Monday, September 25, 2023

Kevin: Danny’s Been Drinking the Kool-Aid

Danyl McLauchlan writes in the Listener why he thinks Labour has taken a massive nose dive.

[…] But in the 20 polls since the budget in mid-May, Labour has been fractionally ahead in just two of them, both in June. Then came the resignations of Michael Wood and Kiri Allen, and a slow decline that turned into a dramatic loss of public support during the early stages of the official campaign. There’s still a month until the polls close but it’s now very hard to see the left-wing bloc – Labour, Greens and Te Pati Maori – forming a government.

[…] Why has Labour’s support disintegrated? It’s never any one thing: the turmoil in the caucus obviously hurt them, and they haven’t figured out how to sell their new leader. There was an assumption on the left that Luxon’s inexperience would hurt him on the campaign trail, while Hipkins is a career politician: the safest pair of hands imaginable. A negative campaign highlighting Luxon’s unlikability and radical right-wing views would bring this into focus for the electorate.

But Luxon has emerged as a very genial and energetic campaigner, while the only vaguely humanising thing we know about Hipkins is that he likes pies and Coke and sausage rolls. There’s breathless media coverage whenever the Prime Minister eats a savoury pastry but it feels impossibly remote from the kindness and hope of the Ardern years, and an insufficient reply to National’s charge that Hipkins and his government have wrecked the country.

Excuse me while I clean up my spilt coffee. Luxon genial? Kindness and hope of the Ardern years?

Record numbers of voters are telling pollsters the country is heading in the wrong direction. Labour finds this very frustrating. Unemployment is down; the recession was mild; wages are trending up. Yes, there’s inflation but there’s inflation across the OECD. New Zealand’s isn’t that bad, and it’s also heading in the right direction. And didn’t the Labour government save our lives and jobs during the pandemic? Hipkins promised to focus on bread and butter issues and he’s done just that: extending early childhood education, removing prescription fees, free public transport, free dental, GST off fruit and vegetables. What more do people want?

Yes, things aren’t as bad as everything thinks so why aren’t you all voting Labour? Look at all the things they’ve done! Labour saved your lives and jobs, FFS! What is wrong with you people!

I suspect they wanted Hipkins to signal that he had a plan to send it in the right direction. A diagnosis of our problems and a plan to solve them. The budget and now the campaign have revealed that there’s no such scheme. It can be dangerous to over-theorise campaign slogans which are often designed to be as meaningless as possible (example: the “Let’s do this!” of the Jacinda era). Labour’s is “In it for you”. It’s very transactional: vote for Labour and they’ll give you free stuff.

National’s speaks to that broader dissatisfaction in the nation’s mood. They’ll “Get New Zealand back on track.” And they’ll also give you tax cuts and transfers, paid for by cancelling some of Labour’s handouts. It’s not clear that their grand tax package will address inflation: it might end up making it worse. But they’ve persuaded the voters that on cost of living and other key issues – especially crime and housing – they hear them, and they’ll change things.

So there you have it. All Labour needs to do is show everyone they’re listening. Nothing to do with how Labour has screwed up the economy. And nothing to do with all the small businesses they’ve killed with their stupid lockdowns.

Kevin is a Libertarian and pragmatic anarchist. His favourite saying: “There but for the grace of God go I.” This article was first published HERE

1 comment:

Robert Arthur said...

In getting NZ back on track many presuaably assume that it will be the end of the Treaty reinterpretations and of maorification generally. If stated less obliquely, the votes wil be overwhelming.