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So Chris Hipkins’ big roll of the dice has happened. Two months out from the election. 61 days if you're counting
GST comes off fruit and veg, Working For Families gets even more money and higher thresholds. It's a 2 billion dollar giveaway for poor vegetarians and breeders. The rest of the poor are left out.
And this is it. The economic situation, both local and global, preclude any more big spend ups. We've heard Grant Robertson say that. But we've also heard Grant Robertson say many other things only to be guzumped by political expediency, so who knows?
So will this do the trick?
I don't think so. Nicola Willis got the GST debate out early stealing its power. Meanwhile, the increase in In Work Tax Credits and Working For Families cash is being largely ignored as it benefits only 160,000 families. Still a big number but not big enough. There's a lot of other poor people getting nothing
And it's very hard to vote for Labour in 2023 after their six years in power, for two main reasons.
I'm reading a book by Dylan Jones, the former GQ editor. It's all about the Nineties. Cool Britannia, Britpop, Young British Artists and politics. New Labour. Tony Blair and the Third Way.
In it he talks to a former advisor to Gordon Brown who pointed out that New Labour became more obsessed with the presentation of an idea than the idea itself. The catchy phrase. The snappy nonsensical slogan. It killed them.
The same malaise has befallen New Zealand's Labour since they came to power. 100,000 Kiwibuild houses.
Light rail by 2021 was incredible. They seemed to have no idea how long it takes to build a piece of kit like that. Or The Road to Zero, which fails because unless you hit zero, which we won't, then the policy fails. It's in the name.
This is not to say this government has achieved nothing at all, which is a common complaint. They have achieved a lot but even they seem unaware of exactly what it was.
And secondly, the problem with Tony Blair became that nobody knew who he was, or where he came from, or what he stood for. Unlike his predecessor John Smith, a campaigner for the working class, Tony was just a kinder Thatcher or a more interesting John Major. But at the end of the day, you just didn't know what he was about. Other than lying about Weapons of Mass Destruction on behalf of the Americans
And that's what's happened to Chris Hipkins. He's rolled back so many policies he has nothing left except a desperate desire to keep the right form having a crack, and that's not enough. What does he stand for other than sausage rolls and Barkers suits?
But you can have the same criticism of Chris Luxon and the right, who are running on a campaign of repealing everything Labour has done and then giving you an inflationary tax cut.
One of the slogans in play this election is Let's Take Our Country back.
It's slightly depressing that six years after being promised a transformative government we've ended out with all our politicians promising a return to the policy settings of seven years ago. As if nothing has changed in the world in nearly a decade.
When we ask whether New Zealand has lost its mojo and its ambition, should we really be starting with our politicians who seem to be content competing in a lightweight personality poll?
And mistrust of the cynicism of politicians who will say anything to get a vote is at its peak. With our leading party polling just 34% right now you have to ask if they will really have any mandate at all come October.
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