At his press conference, Chris Hipkins has been quick to signal he will be shifting Labour to a more “pragmatic” approach. He knows this is an opportunity to renew and to self-correct on those issues that have become publicly hard to swallow.
His language is clear – and very different to that of his friend and former boss Jacinda Ardern. His focus is on “the here and now” and “the bread and butter issues that people care about”.
Expect less of a focus on “kindness” and more straight-talking toughness. Expect a laser focus on low and middle income families and “hip pocket” issues. It will be small-target, middle-of-the-road politics, driven at pace and executed at speed. Expect less vision and more execution: more delivery, or “don’t come Monday”.
Chris Hipkins really does have to do all that in order to stem the huge distrust that currently exists. Labour stupidly think that we will forget that they tried to bring this kind of race-based separatism to New Zealand. We aren’t that stupid; we know that they are simply shelving these ideas until they get a new term, propped up by the crazy Green commies and the racist ethno-nationlists in the Maori Party.
They really want to do these things and more. So it is more like a filing of these contentious policies in the basement crypt, to be revived should they get another term.
They have nine months until the election, six months to effect policy change and one budget to mend their ways. I suspect it won’t be enough.
They will have to shelve the most contentious policies and then start going through the budget trying to find expensive boondoggles so they can redirect funding into chucking money at trying to ease inflation and the burden that inflation places predominantly on the shoulders of the poor.
If they are wanting a good start, and a massive saving of more than half a billion dollars then they need look no further than Vote Police where the thick end of a billion dollars is being spent on building an empire for Mike McIlraith with the new Firearms Authority and the bloatware gun register, which will never deliver that which they intend. Grant Robertson needs to cast his envious and greedy eyes over that budget and pull the plug. At least $500 million of locked money is available right there.
Then there is the never delivered, and no prospect of it ever being delivered, light rail project in Auckland. There is a few billion there. Ditch that, axe the consultants and Labour are well on their way to actually being able to do something sensible to really alleviate the inflation hit their profligate spending caused in the first place.
The TVNZ/RNZ merger is an easy $350 million that can be redirected too. This gets rather easy the more you think about it. The same goes for Three Waters: there are billions there that can wait, indefinitely. The whole argument for it in the first place was heroic and specious at the same time.
Labour have to do all that, just to try and save the family silver. There simply isn’t time for anything else.
The key for the Opposition though will be to remind voters that these are all bribes, and if this Government is returned then all the silliness is back on the table.
This election just got interesting.
Cam Slater is a New Zealand-based blogger, best known for his role in Dirty Politics and publishing the Whale Oil Beef Hooked blog, which operated from 2005 until it closed in 2019. This article was first published HERE