we’re in an economic golden age. The result is that we see National as liars and disconnected. Either National knows that they’re trying to pull the wool over our eyes, in which case it’s a stupid political strategy that tells us they have no economic or political plan, or they genuinely believe that everything is going well, which means they are hopelessly out of touch.
All of which plays nicely as a counter-point Labour’s ‘for the many, not the few’.