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John MacDonald: Has Labour kept Hipkins in case there's another election?

John MacDonald,
Publish Date
Wed, 8 Nov 2023, 1:12PM
Photo / Mark Mitchell
Photo / Mark Mitchell

John MacDonald: Has Labour kept Hipkins in case there's another election?

John MacDonald,
Publish Date
Wed, 8 Nov 2023, 1:12PM

“I’m back.”

That’s what Chris Hipkins said to media after being reaffirmed as leader of the Labour Party. Kelvin Davis has stood aside as deputy and Carmel Sepuloni is now 2-I-C.

Chris Hipkins is going to be accused left, right, and centre of an enormous flip-flop in relation to a wealth tax and a capital gains tax. Because, remember how he said before the election, that neither of those would happen?

Today, he’s saying both of those things are back on the table. And what good is a mind if you can’t change it?

That’s why I'm not going to rip Hipkins to shreds for coming out and saying in the past 24 hours that these things could very well now happen under his watch. A few weeks ago he was saying the complete opposite.

And why wouldn’t he? Labour has been defeated. If it lost the election without a wealth tax and a capital gains tax in its policies, then why not re-consider?

The other thing I’ve taken from Labour keeping Hipkins on as leader, is whether or not the party’s done it with a view to the 2026 election or, perhaps, something sooner.

This morning he was saying that he’s the person to lead Labour to victory and the political comeback of the century three years from now. Which, of course, he would say. He was saying that yesterday too.

But is that why he’s still leader? Do you reckon it’s possible that they’ve kept him on just in case there’s another election sooner than 2026? As in way sooner.

Remember, before last month’s election, how National’s campaign boss and MP Chris Bishop made that veiled threat about us possibly needing to have another election if National and ACT didn’t get enough votes to form a coalition on their own?

And how the last thing National wanted was to go into government with Winston Peters.

Well, the voters are getting the last laugh on that. And look at how one of those potential coalition partners is conducting themselves. With NZ First's Shane Jones saying that any tax changes that could worsen housing affordability were not in NZ First’s DNA. What he was getting at there was National’s plan to tax foreigners buying flash houses here in New Zealand.

Then he went more broad-brush in his criticism of National. And I’ll quote the great orator himself. “The north, the west, the east, and the south - they recall that we have in our DNA a deep aversion to tax cuts if it worsens the prospect of Kiwis getting on the property ladder and those things were well and truly aired during the campaign.”

That’s Shane Jones. And then there’s what Winston Peters has been saying about coalition negotiations. This is what he told the NBR about going into negotiations knowing that "you might lose".

"You go there with the right purpose but, if you want to be true to yourself and the people who voted for you, you’ve got to have that view as well that this may not happen.”

And Winston Peters goes on to say: “We’ll do the best we can to make sure it happens - if we can.”

Not when we can. Not because we can. If we can. 

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